The silly season of August saw 60 year old Revd George Brigham of Molesey Methodist Church conducting the wedding of Caroline and Justin Bunn strapped on the wing of a 1930s biplane. The flighty couple, on separate planes, were linked to Biggles Brigham by headsets. The firmly earthed congregation was, understandably, unable to join in and there were no hymns. Presumably if anyone had known a ‘just cause or impediment’ they would have been obliged to rent a Spitfire and ceremonially strafe the sexagenarian sky pilot.
Ever wanted to know what the bishop really thinks about you? What gossip, slander, tittle-tattle and misinformation is lodged under your name at HQ? From October the Data Protection Act allows you to see your files! A simple enquiry to diocesan office and, in some cases, a small search fee will enable you to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Well, not quite.
Three of our members (different dioceses) asked to see their files last year and were told that bishops were ‘not allowed to let them see their files’. Now, of course, they will be able to see their files – what’s left of them. Sources in the diocesan and bishops offices confirm that shredders have been working white hot in the run up to October. Character assassination will now have to rely on oral tradition with telephone replacing typewriter as the source of the real references.
Do you ‘dream of a Church that joins in with God’s laughter as she rocks in her rapture enjoying her art’?
Do you ‘dream of a Church that joins in with God’s dancing as she moves like the wind and wave and the fire’?
Do you ‘dream of a Church that can pick up its skirts pirouetting with steps that can signal God’s deepest desire’?
If you do, you were probably at your best in the 1960s, read too much feminist fiction and are enjoying a tricky menopause. The good news is that there is just the place for you – and other emotional pilgrims.
Holland House, Worcester Retreat House, advertises itself as quoted above and runs a variety of exciting and self-engaging courses. Apart from the compulsory Circle Dancing, we can respond to Professor Kosuke Koyama’s plea to be ‘Followers of the Running God’. We can share of good old Jim Cotter’s ambivalence as we explore, ‘Jesus: Thunderer or Joker?’, celebrate ‘It’s Reigning Women’ with Liz Palin and relax to Sr Frances Dominica’s ‘Desert Island Discs’. Those contemplating sabbatical options may like to join Revd David Wellbourn whose ‘spirituality in the workplace’ seminar is ‘a reflection on his study tour of the San Francisco Bay area of California’.
All of this, it goes without saying, has the enthusiastic support of the Bishop of Worcester, Peter Selby.
WORKS TO CLOSE?
Bradford Cathedral (motto Labor Vincit Omnia) is in crisis. Substantially Muslim where it is not semi-rural, the diocese is financially creaking (like many others), racking up unrealistic quotas, and about to see its clergy numbers dip below the critical 100 mark. There is serious talk of closure, amalgamation or piecemeal dispersal. Bad news for proud Yorkies, but the same dire equation could equally well apply to ‘Belinda’s Basilica’, the Diocese of Truro, which is due to plummet through the 100 barrier in the not too distant future.
GEMS FROM THE CREM
The address at Derek’s funeral was dominated by recording his obsession with fishing. Derek had, apparently, gone fishing from Friday night to Sunday night every weekend for the last twenty years of his life. Appropriately his coffin departed to the strains of ‘Gone Fishing’. Scarcely surprising then that his widow expressed, to the officiating minister, her disappointment that none of his fishing mates had bothered to come to the funeral. Imagine the minister’s confusion when a puzzled mourner introduced himself as a keen fisherman and, coincidentally, a member of the club so central to dear Derek’s life. ‘ I don’t want to worry you, Vicar,’ the mourner began, ‘but Derek was never a member of our club and, wherever he took his rod and tackle at the weekends, I can assure you he’s never been bally fishing in his life.’
GIRLS CAN COPE
The Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, whose unruly hair and beard make him look increasingly like a benevolent scouring pad, is breaking new ground. He is to become a Girl Guide – initially just for a day. Assuming he has not abandoned the Guardian Reader’s Soviet (life member) in favour of junior paramilitary uniformed organizations, is this a gesture of solidarity with the growing number of transsexual clergy? An Affirming Catholic founding father, he will undoubtedly be a natural at camping. But has he been carried away by the Prudence/Dick Strong sub-plot in Salchester Chronicle and will his ultra-feminist wife be happy with this new form of entryism? One thing’s for sure: Wales will have a ‘girl’ Archbishop before any other province in communion.
At a meeting of the Cost of Conscience executive recently, various ideas were floated for future Keble conferences. Suddenly, to everyone’s astonishment, the normally profoundly conservative Fr Francis Gardom pronounced solemnly, ‘I WANT TO DO DRUGS!’
Was he belatedly coming out as a supporter of a disappointed candidate in the Conservative leadership election or just trying to give a new definition to the term, ‘High Church’.
Finances in one English diocese have clearly reached desperation. A member of our editorial board indicated to the manager of Faith House Bookshop that he had left the money for his newspapers by the till. Shortly thereafter a bishop, not of our integrity, came in, placed his newspaper over the unbanked coinage and, in full view, removed it and left the shop!
We are used to institutional theft by committee and quota but really feel these embarrassing individual initiatives should be discouraged.
Congratulations to the politically incorrect member who, at a recent House of Bishops meeting, enlivened the debate on transsexual clergy by employing the unfortunate phrase ‘willy nilly’.