Proposals for the reassignment of Society bishop responsibilities to the See of Oswestry have two positive features. The first is that it has never been filled and was a Victorian creation, probably at the behest of Gladstone and Oswestry is less than 30 miles from his former country retreat at Hawarden Hall (now Gladstone’s Library). The second, and surely more auspicious, is that in 1913 Oswestry was the birthplace of none other than Barbara Pym.
Pope Francis has been at it again, this time condemning ‘Granny’s Lace’. A longtime scourge of hats and ‘dressy church’ (now there’s a Fresh Expression), this time he says the lace must ‘go back to Grandma’. Anglicans sigh in relief over the Tiber. The Society of Mary’s annual celebration at St Silas, Kentish Town, this summer was a joyous show of support for ornate vestments with fine albs and cottas, and some of it was unquestionably Granny’s lace.
The funeral of singer Tom Parker in April was a sad occasion with his bandmates from The Wanted carrying his coffin into the parish church of St Francis of Assisi, Petts Wood, and especially tragic considering he was a 33-year-old young father. The rite took place amid much media attention and loyal fans lining the streets. Well done to Fr Stephen Niechcial and the clergy there who ensured seemly Catholic ritual, including the coffin being sprinkled in the hearse. A very public and assuring display of how Anglican funerals can still be done well.
Has the Diocese of London has suffered an indignity? A statement from the Metropolitan Police: ‘On Tuesday 15 February, a 52-year-old man was arrested by officers on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position and money laundering. He has been bailed pending further enquiries. The investigation relates to an alleged fraud at a charitable organisation based in London. Enquiries continue.’ Has this anything to do with the same man whose brain dump over a dodgy dossier caused untold distress and led to a life being taken? Perhaps it needs a clerical sleuth like Brother Cadfael, Fr Brown, or Grantchester’s Sidney Chambers. If only they weren’t fictional characters and diocesan officers heeded Luke 16.10 more: ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much’. As much as £2m, apparently.
One particularly patriotic member of the General Synod held a garden party over the Platinum Jubilee weekend, complete with liturgy helpfully signalling the shift from afternoon tea to drinks. Naturally it included the National Anthem for which the host had composed a special extra verse:
In this her Jubilee,
Lord, grant that she may be
Republics are a ‘No’ –
Presidents come and go.
It’s clear to friend and foe:
Our Queen is best!
Visitors to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new Cinderella which closed last month were treated to a riot of costumes and dancing. There was even a clergyman, who in one scene wore cassock and purple stole to chastise the ‘bad Cinderella’ as she was tied to a stake. But he later appeared for the wedding in white cassock, white-and-gold cope, and the same purple stole. Consistency, if not correctness. But what happened to the costumes?
The Venerable Liz Adekunle left her post as Archdeacon of Hackney last year with no forwarding address She is still doing R4’s Thought for the Day and was introduced last month as ‘the Chaplain to the Queen’. Somewhat singular, all things considered. There are currently over 30 Queen’s Chaplains.
Official information for the Lambeth Conference this year may cause a little confusion, in particular the ‘What to wear’ section. Delegates are advised: ‘For photo – Convocation robes, red chimere, white rochette if possible. A black scarf or red stole’. An unusual spelling for rochet, the ‘vestment resembling a surplice, used chiefly by bishops and abbots’. But it is also a garment for choir dress, so why mix in the sacramental stole? For the opening service it is ‘Convocation robes with option of a white stole’. At least the closing service instruction is simple: ‘Cassocks’. The Prix La Rochette is a horse race at Longchamp in Paris.
The Lambeth Conference media pack is a powerpoint converted into a pdf. Page 8 – ‘What’s the conference about?’ – has two video links, one being 7 minutes of ‘Looking ahead to the conference in 2022: The Archbishop of Canterbury shares a message about the importance of meeting for the Lambeth Conference in 2022’. But poor Justin Welby. As the cursor passes over his image wearing pectoral cross, the comment appears ‘A person wearing a necklace – Description automatically generated with low confidence’.
How good that the Lambeth Conference will feature ‘calls’ this year and not the usual resolutions. The policy of ‘guidance not instruction’ clearly still holds.