Colin Podmore introduces himself and looks to the future

When my appointment was announced at the Forward in Faith National Assembly, I commented that, whatever happens at the General Synod in November, things won’t be the same after as they were before. Forward in Faith will have different things to do in that new context. It is characteristic of Stephen Parkinson that he has identified a fitting moment to hand on the baton – after more laps than could reasonably be expected of anyone. I want to pay tribute to Stephen and all those who have built Forward in Faith into such a strong and vibrant organization since 1992. It is a huge achievement – a class act and a difficult act to follow.

A thrilling opportunity

I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity to work for the flourishing of the catholic movement within the Church of England in that new post-November context. It is an enormous privilege to have this task entrusted to me, and I am very grateful for the confidence that has been placed in me.

So where do I come from? I was born and brought up in Cornwall of a Cornish mother and a Yorkshire father. I read history at Keble College, Oxford, and – after a year working in a German boarding school – trained as a teacher at Selwyn College, Cambridge. I taught German at St Michael’s Church of England High School in Chorley, Lancashire, before returning to Keble to research for my D.Phil. in church history. At Keble I benefited from the inspiring ministry and teaching of our college chaplain, Dr Geoffrey Rowell (now Bishop of Gibraltar).

It was as a matter of vocation that I went to Church House, Westminster, 24 years ago. Vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are crucial, but not every Christian vocation involves ordination or vows. My earlier roles at Church House included: Deputy Secretary of the Council for Christian Unity, Secretary of the House of Clergy of the General Synod, Secretary of the Liturgical Commission and Secretary of the Dioceses Commission. I have also been the secretary of groups that have reviewed the processes for choosing diocesan bishops and making senior church appointments, and the group that oversaw the publication of the Common Worship liturgy. Since March 2011 I have been Clerk to the Synod, Director of the Central Secretariat of the Archbishops’ Council and Director of Ecumenical Relations. I have learned a great deal at Church House and I look forward to putting that experience at the service of the catholic movement as the next stage of my Christian vocation.

Forward with confidence

Having been a reader of New DirecTions from Issue 1 (April 1993) onwards, I have subscribed to its successor, New DirecTions, since its inception. After nearly 20 years as a reader, I am looking forward to becoming a contributor too. Readers may have spotted me in the great choir that sang at Christ Our Future in 2000 (I was in congregation at the Wembley Arena back in 1992) or as a pilgrim at Walsingham. When I am in London on Sundays, I am normally to be found in the congregation at either St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge (the Forward in Faith parish in the City of London) or at All Saints’, Margaret Street (an ‘AB’ parish in the City of Westminster). I am looking forward very much to visiting the Forward in Faith branches around the country, once I have begun work, and meeting members. Meanwhile, if you do see me here or there, please come up and make yourself known.

I relish the prospect of working with Bishop Jonathan, with the other catholic bishops in the Society, with the members of Forward in Faith, and indeed with all Anglicans who are inspired by the Church of England’s catholic inheritance and are committed to taking it forward confidently into the future. Forward in Faith is absolutely central to that task. There is a great deal to be done. I shall be starting at Easter, and I can’t wait! ND