12 + 7 = 26

Elsewhere in this issue of New Directions, Stephen Marsden draws attention to the arithmetical skills of Watch. But it is not only at St Johns, Waterloo, the HQ of Mrs Rees’ merry band, that the calculator is on the blink. Take, for example, the website of Westminster Abbey, and the page there devoted to the Canon Steward, Jane Hedges – one of the more prominent of the ‘nearly half (sic) of the CofE’s women clergy who put their name to the infamous letter. Written in 2006, her potted biography runs: Canon Jane Hedges has been in ordained ministry for 26 years, having served seven years as a deaconess, seven as a deacon, then as a priest since 1994.

OK, calculators (or fingers) out! By our reckoning, 1994 to 2006 equals 12 years; add 7 years as a deacon, and that gives you a total of 19 years, not 26! So who on earth thought that the lay ministry of a deaconess counted as ‘ordained’? Answers on a postcard, please.


Meanwhile, we see that the Revd Dr Jane Shaw and the Revd Professor Christopher Rowland at Oxford have undertaken to direct a research programme funded by the Panacea Society of Bedford. A look at their website is, er, interesting – they believe in a Father-Son, Mother-Daughter foursome in the Godhead, not to mention a sealed box of prophecies which is only to be opened under certain strict conditions, such as a request by twenty-four bishops of the Church of England ‘in a time of grave national danger’. Crumbs!

What’s in a name?

As well as the Watch petition for lay people of no particular belief to sign in favour of women bishops and no provision, there is of course one for ‘male clergy and retired bishops’ to sign. A week into June, it had no less than 894 signatures. Two of them were from what one has to assume are ladies – a Margaret and a Jane – but anyone can make mistakes, especially on the internet. Some who haven’t made any mistake, though, are those

famous clergy siblings, the Anonymous brothers. When last we checked, four of them had signified their agreement that we should be off, and we imagine Mrs Rees is even now trying to round up the rest of them! (Quite how many that will amount to we’re not certain, as Crock-ford’s seems not to list any of them…)

Democracy in action

The recent episcopal vacancy in the diocese of Molde, in the Norwegian church, has been filled. Parishes throughout the diocese were asked to submit their preferences from a shortlist, and a clear victor emerged. The state authorities then decreed that the second-placed candidate was to be the new bishop, on the grounds that there weren’t yet enough women in that post. Great rumblings in the diocese about the abuse of democracy, never mind the (very) few who don’t like the innovation in the first place. Still, it could never happen here, could it?

Forward in Faith in Glasgow

An advert recently spotted on the website of the Scottish Episcopal Church: ‘Rector – St Aidan’s Clarkston – We are a small but enthusiastic congregation of moderate catholic tradition in a pleasant area on the south side of Glasgow. We seek a dynamic Rector to lead us forward in faith and mission.’

FiF’s Regional Dean for Scotland has written to the Primus to thank him for this new degree of openness in the SEC, and to assure him that he knows just the man for the job!

1993 and all that

The 30DAYS team, preparing itself for the York General Synod, has been having a look at the website of the Open Synod Group. Most of the links on the home page don’t lead anywhere (yes, we know there’s a joke in there somewhere) but what really caught our eye was a recent newsletter, with an article by someone called Canon Christopher Hall. One sentence in particular deserves the widest possible circulation: ‘The Act of Synod in 1992 was intended to protect those

who might then claim that the Church of England was not that from which they accepted holy orders, not those who have accepted those orders subsequently’. (our emphasis) Unfortunately, nowhere does our copy of the Act of Synod 1993 (not 1992, but if you’re rewriting history, who cares about dates?) say anything to suggest that it does not apply to those ordained subsequent to its passing – perhaps Canon Hall could let us have sight of his, so that we can see precisely what else was intended that the rest of us don’t know anything about.

Crystal balls

A peek into our future, courtesy of the Revd John Beverley Butcher of Pes-cadero, California, writing in the House Rag of The Episcopal Church, Episcopal Life, where he encourages his readers to let go of the Nicene Creed in the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy; he calls the Creed ‘a speed bump’ that impedes the ‘natural flow from the ministry of the word into prayer.’ ‘Since 1979,’ he writes, ‘I have quietly resumed the natural flow of worship by omitting the creed; none of the members of my congregations have missed it. I would encourage others to let go of the creed and feel the freedom.’

Stop Press

30Days just took itself off to the website of Watch (no URL – you don’t want to go there!) to have a look at the Press Release (sic) which Stephen Marsden writes about elsewhere in this issue of New Directions. But as soon as we clicked on the relevant link, the following message appeared: ‘The file is damaged and could not be repaired’.

What on earth can it mean? Perhaps the wealth of statistics (sic) it contained just proved too much for the sisters’ system to cope with. Unless, of course, someone spotted all the arithmetical errors – no, that can’t be right! They’d have issued a clarification, wouldn’t they? After all, Mrs Rees wouldn’t want anyone to be misled – would she?

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