The latest financial cutbacks by the Church Commissioners were advertised recently in that most unlikely ecclesiastical organ, the Daily Mail. A double page spread photo feature, entitled ‘POTTY SHEDS’, gave a delightful view of what the eccentric Englishman does in his garden shed.

There was the man who has equipped his as a fully working signal box to control his garden-wide model railway. A woman who keeps hers as a shrine to the soap opera Emmerdale Farm vied for most colourful with a young man whose obsession with the Romanovs and interior design ought to have rung alarm bells with his parents. And so on.

But wait… who is that in the bottom right-hand corner? There, in his 12×16 tongue and groove garden Chapel, vested to celebrate, is our very own John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley. A masterstroke of divine economy, the implications go far beyond thrifty Blackburn Diocese. An 8×6 ‘Shekina-shed’ could be the perfect answer for the Bishop of Washington when she visits and ‘celebrates’ in parishes where she is not required.


When our correspondent, Gerry O’Brien, suggested that the shortfall in Worcester’s diocesan budget was likely to grow as people realised quite how unorthodox a bishop the old pals club had awarded them, we received an angry denial from a diocesan spokesperson.

Figures for 2000 reveal that only 93 per cent of assessed quota was received leaving a shortfall of £229,358. This is more than three times the previous year’s shortfall.

Peter Selby is Bishop of Worcester.


Readers of the Hertfordshire free monthly glossy Limited Edition were somewhat taken aback to discover that St Peter’s, Bushey Heath, resident basilica of our political correspondent, Fr Robbie Low, had undergone a profound change. In an article on the area and on the accompanying map it was a boldly labelled as: ‘ST PETER’S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH’.

This dramatic and wholesale conversion had hitherto gone entirely unnoticed by the congregation and vicar alike. Fr Low has apparently thanked the editor for effecting such a painless transition and asked if he would be kind enough to point out another unique feature of St Peter’s.

It is the only Roman Catholic Church where the Book of Common Prayer is used in extenso.


A country reader recently attended an extended baptism and confirmation service in the Great Wen. Informality was the keynote and our representative searched in vain for an episcopal presence. Eventually a man, hitherto lounged in a chair, stood up and declared himself to be a ‘new bishop with my L plates still on’. The sign of his episcopal office was a fetching purple waistcoat.

Yes, it was our ever modest old chum, + Willie, the people’s Pete.


When the body of Pope John XXIII was exhumed recently, to rebury him in a spot more accessible to pilgrims who wished to pray with him, observers couldn’t help but notice the remarkable state of preservation of his body. Such evidence could surely only move the instigator of the Second Vatican Council nearer canonization. Those who opened the lead sealed coffin and the 40,000 spectators of his posthumous promotion believed they were witnessing a miracle. Unhappily for the beatification business Dr Gennaro Goglia has since owned up to the small matter of injecting 10 litres of turbocharged embalming fluid, 38 years ago, into the scarcely cold pontiff. Less an odour of sanctity than a whiff of anti-freeze.


A curious letter is doing the rounds of Selbyshire. One Nicola Currie, media watch defender of Woolly Wooster, has mailed the clergy seeking volunteers for a jolly little project.

Tiger Productions (a TV firm) is making a film about larger than life television characters who have influenced the nation. Their first subject is to be the Vicar of Dibley, the great feminist icon, who has single-handedly made women’s ministry both joyful and acceptable!

Ms Currie wants to know of any clergy persons, ‘male or female’, who empathize with Fr Geraldine or share any of her characteristics and would like to be filmed talking about how the v.v.v. voluptuous Dawn French creation has influenced their life and ministry.

So if there are any elephantine, sex mad, chocaholic Wooster incumbents burning for their fifteen minutes of fame, now’s your chance.


An interesting trend is beginning to emerge in the advertisements for some parishes that have passed Resolutions A and B. Having to admit this ghastly theological leprosy in public, the episcopal apparatchiks who organise these things have taken to adding such phrases as, ‘candidates of the broadest range of views welcome’.

Only the deeply cynical would see this as a code for the Bishop wishing to appoint a wet lettuce who would get the parish to toe the diocesan line. But isn’t it curious that these welcoming phrases do not appear in the copy for any ‘contentedly’ liberal parishes?


The Times devoted a lovely colour photo to the recent consecration of Dr Peter Jensen as new Archbishop of Sydney. Apart from his left ear, a spectacle arm and a tuft of greying hair Jensen is invisible. The whole photo is dominated by a scrum of nondescript elderly men in funny clothes reaching out with their right hands and leaning on the new boy.

This has got Jensen’s ministry off to a controversial start for those frilly cuffed fellows are, of course, bishops!

Jensen is a firm believer in lay celebration of the Holy Communion, yet is opposed to ‘priestesses’ who are the most obvious and regular practitioners of this irregularity. In order to become a bishop and introduce this exciting enormity to his diocese for lay men, Jensen has had to submit to clerical (episcopal) consecration. Some mistake surely!

Now if he had waited but a short while he could have enjoyed a ‘lay consecration’ – by an Oz woman bishop. Unhappily Fr. Jensen does not believe in them either. Funny old world!


The Archbishop of Canterbury is having to spend his declining year firing off salvoes at disobedient archiepiscopal colleagues who will not toe the party line. To the frustrated African and Asian leaders, who have wearied of Uncle George’s promises to discipline the heretical leaders of ECUSA and have consequently consecrated bishops to care for the orthodox Stateside, and to Abp Jensen who, correctly, argues that there is less biblical objection to lay celebration than to ‘priestesses’, George exhibits the full range of permitted Anglican emotions (anger, disappointment, sorrow etc). He pleads with them all to remember the vital importance of, you’ve guessed it, UNITY !

The echoes of the ‘departed’ and the cries of the wounded can be heard on the wind. ‘Where were you in ’92?’