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 P348https://www.readers.cofe.anglican.org/resources.php 

 

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: http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1969.shtml

 

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.

 

Chaplaincy

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 https://www.oarsomefoursome.co.uk/about-us/

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, 

Psalmists Cry on the Beach

When I had my right hip replaced in  2012 the surgeon asked me about my expectations for it afterwards – what did I want to be able to do? 

My reply was something about being able to sit on the floor to play with small grandchildren and walk the dog – perhaps even the walk from Godrevy to Hayle along the beach.

He was reassured that I was not intending to go climbing, do a parachute jump, go trampolining or surfing  or sit in sports cars with very low seats and prescribed a hard wearing ceramic job for my needs.  Since then I have done a bit of bouncing on the trampoline in the garden and I have sat in a sports car but in the main I have followed orders and the hip has walked over 5000 miles at a very conservative estimate however until Friday I had not done the beach walk I had set as an early target.

On Friday I dropped Lez (my wife)  at St Michael’s hospital in Hayle to have the offending lump removed from her breast and set off for Godrevy at 7:30 am to walk and pray. The tide was not due to turn for a couple of hours and there was the incentive of breakfast at Godrevy café afterwards. 

There were very few people about at 8 am; just a few surfers, dog walkers and joggers so it was a solitary experience for a couple of hours –it would have been lovely to have had the company of a dog!

Its amazing how much praying one can get done on a  solitary walk with miles of open empty beach stretching out before you and the gentle sound of the sea to accompany you. It was as much a pilgrimage for me as any journey to a holy shrine and I found myself in full psalmist mode pleading (rather than the complaining or moaning ones) not just for Lez and her surgical and care team but for all those on my “Readers-Plus” prayer list.

I got back to the car park a couple or hours later with somewhat achy feet and hips and was somewhat dismayed to see that queue for the café stretched down the path and into the car park – it seems Friday morning is a popular day. So I cut my losses and headed home to make myself a healthy mackerel salad and telephone the hospital for an update. 

Those calls really bring to mind all the people in the same position across the land worrying for the health of a loved spouse or family member. It seemed that she had not gone to surgery yet but she was quite happy and did not need anything and to phone back in a couple of hours!

The next call was a bit of a déjà vu moment as she was still waiting and I had to phone back in a couple of hours. So I busied myself with Sunday’s sermon and after several phone calls I eventually collected a cheerful looking Lez at 7:70 pm Arnold the lump having been safely evicted!  From Kallie the surgeon to the student nurse who had spent so much time popping in, the whole team was professional, calm, cheerful, friendly and optimistic as well as giving the impression that they had time even with a full schedule!

The house, as I write looks like a florist’s!

It says something about the power of prayer when Lez says that she ‘actually had a lovely day!’ Her recovery has been remarkable so far and folks in church yesterday were not only surprised to see her there but at how fit and healthy she looked.

I preached my sermon twice in the benefice yesterday having thought much about the story of Paul and Silas casting out the spirit of divination from a slave girl who annoyed them which earned them a beating and a night in gaol; the conclusion being the praise meeting followed by an earthquake, the conversion of the gaoler and hospitality.  For me though I kept getting side tracked by the slave girl.

Having led a C1 safeguarding session down at St Erth on Tuesday evening with 30 or so lovely people my mind was attuned to modern slavery, human trafficking and  sexual slavery which is what that poor girl was suffering when Paul and Silas got involved.  But her story is confined to the anonymous folk whose stories are never completed in the dustbin of history.

In a Twitter post Rev Simon Cade summed it up as, “abused child speaks the truth, silenced by powerful men, they get locked up anyway but they charm the authorities into release. Nothing modern there then!”

In Paul’s day slavery was accepted, it was legal, common place and a commercial venture but these days those opinions, like some other biblically historic opinions, are out of place but sadly still prevail even in Cornwall. Newquay has its problems with pop-up brothels where holiday lets are used to trade the services of trafficked women for sexual services and in other places gang-masters run gangs of agricultural workers.  Across the country and the world the problem is vast!

So a plea, please add the victims of modern slavery to your prayers – all those who, like the slave girl robbed of her one skill that made her of any value, have lives that are controlled by those with more power with little chance of freedom. 

It’s the stuff of psalms.

Sometimes blogs take a long time to write especially when one is on call to change surgical stockings (I am very efficient now) appoint headteachers or select new readers in training but the best news is that yesterday Lez went for tests following her surgery to be told that all is clear so thank you all for your prayers – they worked!

Really looking forward to seeing how this works in church….

Yskynna Vertical Dance Company 

welcomes you to a web experience of Vertical Dance

Yskynna are a vibrant company based in Cornwall who believe in making and taking extraordinary performance to new heights!

With sights set on non traditional venues, high walls, cliff faces, tall buildings and large open spaces, Yskynna welcome new challenges and the chance to create in such inspiring places. 

With our work we aim to generate and invigorate audiences, and we recognise the value of gifted/free performance accessible for all, which enables us to reach a wider demographic of the public. We are determined to entrust our legacy to the youth which are at the heart of all of our educational and outreach initiatives, by building long lasting links with schools and communities.

 

Arnold

We met Arnold last week officially though we suspected he was an unwelcome guest a week earlier but had to wait for confirmation. We now have a date, the last day of May for his eviction – then it will be the slow mopping up operation.

The little, roughly drawn, illustration is from my prayer journal late last week after my wife’s breast cancer was confirmed – she named it Arnold. She had a dream that she had either a reluctant dog on a lead or possibly a small child on reins, or possibly both as they seemed to merge.  Whatever they were / it was, through a convoluted narrative in which she was supposed to go places and get things done,  Arnold was holding her back and making her rather cross with frustration.  As a metaphor it seems to work rather well.  

The prognosis is good and it seems to be caught quite early though treatment will include surgery, radiotherapy and some sort of hormone reduction medication. It has been wonderful with folks rallying around to tell us positive recovery stories and the more positive stories we can hear the better. The prayer support has likewise been wonderful and though I feel very stretched and have been somewhat melancholic, we feel the security of Gods loving embrace.

So ‘Lez’ is another name on my lengthy prayer list that I rehearse in my head several times a day – when I wake, when I walk, before I sleep or sitting in a waiting room. She slots in nicely with Lesley M and Lesley B – what is it with Cancer and the name Lesley? (that’s not to do a disservice to Margaret and Anna and Paul and the rest who are also living with an Arnold of their own – or trying to make sure he does not come back!)

The thing about this sort of intrusion into one’s life which was totally unexpected as it followed a routine screening rather than the discovery of symptoms,  is that it that it does present a challenge  to faith when it comes to healing and miracles.  I thought it might be more tricky than it is…

My own personal mantra is that ‘stuff’ happens, bad things happen to good people. Occasionally there are visibly tangible miraculous healings but I suspect that most of the time it is down to the health service backed up with the positive attitude of those who have a deep belief in the love and power of Jesus.

The temptation is to be a bit like the bloke dangling from a cliff shouting to God for help.

When God tells him to let go and trust in him he yells, “Is there anybody else up there?”

The staff at the Mermaid Centre at Treliske were wonderful, and we are thankful that we have the wonderful NHS and don’t have to worry of we have medical insurance that will actually cover us as one continually reads in the USA.

So thank you Lord for the NHS, the Mermaid Centre and the staff who work there- the surgeons, nurses admin and cleaning teams and of course the ‘Friends’ who make tea for worried patients and their supporters.   

Being a stoically practical person who never stops, my wife has a list of things to complete before May 31st so the next couple of weeks I have my orders helping complete her list of tasks before surgery. The biggest task is  preparing for the big annual Arts festival at St Andrews in June- this year the theme is “Looking up” so we have Aerial Dance theatre Yskynna performing – suspended above the pews! The upshot for me is missing Reader Day but priorities lie here and I shall be thinking about those who go and I shall be praying for them.

 

If you want a copy of my prayer list to join me in my daily thoughts- just ask. If you think you or someone else should be on it…. Ask that too.