The parish of Ashford Hill and Headley made national news recently. The local publican, ‘Georgie’, is organizing a petition to the Bishop of Winchester. The cause célèbre? Michael Wincarnis, for it is he, will not be giving them a new vicar when the present incumbent retires.

Are they insolvent? No they pay their £26,000 quota.

Are the churches empty? No. They enjoy the national average Cof E congregation.

Why the decision not to appoint another vicar then?

Cynics suggest that the departure of Bp Geoffrey Rowell and his replacement by a new liberal apparatchik has left orthodox parishes undefended. By a curious coincidence Ashford Hill and Headley is the only ‘C’ parish in the Archdeaconry of Winchester.

Much more to the point are indications from local sources that ‘money from the sale of the vicarage’ is the not so hidden agenda.


Reports continue to flow into the 30 Days office of ridiculous quota demands.

A parish in Salisbury diocese was treated to the ‘Bubbles’ Stancliffe Video Appeal recently. Great care was taken to explain that bishops were, in no way, a burden on the budget. The Commissioners were entirely responsible for pensions and thus all new demands are to pay for parish clergy. Both of these statements are severely economical with the truth.

The villagers were encouraged to ‘chip in a little more’. The ‘little more’ in their case will be £100 pa per head!


Readers who have missed the regular reports from the self-proclaimed ‘flagship’ diocese of Brechin (prop. Neville Chamberlain) will be delighted to have some good news at last.

Last year the diocese had seven Confirmation candidates!

Sadly for the pioneering liberal regime of ‘Nev the Rev’, four of these were from the benighted, backward and entirely orthodox parish of St Salvador’s, Dundee.


What was the saddest thing for Barry Rogerson in his years as Transsexual Consultant to the Diocese of Bristol? Was it the decline of the Church of England? Plummeting attendances? The failure of the Decade of Evangelism? The spectre of institutional bankruptcy? The growing mutual hostility between him and the women he was so eager to ordain?

No. It was the appointment and ministry of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors – the Flying Bishops.

How do we know this? He was kind enough to tell everyone in his farewell letter to the diocese. Generous to the last.


Congratulations to go-ahead Hereford Cathedral on their bang on, whizzo, up-to-date super-relevant 1960s style nativity. Out with the tired old donkeys, servile farmhands, asylum seeking royals etc etc.

Courtesy of a ‘community project’ with the Art College and the ‘Education Action Zone’ (is this a school?) Baby Jeez looked really wicked in his shopping trolley (food holder – manger – geddit?) surrounded by lorry engines, bikes, canvas (transport, journeys, shelter) and a few old CDs (‘rapping’ in swaddling clothes presumably).

Cathedral spokesperson, Dominic Harber described it as ‘relevant’, ‘contemporary’, ‘uncompromising’ and a ‘subversion of the Nativity’. Absolutely !


Poor old Rev Rayfield. He was simply pointing out a few facts. For Santa Claus to deliver presents to homes throughout the world over Christmas, he and the reindeer would have to travel at 3,000 times the speed of sound. This would mean the reindeer would be vaporized in 4.26 thousandths of a second and Santa would be obliterated by 4,315,000 pounds of force. Unfortunately he chose to impart this scientific critique at a primary school carol service.

One parent, the well known Christian companion of famous men, Ulrika Jonsson, said that she told her 8-year old son, ‘Just because the Vicar doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, it doesn’t mean you can’t.’ (A similar formula can be applied to credal statements in Modern Churchpersons Union parishes and dioceses).

Poor old Rev Rayfield. If only he’d done a scientific demolition of the Resurrection or the Virgin Birth, he could have become the bishop of a large, formerly Catholic rural diocese.


Readers of the Church Times report of the recent General Synod will have assumed that Winchester Diocese will shortly be closing. The Archdeacon of Bournemouth is quoted as saying that by 2007 there will be 63 redundant churches across the diocese and, by 2012, a further 207 closures. A total of 270 churches out of c 400 is some cutback.

This column is delighted to inform its readers that Jezebel’s Trumpet has made a dog’s breakfast of the Archdeacon’s speech. His figures were drawn from a straw pole of some Archdeacons across the country and represent a minimum national figure estimate. Since his contribution, other reports have estimated 1,000+ closures in the next decade but they will not all be in Winchester!


Evangelical leaders have thrown down a clear challenge to the Chief Druid of Canterbury. They have issued a statement calling on him and all other diocesan and suffragan druids to teach the biblical ‘norm’ on lifelong heterosexual marriage.

Unfortunately for their case it has been co-ordinated by dear old Andrew Carey, the twice married son of recently departed George. It was George himself that made each incoming bishop swear to uphold as policy ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’. The gist of this farcical compromise was that homosexuality is OK for lay folk but intolerable in clergy. It was a principled rejection of the hypocritical twaddle that cost Williams the diocese of Southwark. Uncle George might ruefully reflect that he would have done a lot less damage there.