Forward in Faith Council and Deans meet in Hertfordshire

The first week of Advent saw the Council of Forward in Faith meeting for two days at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney; on the second day, they were joined by the Regional Deans, who themselves stayed on for their own residential meeting when Council members had departed.

On the first day, members of the Council assembled for lunch, before being sent off into three groups to discuss three main areas of interest. One third continued our work on the Ecclesial questions facing us – and in particular on the question of an independent and autonomous Province. Under the chairmanship of Prebendary Sam Philpott, Vicar of S.Peter’s, Plymouth, they examined responses received from a number of dioceses following Fr Philpott’s presentation at the National Assembly and laid plans for a more wide-ranging consultation on the subject. Another group, under the chairmanship of Fr Beresford Skelton, Vicar of S.Mary Magdalene, Millfield, looked at the question of Ministry – and discussed such subjects as the lay Apostolate, Ordinands and Post-Ordination Training. The third group were meanwhile exploring the vexed question of Church Planting under the guidance of Fr Tony Delves, the Vicar of Goldthorpe. Of that subject, there will be more anon, but suffice it to say for now that challenging plans should emerge in the coming months.

Following the Group Work, the Council gathered in the beautiful Chapel – the work of Sir Ninian Comper – for Mass, at which the Bishop of Ebbsfleet presided. Then after dinner, the Council met in plenary session until Night Prayer, at which Fr Beau Brandie gave a moving and thought-provoking address.

One important aspect of the Council’s annual residential meeting is the opportunity afforded for members to meet together socially for a drink – or two! – at the end of a long day. As usual, much valuable work was done in the Bar, as those present mulled over their discussions of earlier in the day and, of course, moved on to many other areas of concern. By the time the Bar closed, most of the Church’s problems had, of course, been solved!

Following Mass the next morning celebrated by the Bishop of Fulham, members returned to plenary session to discuss – amongst other things – the prospect of women bishops, the Forward in Faith Budget for 1998, grants to ordinands and the international scene. As the morning progressed, so the Regional Deans began to appear and a number of items of mutual concern were covered.

After lunch, the Council departed, leaving the College of Deans under the Chairmanship of Fr Beresford Skelton. After welcoming three Deans to their first such meeting – Fr Alan Cross (Anglia), Fr Graham Sanders (Northern Yorkshire) and Fr Marcus Wakeley (Southern Yorkshire), Fr Skelton asked for reports from each region. As might be expected, the picture in different parts of the country varies widely, and it is by the sharing of information in this way that we are able to make progress in ways that might otherwise not be possible.

On the Tuesday evening, Fr Barry Fry, Dean for East Wessex, gave an address at Night Prayer, after which the Deans repaired to the Bar for more serious, but lubricated, discussion. The next morning, Fr Skelton presided at Mass, after which the College spent the remainder of their time looking at some of the questions which had earlier exercised the Council – Church Planting, Ministry and Ecclesiology. Finally, following lunch, each went on his way, renewed and refreshed for the ministry they exercise amongst us all, and for which we give thanks.

All members of Forward in Faith will want to keep all the Regional Deans – and especially their own – and all members of the Council in their prayers as we move forward down a road which can at times be particularly daunting.

Alan & Margaret Edwards

Month by month, an advertisement appears (or is supposed to appear!) in New Directions concerning Alan & Margaret Edwards, Booksellers of Whitstable in Kent. Alan has recently written to the Director at Faith House, telling him that they are very happy to serve the New Directions constituency – orthodox Catholics and evangelicals – and that, although they stock many Anglo Catholic and Evangelical classics from the past, they are always happy to try and find any book a customer is looking for if a copy is not in stock. Regular contributors to New Directions are regular customers and we hope that many readers are too – it is desperately important that all our advertisers are supported by our readers – not least so that they will advertise again! Readers will find Alan and Margaret’s advertisement elsewhere in this issue – updated this month, with the addition of an e-mail number!

News From Wales

The Director and Fr Geoffrey Kirk recently attended the meeting of the Provincial Council of Credo Cymru (held just over the border, in England!) and found their brothers and sisters in the Principality in extremely good heart. It was particularly good to hear from Bishop David Thomas about his first year as Provincial Assistant Bishop, and to hear repeated echoes of the work of, and welcome received by, our own Provincial Episcopal Visitors. The Council elected as its new Chairman (in succession to Joan Buckingham, whose tragic death shocked us all earlier this year) Miss Wendy Burdon from the diocese of Swansea and Brecon and all readers are urged to hold Wendy and her Council in their prayers as they set about the task facing them in Wales.


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Christmas is coming

Large numbers of readers have taken up Sara Low’s suggestion last month and ordered New Directions as a Christmas gift for a friend or colleague. It’s still not too late to follow their example and, with less than two weeks’ worth of shopping days left to the great Celebration, why not save your shoe leather, your temper and your time – and fill in that form right away!

For your Diaries . . .

London Region Vocations Weekend for young men aged between 18 and 24 : Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd February, 1998. Details: Fr Malcolm Gray (Tel & Fax: 0181 360 2947)

Vocations Day for the Northern Province with Bishop John Gaisford: Manchester, Saturday 28th March, 1998. Details: Fr John Brownsell (0171 727 5919)

Forward in Faith London Day Pilgrimage to Boulogne : Saturday, 9th May 1998. Concelebrated Mass in the Cathedral of Notre Dame at 12.00 noon. Details: Fr Malcolm Gray (see above), Geoffrey Wright (0181 805 5107) or Len Gibbs (0181 452 0507).

Second Christ our Future Conference on Ecclesiology : University of York, Tuesday 7th / Thursday 9th July, 1998. Details available early in the new year.

Forward in Faith National Assembly 1998: The Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, London WC1 – Friday 25th/Saturday 26th September, 1998.