Magazine Leader - August 2013

From the Vicar

At the end of September, on Saturday 28th, we will be having a special parish day to reflect on where we are going as a parish and what our vision is for the future. It will be a time to celebrate all that we do that is good and what our priorities should be. When I arrived here, it was made clear to me that what was hoped for was an evolving plan for our future, not a revolution. That is to say that there is so much that is good and life-giving about the life of our parish, which needs to be affirmed and celebrated. Yet church must be grown, or else it shrivels and dies. A living church must be a growing church and so a changing church. Such change is about growing into the full stature of Christ, in obedience to where Christ is leading us. It is about knowing that our response to Christ takes us on a journey in which travelling together takes us to new places and new depths of spirituality. So our day is both about celebrating what sustains us on that journey and about trying to discern what new things Christ is leading us to do. Our day will seek to define what we see as Christ's future for us. Having defined that, we can then draw up a list of the resources we need, not only in terms of the funding we need but also the gifts of time and talents we need to make that vision a reality. We will spend October processing what comes out of our Parish Day and then run a Stewardship Campaign in November. Please make a note in your diary now and keep free Saturday 28th September. Details of the arrangements will be published in the September magazine. Please also make a note that on Sunday 29th September, which is Michaelmas, the Bishop of Salisbury will be presiding and preaching at 10am. It will be a special occasion and an opportunity to gather with our bishop to celebrate life together. There are no confirmations or other special things happening in the service. It is a visit by our bishop, who is simply coming to worship with us. Please be there!

 

On another matter, many of you have asked me about what we got up to in our recent meeting of a General Synod in York. The decision that women should be ordained as bishops was taken several years ago. All sides agree on this. The sticking point is a generally held belief that those who cannot accept women as bishops should nonetheless feel they have a place in the church where they have a sense of being valued and at home. Going too far in defining what that place might be means that any woman, who is ordained as a bishop, will find her ministry limited by no-go-areas in which her ministry is not recognised. Many of us favour the opposite approach, which is to say that a bishop is a bishop, no matter what her gender might be. Make it simple and get on with celebrating the gift of women bishops. At the same time make it clear that those who cannot accept this ministry will have a valued and honoured place within the church. So there is difference of opinion here. Should ‘provision’ for those who cannot accept women bishops be enshrined in law? Or should the law have no such bias against women and any ‘provision’ that is made be done on the basis of trust? It is my view that legal ‘provision’ builds walls between Christians. Moving forward on the basis of trust is a more risky solution, but such trust needs to be how we live as the Church. We need to be building bridges and not walls. In July we restarted the process of finding a solution in this matter. What is different this time is the way in which our new Archbishop is getting us to talk to each other and not at each other. We spent a whole day of Synod in facilitated groups and that has opened our eyes to new ways of making decisions. We must hope it works. We have to complete this process within the next two years. It is eating up far too much time and energy and distracting us from the urgent business of living out the Gospel message.

Nigel Lloyd

 


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