On March 20 I have been asked to be chaplain for a prayer and painting quiet day at epiphany house with Maureen Edwards.

My role is to do the opening and closing worship on a prayer and painting theme and to the available to chat to during the day.

I’m hoping that there will be folks who really will want to chat so I don’t have to do too much painting that  other folk might get to look at it so well as of my comfort zone. Give me a story to tell and that’s my art!    A paintbrush feels quite alien even after 30 years in primary classrooms.

Places can be booked through epiphany house and there’s more information on the Quiet Days page of this website (under the Prayer heading!).


In January a three person evaluation team descended on the readers in training course to assess its efficacy!

I met two of the team on three occasions, the management team meeting, the tutorial staff meeting and at the Saturday Day School. The picture features Jeremy Putnam leading what I thought was a fantastic day on Community.

At that time of writing I have not heard anything about to the report but the process was an interesting one and, though likened to OFSTED, it was a much more conversational affair. The assessors were astute and asked probing questions that certainly got the grey cells working.

I think one of the development points that might come to the fore  is how we promote  reader ministry, especially with younger folk.

The diocesan website is a convoluted maze at best and there does need to be a clear message about what a reader ministry is and why folk should consider it as a vocation.

Your suggestions please! I will collate the best and put them on the website!


Morning session – 2 options.

I am really looking forward to Reader Day this year – especially as I quite fancy the walk! 

Hopefully Bishop Philip will be able to be there as well for our question time session in the afternoon which should be really interesting. 

The planning group (not me) met recently and below is there draft planning – lots of hard work and great ideas! Thank you all! 


Option 1 – a walk to Nanstallon.  Organized by Margaret Sylvester-Thorne –

led by Bishop Chris.

This is a good flat walk with only little road walking involved.  The walk is along the rail path.  It is anticipated that the walk would take about an hour each way – walking past Bodmin Jail may be pause for a prayer either on the way out or on the return

Expect to leave St Petroc’s by 10.30 and arrive about 11.30 at Nanstallon Church.

(Ann to liaise with Nanstallon: have church open, to see if tea and coffee could be supplied; to find out if there is telephone reception, find out about toilets.  If necessary speak to Methodist re using their facilities. Donation to Nanstallon for refreshments (out of Reader budget).  To find out if there is telephone reception at St Petrocs.

11.30 to Noon: refreshments and a short service. 

It is anticipated that Bishop Philip will walk – but it would be good if he could join those in church rather than walk back.  (transport needed).

To be aware that some may need to return to St Petroc’s rather than walk both ways.  Need first aid kit and telephone.

Option 2 – to be a Pilgrim in St Petroc’s

for those who are unable or don’t want to walk. – led by Carrie & William

10.30 to 11.30 activities in church (organized through Nigel Marns) Prayer stations with activities on the theme of being a Pilgrim.  Also Together we Walk – a pilgrimage in Church.

11.30 to Noon – refreshments and the same short service as at Nanstallon Church.

(this is to link both groups)

Noon until Pilgrims return – Lunch

On Pilgrims Return have lunch together – grace

1.45 – AGM

2pm – Witness statements on being a Reader – 4 each lasting 5 mins on own experience of being a Reader.  This needs to be balanced – not a dig at parish priests.

2.20 – 2.40 over to Bishop Philip chance to speak to the Readers

2.40 – 3.00 – opportunity to ask Bishop Philip questions. (have questions sent in

3.00 – Cream Tea

3.30 – Bishop Chris – and Closing Blessing (pilgrim)

I’ve been part of a trade-off. Following the closing of Carn Brea Methodist church most of the congregation joined in with St Euny church in Redruth.

That means that once a month they have a local preacher from the Methodist church who comes to do a service and the trade-off is that I get to be on the Methodist plan and going around the churches in the district at least once a month. This Sunday I had the delight of experiencing Camborne Wesley Church and although I was taking the 10:30 service, I was invited to drop in to the cafe church that preceded it.

I was are welcomed with a hug from of an old colleague that I had not seen for many years and escorted across the action to the serving table for some coffee. The local preacher leading it, a (young- compared with me) teacher called Nick, was effectively using laptop and projector for the structure of the service and providing accompaniment for the singing of worship songs are from Youtube. After  a short talk interspersed with a clip from Youtube from an American speaker  discussion points  were posted up to enable the group to talk. Nick kindly sent me the link and questions which appear below.


  • Have we strayed from the church of the bible?
  • What’s missing from the church of Acts nowadays?
  • (How can we make “insert church name here” about Him)
  • What would make God Pleased most in “insert your area”
  • Should we change our services/Change our hearts.
  • When was the last time you were awestruck to be a part of God’s church?
  • What could you give to the church?
  • Pray for the church. (world wide, Local)

I’m afraid the American speaker did not really inspire me at all, I prefer my preaching live, but the questions are certainly of interest and some are probably those that are asked in churches of all denominations throughout the land in one way or another. Some of the questions also grated somewhat in their language being rather loaded, but the one that  pricked my interest  was “should we change our services or change our hearts?” 

My first thought was that this should not be an either or question, after all we can change both services and hearts just as we can change one of them without the other. And….. if you change hearts they might just want to change services….. or not!

 I’ve now been a reader for 30 years and an active worship group and house group leader for half a dozen years longer than that and change is something with which  I have wrestled more or less zealously for all of that time. I used to think that need to throw out the old staid services and replace them with lively, attractive, entertaining offerings that folk from outside the church would want to attend. These days I hope I’m a little more pragmatic and understanding of the needs of both those in the church and those outside. Let’s delve a little more.

The service I lead on Sunday  was in the chapel. There was a large projection screen on which I had my service and the words of the hymns of which two were reasonably modern and two were old but very singable  and all had a theological content that was appropriate to the service. There was a good sized choir who, like the rest of the congregation, were mostly quite senior. There were a few children and would normally be more if it were not for café church first. Because Wesley is so large the congregation were quite spread out so it was hard to judge numbers but it seemed more than I have had elsewhere.

In the service I used prayers from the Iona community and the Northumbrian community but it pretty much followed a pattern of Anglican or Methodist morning worship interspersed with stories for children who left after second hymn and a  sermon that was a little longer than I would preach in an Anglican setting. It seemed very well received and I found the experience both uplifting, energising and spirit lead. Just because the service did not use worship songs, a band and involve people losing themselves in the music did not mean that this service was any the less efficacious for the people there. Were the service to be changed radically to appeal to what our idea would be popular and then we might well run the risk of losing the good folk that we already have, and worse, we might even blame them for having hard hearts that won’t change!

Somehow we have to do a balancing act even if it means having two or more congregations and I don’t really see any problem with that anymore. The Church of England and the Methodist Church has a theologically broad membership who have different needs. Trying to please all of the people all of the time is an impossibility though you may certainly please some of the people some of the time and if you are very lucky, all of the people some of the time.

So I’m intrigued, what did you think of the clip and the questions, would you use any of them in a service? 

Lay Ministry Officer

The Church of England’s Ministry Division is looking for an
experienced lay minister, or person who has worked closely with lay ministers,
to take the lead on the Church’s efforts to renew lay ministries across the
country. This is a substantial role and a wonderful opportunity to make a real
impact on the shape of the Church’s ministry.

Bishop Martyn, lead Bishop for lay ministries, comments:

“Given the flourishing of lay ministry within the church
over recent years, it is now vitally important that every part of the church,
local, regional and national, celebrates and integrates this work in to every
other area of ministry. We are looking for someone who can help coordinate this
work nationally, and enable further growth in both the numbers of lay ministers
and their development as theologians, practitioners and key partners in

We are looking for someone with strategic project management
experience who can develop a clear narrative on the place of lay ministries in
the life and witness of the Church, and act as an advocate for lay ministry in
influencing Bishops and Diocesan Officers. As a member of our senior management
team, you will share in the strategic leadership of Ministry Division, working
efficiently to ensure lay ministry remains a key component of our thinking,
planning, and resourcing.

You will need to have a clear grasp of the variety of lay
ministries, both authorised and commissioned; the structure of the Church, with
an ability to negotiate with ease the relationship between parishes, dioceses
and central structures; and a willingness to work across the full breadth of
traditions within the Church of England.

Promoting lay ministries is a major component of Renewal and
Reform, the Church’s vision for change. This role will require all of your
enthusiasm, confidence, authority, sensitivity, maturity, teamwork and
emotional intelligence.

You will be supported by a hardworking team of colleagues
with a variety of skillsets, including research, communications, finance,
events, and pioneer ministry.

If this sounds like you then we would urge you to
prayerfully consider putting your name forward. Applications can be made
through Pathways where a full job description and person specification
is available.

The Bible – Friday 22nd March at St Petroc’s Church Bodmin -from Reader William Hazelton 

Do you sometimes find the Bible a perplexing – if a fascinating – book; how does Genesis relate to Romans; or Leviticus to the Sermon on the Mount etc?

The Bible Society has prepared a course – called somewhat originally “The Bible Course.” This course attempts to answer the big questions about the Bible. To promote the course the Society is going on tour.

At 7.30pm on Friday 22nd March at St Petroc’s Church Bodmin there will be a multi-media presentation on the course under the title “The Greatest Story Ever Toured”. Paul Karenson (stand-up comedian and script writer for “Miranda”) and Andrew Ollerton (creator of the Bible Course) will give a lively and humorous whistle-stop tour of the Bible. There will be live music with Susie Lopez.

To find out more, and to book a ticket (we hope for a full house), go to https://biblesociety.org.uk/biblecoursetour

If you would like then to do the course – or to encourage members of your church to do so – you could form a group. Or you could join up with others in a combined course.

At St Petrocs we are running the course on Wednesday evenings starting on 3 April and finishing (with a break over Easter) on 29 May. You would be most welcome to join us.

To find out more please contact William Hazelton on w.hazelton@btinternet.com or 07757 444066.

I have been using the Parable of the Lifesaving station in sermons for longer than I care to remember although I have not for some time. On my walk this morning pondering on upcoming sermons in some Methodist Churches where I have not been before I thought I might revisit it. Imagine my surprise  when I turned to the Book the Rector gave me for Christmas (Bishop Michael Curry’s ‘Crazy Christians’ and found it staring me in the face. Definitely worth a read as a book…. and the parable is excellent sermon material….

December 27th

There was a time when boxing day meant the start of planning for the new term ahead for my 10 and 11 year olds. My desk would be strewn with spider charts and textbooks and in later years with a computer screen glowing among the Christmas lights. It was not until about six years into retirement that the nightmares about not having done planning or marking ceased – but to this day I give thanks for being retired and still wake early on Boxing Day.

I loved my job when I did it but I don’t miss the planning. the marking.the assessments the data analysis, the spreadsheets and the report writing. Consequently on Boxing Day, I woke at five and felt I should be doing something! So this year it was rewriting chaplain’s website and learning how to use some new software called WordPress and no…..  it wasn’t present!

By ten o’clock the rest of the household was ready to go for a walk and the computer was abandoned for another quiet moment. That walk amongst the laughter and the chatter of the  grandchildren contained some silent spaces when atop Carn Brea I prayed for all teachers I know whose minds would be on the school term ahead-some with enthusiasm and some with trepidation and some with a sense of foreboding at the threat of impending performance management.

By the time I retired, I really was a dinosaur in teaching, belonging to a school era when teaching was a performance art which was done to a whole class rather than the very different animal it is today. So I thank God for that pneumonia and the need for a new hip released me from school and into  new adventures.

So in your prayers spend a few moments praying for all teachers battling through the darkest time of the year.


January 3rd

So the fairy light and the  decorations are away for another year although the bare tree remains in the conservatory destined to die slowly before being dismembered to fill up the brown recycling bin. The Welsh dresser is populated with bottles from Christmases past and present although  I’m aiming to  get through the beer by epiphany; the single malt may still be there next year and southern comfort will probably light its sixth Christmas pudding in late 2019.

But somethings are left when all is said and done, the candlesticks, a present from the artist stand either side of the cross as I say evening prayer and the memories of Christmas reflect back with joy. Eight year old Ellie and arrived for Christmas lunch dressed as Harry Potter’s Hermione and younger Brother Patrick as a Dalmatian dog complete with spotty ears and tail. Before lunch it was a time of contented conviviality balanced with an awareness of time passing, and of  absent friends, in the knowledge that it will not always be like this,  just as the knowledge that in so many households not so far away, the scene would be entirely different,  threatening, foreboding and fearful with the expectations of the season for letting them down……… again.


As I waited for all to settle at the Christmas table my prayer brain flicked through the list of those, especially, readers for whom I pray often and I gave thanks but the reverie was broken by the grandchildren who ‘prayed’ the shark grace which. although horrendous, was not as bad as the version on YouTube, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jCyjW1I6aU)


The chatter at the children’s table was joyful until Ellie, disgruntled with the three boys pleaded, “can I come and sit next to you grandad?”  Of course she joined me at the adult’s table and my Christmas meal was made.


Good food, good company and love – long may it last.




Saturday 5th January – I feel sick!


Literary rather than metaphorically although there is a little of that too! After a very early start (5:30) having been woken in a flood of adrenaline by my dreaming spouse screaming and flailing all limbs in a nightmare, I worked on the chaplain’s blog, said Morning Prayer and ticked off a few things from the to do list. At 9:15 I determined to set off for a walk, and boots on, I strode in the direction of Carn Brea where I suspected Redruth Baptist church would be taking down the Christmas cross. I was very pleased to have climbed up there just as the trailer and the first volunteers arrived in the car park.


After greetings from Phil, an ex-pupil, and Jason and Andrew, pastors is of Bethel and RBC we prayed and the first tasks allocated. I helped to reel in the several hundred metres of armoured cable for the lights that lit the cross at night and then attempted to help carry the cross but found it very difficult to find a useful place to stand.  Hopefully I can be more useful when it is raised once more on April 13th for Easter.


Once the cross was on the trailer I had bade them all farewell and set off down the other side of the Carn to call in on the grandchildren for coffee.


Back home I felt pleased with myself for taking so much exercise and merely had fruit and soup for lunch to complete the self satisfaction. More work on the website and intercessions for Sunday were the order of the afternoon, broken by vacuuming upstairs and washing the car. A chap called Paul with a staff walked up the drive and began to tell me about his Ph.D. thesis while I scrubbed the wheels – something about corporate  mind control or something similar- I listened and muttered something about neuro linguistic programming which made him nod enthusiastically before setting off and leaving me to the soapy sponge!


Back inside, it  turned out the children and grandchildren when not coming to dinner the next day after all so that meant there were two spare bottles of beer that would not be consumed by my son and son-in-law and I could have one with supper.




Although I only had one bottle of beer which, pleasant as it was,  reduced my resistance and I finished the Christmas chocolates from the bowl on the table.



I feel sick  – both literally and metaphorically- the good work of exercise, piety and self-control having disappeared in a rustle of chocolate wrappings.

Well there is always tomorrow! 

The first blog of 2019 – on the new website!


You will already have noticed the design of the new website. I do hope you will click through the menus and see what resources I have managed together. I really would appreciate it if you have any favourite links that are not included that you would let me know so we can share them.  Please also let me know if you find a link that does not work or goes to the wrong place. 



2019 heralds a new season of safeguarding training and I think we as Readers (licensed Lay Ministers) have a huge role in changing attitudes. If our congregations are to ‘buy in’ to this important part of discipleship following the notion that whatever one does for the least of others one also does for Christ then we must set the tone and be enthusiastic about it- even when our hearts sik and we think to ourselves, “oh not another safeguarding course / form / assessment/ report etc”

I have a number of sessions of various levels lined up to lead or assist with including a C0/C1 taylored for the Redruth Benefice for all new to safeguarding and those beneath leadership to refresh their knowledge. We are trying a Benefice evening with food to see if it will help! One of the churches has been especially reluctant t get involved and I suspect this is partly because they discuss it at DCC level as a box ticking exercise that does not concern them. Hopefully this might strategy might help.


I note that Jonathan Aitken, the MP who has served a prison sentence for perjury,  is working as a prison chaplain having been ordained in his mid seventies.  See the Daily Mail 21st December.  How good it is that someone can turn themselves around and find a love of God and a vocation and that we worship in a denomination that appears not to discriminate against age or past criminality.

At 66 I was quite content in thinking that I need not think about any further stages to vocation – hmmm besides I am too busy! (mid 70s good grief!)

I have put a Vocations page on the menu with links for people to look at all sorts of vocations although understandably the main focus is on a vocation to Reader Ministry.


Taking Down the Carn Brea Cross until Easter!

A Christmas gift- candlesticks to go with the chaplain's cross

The artist is an old friend who is a regular church goer in so much as he attends Midnight Mass on Christmas ev and helps wit the practical side of the earlier children’s service so I asked Nick what he thought about when he made the cross and this was his reply:

“Ah… Because the plaiting process is so slow and deliberate it demands a lot of thought and ‘faffing’ about, selective masking and sacrificial components etc that will never be seen on the finished piece. There’s an evolution of sorts as time progresses. I wanted it to be organic and living as the church is. I also wanted to hint at abandoned ruins because we have left so many old ideas behind as the world has changed. It had to be rooted but also hint at movement, which is why the bit near the base is less solid and tree-like, but I also wanted the roots to be substantial as ours are. Beyond that there was a man spreading his arms out in welcome, that was not planned, that was given.”

School Governance


If as a result of your look back on the old year think you might benefit from a new challenge for 2019 that will dove-tail neatly with Lay Ministry please think about volunteering as a governor. Knowing how important children are to the future of the church and how important the church is to the future of our children it is an excellent opportunity to get one’s feet wet. 

Recently in addition to my own school, I have been asked to fill in as chair of Governors in a school where governors are thin on the ground. Those they have are mostly parents in the school who are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed but there are only five of them and experience shows that the local board needs to be twice that number in order to function efficiently.

Governors are important in schools whether they are maintained Local Authority Schools or Academies and having the right governors with a heart for the folks they are working with is vital. Governors who are box ticking bureaucrats fixated on policies rather than people add to the work of the school rather than support it; the best governors ask tricky questions but in the right way at the right time and always with the aim of building up those who work there.


 If you have never been a governor think of the role as: 


·         listening to staff (often asking prepared questions)

o   to help you understand the school and its needs

o   to help them rehearse the answers they will have to give to inspectors of one sort or another

o   so they know they have someone independent they can speak to

·         Listening to children (Usually with set situation such as a pupil conference where a selection of students will meet a couple of governors, or ad hoc conversations while monitoring the use of the library or the way the playground is being used)

o   Finding out if the children have the same view of the school as the staff

o   Finding out of they feel safe, looked after and how the school does this

o   Finding out what things help or hinder their learning most.

·         Listening to parents/carers (sometimes through questionnaires but invited focus groups are a growing trend)

o   Finding out what concerns them most

o   What they like about the school

o   What could be done for them to make the job of being a parent easier in terms of homework etc.

·         Listening to the community


Lots of listening with a little bit of report writing and an occasional two hour meeting  so really an ideal role for those in ministry!


There are usually a couple of evening meetings a term and it is hoped you would be able to get into school for a few mornings a term- perhaps once a month for a fact finding visit on areas from health and safety to mathematics.


You don’t have to judge teaching- that is not the role; it is about support and being a ‘critical friend’ – if you want to know more about being a governor you can chat to me but the diocesan education department has a fabulous governance team who work very hard to train and inform.


Bex Couch, Governance Development Officer on education@truro.anglican.org or 01872 274351.


Or look them up on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/cornwallschoolgovernance/?ref=gs&fref=gs&dti=1806545833003224&hc_location=group_dialog