So there we all were for Sunday lunch discussing who was to blame for the sinking of the Titanic with the four grandchildren. Not quite as random as you might think because Jonah had been doing the Titanic for a school project and that had been the subject for debate. 

So was it the designer, the owner or the captain? 

Ellie, aged 9, muses, “perhaps it was God that sunk the Titanic…”

we look quizzically in her direction.

“Well God might have been cross with some people on board.”

Eyebrows are raised from the adults…

“Think about Noah’s Ark…”

The looks on our faces convey the general feeling that all on the ark were saved..

“Look…” says Ellie “God, he or she…. let’s just say she shall we – killed everyone else who wasn’t on the ark.”


Lent and Easter Personal Reflection

I began this blog on Holy Saturday – -the Carn Brea Cross empty on the hillside – stark white fibreglass against the rocks and the heather reflecting the empty wooden cross of two millennia past.  It is amazing how many people you see making their way up to it and around it and how many people ask about it and complain if it does not go up!

Lent this year has been a difficult trudge with a chesty cough lingering through the weeks, the sort of thing, that always leads me to a state of morose melancholy. The latter, seems a good excuse for munching biscuits and eating extra helpings of pudding on at the basis that, if I feel miserable, I deserve physical comforts to make up for it! It of course ignores the fact that it is lent and that I should be persevering and focusing on things spiritual.

Then of course I feel more miserable when I realise I have put on half a stone and feel fat and unfit – if not actually ill.

I think the lowest point mood-wise was probably after a ministry team meeting discussing the Easter Sunday gospel which is surprising since it was the essence of the good news but there is no accounting for man-flu moodiness!

Tuesday afternoon was rescued by a quite entertaining committee meeting about Bishop Philpott’s library. Alan Bashforth and Roger Bush on top form lending humour to an otherwise unremarkable, if important agenda.  There will be more news on the library in the future with details of access.

On Maundy Thursday I went to the Chrism mass at the cathedral where I had been asked to read the second lesson which I was delighted and very privileged to do. The Old Testament reader, Dr Michael Todd, is a worship leader amongst his many other jobs. I didn’t robe, which was fine by me although Michael and I did feel a little out of place surrounded by all those white albs in our little corner by the pillar.

 It was lovely that there was a bit in the service where those in lay ministry could reaffirm their promises – but it did cross my mind that it would have been even ‘nicer’ if the ranks of robed readers had also been there to make their re-commitment alongside Bishops and other clergy.  I know we have the Readers’ service in October but there is surely a growing feeling about the need to bring ministry closer together.  There is a tricky balance here about wanting to be closer to the clergy in terms of ministry and distinctive from Worship Leaders and Pastoral Ministers without upsetting someone!

Thursday evening was my favourite and possibly the only social event I enjoy at St Andrews in the whole year- the Annual Seder Meal – with lamb stew, crumble, fellowship, worship and foot (or hand) washing. Over the years we have done it in a variety of ways from the highly traditional to this rather more fellowship-based affair. The occasion is one where one feels very close to the disciples at the Last Supper. The stripping of the altar and the watch followed and with a puff of my inhaler I got through the dramatic gospel reading and long psalm before the quiet of the watch. 

Good Friday began with an early walk around the mine stacks to see if I thought I might be sound of wind enough to get up Carn Brea to assist with the erecting the Carn Brea Cross with my Baptist friends but a about of coughing and aching hips consigned me to the shorter and far less strenuous Walk of Witness in the town instead.  One small girl and her mother passed us, “what are they doing Mummy – what’s that?” Her mum glanced round; “Oh I don’t know!” she said and hurried on tugging her child away.

In the afternoon my wife’s ladies singing group at church, Dhiworth an Gollon (From the Heart) led the meditation with songs and readings. I was one of the three chaps volunteered to stand supporting the large cross in the middle of the circle which was quite poignant. The service was wonderfully thought-provoking as always. Fr Simon Cade when he was rector used to say that it was the one service in the year when he felt ministered unto – certainly it outlined just how a group of lay folks can put together really meaningful worship and challenge us all without having to give a sermon…. In fact there was no sermon slot at all. Rev Margaret one of our PTO priests took a few of us afterwards for a short service in which we consumed the last of the reserved sacrament. “Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

Easter Sunday was Ok…..  I decided on a day of new beginnings – I would feel better! Did it work? Well time will tell.

Bank Holiday Monday- wrote an horrendous things to do list and began by making a service sheet for Beacon Methodists next Sunday – the resurrection appearances and Thomas – now there is somebody with whom I empathise. (Sorry Martin- than word again!) 

The End (ish)

In the meantime the quest to find a new Spiritual Director continues…… 

2019-05 Enneagram study day (1) Click for details

2019-10 Enneagram intro Click for details


To all on the Spiritual Direction Course 2016-2018:

A Happy Easter to everyone, and I hope that all goes well with you.

I enclose details of two Enneagram events which are part of the Epiphany House programme this year.  The first, on Friday 10th May (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), is for those who have done the basic Enneagram course ( the course I did with many of you) and looks at how the Enneagram can help us understand the Spiritual Journey.

The later course on Friday evening 25th October (7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.) and Saturday 26th October (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) is the basic introductory course on the Enneagram.  This may be of interest to any who didn’t do it last time, anyone who would like a refresher, and of course anyone else who might be interested.

As both these events are part of the Epiphany House programme booking and payment needs to be made through Epiphany House

If there are any questions about the above do get in touch with me.

Warm wishes and every blessing,



Celtic Spirituality and Spiritual Direction

The Highspot of recent weeks was the Spiritual Direction Training Day focussing on Celtic Spirituality with Canon Pat Robson.

The St Crida website is well worth browsing with details of quite days and pilgrimage activities.

I bought a copy of one of Pat’s books which is still avaialble on Amazon and worth a read! 

Pat’s talks were both fascinating and compelling though by the end of the day most of us were looking at St Mawgan in a new light – he who to the Roman name Pelagian and had a heresy named after him. We were pretty sympathetic!

Here’s a link to some of the letters of Pelagius to give you a taste.

The Wiki article is quite informative:

Christian Bookshop Cornwall – sad news that SACREdplace is closing down.

“We are very sad to announce that the Trustees have decided to close SACREdplace, as our financial situation is no longer tenable.  The intention is to remain open to the public until 17th May, with a stock clearance sale beginning on 30th April.”

15 High Cross Street St Austell Cornwall PL25 4AN  • Map – Phone: 01726 63945 

Contact: Kathy Pope or Carolyn Rowse 


SACREdplace have provided a bookstall at Readers Day events- the service will be missed by those who used it.

Elizabeth Rowe was inspired by the description of light through the stained glass windows in my story.

Beatrice Goodden painted this work drawing togther a number of themes from the opening worship including the roots of the Chaplain's Cross.

Beatrice says "Here is a photo of the painting I made today called ‘make clean our hearts within us’ "

Beatrice writes, "another image I began last year at the end of a retreat and am still working on "

Click to go to The Barnabus Fund Website

This morning at the Reader Training Day School, Matt Frost who is in his second year of training led a thought-provoking service of prayer for persecuted Christians. 

As you might expect the main focus was on Christians persecuted around the world and especially in highlighted trouble-spots. Matt concluded with a reading from a Tweet he received earlier  from the @BarnabusFund

His service sheet is below followed by my reflection and thoughts which went a little wider as my brain began to wander through the subject. 

A Service of Prayer for Persecuted Christians


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. And also with you.

(from Isaiah 49) Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing!

For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones


Let us pray for the persecuted church, for their oppressors, for nations that foster persecution, and for those who ignore it.

Let us read the Holy Scriptures, finding there the stories and witness of hope borne by those who lived through ordeals to the glory of God, and hear the promises of the gospel for all who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

In our prayer for persecuted Christians, let us not narrow our compassion for all who suffer, whatever their profession or creed; let no hatred or prejudice enter our hearts for anyone.

Called by the Holy Spirit to unity with the persecuted, let us enter into their suffering, repenting of our ignorance, refusing to be silent, ready to reach out to them in their isolation.


READING 1. Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love: Romans 8:31-39

Reader: We also recognise all the martyrs and persecuted Christians who have gone before us. Hear the account of the persecution and martyrdom the young woman Perpetua.

A violent persecution being set on foot by the emperor Severus, in 202 {AD}, it reached Africa the following year; when, by order of Minutius Timinianus, (or Firminianus,) five catechumens {new Christians being instructed in preparation for baptism} were apprehended {and jailed} at Carthage for the faith: {among them} Felicitas and Vibia Perpetua. Felicitas was seven months {pregnant}; and Perpetua had an infant at her breast, was of a good family, twenty-two years of age, and married to a person of quality in the city. The father of Perpetua, who was a pagan, {wanted her to offer sacrifice to “the well-being of the emperor.”} Perpetua, before her death, wrote: “We were in the hands of our persecutors, when my father, out of the affection he bore me, made new efforts to shake my resolution. I said to him: ‘Can that vessel, which you see, change its name?’ He said: ‘No.’ I replied: ‘Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say, a Christian.'”

Perpetua and Felicitas and the others refused to offer sacrifice and they willingly accepted death in the amphitheater at the hands of gladiators and wild animals.

READING 2: A Vision of the Martyrs Blessing God Who Has Saved Them: Revelation 7:9-12

Reader: Listen to early Christian writers who mused on the meaning and significance of the suffering and martyrdom of their brothers and sisters.

Tertullian, a second-century lawyer who converted when he saw Christians singing as they went out to die, exclaimed, “The blood of the martyrs is seed. Their blood is the seed of new Christians, the seed of the church.”

The third-century bishop Cyprian said, “When persecution comes, God’s soldiers are put to the test, and heaven is open to martyrs. We have not enlisted in an army to think of peace and to decline battle, for we see that the Lord has taken first place in the conflict.”

Augustine wrote, “The martyrs were bound, jailed, scourged, racked, burned, rent, butchered and they multiplied!”

READING 3. The Beatitudes: Matthew 5:1-12

Reader: the daily prayer request from Barnabas Trust or other source.

We recognise that today who suffer for their faith and wish to stand with them and remember them in our prayers. EXCHANGE PRAYER FOR ICHTHYS FISH SYMBOL.

Final prayer:

Faithful One, you call us to pray for our brothers and sisters, who are part of the Church body that is under persecution. Humbly, we confess that we don? know how to pray for them. Lead us, Gracious Spirit, and we will follow. Holy and Just God, we call forth your light for those shut away in darkness for being called your disciples. We seek your strength for those weary with suffering because they name you as Lord. We ask courage for all who stand in danger due to their faith. And we pray comfort, Holy Spirit, for those who grieve the death of loved ones whose beliefs sent them to their graves. O God, as we cry out on their behalf, we stand with them in their suffering. We remember their pain. May they know they are not forgotten. We hold them now in silence before you.


In the name of Jesus we pray.



Marked with the sign of the cross in baptism we accept the freedom and power God gives to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. We go forth in the freedom and power of the Holy Spirit to resist the evil and injustice inflicted on others, especially sisters and brothers in Christ. We pray for them. In one another’s company we find ways to act in love toward them. We are sent in Christ’s name.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us now and always.


As we were reminded  of the story  of Felicitas and Vibia, the two  well-to-do young women martyred at the hands of gladiators and wild animals for the entertainment of the populace  I asked myself,  “What would I do?” and “Would I be in denial like Peter at the fire – three times before the cock crowed?”

Probably I would side with self-preservation and would find myself a wonderful set of excuses as to why preserving my safety would be in the wider interests of the bigger picture or something of that nature.  But then I have never been in that situation.

I find it really difficult to really imagine those extremes.

In Church, of course, Christians do not persecute each other…….. Well they shouldn’t but safeguarding events tell us different story. Did you know that the diocese deals with dozens of safeguarding queries every month of different levels of severity?

At its lowest level it is about the transfer of power – someone making themselves feel better by making someone else feel worse. That needs exploring in a church context…

Hypothetical situations – not meant to refer to any real persons or situations:

    • The church warden, or wardens who ferment discontent among a congregation against someone else- perhaps the reader, the incumbent or a PCC member who might make a potential church warden in the future and therefore pose a threat. Visiting priests who have volunteered to cover a service can be excellent targets with the seeming end of their decision never to go back.
    • The incumbent who has a particular axe to grind, whether personal or theological and blocks someone else’s vocation by belittling them. This might be belittling the training they might do, belittling their skills, ability to learn  or usefulness.
    • The person in the congregation who ‘through love’ takes it upon themselves to correct what they think is the inappropriate behaviour of someone else. I am sure you can think of many examples of this but it might be to do with relationships, sexuality, the Bible version they use, their lack of volunteering to clean the brass and so on.
    • The teenager who ‘comes out’ as gay or lesbian and is either hounded out of the church, put through ‘conversion therapy’ but certainly has it made known that they are a sinner and ‘in love’ -of course are rejected.  
    • Those who cannot or refuse to appreciate that the Church of England is a wide church with a broad theological base and members are on a wide spectrum with extremes of churchmanship at both ends. Sometimes this can lead to folk feeling hugely troubled because they don’t put the candles in the right place, stand up at the wrong time, lift their hands, don’t lift their hands, pass the peace with a huge hug or cower at the end of a pew and so on.
    • I’m sure readers who get this far in my meanderings can think of many more examples of their own.

And all those are outside the main topics of safeguarding that we talk about in courses! 

Matt’s focus on the persecution of Christians around the world is something we need to keep in our thoughts and our prayers. Equally we must pray for Christians persecuted by ‘Christians’ or  one branch of Islam persecuted by another, and indeed persecution of all people of faith whether Jew or Hindu, Sikh  or buddhist.

Just perhaps we should focus a little more on love and acceptance and  let God take care of the judging! 


This October for the Readers Service I have been asked to preach which is a huge privilege.  So I said I would of course! 

Then a week went by and I started thinking about readings  and a sense of mild panic set in- a blank sheet – what readings? I don’t usually choose my own – I have always preached whatever the lectionary has allotted for the week. 

So I asked the Readers in training who initially suggested Isaiah 6:1-8 or 1 Samuel 3:1-21  but while excellent choices for those about to be licensed I wondered if they were a tad obvious. 

I asked the Readers in Training Management Group and Derek suggested on of the old testament harvest readings…. but he couldn’t remember exactly what it was…. 

So what are your thoughts? Any good suggestions serious or teasing, challenging or comforting, suitable or the opposite? Let me know! 

The Subject was raised at the last committee meeting and is connected with workload, working agreements, performance reviews and the wider issues of whether Readers are used well.


there follows som views from Readers to get you started on the issues- we’d be delighted to hear from you!



An Email Discussion…. 


Re licensing


As suggested, I think that Readers simply just get re-licensed every 3 years from the age of 70.  Forget about the PTO and confusing use of that term in relation to Readers & Clergy. (WE) 

 I think you have pinpointed an Anglican strength which is at the same time a weakness, namely  a reluctance to change. I have long agreed with Wendy’s observation that Readers/ LLM’s could still be licensed on a 3 or 5 years basis after 70 without the change to PTO. This change as far as I can see does nothing to  improve anything, so why?  The fact that it was, as far as I can see, designed to reflect the clergy model does not mean that it should automatically be adopted for Readers. If a reader falls below an acceptable standard and is not able to self diagnose the decline, then the clergy simply cease to use them. The current system is an expensive additional administrative burden and the fact that this is the way it is currently does not mean it has to be the way for the future.


Psychologically, there is shift at this 70 point in the way Readers see themselves and the way they can be viewed by the system. Some believe, rightly or wrongly that  they are consigned to the back shelf at this point and only have routine to contribute. I have met many high qualified multi-talented Readers whose skills are often overlooked. After all 70 was set at a time when life expectancy was much lower than it is now.


I am certain that there are other things I want to mention but I will have to wait until I have had my morning coffee.


Wendy makes a good point, which is reinforced by Don.  Don also makes some good points. 


I am in favour of change, but not change for changes sake.  The name we call ourselves should generate or create respect.  Does it? 


We were pushed to consider changing our name to Licensed Lay Minister because others were doing it.  I agree that ‘Reader’ is an inappropriate, even an inadequate name.  It has a 150 years behind it and people have come to know what it means even though it is inaccurate as a label.  I advocated using a word, which is more descriptive and equally brief.  I tried and offered some original names and which was ‘kicked into the long grass’. 


The use of Licensed Lay Minister is an inadequate job description, not a name and should not be used even though it has become popular in other diocese.  Do we call Vicars, Rectors, clergy ‘Licensed Ordained minister’?  No, of course not – that would be silly.  But we do not hesitate to use this for Readers.  Is there not a name, other than Reader, that can be used?  Surely there are people in academia, who could advise. A Reader could be an LLM before 70 and a PTO-LM after 70. I was admitted as a Reader and then licensed.  I reached 70 and was given the Bishop’s PTO without a license, but still as a Reader.  Wendy’s point makes some sense. 


What advantage is there in licensing a Reader before 70?  The argument goes: Exeter is doing it and we should consider it.  Why?  Again, the argument goes that it forces the reader and the priest to confront the Reader’s ministry and ensure that it is adequate.  This presumes that the priest and the Reader do not discuss this – either implicitly or explicitly.  That is a big assumption.  Most clergy and Readers discuss their role in the parish – naturally at the beginning of the priest’s tenure and then through his/her time in the Parish.  There may be some who do not and we want to ensure that everyone does because 5 or 10% do not . . . the innocent must pay for the guilty?  It seems to be a heavy handed approach, lacking in realistically addressing the problem. A lump hammer for a thumb tack.  The other question is who is going to do this job?  There is enough pressure on the Secretary now.  


If there is concern in Truro Diocese about the relationship between the clergy and the Reader, then why not address it head on?  The Warden could request a report from a meeting of clergy and Reader every three or five years (the time frame for renewal of licences), with the clergy and the Reader invited to submit private and personal comments on the meeting and their views of the Reader’s role in the Parish.  The Warden can look through it to ensure that everything is going well or that it needs tweaking.  I fully understand the desire to delegate some form of checking by licensing, but it would not achieve the objective and, in the final analysis, the Warden is responsible – in our case (with two Wardens) it might be delegated to the Deputy Warden if the Warden is too busy. 


Should we renew Reader licences every three or five years?  Not in my opinion.  The licence given should be left as it is until at least 70. 




There is much work  going on to design Reader Training that will be relevant and useful in coming years. The current cohorts of trainees are in different stages of the Truro Course amalgamating with SWMTC and the links with training ordinands. The draft outline of the new course looks very exciting and is sure to appeal to those who feel a sense of calling to ministry of one sort or another. 

It is envisaged that there will be a new Foundations in Christian Ministry course run locally for all interested that may well serve as the first year of the Reader Course. During that course students will discern whether they want to go on to Reader Ministry, ordination or do something else. 

The Reader course itself has seven residential weekends in Plymouth with the ordinands. Readers would finish on Friday tea time and the ordainees would stay another night and have an extra session on Sunday. 

There are other local seminars, online modules, blog writing and so on which have all to be agreed and slotted in but huge progress has been made and I am sure that new Readers are going to benefit significantly along with their sponsoring churches. 

The course is closely tied in with the Durham University requirements for ratification so the position as Reader as LAy Theologian in underpinned. 

Watch this space for more news…… 


Reader Geoff Cox writes, ” just a few minutes ago (7:24 )  I was listening to an interview on radio 4 with  Canon Stephen Pye on the above subject. He had 8 churches in the North of England and was saying the new ruling only accepts what’s happening now which I can understand in some cases. (radio 4  7:25 “Today” Saturday 23rd Feb) 

However all he could talk about was communion services which he could not do. There was no talk of lay led services at all I feel sure that  there would have been some lay led services in a cluster of 8 churches.

Is it just that some of our ordained colleagues do not see a lay contribution as valid services. I could not believe that the lay contribution was not mentioned.

On a more positive not I was very taken by an article in the Reader magazine by a focal Minister in Wales. It seems that at least some places see the value of making a lay minister a focal point of contact in a parish and the fact that he takes baptisms was interesting.”

The annual survey and my conversations with Readers across the diocese shows a very mixed picture, sometimes in the same benefice, with Readers not used or relied upon too heavily and some places where life seems rosey!  If you would like to comment or add to the discussion please drop me a line! Jim

Birthday lunch at the Gurnards Head after a blustery walk along parts of the cliff path,

The Picture of the pub is shamelessly nicked from their website- but there is a link to it from the picture and if you have never been I can recommend it!

We dropped in for coffee at 10:30 and then battled the freshening breeze and enjoying the patches of sunshine until lunchtime. 

Our table was in the main part of the pub rather than the restaurant by the fire and opposite us was a couple.

Now Lez and I have always been people watchers often making up stories about who they are and what they have been doing and so I noticed this pair right away. He looked a businessman perhaps in his 50s and  was pouring rather generous glasses of wine for himself and the young woman who shared his table. 

Father and daughter having a celebratory lunch perhaps or maybe a reunion. 

We ordered our drinks – ginger beer for me as I was driving (and actually wanted to be awake for the afternoon.) their meals arrived and more wine poured  As the weather was good the pub was very busy and so lunch proceeded at a very leisurely pace and by the time our orders arrived the couple had finished theirs and were deep in conversation – he was doing much of the talking- she leaning forward and stroking his fingers as they were wrapped around the stem of his glass…… it is hard not to look when its only 6 feet away and right in front of you. 

Work colleagues- the boss treating his doting personal assistant – or perhaps as it was a Friday they were on the first day of a weekend ‘conference’ …… 

While she went off to the ladies he poured the remainder of the bottle of wine into his glass and drained it and signalled to the hostess that he wanted another bottle of the same vintage to take out. “I hope he’s not driving,”  I whispered to Lez.

Their bill paid he got his car keys ready and left while we awaited our pudding.

My thoughts were several ranging from: I hope he’s breathalysed to I bet he’s the owner of the flash silver merc parked across the front of the pub -rather than in the car park. 



I reminded myself that I was being both harsh and judgemental especially because I had decided it was most definitely an illicit affair and that someone was going to get hurt and hoped he was not going to show off in his merc with the best part of two thirds of a bottle of wine in his system. 

But….. there may have been a taxi waiting….. it could still have been an innocent family reunion….. but is was easier and more satisfying to judge.

That was chastening as I had been taking the moral high ground all week on the story of the Shamima Begum which has stirred up so much controversy. A priest I know commented, “Oh I tell people she should be allowed back but collected from the airport by Prince Philip.’

A Reader queried why she should be allowed back – after all she would be on social security and given a house with our money! That she ‘had made her bed and ought to be made to lie in it’ seems to be a common opinion – an eye for an eye and all that.

So I asked some questions this week in social media and in discussion:

  • Is she a victim of sex trafficking, having been radicalised while still a child at 15?
  • Is there any wonder that she does not show remorse at some of the crimes of Islamic State when she will have  been brainwashed for the past four years or so.
  • Should she not come back and face the consequences?

In the end of course, her citizenship revoked, she remains stateless and wandering and bringing up a baby boy who eventually might prove a greater problem. Time will tell.

But I don’t know the answer- merely felt that I should ask the questions in the interests of fairness…….. and because of the Gospel. 

The Gospel not as an afterthought but because it underpins our way of life. Jesus tells us not to judge, to forgive, to give our coat, to turn the other cheek but us humans  are really good at finding ways around it……. “She shows no remorse,” “there are other folks on whom we should spend the resources that she would receive” and so on. 

And, after all is said and done we like to be affronted, to have something to complain about, to judge and find a soap opera drama in real life….

I hope that father and daughter enjoyed the taxi ride to St Ives station to meet Mum travelling down to meet daughter’s new partner and arrange the wedding.  There- that’s better….. a happy ending.

The silver merc had gone when we left for home.

The Advent Quiet Day at Epiphany House on December 7th will be led by Reader Garth Wright who has recently taken on the task of minister to the third order of St Francis in Cornwall.

The day is entitled ‘Franciscan Spirituality’ and I am really looking forward to it. 

We suggest a donation of £10 towards the cost of hiring Epiphany House and for the refreshments on arrival and at lunchtime. Please bring your own packed lunch.