Saturday 7th December 10-4 Epiphany House

I am delighted that Reader Garth Wright will be leading the day this year and that places are already being booked. This day is getting more and more popular! 

Garth’s experience with the Third Order of the Society of St Francis together with his contemplative persona will, I am quite sure, both refresh and challenge us.

 If you would like to take advantage and step out of the busy time of Advent and the pre-Christmas rush please book by email. 

Places are strictly limited so that there is space to think and reflect.

We book an extra couple of rooms in case someone needs to see me as Chaplain or to speak to the leader of the day.

We suggest a donation of about £10 towards the costs of using Epiphany House and although there will be refreshments provided on arrival and at lunchtime, participants are asked to bring their own packed lunches.

If there is enough interest I could investigate whether Epiphany could provide a soup lunch and what the cost would be. Please let me know if that would be helpful. 


A Sermon for the Reader Licensing Service October 2019

Let us pray

In the written word and spoken word may we meet the risen word, our lord and saviour Jesus Christ – Amen.

The challenge of preaching at this particular occasion is not much different to the challenge all us preachers face every time we stand before God’s people………  it’s just got a couple of extras! 

  • to give a sermon one needs to hear one’s self,
  • a sermon that welcomes and encourages those about to join our merry band of blue-scarved warriors for Christ,
  • a sermon that should speak to all those in ministry both ordained and lay
  • and finally a sermon that will say something to everyone else because after all every single person in this building right now whether they are wearing frocks, playing the organ, shuffling their bottoms on impossibly uncomfortable chairs or tasked with making everything work smoothly for the rest of us (pause) each is equally important, equally loved and equally valued by God (Pause) and that does not matter whether you are here as a born again atheist basking in the architecture – or a bishop.

Now THEY (the about to be licensed readers)  are probably expecting a story- but I don’t have one today; they are the story and for the purposes of this sermon they represent all of us in ministry who are here today…

I stand here in my role as chaplain having worked with – and prayed with – and prayed for this group over the last several years as I did with the several groups before that. Each year that Jane, (indicate) as director of training, and I have been here – we have been immensely proud that the future of reader ministry has an injection of such talent, dedication, scholarship, compassion and, above all, love. 

So as one does (pause) I was pondering on what it is that makes the perfect Reader.

What would you put in the recipe? (Pause) articulate, well read and prepared to make promises to the Bishop (indicate J) but what else?


You see this group here (pause); representing all of us remember– each with our own God given gifts, personalities and vocations …… between them I wonder if they make the recipe for the perfect reader.

Let me introduce them…

  • Martin the constantly inquisitive and searching, orthodox- rigorous academic music professor.
  • Henry the surgeon whose wit and ability to get to the heart of the matter are as sharp as the scalpel he used to wield.
  • Robin whose practical approach and generosity of time are reflected his sermons which are seemingly hewn from the bench ends which he carves into useful artefacts.
  • Liz from Warleggan who strides the ecumenical divide and understands the real needs of the folk she serves,
  • Debbie the teacher, who is so thoughtful, and more creative than almost anyone in preparing worship
  • James the traditionalist who is as happy leading BCP evensong as he is tying a tarpaulin to a church roof in a gale or conjuring life from a recalcitrant computer.
  • Kim who’s cheerfully up for any challenge from leading a drumhead service to a time of quiet reflection and can balance needs all from military personnel to children in a family service.
  • And Lesley – who once trained nurses, has a heart as big as an Olympic swimming pool and takes God’s love to others wherever she goes.

So although I’m looking at them – I’m speaking to us all when Isaiah reminds us   

“you are my witnesses …..  and my servant and I have chosen you

which probably sums up the reason why many of us are here today; we are called to be God’s witnesses  and to stand up and tell the story.


“because you are precious in my sight and honoured and (pause) I love you 

As ministers we have to believe this of all people including, very importantly, (pause) ourselves.

The eight folk you have standing before you today have sacrificed much to be here and as I said, they represent all the readers and ministers in this place today. Between them they’ve probably sampled most of the Medical Equipment that the NHS has to offer from radiology to cardiology. Like all of you have written essays, read carefully, prayed dutifully and battled through personal burdens in order to be good witnesses and live up to being personally chosen by God.

But through these battles and adversity we are reminded..

do not fear for I have redeemed you I have called you by your name and you are mine – when you pass through with the waters I will be with you

We have been chosen and whatever our physical or mental state, God can use us to further his plan if we only trust in his love and reflect that to others.

Jesus tells Peter to fish from the other side of his boat and Peter obeys even though he had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught anything.

Now if that had been me, having been up all night, vastly experienced in my trade and a carpenter gives me advice I might just have grumbled something about somewhere even more suitable for the net or suggested that he might like to try it himself but that’s because I am a grumpy old bloke and I have been like that since I was 12.

Peter, however, is made of different stuff and amazingly he just does what Jesus says and of course hauls in a miraculous catch. Then, to cap it all, he accepts Jesus’ invitation to leave the trade and go into ministry.

Our new Readers have obeyed the command to fish from the other side and to fish for people from whatever boat they happen to be in whether it’s a cruise liner or a rowing boat with a few holes. 

But what you think you might have been called for will not necessarily remain the same- God changes our jobs, our vocations to suit where we are on our journey, our capacity, our health our situation and the needs of others where we are , but one need remains constant and that is love.

My recipe:

  • Folks who have open ears to hear the cry of those in need,
  • open hands to receive the gifts that God wants to give us
  • open intelligent minds that can use those gifts in service,
  • and huge hearts that can act like a reservoir for the love of Jesus that all who meet them might share in that glorious gift. Ministers who are always ready to call, ‘Here I am Lord..!”

I pray that all of you who preach and teach and minister might see that love reflected back to you from those you have been chosen to serve and to witness to.

And if you don’t think you are a minister, perhaps because you do not have all that theological study under your belt or because you don’t wear the right fancy dress – look over your shoulder- God has chosen you for something too!



Jim Seth

October 2019


Dear Bishop Chris


I know you are not officially a Bishop any more in your new role but for me the title is something I think you may be stuck with. 

When someone moves on to other things it is interesting to reflect on the impact they have made and the shape of the hole that they have left. With some folks the hole is not much than a dent and with others it’s not so much a hole as a pile of debris that has to be cleared away. Thankfully neither of those applies to you. 

The impact of your ministry on me  personally has been huge and through that I am aware of some of the impact across the diocese.

Although I had been getting increasingly involved in Reader life since I retired from my paid job in 2009 spending some time as Deanery Reader Steward and somehow getting the job of producing a three fold brochure on Reader ministry there was none so surprised as I at getting an email from you inviting me to be on the panel to select Readers for training in 2014.  

The conversations that day with you and Jane (Kneebone) as well as the amazing privilege of listening to the faith stories of the candidates set me on a whole new path. From preaching and teaching and organising stuff my ministry became more and more about listening which if you were to speak to my wife Lez she would tell you that me actually listening is a miracle. I am not sure that it would count toward your beatification however 🙂 

So as a result of that I was asked to help on the course and  became chaplain to the course later that year.  Then eventually I took over from Chris Kingshott as Chaplain to Readers.


So part of your impact is in that wonderful ability to discern the skills of others and to open the opportunities to flourish both for me and for many others over your years as Bishop of St Germans.  The wider impact being the empowering of others and delegating responsibility which enables the holes one leaves to be filled much more easily. Hence the role of Warden sitting with a small committee until a new one is formally appointed. 

Another aspect of your ministry that impacted upon me in particular and I suspect in many others was your ability to ask the probing question that would set one’s mind on a different tack or to cut to the core of an issue. Asking the right questions is such an important skill.  That some folks may not have altogether enjoyed that challenge is the hard stuff of being a leader but challenge is what we all need if we are to grow. 

Your support for and belief in Reader Ministry really did make us feel valued and that we have a special part to play in the modern church even with the pincer movement of other lay ministries and the seeming dominance of some ordained ministers! (not my Rector, I hasten to add- just in case he reads it!)  I for one am thankful that your experience with us in Truro will be put to good use in your new role where I hope that support of Reader ministry may be seen  in a wider context and have greater impact.


Thank you for your challenge, for your invitations, for your encouragement, for your compassion and your belief in the skills and the callings of those under your wing. 

We will miss you and our prayers will be with you in your new tasks




Just some memes to brighten your day

It seems all denominations share some of the same problems

The next one is a hangover from the ethos of my teaching days but so relevant in faith matters!  Just don’t expect the answer you want every time. 

Just nice.....

Funeral Ministry

I finally took my first funeral this week having avoided them for the three decades of my Reader Ministry. 

That was partly because I saw my skills being with children and young people and partly through being uncomfortable, to put it mildly, with thinking too much about death and dying. 

The other reason is something to do with getting it wrong in such a delicate situation. 

The same minister led the funerals for my mother and my father some five years apart. At Dad’s funeral he got my brother’s name wrong which did not amuse him so at Mum’s funeral I prepared the whole service and gave him a eulogy to read with the instruction that the majority of mourners were Christians of different denominations so a bit of hopeful theology would not go amiss. 

He did not put in any Christian hope and in the Eulogy he attempted to paraphrase….. Where I had written ‘Doreen loved birds and was a keen naturalist……..” he decided in a lilting midlands accent to declare that ‘Doreen was a keen naturist…..’ 

Oh dear! 


Since retiring in 2009 I have spent hours listening to people in case-work, chaplaincy and spiritual direction situations and listening to others has a tendency to change one’s perspective. 

So the time came when the Rector needed another pair of hands to cover funerals and not being one to pass up a challenge I accepted.  I have done funeral training at least three times with the Readers in Training and another three at different times over the years, just not the practical aspects so after quizzing the Rector and having a good conversation with Richard Putt, the hugely experienced Funeral Director at Bernard Williams Funerals I was all set. 

Part of the preparation was in an empty crematorium in Camborne with Rector Caspar, escorting a coffin in from the hearse (the committal having been done outside the church much earlier) and saying an appropriate prayer. Once done, that gave me the opportunity to chat to the crematorium manager, stand at the lectern, rehearse pressing the button to shut the curtains and work out the best speed to walk in in front of the coffin! 

Then I was taken around the back to the ‘business end’ and chatted to the chap whose task it was to run the cremator and other equipment.  It was fascinating and rather wonderful in its own way. Even seeing the bin of metal replacement body parts from hips to knees and from staples to pins which goes off to Poland or Holland for recycling and generated around £6000 which is then donated to local charities. 

Speaking to the sons of the lady whose service I was to take was a special experience as was writing all their thoughts into something cohesive. I emailed it to them when I had written it so that they could edit if necessary.

The funeral itself was in a packed crematorium and went very smoothly – I was pleased that I had taken on the challenge because the privilege of helping people through their grief  is at the heart of showing Jesus’ love to all people.  I may well be up for doing more should they fall my way…….

Resourcing Sunday to Saturday Faith

Click on the link above (or the picture of the booklet)  to open this document which I would highly recommend! Many of you will have seen it in your latest copy or the Reader. I missed it! My habit is to open the recyclable sleeve putting it with the compost, remove the magazine to read later and extract all all the advertising that drops out like confetti and putting that in the paper recycling. A sad end to this carefully written and hugely accessible booklet!

Luckily Bishop Chris thrust it into my hand and there will be some extra copies available on the Reader stand on Vocations Day thanks to Carrie.

You might care to go and mine for your own resources in the vast caverns of the CRC website- there are some treasures there even if they are called unhelpful things like P348 


So 50 years ago this summer I was 17 and living at home in Birmingham. My parents had gone off with my brother and my cousin for a caravanning holiday in Scotland and I was working nights in Cadburys to build up the college fund.

It was 1969 and I maintain, the best year for popular and rock music ever; the Stones were top of the charts with Honky Tonk women, the Beatles with Get Back and Fleetwood Mac with Albatross. Of course there were some dreadful musical memories too such as Sugar Sugar by the Archies, the somewhat pornographic Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus and arguably ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra which seems to have become a song of choice for many funerals! There’s nothing new under the sun.

So the other week I was preaching at St Andrews in Redruth  on that wonderful set of readings that included the lines from Ecclesiastes about there being nothing new under the sun and musing that in 1969 Richard Nixon was president and now there was Donald Trump. Woodstock set the standard for large music festivals and now they are common-place. Neil Armstrong made ‘one small step for man’ and now we have a space station orbiting the planet and entrepreneurs are working on taking folks on holiday in space. Charles de Gaulle resigned as French president famous for saying “NON!” a couple of years before to the UK entering the Common Market following years of negotiation and now…… well the less said about that here the better! There’s nothing new under the sun.

That summer I joined a sponsored March from Central Birmingham to the Lickey Hills in aid of Medical Aid for Vietnam and these days teenagers and others are still Marching for Climate Change and so on! There’s nothing new under the sun.

History seems to prove than humankind does not learn from its mistakes and maybe it has to be allowed to make them in order to learn and that goes also for Rectors, Curates, Readers and anyone involved in ministry! No amount of PCC meetings that declare “we did that once…. It didn’t work!” or “we don’t belong to do that here!” will help. 

David Bowie was the soundtrack to the Moon Landing encouraging us all to look up and the Edwin Hawkins singers sang Oh Happy Day when Jesus washed my sins away reminding us that there is always a chance to start afresh- putting off that those bad habits and learning from mistakes of the past. Blue Mink Sang “Melting Pot” in which they appealed for all races to be lumped together to produce a “get along scene” and on that Sunday at St Andrews the epistle was from Paul explaining that in Christ there was no Greek no Jew, so slave nor free, make nor female etc.  There’s nothing new under the sun.

(Final paragraph)

Maybe we should focus on the Hollies, “He Aint Heavy, he’s my Brother” I suggested in my sermon and remember that at the heart of all we do is looking after one another- the whole of humankind in Christ.

I had a rare email commenting on the sermon a few days later from someone much moved by the mention of that song because it reminded him of his long departed brother- we don’t know the power of what we drop into sermons.

Back in 1969 I was very much a ‘born again’ atheist- very anti organised religion and especially anti the Billy Graham evangelistic movement – but I don’t think I ever really lost God in that time and God certainly did not lose me but popular culture and the words of songs kept me in touch but it took nearly another decade for me to head back to church.

 The top 100 for 1969 can be found at:


The road is long, with many of winding turns
That lead us to (who knows) where, who knows where?
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him – yeah
He ain’t heavy – he’s my brother

So long we go, his welfare is my concern
no burdon is he to bear, we’ll get there
But I know he would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy – he’s my brother

If I’m leaving at all, if I’m leaving with sadness
that everyone’s heart isn’t filled with the gladness
of love for one another.

It’s a long, long road, from which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there, why not share?
And the long doesn’t way me down at all
He ain’t heavy – he’s my brother

He’s my brother – he ain’t heavy – he’s my brother …

A Hot & Contentious Topic......

Carrie raised an interesting question:

“Our parish has recently done Safer Recruitment training with everyone or it feels like everyone – and (it has) not  necessarily (been universally) welcomed.  The Parish tried to ‘Safer Recruit’ me as a Reader and I found out they couldn’t – it is the Diocese who does Safer Recruitment for Readers and I didn’t know this before.  How many Readers realise this do you think? Do you think it’s worth a ‘did you know’ thought in the Blog?”

It is of course very important to safely recruit but as with all these things it raises a huge number of issues especially when you have a small congregation and an even smaller number of volunteers. Readers in training, those coming up for relicensing and those needing permission to officiate do go through a sort of safer recruitment process as they should all have the backing of their incumbents and their PCCs. Trainees will also have been through an extensive interview process and had to provide references. Then they are carefully assessed for suitability over a three year period so they are certainly safely recruited. 

What about Readers who move in to the Diocese or move from another parish, what about Readers who have been in post for several decades- how is their suitability for role checked? 

One would hope that regular meetings with their incumbent / ministry team and an annual / bi-annual review  would help.

 So although it is diocesan responsibility in that the ‘buck stops there’ it is also Parish responsibility to make sure that Readers along with everyone else are working safely. 

I suspect there might be a few comments here….. 

Working Agreement – sample 1

Working Agreement samples 2 Work Agreement

ReaderWorkingAgreement (Link to a word document Norwich Diocese)

 Working agreements are a really useful tool for Readers and their Incumbents. They really provide for a good focus for ministerial review as well as being a useful (and necessary document) in seeking approval for PTO o relicensing from the Incumbent and PCC. The links at the top of this article may be useful. The first two Carrie provided and the third is a form I downloaded from the Diocese of Norwich. It is very detailed (possibly overly so) but can be edited to suit your needs in your situation. 

It is all change for training this year and it would be great to keep those who are in training in your prayers.

New this year are Jason, Judy, Gaynor and Sue. Already in training are Penny, Sandy, Debbie & Debbie and Jane, and in their final year, Roy and Matt who are due to be licensed in October 2020.

 Eight new readers are due to be licensed in October, Henry, Robin, James, Martin, Debbie, Liz, Lesley and Kim.  Please do pray for them.



Before I was Chaplain to Readers I was Chaplain to Readers in Training and it remains as part of my role although I am delighted that Reader, Margaret Sylvester-Thorne has come on board as assistant Chaplain and will be the presence at most of the weekend courses at MARJON. I will attend when I can. 

Click here to view the SWMT|C website Reader Training Page

Following their two year SWMTC course there will be a post licensing year with day school elements and other tasks. 

This year two students will have a final year on their own so they have had a study programme developed for them which may provide opportunities for other readers to take part in the day schools  by way of continuing ministerial development.

A suggested programme is as follows:

·         Two study days e.g: 1. Funeral Training (inc visit to local crematorium)

                                  2. Focus on a Biblical book or topic

These might be opened up to all Readers, especially those licensed in the last two to three years.

·         Year 3 Placement (6 weeks, chaplaincy, other denomination etc)

·         Lead a 4 – 6 week group study course: Bible study/Lent/Advent/Baptism or Confirmation Preparation etc

·         One assessed act of worship

·         One assessed sermon

·         Two pieces of summative work:

1.    An extended Theological Reflection on an aspect of work being undertaken in the parish/workplace/wider diocesan context

2.    Placement portfolio including reflection on experience                (Total c 5000 words)

·         To meet at least once a term with a personal tutor or supervisor / as a supervision group with a supervisor 

Chance meetings in Oncology.

So there we were in oncology at Treliske Hospital’s splendid Sunrise centre being advised by the consultant on treatment options, outcomes and probabilities and watched by two earnest but smiley young women on different career paths through careers in radiology. Then, when the consultant went to write prescriptions, fill in forms and see if the CT scanner was available, they stayed to quiz Lez on her experience of treatment from fast scan and diagnosis for him to surgery and to this appointment. Their presence was most welcome in passing the time and after their questions were answered we discovered that one was on an apprenticeship route and the other already had a radiology degree but wanted to specialise in mammography. So after a brief, conversation about student debt in relation to the two routes we discovered that I am one of them was part of the team and rowers who call themselves ‘The Oarsome Foursome.’ The team consists of four ladies in different decades from thirties to sixties who are attempting to row the Atlantic this winter to raise money for Cornish blood bikes amongst other good causes.

The upshot is that Saint Andrews Redruth is adopting the cause as the beneficiaries of the special Christmas Services and we hope to be able to post news and pictures on the big screen at appropriate times. Should you want to know more about them you can find out more at

Lez has now begun her 15 consecutive working days of radio therapy with appointments just when she wanted them, first thing in the morning. And on chance meetings sheet and share the waiting room with her dentist this morning he was having therapy at the same time.

We are extremely fortunate to have the sunrise centre and the mermaid centre to provide cancer treatment in the west of the county especially when it was so hard fought for and the suggestion was to make all patients travel to Plymouth to attend a central unit at Derriford hospital which for daily treatments over a three week period would mean patients from this end of the county would incur huge and travel costs, time commitment and even the necessity of bed and breakfast stays.


Until we need these things we don’t realise how important they are!

Canon Jane, Bishop Chris and I saw the first five candidates for this year’s cohort of new readers in training. It is such a huge privilege to help people discern their path in ministry and it was incredibly humbling listening to their stories and their thinking. 

Please keep Jason, Gaynor, Penny, Ilene, Debbie, Judy, Sue and Shorne in your prayers as they are in ours.

The News of Bishop Chris’ new post as Director of Ministry was widely disseminated yesterday – what a great choice for the job! I found myself on the readers in training selection panel in 2014 with Jane Kneebone and Bishop Chris and from there my own ministry somewhat snowballed through their encouragement. Bishop Chris is committed to vocations and ministry in their widest sense but in particular Reader Ministry of which he has a deep understanding and personal commitment.  His presence in Westminster can only strengthen the wider Church’s vision for Reader ministry. In the next few months before his move we need some conversations about who will be the next warden – or whether we await the arrival of a new Bishop of St Germans and so on! Let me know if there is anything you would like me to relay in conversation. 

Good luck Bishop Chris….. and thank you!!

Prayers – a starting point……

Allie, Miriam, Lesley, Lesley, Margaret, Roy & Chris, Roy, Sandy, Gordon & Jean, Garth, Jane & Frank, Jane,  Molly & Steve, Stephanie, Deb, Becca,