One of the very few moments of light relief in the otherwise unremitting awfulness of the Lincoln Saga was a comment which surely deserves a place in the Guinness Book of Records. The former assistant verger, Miss Verity Freestone, claimed that the Dean had courted her with what must be the worst chat up line ever invented. “He told me, `You are as attractive as the building,'” she said in evidence. Happily the court decided the charges were without foundation.


While the institutional C of E was distracted by end of term synods, daft reports on the Family and cathedral sex trials – the real work was going on, as usual, in the parishes.

Step forward Fr John Belither and his wife, Pat. Maintaining a presence for the Lord at Holy Cross in the tough estate parish of Marsh Farm, Luton.

Yes, that’s right, where the riots made national news three nights running.

John, a late vocation, former Barnardo’s man and Pat were out trying to calm and reconcile and defend their people and give confidence to the many fearful folk in the midst of the mayhem.

Those who’ve never stepped inside Holy Cross to hear a sermon have now seen the Word in action.

One friendly local wag remarked: “Fr. John was quite safe really. No-one argues with our Pat”

Thanks to you both for your courage and your witness.


After a wife and a mistress had spent œ10,000 of taxpayers money (via legal aid) on who had the right to bury the love of their lives, a compromise was reached. The two gangs would sit on different sides of the chapel with the minister (O lucky woman!) in the middle.

The musical debate was entirely scriptural. Whether to have “Delilah” and “I’m coming home” by the famous welsh chorister, Tom Jones or the pentecostal offering from Bette Midler, “The wind beneath my wings”.

No doubt it was, as the late Bishop Kenny Everett used to say,

“All in the best possible taste”

(Funeral Directors were the Co-operative Society!)


You’ll need to pay attention for this one. The Archbishop of Latvia was duly consecrated. He is opposed to women priests and the Latvian church has, anyway, reversed its previous policy of ordaining women.

One of the consecrators was the Bishop of Stockholm. He is not only in favour of ordaining women but has led the campaign to prevent the ordination of men who are not.

Why then did he take part in the consecration of the Archbishop of Latvia?

“Archbishops are different”, he commented. (O Lord, we thank thee that they are not as other men are!) and then added that this participation would enable him to pop over and ordain the ecclesiastically frustrated women of Latvia. When asked if this meant that the Archbishop of Latvia could pop over and ordain orthodox Swedish men, he was strangely silent.


After all the flak they received for dropping the cross from Easter, it turns out the advertising boffins at Church House were right after all!

A survey of 7,000 people in Great Britain, U.S.A., Germany, India, Japan and Australia revealed that only 54% knew who or what the corporate logo represented!

Among the most successful logos were Macdonald’s (88%), Shell (88%) and Mercedes Benz (74%) recognition.

All is not lost however. Clearly the scallop Shell is a sign of baptism and the Mercedes sign is fundamentally Trinitarian. As for the double arched heavenly gateway Golden M of Macdonald’s – the ecumenical possibilities are endless.

For catholics – Mary, for feminists – Mother Earth, for Buddhists – a chant, for Christians and Jews – Messiah and of course Methodists, Muslims, Mormons and Moonies could all identify with the Big M.

The marketing department of the C of E enterprises will need to pull out all the stops if every “Mass franchise” is to have the Big M up by Easter `96.


The Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. lurches from crisis to crisis.

1. The suicide of the Bishop of Massachusetts led to several alarming revelations. First that Bishop Johnson had tried it on at least one previous occasion. Second that he was a persistent adulterer throughout his ministry. Church officials said that he had “sexually exploited” some of his female partners. This is churchspeak for relations with people under his authority.

2. Ten bishops have filed presentments against a bishop who, knowingly, ordained an active, practising homosexual. Four more bishops are expected to be so challenged. This is in stark contrast to the Diocese of Washington D.C. which has voted to give “moral equality to homosexual and heterosexual practice” and the 70 bishops who have signed Bishop John Spong’s statement supporting non celibate homosexuals in faithful relationships as couples and ordinands.

3. The abrupt departure of Ellen Cooke, the senior financial officer, has revealed a fraud of over two million dollars. Archbishop Edmund Browning who kept her on in spite of constant questions and complaints about her style of management and extraordinary lifestyle now faces the dilemma of whether to prosecute a close friend. Some money will be returned from the sale of her other two houses (her husband is a vicar) and a farmhouse in Virginia but nothing can be recouped from her dazzling trips abroad, children’s education or departing cheque to herself of 86,000 dollars “backpay”.

As usual no resignations are expected.


The consecration of Bishop Edwin Barnes was a strangely low key affair. The congregation was plainly glad to see it happen at the end of the long and exhausting process to get a third flying bishop but mystified by the deep ambiguities in the service.

The sermon was given by Revd Dick France (ex principal of Wycliffe). A keen supporter of women priests, he reminded us that Richborough (Fr. Barnes diocesan title) was a sandbank next to a silted up estuary but that it could be seen from “Gaul” and was, therefore, an example to the world of how the British dealt with things. He praised the glorious comprehensiveness of Anglicanism and the generosity of the establishment. He warned against sectarianism and proclaimed his enthusiasm for internal ecumenism.

The highlight for most was the sudden burst of singing from the West End at the end of the service. A group of Rumanian orthodox ordinands, with whom Fr. Barnes has had long-standing church contact, had arrived too late to participate in the service but their warm, powerful basses were met with spontaneous and heartfelt applause.

“Many years” sing the orthodox.

Amen to that.