The New Year was ushered in relatively quietly: the grandchildren were taken home by 10 pm after an evening of Mahjong and other board games and I nursed my cough through till midnight and the usual well wishing by text.  There was a certain relief at being in bed within the first hour of 2020 and a certain smugness in reminding myself that I had never broken the resolution I made back in 1967 – that I would never again make a new year resolution. This year I kept it again.  

If there is something one needs to resolve to do its not worth waiting till New Year- begin today….. if you fail then have another crack tomorrow but don’t wait a whole year. 

I have posted a couple of eulogies from the Redruth Parish Magazine from 2010 remembering a couple of Readers, Arthur Skewes and John Brown both of whom had an impact in one way or another on my ministry. I wondered if we should have a section of the website for Readers Remembered and include contributions from around the diocese. Let me know what you think….. better still – send some articles. 



Epiphany Sunday with granddaughter Ellie and the chess board.

“Farewell” to some good friends   (2010)

In the last month we have lost two faithful former Readers in the Team, Arthur Skewes and John Brown. They were both in their very different ways well known and loved members of our town and churches. We include here very personal reflections on two characters who will be missed and long remembered.

Arthur Skewes RIP

I fist met Arthur when he was part of the Lay Readers team which included Frank Michell, Fred Martin, Bill Combellack and John Brown. He always had a smile, a pithy comment and a kind word. Arthur seemed to find joy in all situations and had the wonderful ability to see the funny side of people’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. In later years Arthur took over as organist at Pencoys and “emergency” organist for other churches in the benefice. He never said, “no” when I rang him in a panic on a Saturday night asking him if he could play the next morning. He would turn up as cheerful and good humoured as usual as if he had been given several weeks rather than several hours of notice.

I met Arthur again , more personally, this time when I visited him at home after he had a stroke. Although he was reasonably well (physically) the stroke affected his speech, which for someone who had always been good with words must have been very frustrating.

In spite of this Arthur was always warm, welcoming and friendly and took part fully in the home communion service. Eventually, however, the effort and energy that this took became too much for Arthur and we put these visits on hold. They were due to resume in the new year but before they could happen came the sad new of Arthur’s death from a second stroke.

It was a privilege to spend those few months with Arthur, to share communion and fellowship with him and to sit in his company for a while. I shall remember him for his quiet humour, his unassuming nature and his love of serving God in so many ways.

May he rest in peace.


John Brown RIP

At John’s funeral his great nephew Rowan read a “rap” composed for John. It was a moving, memorable, affectionate rich tribute to John and we can offer no more fitting tribute here than to print it in full.


Rowan makes his living from “rap” and music, he is known as Dizraeli.


Solid in solitude with his dreams and his memories

A resolute raft, ploughing the seas of the century

Chin set, he settled and barely admitted tenderness

for friends, Romans, and country walks with his weathered stick.

I remember John among the gorse of the Cornish cliffs,

Calling to his boys, with his voice free from ornament;

“Val! Asti!”

A smile broad as a house hides

In his cheeks, and only shows itself as an outline.

I remember John sat in the chair that he sat in,

Reading a hardback, as squared as his passion

As Greek ghosts gather at the back of his mind

And the wallpaper yellows with tobacco and time…

I sit with him. I like the way the quiet makes my head buzz

Silence my twelve-year-old self doesn’t get much.

It tingles my blood and it settles my bones;

Uncle John Time, slow as Old Testament stone.

Coal goes in the scuttle

Tobacco in the pipe

It isn’t any trouble if you stay for the night

But the forks live there.

Realign your chair when you stand!

And God help you if your manners aren’t right.

To me, at sixteen, he breathes fire, dust and history

He lives Redruth and Pompeii just as vividly.

Lord Governor of his interior economy

In a cold bath, with the Roman Empire for company

John keeps time on a chain in the pocket of his waistcoat;

It falls and it rises at his say-so

So innovation is as unnecessary as a wrist watch

              … and here am I, trying to explain hiphop

It doesn’t matter: family is family.

John keeps photographs of us on his mantelpiece

And now, at twenty-seven, I’m proud to have been

a face among the many in that gallery

where Coal goes in the scuttle

Tobacco in the pipe

It isn’t any trouble if you stay for the night

But the forks live there.

Realign your chair when you stand!

And God help you if your manners aren’t right.

Coal in the scuttle

Tobacco in the pipe

It isn’t any trouble if you stay for the night

The forks live there.

Realign your chair when you stand!

And God bless you.

John Brown  was a Reader and retired History & Classics Teacher who was quite an influence on me as a young readers…


A Franciscan Blessing ~ May God Bless You With Discomfort, Anger, Tears, and Foolishness

May God bless you with a restless discomfort

about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger

at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,

so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears

to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness

to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,

so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

Here is a slightly different version of the blessing . . .

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Micah 6:8

‘The Reader Training Dept is holding a Study Day for Y3 students and any Readers who would like to join them on Saturday 8th February at The Old Cathedral School from 10.00 am to 3.30 pm. 

The subject is ‘The Dominical Sacraments – Baptism and Eucharist’ and will be led by Rev’d Joachim Foot. 

If you would like to attend please contact Jane Kneebone on to book your place or to find out more . 

Numbers are limited to 20, so book early to avoid disappointment.’

My grateful thanks to Joy Gunter who has collated the prayer list for a number of years. She has passed the baton on to me to put on the blog.  

I do have a few concerns about the publishing of names on the blog because of privacy so there will be no details.

If you think someone should be on the list, let me know. Likewise if there are updates on folks on the list please do tell me! If you need to have updates please contact me by email or telephone because no details will be posted on the site.  The majority of those on the list are Readers or Clergy or have a particular connection.

Please pray for:






Gordon and Jean,



Jane & Frank,








Molly & Steve,


Roy & Chris,


Shirley & Terry,













Those facing Christmas alone or in an abusive or  dysfunctional relationship.

Dear Readers with a capital R (and other interested parties)

Perhaps I should be writing “Dear Transforming Missionaries” rather than “Dear Readers” as the Central Readers Council is changing the name of the “Reader” magazine to “Transforming Mission.” It seems indicative of the current trend in the church to speak of Lay Ministry as being pastoral ministers, home communion officiants, Worship Leaders and so on but not really including Readers. We seem to be, at least in the Truro diocese, somewhere in the limbo-land between the enthusiastic but ultimately briefly trained and the ordained ministries.  It is no wonder that a number of Readers (Licensed Lay Ministers) (transforming Missionaries!) feel somewhat disgruntled about putting aside two or three years for theological training and then watching others with less than 18 hours training in total give ‘talks’ in the sermon slot.

I have to qualify that by saying that it is what I have been told by Readers on my travels rather than my personal experience which is rather different. In Redruth as a Reader I enjoy going to the weekly ministry team meetings (Readers and Ordained Clergy) for our Bible study and business. We do have worship leaders who are encouraged and guided the Ministry Team but they don’t preach but then the worship leader who felt called to preach is currently undergoing Reader Training.  I actually feel quite strongly that as Readers, we have a responsibility to foster the vocations of others at all levels and that enabling someone else to share the Good News might be more important that our individual need to stand in the pulpit.

Elsewhere, outside the diocese of Truro, Readers (or whatever one likes to call them) are undergoing different paths and different levels of participation but it does not seem I danger of dying out in the near future. After all, there is personal benefit to being trained as well as to equip us for ministry. Ultimately we go to lectures, attend residentials, write essays and sample sermons because we want to and get something from it. God nags at us and we respond….. but should we expect pats on the back or sympathy or should we just be grateful that we have been given a job to do, that a door has been opened before us and we should joyfully go through it….. until we meet a closed door.

I had my favourite ever compliment following my half hour sermon/talk to Camborne Wesley Ladies Fellowship last week. An elderly lady approached and said how much she had enjoyed it, that it was fascinating and interesting and that she had loved every minute. Then she apologised for falling asleep in the middle and having to be nudged awake by her daughter- it was the tablets. I had to laugh.

So, back to open and closed doors.  Many of the problems faced by those in ministry, both lay and ordained seem to stem from lack of appropriate communication which in part is why I bang on about work agreements, a document that gives a great basis for discussion. A work agreement should not be drawn up in isolation and rubber stamped…. It should be discussed. Here are some sample starting points….

  • Are you doing too much or too little?
  • What are the needs of the Parish / benefice and how do you fit?
  • Where does the incumbent need help most?
  • Are there things you don’t like doing?
  • Are there things you love doing but don’t get a chance?
  • How many committees are you prepared to attend?
  • How many committees do you actually need to attend.
  • Ideally how many services could you manage?
  • Is there any training you need?
  • What would help you carry out your ministry better?
  • Would it be helpful to work ecumenically? (e.g. help on the Methodist Plan)

There are several varieties of work agreements on the website because one size does not fit all. Pick the one closest to your situation or your style and use it as a base changing, deleting or adding to as necessary but in conversation!

Health warning: I have come across incumbents so stressed that they can no longer delegate because they don’t have the energy to let alone host a meeting about work agreements – as Readers it is important that we choose our time and be sensitive if we are to Transform our Mission into something more useful / suitable.

Dear All!

Next Monday, the 11th Of November is Chaplain’s Coffee and conversation at the Penventon hotel in Redruth between 10am and noon. Last month there were about seven of us sharing all sorts of topics from choosing hymns and the use of music in worship to the rights and wrongs (or rites maybe) of the extremes of religious practice! I am sure the world was a better place as a result. Do join us if you have time….. and a sense of humour 🙂 

Please do book for the Quiet Day on the 7th December- we need spiritual food too! Details on the post below this one!

Chris Kingshott’s Christian  novel, “The Cardman” is available in its entirety under the prayer and reflection Tab at the top of the web page. (I will add a downloadable PDF file at some point when I have time!)

The suggestion that we keep additional details of the work we do as Readers has prompted a number of conversations with questions raised such as, “why are we doing it?” and  “What is going to be done with the information” alongside some expressed reservations about what some questions actually mean. A good example of that is, “What is the difference between assisting at a communion service and being a deacon?”  The survey is always interesting and does help to inform the thinking of the Readers Committee and the Diocese but discussion of what should be asked and how it should be asked is worthy of debate. Please do send me your opinions and I will try to reflect the range in a future blog. 

Blessings and best wishes



Prayers – keep in mind: Ali, Miriam, Lesley, Lesley, Joan, Molly & Steve, Sue, Penny, Stephanie, Anna. Gwen, Sandie, Roy & Chris, Gordon and Jean, Jane & Frank, Shirley & Terry, Roy, Roy, Robin, Deb,  Becca, Margaret, Margaret and those Readers licensed in October. 

The Quiet Day

Currently there are about eight people on the list for the quiet day, it would be really helpful if you books soon so I can let Epiphany house and Garth know. Please send me an e-mail or a phone message.


The programme is as follows:





0930 Arrival and coffee

1000 Franciscan Charism

Time of Quiet

1130 Franciscan Principles

Time of Quiet

1230 Drinks trolley and lunch break

1345 Franciscan Practice

Time of Quiet

1515 Franciscan Office

1530 Departure

Geographical and other Extremes

Last month was a fascinating one from my ministerial duties with some interesting extremes from preaching in the cathedral, which I prepared to last full stop and pause, to preaching and Mawla chapel to a congregation of nine stalwarts desperately trying to keep their church alive. Both were equally challenging in their own way but I felt equally privileged to do both.

Geographically my extremes were from Rilla Mill near Callington in the east to Sennen in the west. In Rilla Mill I led a C5 safeguarding update course at the Retreat Centre in the old Methodist Church. The session was well received and our hosts were wonderful providing a great venue and super refreshments!  After the session I got a guided tour of the facility which would be brilliant for a quiet day at that end of the county if there is enough interest!

My trip to Sennen was to see Brian Simpson for a one-to-one C3 training session so that he could be dragged back into reader ministry having retired from it a few years ago! I am sue Canon Wanda will be delighted and somewhat relieved that she has another Reader to begin services for her.  One-to-one safeguarding sessions are unusual and not ideal because there is less sharing and discussion but I try not to pass up opportunities to visit and get to know Readers. Brian is an ex-teacher who is actively involved in the education service of the RNLI so has been steeped in safeguarding over the years. It was very gratifying to hear him say that he had learned some knew things and that there were a number of things he would be asking the PCC about and looking at in the context of his church.

On the 14th I am in Coverack on the Lizard leading a c0/c1 session with pasties and puds which should be great and I get to see a Reader or two in St Keverne on the way. Now I know that an awful lot of folk see safeguarding as an irritating box-ticking exercise but I am really and honestly quite passionate about it! To me, it is all about discipleship and loving one another as Jesus loved us. Not that He went round doing risk assessments, checking whether the sacristan had a lone working agreement or whether the Sunday School leader had been safely recruited and had a DBS check but he did ask, “What is it that you want me to do for you?” and that question is at the root of our duties.  

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility- everyone! It is not a lone task for a volunteer coordinator, or the incumbent or for that matter a Reader or Church Warden. Everyone needs educating (rather than training) in how to embed it as a a matter of church culture and ethos.

Oh Cassocks!

“Oh Cassocks!!!!” sounds like an expletive and I certainly felt like uttering a few expletives when I tentatively looked into shopping for a new one.

My current cassock and surplice I got second hand, donated from a chorister who was off to university. That was back in 1986 when I was in training, when we had a choir at St Andrews and when I was rather more sylphlike than I am these days. So before the annual service I trawled around online to see what I might find…… the choice, the cost and the measuring chart left me muttering, “Oh cassocks!!!!” under the voluminous surplice I have got no-one can see that the cassock does not fit properly anyway – I’d rather give the money to charity. A few clicks later a donation was winging its way to the Oarsome Foursome who are rowing the Atlantic over Christmas to raise cash for several charities including Cornwall Blood-Bikes and Care leavers.

Dear Readers and exalted others……

Some more posts will follow shortly with reflections from others on Reader Day and things going on around the Deaneries involving Readers- but in the Spirit of not giving you too much all at once……… 


In coming days as Chaplain I am seeing two people  discerning the path to Reader Ministry, Leading a C5 course near Callington, going to Sennen to do a small C3 safeguarding course so that a Reader can take up his PTO license once more, seeing a student on the Reader Training Course about their reflective journal and hosting coffee and conversation with the Chaplain tomorrow morning (Monday 14th) at the Penventon Hotel in Redruth between 10 and noon for any Readers or supportive others to come and join our in depth discussions! 


The Reader’s Service seemed to go well this year but I am always aware that we can improve things. So in the spirit of the old primary school teacher in me I wonder if you would do a little evaluation of you went this year. I would suggest two stars and a wish – in other words mention a couple of things you thought were really good and something that might have made it better. Do several trios of comments if you like! 🙂 

Chris Kingshott who was chaplain before me and now plying his Reader Ministry and the Penlee cluster has written a novel!! It is not yet published anywhere so if you would like to read it- it is going to be serialrised here! Click for Chapter One! And about the author.


The Quiet Day 

This year on Saturday December 7th, the quiet day has been proving both a popular and necessary Advent experience! Please see the article for booking details. 


Funeral Thoughts – There’s a page for responses to this HERE!

In response to my post about my first Funeral Service, Reader Wendy Earl had a few thoughts that might begin a discussion, she writes, 

With regard to your visit to the crem you will now know the huge amounts of energy needed.  Personally being very ‘green’ I keep asking for some Woodland burial sites in Cornwall.  I understand Penmount are now offering ‘green’ but up country there are some beautiful, rural sites and barns converted to chapels as well as offering facilities for wakes…(good diversification for farmers!)  and shouldn’t tree planting be top of all our agendas?!  It would be good to get folk talking about this.