Members of the Prayer Book Society are cock-a-hoop. When the Society launched its computer package some good while ago a gift copy was duly despatched to Lambeth Palace. A kind letter of thanks was duly received and the comment made that staff were itching to find an occasion to try it out. Mere politeness? Not at all. This June the C of E launches a virtual chapel on the Internet and the liturgy for Morning and Evening Prayer is to be ……….. The Book of Common Prayer!

“O Lord open thou our files,
And our mouse shall shew forth thy praise.”


A fresh security problem has recently come to the attention of those noble souls charged with the decent and godly ordering of the Lambeth Conference later this year. According to a well placed source leading London theatrical costumiers have been comparing notes on a curious and parallel phenomenon. Apparently all the bishops costumes have been rented out for the second half of July and the first half of August – the dates of the selfsame international bun fight.

Now, unless several dozen productions of “Racing Demon” are hitting the boards simultaneously it looks, to the ever vigilant Lambeth guardians, as if something is afoot. Of course they are geared up to deal with the odd soul who is into clerical cross dressing and even the inevitable episcopus vagans who will try to pass himself off as what is left of the real thing.

The real fear is that all these “cozzies” may have been booked by Canterbury’s recent star performer – Peter Tatchell and his velvet hooligans. It is hard enough in these difficult times, to tell a real bishop anyway. Imagine the dilemma of Lambeth’s strong-manipled security boys. A group of bishops stand up and start chanting for same sex unions and attacking George Carey. How will we know if they are pantomime bishops or simply the American hierarchy?

Our theatrical correspondent writes: “The source of this security leak is to be punished. He will not therefore be disciplined.”


When the C of E’s chief number cruncher, Raymond Tongue, announced that the most recent returns of average Sunday attendances would not be published and he didn’t know them himself, he was obviously a little confused. They are, in fact, in document GS MISC 514 available to Archdeacons and members of General Synod. It is vital that these documents do not fall into the hands of the gutter press!


More exciting outpourings from Bishop Nev, our prelate at the cutting edge of ecclesiastical innovation.

Neville Chamberlain, for it is he, aged 59, Bishop of Brechin has issued a manifesto which, in its call for change, can only be described as breathtakingly imaginative. Too long to print here it will be the subject of a forthcoming 30 Days Study Guide entitled “Reliving the Sixties, in your sixties.” It climaxes thus:

“Neither gender nor sexual orientation nor breakdown of marriage will be a barrier to ordination in this diocese nor, I would hope, to the episcopate. If we achieve some of these goals we will edge our way closer to becoming truly the flagship diocese. Indeed, Brechin could be the lively, joyous, experimental workshop not just for the province but for Britain and indeed the world. Our smallness is our strength ….etc etc”

Just as well really the whole diocese of Brechin mustered just 943 communicants on the 1997 normal Sunday count.


At the recent enormous annual Christian Resources exhibition at Sandown Park, Avon Silversmiths launched a new personal clergy alarm for those in fear of being attacked. It costs £169 and comes in the form of a delightful silver pectoral cross. Now it will be even harder to spot a real bishop but at least we know why they have been wearing them all these years.

Michael McCarthy, the Avon laddy says, “It’s more for female vicars who are more at risk.” Presumably not of consecration or is he being prophetic?


When the clergy Trade Union made public what the feminist consultations had been saying in private (i.e. women clergy are being shamefully treated, harassed, glass ceiling etc., etc., etc.) two sharply contrasting reactions emerged from the wimmins lobby. The ubiquitous media star, Christina Rees, was right there sharing the sisters pain. Simultaneously her neighbour, Rev Patience Purchase, Governess of St Albans Diocese, was being wheeled out by the establishment to sit on and squash these obvious fabrications!

Why the stark contrast? Quite simply this. Even the dimmest of establishment wits had realised that, if women are being abused, harrassed etc on the job, it is not being done by those who don’t work with them. It can only be by the publically enthusiastic supporters of priestesses!


The great church of St Anne, Limehouse, was packed to the rafters with more than 500 worshippers for the induction of the new Rector, Gordon Warren.

Warren, a former airline pilot and professional photographer before his call to ordination, is following in the footsteps of his doughty and much loved evangelical predecessors , Chris Idle and John Pearce. After much lusty singing from the congregation and a mighty exposition of the Word from Bishop John Sentamu, complete with pages of notes for the congregation, the fulsome ritual of Anglican induction commenced. This is a curious quasi-liturgical tour of the church to introduce the new incumbent to items of the furnishings like font, pulpit and altar and explain their purpose complete with visual aids. Originally designed to elevate an obscure and dull legal ceremony, it has become an increasingly vital if belated education for some of the graduates of our more liberal seminaries.

Warren, who is a keen evangelist and Walk of a 1000 men veteran is not a noted ritualist and friends, wondering how he would cope with all this palaver, were not comforted by the alarming final rubric at the end of the service sheet. It said simply “The Rector throws upon (sic) the doors and causes the bell to be rung.”

As consternation spread along one clergy pew, reassurance came from an old high church friend of Warren’s who assured them that Warren’s appetite was his most catholic feature and he had never been known to waste good food.