Right on in Brighton

30Days is sorry it cannot find the time or energy to take itself to Brighton for its Lenten penance. The Parish Church of St Nicholas of Myra – ‘the Ancient Mother Church of Brighton – is marking the first five Saturdays of Lent with visiting speakers from ‘five Anglican pressure groups,’ who will be presenting ‘their different views on current debates in the Church.’ Yes, representatives from groups as diverse as Affirming Catholicism, Watch, Changing Attitude, InclusiveChurch and Fulcrum will all have their opportunity to explain why Forward in Faith is wrong! As the parish website so courageously puts it, ‘Expect to be embraced by a community of searching and love.’

Good clean fun

Many thanks to the eagle-eyed 30Days reader who spotted this news of the welcome to the new Bishop of Taunton, Peter Maurice, which took place in Wells Cathedral in January: The two passions of the new bishop were brought together at the end of the service. His enthusiasm for the ministry of the Church was coupled with his support of West Ham football club when a stream of soap bubbles suddenly appeared high over the nave altar. And the choirs and congregation burst into the West Ham song ‘I’m for ever blowing bubbles! Later in the afternoon West Ham drew 3-3 with Fulham at Upton Park. Fulham scored a last minute equaliser. The lengths to which John Broadhurst will go for our constituency know no bounds!

Good Press

Excellent news from the diocese of London, where Bishop Richard Chartres has engaged top-flight Public Relations firm Luther Pendragon to provide ‘communications support for the diocese’. Presumably, their services won’t come cheap: amongst their other clients are Boeing, BAA (the owners of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, to say nothing of Naples and Budapest Airports) and Wrigley’s (manufacturers of the chewing gum which so enhances our urban pavements); in 2005, the company turned over in excess of £5-2m and employed 46 staff. One motive for the appointment may of course be to ensure that the bishop receives regular press coverage. If so, a remarkable degree of success has already been achieved, with The Daily Telegraph covering the story of Luther Pendragon’s engagement by suggesting to its readers that the bishop’s ‘public relations mishaps include spending Easter on a free-bie cruise and his suggestion that flying might be sinful because of the harm it inflicts on the environment (while spending more than £15,000 last year on fuel for his chauffeur-driven Skoda and for heating and lighting his offices)’. The Guardian weighed in as well, reminding its readers that the bishop had ‘touched a nerve suggesting that flying and buying big cars were symptoms of sin.’ Whether this is the sort of positive press coverage Chartres is expecting for his money remains to be seen.

Bad Press

With a stipend increase for 2007 of just 2%, clergy in the diocese of London will have to make do with a pay increase this year well below the rate of inflation. Still, at least that is one decision which won’t receive a bad press, now that Luther Pen-dragon are on the case!

Lord – and Lady – of the Dance

The celebrations in Wales continue, marking the tenth anniversary of women priests in that Province. All those unable to be in St David’s Cathedral made it to Llandaff Cathedral, where they were in for no end of treats. Apparently, the Bishop of Lund, in Sweden, the Rt Revd Christina Odenburg, presided at a liturgy, written specially for the occasion by the Revd Jan Gould, with ‘particular references to women who feature in the bible’ (presumably that’s as opposed to the man featured in the Bible); the Archdeacon of Worcester, the Ven Joy Tetley (last heard of in the matter of TEA) gave ‘a powerful sermon’ in which she said that there is a ‘purple-headed mountain still to climb (what on earth does that mean?); the musicians included ‘a theologian playing jazz saxophone and an ordinand on the drums’; and ‘during the final hymn – We are marching in the light of God – joy overcame solemnity’ as the ‘congregation clapped as the women danced down the aisle, led by the Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Revd Tony Crockett, and Bishop Christina.’ (Sceptical readers who think we make up all this guff should visit in order to see the ‘dance’ in question.)

Stop Press

30 Days had just been online the other day – Tuesday, 30 January, actually – to sign the petition on the 10 Downing Street website: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to arrange for the cost of repairs to CofE church buildings to be reimbursed to help preserve our archaeological & historic heritage for the future – when we noticed a new signature appear – that of one Colin B. Slee. Reflecting that it must be something of a first for 30 Days and the Dean of South-wark to agree about something, we turned to the Church Times for comfort:

The cathedral staff meeting immediately agreed that this (petition) is very important. Encouragement to our congregation in written and oral notices has now followed… There is a sin – sloth – that is a combination of inertia and indifference, and primarily bears its rotten fruit in the form of ‘those things which I have not done which I ought to have done’… Why are archdeacons not out drumming up support? What has Church House done to mobilise forces? Are all the other cathedrals indolent in this matter?

Thus fulminated Dean Slee to Jezebel’s letters page, fully seven days before he got round to signing the petition himself. Mind you, it’s a good job he did sign it when he did, for it ensured that he beat 16 out of the 24 names to be found on the Who’s Who page of the Southwark Cathedral website! We only hope that 30Days readers are altogether more pro-active and take themselves along to right away – we expect to see a massive increase in signatures as New Directions hits the streets. Those who fail can expect to read about it here first!