Plus Wayne?

A 30Days reader writes to ask if he is the only one to have noticed that the departure dates of the famous five bishops coincides exactly with the opening of the Transfer Window in the football world. He goes on to wonder whether Wayne Rooney’s departure to the United States for alleged ‘fitness training’ was in reality ‘study leave’ that will see the spud faced nipper (recently photographed clutching a rosary) nipping back to replace his hoodie with a mitre? Despite the undoubted attraction of his faint Liverpudlian accent, 30DAys wonders if Rooney is quite what the Archbishop will be looking for this time round. But, there again…

Traditionalists routed

The Free Church of Scotland has overturned more than a hundred years of tradition by moving to allow music and singing during worship (provided, one assumes, that no one enjoys it). The decision was made following two days of discussion in Edinburgh, after which Ministers voted 98 to 84 to allow congregations to choose whether or not to incorporate hymns and musical instruments into their services. Hitherto, Free Church congregations were only allowed to sing the Psalms but without the accompaniment of musical instruments. Apparently, the vote took place during the first plenary meeting to be held since the Free Church split from the Church of Scotland in 1843. 30DAys confidently predicts that ‘defections’ (sic) will follow any moment.

We told you so

Thanks to the Aberdeen Press and Journal for this breaking news: A Free Church of Scotland minister is considering leaving his post in the wake of the contentious vote to break the church’s 100-year tradition of only singing unaccompanied psalms. The Revd Kenneth Stewart, 45, appeared to be in tears after taking the service on Sunday. He said it could be his laSt He has told his congregation at Dowanvale Free at Partick in Glasgow that he plans to stand down as a minister in the denomination. Flying Elders, anyone?

Fresh Expressions

It’s good to see from The Sunday Telegraph that PATCH (Pets & the Church) (see New DirectioNs passim) is already making a real impact on the stuffy and boring old Church of England.

No dog could have a better start to life. For in what must be the most lavish ceremony of its kind, Sheridan, the Shih Tzu puppy, was ‘christened’ in church, wearing a specially made silk shawl as his six tearful godparents looked on. The dog was chauffeur-driven to church in a Jaguar and, after the ceremony, taken to a hotel where his health was toasted by 75 guests drinking pink champagne. For his part, Sheridan ate melon as starter followed by butterfly chicken and a sherry trifle to finish. An official photographer recorded the event for posterity. Sheridan’s owner Russell Smith, a former wedding planner turned funeral director, wanted the church blessing and naming ceremony to reflect his devotion to his new dog. No expense was subsequently spared. ‘It cost me more than £1,000 but it was worth every penny,’ said Mr Smith, 49. ‘I rented a chauffeur driven, cream Jaguar. We decked the church in flowers. Sheridan wore a silk shawl I had specially made for him. It was a beautiful cold, clear morning. the bells were ringing in the church, which was absolutely full. I cried my heart out. It was a very emotional service. The vicar, who is a big dog lover and has bearded collies of his own, was fantastic.’

The local vicar, the Revd David Fowler, blessed the dog in church but refused to actually christen the animal there. Instead the dog, its owner, vicar and guests retreated to a local hotel where the vicar placed his hands on the dog’s head and declared the puppy be called Sheridan Smith.

Further comment would be superfluous.

Worth his salt?

Many thanks to the BBC Website for the news that, prior to his retirement in January, the Bishop of Lincoln will again be blessing Lincolnshire’s Gritting Lorries, in the hope of cutting the number of winter crashes on the county’s roads. Arch-liberal Bishop John Saxbee is quoted as saying: ‘These annual Blessing of the Gritters events have coincided with a dramatic reduction in the number of fatalities on Lincolnshire’s roads. Perhaps that is not a coincidence, and as I look to my retirement in January I hope and pray that driving carefully and arriving safely will continue to matter to all who use our road network in the years ahead.’ Amen to that – especially as it might suggest the diverting possibility of the Vacancy-in-See Committee starting its Statement of Needs with ‘must not be allergic to salt’ rather than the usual ‘must be allergic to traditionalists’. Forward in Faith members in the diocese are probably not holding their breath, though . . . .

French Leave

30DAys has always had a soft spot for Pete Broadbent, the Area Bishop of Willesden. After all, when New Directions first – to the horror of the Church Commissioners – published a detailed account of bishops’ working expenses, was it not Pete who broke the hastily erected embargo and put his own expenses into the public domain? Perhaps, though, he’ll forgive us just one small joke at his expense whilst we reflect that there are much better deals to be had on Eurotunnel for extended breaks in Calais than ever there are for day trips!

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