One day in thy courts…

One persecuted Episcopalian tells of a new pilgrimage site in New York City – a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Litigation. Who can she have been? Enquiries from 30Days to the Office of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church at 815 Second Avenue, New York seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Crisis? What crisis?

Courtesy of BBC Wales, news appeared last month that those attending a Church in Wales service numbered fewer than 50,000 last year, down from more than 62,000 in 1990. Thankfully, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, reacted entirely positively and immediately denied claims the church was in crisis, despite the numbers who regularly attend services continuing to fall across the Principality.

‘The fact of the matter is, things ebb and flow. People were writing off the seventeenth and eighteenth century churches, and saying it’s so corrupt; it’s so in decline; its buildings are falling down; people who go there don’t really want to be there. It’s bound to disappear. It’s still here. It will still be here.’ Meanwhile, Professor Robert Warner, the former head of theology at Lampeter University now at Chester University, warned the church it needs to take action to ensure its long-term survival. He said:

‘The only thing the Church in Wales cannot afford to do is to sweep the crisis under the carpet. It must be faced. If it’s faced, there is plenty of opportunity, I think, for the Church in Wales to reinvent itself. It’s lost so many people and so much influence, the worst thing it could do now is to go into denial.’ Given that Barry Morgan currently spends every waking hour denying that there is any need for a new Provincial Assistant Bishop to replace the retired

David Thomas, we guess that we shouldn’t be surprised that he should utilise the self-same mode to react to a fall in attendance of close on 20%.

Still, now he’s got a new Archdeacon at Llandaff in the shape of Gras stalwart Peggy Jackson – whom 30Days readers will remember for her stunningly foul work on Conscientious Objection back in 2008 – things will surely be looking up any day now across his province!

Load of old bells

Talking of bishops (as you do), 30Days is bound to say something unexpected – counter-cultural, even – this month: ‘Well done, Bishop Tom Butler!’ (That really was quite difficult to type.) According to The Daily Mail, Bishop Tom praised the ‘imaginative’ suggestion whilst the Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, called it a lovely idea’ Others were less encouraging: Bishop John Packer of RiponandLeeds said: ‘I am not sure assertiveness is a Christian value’; meanwhile Oxford’s John Pritchard replied that it was ‘not an idea he could pursue through the parliamentary system’ because he did not have a seat in the House of Lords. (You and me both, Bishop!).

So what had stung these Diocesans into writing letters which were always going to make it to the pages of The Daily Mail? Step forward designer, gardener and Putney resident Libby Alexander, who wrote to all the bishops asking them to cause the bells of the churches in their dioceses to be rung each year on St George’s Day. ‘The Church of England is full of colour and history with a rich array of astonishing saints including the nation’s representative, St George… What an uplifting, wondrous sound it would be if peals of bells honed by English craftsmen rang out to remind the country that Christianity exists and that churches are there to welcome.’ Most of the bishops didn’t reply of course (they’re short-staffed, you know) and only four were at all supportive: Southwark, Exeter, Carlisle and London. More seemed downright hostile (if the Mail is to be believed): Ripon 8c Leeds, Oxford, Chester, Gloucester, Portsmouth, Newcastle… to say nothing of Bradford who really hit the nail on the head:

‘Let me enlighten you as to why 1 disagree. First, I would not he able to issue this decree with any authority. Second, I doubt there are enough ringers available. Third, some towers are not in a suitable condition! That told her! Game, set & match, eh?

2 Samuel 1.19b

30Days was devastated to miss out on Celebrating God’s Call – ‘a vocations day for women and men discerning God’s call to the ordained ministry’ which took place recently at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. Most of the media attention was focussed on keynote speaker Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but that was to ignore the very exciting range of workshops available during the afternoon, including:

· Being a Newly Ordained Priest – the Revd Louise Codrington-Marshall

· Priestly Ministry with Teenagers – the Revd Wendy Dalrymple

· Hearing God’s Call – the Revd Hilary Ison

· Communication and Mission – the Revd Canon Catherine Ogle

· Pastoral Ministry / Gospel Opportunity? – the Revd Canon Kevin Partington

· Starting out in Public Ministry – the Revd Robb Sutherland and Dr Ruth Sutherland

· Priesthood in the Church Today – the Ven Sheila Watson

Such a wide and varied range of speakers!

Copy for 30 Days should reach the FiF office by the 10th day of the month: