Humiliating brew

From Mrs Wendy Redvers Harris

While there is much that is good in the TEA proposals, I would dread the sickening prospect, every five years, of having to attend a Special Parochial Church Meeting to find out whether our children and I could continue living in the vicarage which goes with my traditionalist husband’s living. I simply could not face the family, knowing that their future – their friends, schools and our only home – was being decided by a meeting perhaps packed with non-worshipping residents of the parish.

I realize that many people’s jobs are short-term contracts and that we have to live with some degree of insecurity, but it seems so intensely personalized, that an unpaid (and pretty much full-time) vicar’s wife and supportive family could be treated in such a potentially humiliating and arbitrary way.

I would not want to be part of a Church which treats people in such a way, and I urge that this aspect of the TEA proposals be addressed. A parish priest’s brand of tea ought surely to run with him, and only at a vacancy should the PCC – not the SPCM – have the option of changing to a different brew.

Wendy Redvers Harris, 14 Argyll Street, Ryde PO33 3BZ

We are networking

From Mr Peter Morrell

As I understand the position, Mission-shaped church. Church planting and fresh expressions of church in a changing context is the current mission statement of the Church of England.

At the beginning of ch.7, the Working Group responsible for the Report, after briefly reviewing ‘the slow emergence of non-territorial network churches’ observes, ‘Current provisions, including those for setting up extra parochial places, are not always satisfactory or appropriate, involving as they do the use of procedures and structures not intended to deal with modern forms of ‘networked’ non-territorial churches. We believe new provision is needed for use on a permissive basis to allow recognition and encouragement to be given to non-parochial and mission models.’

These words are welcome. They make it clear that ‘network’ is becoming a significant way in which English society now functions. This is not a provision for the unusual within the normal: this is coming to terms with a future norm that is already apparent in the present.

Whether you agree with the Working Group’s analysis or not, the Church of England cannot have it both ways. If non-geographical network is an acceptable framework at the bottom of the Church, then it should be as acceptable at the top. Geese and ganders come to mind. So, why not a free province?

Peter Morrell

New Sulehay Lodge,

Nassington PE8 6QT

Rum rhythm

From Mr A.J. Lowe

In his book review [January] John Hunwicke poses the question, ‘Does Romanian lend itself to limericks?’ The answer is yes: it can be squashed in, because both its third and its fourth syllables are unstressed. Try this:

Now there was a Romanian priest
Who provided a very good feast
Of some facts old and new
In a book of review
Of the Fathers now so long deceased.

A.J. Lowe, 145 Outlook Crescent, Bardon, Queensland, Australia 4065

Colourful depressive

From Fr David McConkey ssc

I read with interest Fr Hawes’ article on depression. Gonville ffrench-Beytagh was one of the interesting and colourful personalities with which the Anglo-Catholic world seemed to teem a couple of generations ago. After a peripatetic and dissolute childhood and young adulthood, he found himself in South Africa, where, like many another before him, he found the God he had been fleeing. As a priest he went on to serve as Dean of the Cathedral in Salisbury, and then in Johannesburg, until arrested in 1971 for working against apartheid.

Upon his release, friends spirited him out of the country and to safety in England and he spent the next years, until his death in 1991, as Rector of the City of London parish of St Vedast, where he became known in particular for a ministry of spiritual direction.

ffrench-Beytagh never shrank from acknowledging the bouts of depression from which he suffered. All his books make allusion to this malady, and all of them can be consulted profitably; along with Out of the Depths and Encountering Darkness; they include Encountering Light, The Tree of Glory, and Facing Depression.

David McConkey St Mark’s Rectory, 5 Gold View, Swindon SN5 8ZG

Stand by your mates

From Mr Michael Sandford

Mr Burt Hunter [February letters] may wish to know – and be better able to make judgement when knowing – that before Fr David Nicholson was ordained he had a very successful career in industrial management at Factory Manager level.

Mr Hunter’s use of the phrase ‘nebulous apologia’ and his inference that Fr Nicholson lacks elementary management skills is both unjust and offensive to a priest whose ability dramatically to increase congregations in every parish in which he has served is more than sufficient warranty.

Michael Sandford, Pantcelyn, Aberyscir, Brecon LD3 9NW

Down under subtlety

From Mr Peter Broadbent

Why all this complicated theological debate? Is not the matter quite simple? Article VIII states that the three creeds ‘ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.’

The creeds leave no doubt that amongst other things the Church is Apostolic. To be apostolic is to follow the teaching and practice of the Apostles. Manifestly a church which has abandoned Apostolic teaching and practice by ordaining women to the priesthood and episcopate can no longer claim to be Apostolic.

It is difficult to see how any church which is no longer Apostolic can have a claim to be Catholic. Why make such a meal over such a simple matter?

Peter Broadbent, 1 Eprapah Street, Coochiemudlo Island, Queensland, Australia 4184