Pass the bucket

Many thanks to the strong-stomached 30DAYS reader who spotted this gem in Signs of the Times – the journal of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union. Reporting on the investiture of KJS as Presiding Bishop of TEC, the Bishop of Lincoln writes, ‘The Introit at the Investiture Service was John Tavener’s setting of words from the Liturgy of St Basil: In you O Woman full of grace, all creation rejoices – a hymn to Mary, but the sheer appropriateness of this text was not lost on the congregation so full of anticipation and bursting to celebrate their new Presiding Bishop at every opportunity’

Beyond parody

And it’s not just in the National Cathedral that members of TEC (prop: KJS) are bursting to celebrate. Over on Capitol Hill, St Mark’s Episcopal Church trumpets its outreach in areas too numerous to list. But what caught our eye in particular was the latest offering from the St Mark’s Players, ‘a participatory company that uses theater to explore our lives – theologically and personally – and to serve our community and the St Mark’s Parish’ as the blurb on the website puts it.

“This show’ – the website warned – ‘contains adult themes and nudity’. Luckily, the Washington Post was able to fill us in: ‘It’s not the brief nude scene in M. Butterfly, a drama about a 20-year affair between a Trench diplomat and a beautiful Chinese spy, that makes the story notable. It’s that the performance is in a church. In the St Mark’s Episcopal Church production, the spy strips down to confront the diplomat with the fact that she is really a he. At this time of the year, St Mark’s takes its cue from the liturgical season, making it a point to produce a play with more dramatic heft during Lent, said Rick Hayes, director of M. Butterfly and a St Mark’s member. ‘We try to choose a heavy-duty, thought-provoking drama,’ Hayes said.

At 134-year-old St Mark’s, the theater company hauls up the cross in the nave into the church rafters and performs M. Butterfly on a stage surrounded on three sides by sanctuary chairs. Frequently the company weaves the church’s rich architectural details – its soaring arches, wrought-iron lanterns, mosaic tile and molded brick – into its productions. Tor matinee performances, light streams in through a massive Tiffany stained-glass window over the baptistery. The center panel depicts Jesus leaving Pontius Pilate’s headquarters after the Roman governor washed his hands of him. The troupe sometimes serves refreshments on the high altar. ‘We use everything in the church as much as we can,’ Hayes said.’

Blind alleys

30DAYS was sorry to read online that Scargill House, deep in the Yorkshire Dales, which describes itself as ‘an inclusive, multi-cultural Christian Community’ which pursues ‘a global vision of people living together in equality, in peace, in mutual acceptance and in harmony with the environment’ seems to be having some problems. Due to ‘the continued lack of growth in guest numbers’ and the ‘increasing costs of running Scargill’, the House lost no less than £156,754 during 2005.

Apparently, Scargill particularly explores its global vision’ in its life and worship: ‘Tinding innovative and dynamic ways of responding to God and to one another through worship and liturgy’ is how its website puts it. Quite how dynamic one 30DAYS reader recently discovered, when he picked up an order of service containing the following, apparently antiphonal, Statement of Belief:

We believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in the holy Spirit,
and in you and me.

We believe God moves between us,
and lives in you and me.

We believe God’s spirit works through
Shouting and silence

Clear paths & blind alleys,
Balloons and parties,

Drama and the unexpected
Spontaneity and planning,

Faith and certainty,
Leading and supporting,

Tears and laughter,
Dancing and stillness,

Hugging and kneeling,
Words and listening,

Holding and letting go,
Thank you and help me

Accepting and caring
Through you and through me,
Through love.

We believe God’s Holy Spirit lives in
this community of handholding people,
where lines of age and life-styles are

We believe in responding to God’s grace & love for all.
We believe in the poetry within each of us.

We believe in dreams and visions.
We believe in a topsy-turvy world

Where the last shall be first.
We believe in God’s kingdom.
We believe in God.

The Warden of Scargill House is the Revd Hilary Mary ‘Dilly’ Baker.

Oz end of wedge

NEW DIRECTIONS has apparently been getting up the nose of the Bishop of Ballarat, Michael Hough. Writing on his blog recently [see Correspondents], he complained to the world – well, the virtual world – that in this august journal you can read the ‘vitriol and bitterness of people like…David Chislett’. Hmm. Checking back, 30DAYS sees that it is now over two years since the then Tr – now Bishop – Chislett last graced these pages with his immaculate prose.

The Australian postal service leaves a lot to be desired, to be sure, and Oz is a very long way away indeed, but it doesn’t really explain why Bishop Hough seems to be quite so much out of date. Still, he’s thoroughly up to date elsewhere on the blog, in his reflections on last December’s meeting of his Diocesan Pastoral Committee:

‘Next year at synod, legislation will be introduced to broaden out the diaconate to allow for women deacons’. Luckily, he explains that this decision was taken in the context of a discussion on the permanent diaconate, so that’s all right then!

(Just like Graham Leonard said it would be.)

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