Quotable quotes

I’ve seen many things in General Synod but I have never seen the number of amendments to some pieces of legislation that we have seen so far in this Group of Sessions. I thought I was going to get Repetitive Strain Injury yesterday afternoon as we were voting on around 16 amendments in one debate! It was all done as efficiently as possible but Synod procedures aren’t exactly designed to be nifty! But what it does show is that some members read the documents we get sent very carefully – and thank goodness for that, however much ones heart sinks at the length of the Order Paper!

But after a lot of rather tedious legislative business (I’m obviously not referring to the Cathedrals Measure), Synod engaged with something that was of real importance.

Fr Andrew Moughtin-Mumby, a priest in Southwark Diocese, had proposed a Private Members Motion back in 2018 when it was the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush. Those less than nifty processes of Synod, to which I have just referred, meant that we finally debated it yesterday. But in fact it could not have come at a more relevant or opportune time. The news was all about the deportation of a group of people from the UK to Jamaica. The courts were involved, the injustices were clear and it was a reminder that the Windrush scandal was being repeated.

Andrew gave one of the best speeches that I have heard in Synod. From his own experience as a person of colour and as Parish Priest in a black-majority church not far from the cathedral, serving a congregation which has within it people with their own stories of discrimination to tell, he spoke powerfully and carefully and in a very measured but clear way of the need for change.

There were three amendments to his Motion – on the need to offer an apology for our own treatment of the BAME community and on the need to appoint an independent person to look again at how we handle race and ethnicity within the life of the church. The Motion was amended and then carried.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was one of the first to speak in the debate. He threw away his prepared speech and spoke from the heart. It was powerful and moving stuff.

In both his homily at the Eucharist which began the day and in this unprepared speech ++Justin gave us some quotable quotes. In the homily he said this

‘In our haste to make statements we lose sight of the human being.’

In his intervention in the Windrush debate he said

‘We did not do justice in the past, we do not do justice now.’

These are powerful statements, a little like at the Synod in 2017 after the House of Bishops’ paper on sexuality was rejected by the members of Synod, who chose not to take note of it, when ++Justin said that we needed a ‘radical Christian inclusion’. That has proved to be a quotable quote. I know the Archbishop doesn’t say things lightly. But I also know that the church and its leaders can be quick to speak, clever at finding the words and slow or unable or unwilling to act. I will add these new quotable quotes to the list I am collecting as I want to see them being ‘cashed out’ in the life of the church.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus advises the people

Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”.’ (Matthew 5.37)

Jesus was good at quotable quotes – the best – but his words always had substance for he was the Word he spoke. May we not lose sight of the human being and live the justice of which we speak, otherwise we should have stopped at yes, or no!

Jesus, may we have the courage to be who we say we are, to live as we promise to live, to be as you would have us be. Amen.

Jewels in the crown

I’m feeling quite a lot of relief at the moment. The big thing, for me, today was to introduce the debate on the Report of the Revision Committee on the Cathedrals Measure. My speech was prepared, I know what I had to do and I hadn’t heard rumblings in the corridors that things were going to be difficult. Nevertheless it felt like a real responsibility to get the debate going with the right tone.

Durham Cathedral – a jewel in the crown

So I began by saying that Lonely Planet’s number two destination for travellers in 2020 is Britain, with its castles, coastline and cathedrals. We were beaten by the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan which is the number one place to go to. What I wanted to celebrate as we embarked on the debate was that cathedrals are the jewels in the crown of the Church of England. I know I am a dean and so I am bound to say that – but I also think that the reaction of the public in general and worshippers in particular over the last decade has proved this to be true. Cathedrals buck many of the trends that the rest of the church is subject to. We are seeing increasing numbers at our services, we are on the tourist trail, cathedrals do provide so much civic ‘glue’ in many of our cities. It is easy to overplay some of this but I think that the evidence bears this out.

But the reason for the Measure is that when things go wrong in cathedrals they can do so in spectacular and very public ways – Peterborough and Exeter were the two latest examples. You may remember that back in 2018 the report of the Cathedrals Working Group came to Synod. There was plenty of disquiet about a great deal of what was being suggested. But Synod received it and asked that legislation be drawn up by July 2019. That is what happened. That Measure reflected the report, as it had to. So, again, there was a lot in the draft Measure to which people objected. But I believe that the revision process and the vast amount of consultation that has gone on since July 2019 has produced a good and workable Measure that will serve cathedrals as well as the wider church.

Synod seemed to agree with that. When the last Cathedrals Measure was debated in 1999 there was real disagreement on the floor of Synod and the Measure was much amended, to its detriment. This has not happened this time. Deo gratias.

So the Measure goes forward to its final stage at the July Group of Sessions and then we can get on with the real work of implementing it.

When I was writing my last blog, early this morning, I forgot a question which was asked yesterday evening. It was asking about the response of the Church of England to the Coronavirus, in terms of Holy Communion! The lady who was asking the question, who is of a particular evangelical persuasion, suggested that the time might be right to introduce individual cups at Holy Communion for the wine, aka Precious Blood, as some other denominations do.

It is good to have a long memory. My mind went back to 2006 and the Bird Flu outbreak. You may remember that the church had to give advice at that time about the ‘common cup’ and how to reduce the risk of infection. But we didn’t go out and buy individual cups, instead worshippers were encouraged to receive in ‘one kind’ only. The way that was dealt with – because sharing the cup is so fundamental to our understanding of the Eucharist – was by digging out and dusting off the Doctrine of Concomitance. The doctrine dates back to 1415 and the Council of Constance and states that as Christ is indivisible then one substance contains the whole substance, that the whole presence of Christ is to be found in both the bread and the wine, the body and the blood. Though the doctrine is pre-reformation in origin it still applies as expressing a deep truth about our Eucharistic doctrine.

So do not be afraid. We didn’t need those separate cups before and we won’t again. Those old, dusty doctrines have a place even in the challenges of the modern world. And I remember Paul’s words to the Christians in Corinth.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10.6)

Lord Jesus, as we share the bread and share the cup make us one as you are one. Amen.

Making a beginning

So the Synod is underway. One of the things that we all try to do is to get the feel of the Synod. This is the penultimate Group of Sessions before this particular Synod ends after the July meeting in York. There will then be fresh elections. So I suppose that some of the things that we have been working on over the past five years are coming to synodical fruition but there is also frustration that we are still going round in circles on others.

Synod meeting in the chamber in Westminster

One of the things that happened to the chariots of the Egyptians as they pursued the Israelites escaping slavery was that their wheels became clogged. It can feel pretty similar for us as we have been pursuing a goal. Take the whole issue of sexuality. We will be getting an update on the LLF process, Living in Love and Faith, during this Synod and there will be a major event at York. But in no way has the church begun to really deal with the issues that are clogging our chariot wheels.

Questions are always a feature of the first day of any Synod and a good test of the temperature of the gathering. Questions yesterday were many and a bit grumpy. There were a great many as a result of both the tone and content, as well as the manner of the publication of the Bishops’ recent Pastoral Statement. The Bishop of Newcastle was at her most honest as she admitted in response to some supplementary questions that she did not know about the authorisation for the publication of the statement. As someone who has given herself to the pastoral work following on from the Shared Conversations it felt as though the rug had been pulled from under her feet.

One of my tasks in this Group of Sessions is to see through the Channel Islands Measure. Unusually all the stages for this piece of legislation will be conducted on the floor of Synod in one go, as it were. So we made a beginning yesterday and despite some of the activity on social media the draft Measure was very warmly received. I hope the wheels on this particular Measure aren’t clogged as we return to it today.

But, for the five Proctor Deans on Synod, today is a lot about the draft Cathedrals Measure. After the Eucharist this will be the first item of business. It will be interesting to see what the mood and attitude of the Synod is with regard to our 42 wonderful and varied cathedrals. Having begun this work in July, this is the second stage and, if all goes well, we will complete the stages before Synod finishes in July.

One thing that is unusual is not having the Archbishop of York sat alongside Archbishop Justin on the platform. As the Synod draws to its close on Thursday we will be saying goodbye and thank you to Archbishop Sentamu. I wonder what the Bishop of Chelmsford was thinking as he looked at the vacant seat?

So lots to do, but we have made a beginning. Let’s see where today takes us. Perhaps the Third Collect from Matins in the Book of Common Prayer might be a good place to begin.

O LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, to do always that is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Heading to Synod

‘Check before you travel!’ is the advice this morning. Well, unless people managed to get down to London yesterday there will be many members of the General Synod making the journey to London this morning.  Most, I suspect, will be coming by train and so the effects of Storm Ciara will be felt by them.

Storm

Check before you travel!

One of the essential features of a Synod like this is that it brings together people from across England, from each of the 42 dioceses.  PCCs (Parochial Church Councils), Deanery Synods and Diocesan Synods all tend, and rightly so, to have a narrow view on things – how will it affect this parish, this deanery, this diocese; what do we need here, now? But General Synod has to look more widely than that and try to hear voices from across the Church of England.  That is why people will be making the journey today from Newcastle and Carlisle, as well as Truro and Canterbury.  And it’s not just the geographical extremes but the very nature of the places that we come from which makes the Synod such a unique experience – the very rural dioceses, like Hereford, the post-industrial, like Sheffield, the urban, like Birmingham and the metropolitan, like London and of course, Southwark.  Then add to that the dimension of church tradition and you get a very exciting mix!

If everyone manages to get to Westminster, and eventually they will, there is some interesting stuff for us from our disparate backgrounds to consider.  There is the Cathedrals Measure, for instance, something with which I have been heavily involved.  I have chaired the meetings of the Revision Committee which met during the autumn and our report and the revised Draft Measure come to Synod on Tuesday morning.  There is the wider issue of Climate Change and a debate on the lessons learned from the experiences of the Windrush Generation.  There will, of course, be sex (it wouldn’t be the CofE without it) in an update in the Living in Faith and Love project. There is a fascinating piece of legislation on the future of the Channel Islands, or at least which diocese they are to be part of.  There will be an update on and a response to the IICSA hearings and some items relating to poverty in the UK, most interestingly on the future of ‘Pauper Funerals’.

This is all pretty big stuff that has implications for all dioceses, wherever we are in England and whatever we are like, socially, environmentally, politically.  But first, people have to get to London!

God, bless the meeting of General Synod.
Guide us by your Holy Spirit
in our discussions and our decisions
to seek your kingdom now, here
and in all things to give glory to you.
Amen.

Heading home

So we were Prorogued and we are now heading back to to the four corners of England (Isle of Man, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands included of course).

Yes I am in First Class! I booked early!

So, we have simplified procedures around getting a new vicar when there is a vacancy and some changes to the Church Representation rules. But in addition to those important debates we also discussed the progress on ‘Setting God’s People Free’ (SGPF) and ministry to those living with dementia, which includes those who are carers, particularly through the ministry of Anna Chaplains.

The phrase I loved from the first debate was ‘the Christ of the every day’ and of course SGPF is around recognising that Christian life is an every day business. I apologise for so often turning to George Herbert, my excuse is that he does articulate Anglicanism for me. He writes in his poem ‘Praise (III)

Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise Thee;

The Christian life is full time, every day. So, when we got to debate how we minister to those living with dementia I stood, but wasn’t called, to tell my story of Harold.

It was 30 years ago and I was a parish priest in Leeds. Harold has been the Verger at one of the churches in the parish for 50 years. He had been a daily communicant, the Mass was not a Sunday experience but a daily reality. But when I arrived he was housebound, as much by his mental as any physical disability. His dutiful wife Elsie was caring for him, and he was difficult to care for. I took the Blessed Sacrament to him once a week. He would talk and shout and ‘disrupt’ the first part of the Liturgy much to Elsie’s distress.

But then I would hold the Blessed Sacrament before him and say ‘This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’ and carefully and slowly he would make the sign of the cross and open his mouth to receive the host (that was how he’d been taught). His wife told me that he was always silent for about half an hour after I’d left.

The psalmist writes

Deep calls to deep in the thunder of your waterfalls.’ (Ps 42.9)

It was being so deeply embedded with the Christ of the every day that had embedded the knowledge of the Christ of the every day in the very deepest places of his being, the places that his condition could not touch. I have seen that repeated in others to whom I have had the privilege to minister. Dementia diminishes and can seem to destroy but we should never imagine that the person no longer recognises Christ in the midst.

There was an extra item of business before the Farewells and the Prorogation. Archbishop Justin invited one of our guests from the Anglican Communion to address Synod. It was the Revd Canon Dr Joseph Bilal from South Sudan and on the day when that country was celebrating its Independence Day he stood to thank us for our support. It took me back to 2011 when I was Chaplain to the General Synod. On the day when South Sudan became an independent nation we held a special service in the Synod to celebrate that event. It was a joy to put that together and an inspiration to hear Fr Joseph speak so passionately and positively today. They have travelled a tough road from then to now. But may God bless them. It was a great ending to a good Synod.

Perhaps I can end with my favourite prayer by Dag Hammarskjold. His words open us up to every possibility that the Christ of the every day holds for us.

For all that had been, thanks. For all that will be, yes. Amen.

The last lap

The finishing line is in view, this is the last lap.  At the end of this morning’s Session we will be Prorogued (interesting how that is a word that more people are now aware of – I’d only ever used it in relation to Synod, but Brexit is having unforeseen effects) and we will head back into real life.

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The morning is book-ended by two debates and in the middle are two bits of legislative business.  The first debate will be on ‘Setting God’s People Free’.  This is an initiative begun in 2017 about ‘encouraging and enabling lay people to follow Jesus confidently in every sphere of life’ and helping the ordained and lay members of the church to see their roles as complementary.  Dioceses have been taking this on in different ways and I suppose this morning we will be hearing lots of stories about what has been happening.

The last debate is on a motion from the Diocese of Rochester about ‘Anna Chaplaincy’.  I had never heard about this until I was coming to this Synod.  It seems that Anna Chaplains work with the elderly and those living with dementia.  They have a vocation to listen and be alongside.  Their name comes from Anna who appears out of the shadows of the Temple in Luke’s account of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2.36-38)

She’s a fascinating ‘bit-part’ player in the gospel and it will be great to celebrate her – one of God’s people who are set free as she encounters the one for whom she has been looking and waiting.

In between? There are two pieces of legislation to approve, one on the Patronage of Benefices and the other on the Church Representation Rules.  So we just need that final spurt of energy to get us to the finishing line.

Loving God,
give us the energy we need today,
to do whatever lies before us.
Amen.

Cathedral-shaped church

It was budget day at General Synod.  But there is no red box, no photo outside a door and no rabbits being pulled out of hats.  What we have instead is the most amazing presentation by Canon John Spence who looks after the finances for the Archbishops’ Council.  John is blind and so he is helped on to the platform – and then he is on his own. What happens is quite amazing.  Now, you have to understand that my memory is pathetic, I actually called the Bishop of Oxford the Bishop of Sheffield, forgetting he had moved a few years ago!  But John Spence has a memory like no other.  I was chairing the debate on the budget and apportionment and gave him 15 minutes in which to make his presentation.  Without a note John spoke to the PowerPoint slides that were displayed, everything was at his fingertips, but not in Braille but in his memory – the figures, the facts – all there.  In the debate that followed he responded with great ease.  So budget day may not be as it is in that other legislative body but it is no less impressive.

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No need for one of these!

John also manages to make a very clear connection between the money we vote with the mission in which we engage with the growth in discipleship that we seek.  That is what makes this particular presentation of a budget not a dry, boring experience but something to thrill the heart.

This was going to be an important day for those of us connected with cathedrals.  As I said in my earlier blog we were going to debate the Draft Cathedrals Measure in the morning.  None of us who had been involved in the conversations that have been taking place since last July had any idea how this would go.  But in the end it was a really helpful debate.  What was so good was how clear people were about where they felt that things in the Measure could be improved in the revision process that now begins.  Synod spoke very clearly and that makes, potentially, the next stage so much more straight forward.

The other thing was that it was clear from those who spoke in the debate just how important cathedrals are to the life of the church as a whole but also to the wider community.  The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Caroline Spelman, MP, spoke powerfully about how cathedrals are showcases for wider society, how they ‘belong’ not just to the church but to our communities and how many times she hears people speaking of ‘our’ cathedral.

I know that to be true from our experience in Southwark.  We, as you will be aware, were at the heart of the London Bridge and Borough Market attack.  So the Inquest that has been taking place into what happened has opened up for us the memories of that terrible night.  When I tried to go to the Cathedral the morning after the attack, it was Pentecost Sunday, the police stopped me at the cordon that had been set up after I found my way back to the Deanery after I had been in the Market the night before.  In fact we would not be able to open the Cathedral to the public, for worship, for a week.

People spoke about ‘our cathedral’ being closed.  They felt it as another loss in that greater sense of loss in the days that followed the atrocities.  They needed that inclusive, open, holy space that the cathedral is even for those who do not go to services or necessarily call themselves Christians. They needed the thin place of accessibility to the divine beyond them in the place that they are.

The Synod heard about the ‘Mission-Shaped Church and Fresh Expressions’ initiatives 15 years on.  A lot that is exciting has been done and it is much easier now to think of the budget, for instance, from this mission perspective.  But I also like to think of the church as cross-shaped.  Southwark Cathedral, being a relatively simple and early Gothic building is built on the cruciform shape.  I love taking groups into the church and asking them to stand in the centre and look east from the west end.  The tilting chancel, built to mirror the head of Christ on the cross, takes people’s breath away.  Then I point out that the church is the body of Christ, the church is built in the shape of the cross and the crucified Christ and is set right at the heart of the community.  The Cathedral-shaped church is a Christ-shaped church, a cross-shaped church.  As Jesus said

‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ (Matthew 18.20)

It’s not particular to cathedrals, of course, but there are ways in which cathedrals can and do and should be this more purposefully, more deliberately, more self-consciously because of being that ‘showcase of the Spirit’ for wider society, for the community in which the cross, in which Christ is set.

George Herbert wrote a poem called ‘The British Church’ and it concludes like this

But, dearest mother, what those miss,
The mean, thy praise and glory is
And long may be.
Blessed be God, whose love it was
To double-moat thee with his grace,
And none but thee.

Herbert’s idea of a church ‘double-moated’ with grace, doubly blessed, doubly protected, is a lovely one and perhaps as he wrote this he looked across the water meadows from Bemerton to the great cathedral of Salisbury and saw a grace filled, Christ-shaped church, touching heaven and fixed on earth.  Glorious, a blessing.  That is what we want our cathedrals to continue to be.

God,
double-moat your church with grace,
that we may be safe and holy
for your people
the place of encounter with your Son,
crucified, glorified, and with us when we meet.
Amen.

Law and grace

I came out of my room this morning to be greeted by the sight of a balloon gently moving across the sky as I walked to the dining hall to get my breakfast.  Lovely, but nothing at all to do with this blog, but just a nice beginning to the day.

Baloon

A nice way to begin the day

Anyway, at Morning Prayer for the past few weeks we have been reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans.  In Chapter 6 of that letter Paul writes

‘You are not under law but under grace.’ (Romans 6.14)

Of course, grace abounds in the meetings of the General Synod but, unfortunately, we also have to deal with law and it is legislation that is going to take up a great deal of our time in the two Sessions that lie before us today.  We will be looking at Faculty Jurisdiction, Religious Communities, Standing Orders, some miscellaneous provisions – a kind of rag bag of stuff including revisiting that clause relating to unused burial grounds which is where we began this Synod – and cathedrals.

Last July we were considering the report of the Cathedrals Working Group.  This year we are looking for the first time at the draft legislation, the Cathedrals Measure, that has come out of that report.  The twelve months in between have seen a huge number of meetings between the various interested parties, not just deans, not just Residentiary Canons, but the many, many groups of people for whom cathedrals are significant.  The draft measure, however, contains the recommendations of the report, some of which are not workable, some of which are not welcome. I have been appointed as the chair of the Revision Committee.  So, if the Draft Measure gains Synod’s approval in this first reading it gets passed on for revision which is when we will be able to tidy it up and recommend changes to the law, that grace may abound.  So I’m hoping for a really good debate which will highlight the areas that we need to look at.  If all goes to plan the amended Measure will come back to Synod in February.

The rest of the day, when we are not talking about law, we will be talking about the budget for next year, the work of the Archbishops’ Council and looking at ‘Mission-Shaped Church’ 15 years on.  So it should be an interesting day.

God of grace,
may your church live
your law of love.
Amen.

Cautious steps

There are times when you can’t race ahead, when you have to step more cautiously.  The famous split infinitive at the beginning of Star Trek, ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’ was one way of travelling.  But Synod was not in Trekkie mode this afternoon as we debated the proposals that would lead to the mutual recognition and interchangeability of ministries between the Methodist Church and the Church of England.

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Tread carefully

If you are chairing a debate, as I was chairing this debate, it means that you have to spend time backstage planning how you will manage the debate.  That meant that unfortunately I wasn’t in the Chamber for the opening of this Session and for questions and the subsequent presentation on safeguarding.  But there is a screen on which we can watch what is happening and we can hear a lot of what is going on.  The questions that followed on from the presentation concluded with a standing ovation by members of the Synod.  So I can only conclude that it went well.

There was a great deal of interest in the Methodist-Anglican debate.  Lots of people had put in to speak, there were three amendments to be handled and, potentially, some procedural motions.  We had two hours allotted for the debate, which may seem like a long time but, believe me, time moves on very quickly.

I knew what the issues would be, of course.  There would be a group of people who were eager to move forward as quickly as possible with a legislative process – the bold ones.  Others would be more cautious, wanting more time to consider what we mean by episcope, the role of bishops, about the ‘anomaly’ we would live with for maybe two decades of ministers not episcopally ordained celebrating the sacraments, particularly presiding at the Eucharist.  Others were concerned that the recent decision of the Methodist Conference to support equal marriage in church revealed different doctrinal positions on marriage.  So, for different reasons there were cautious people and for good reason there were bold people.  We had to find a way through.

In the end we chose the path of caution, but still with momentum, asking the House of Bishops to come back with further thoughts and deliberations in the next quinquennium.  I am sure that this was the best decision – without that measure of caution the whole thing might have been lost!

We were reminded by a couple of speakers of the Methodist Covenant Prayer which begins like this

I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

There is no caution in this prayer.  When we say it we boldly place our selves, everything we are, into the hands and the will of God.  For Methodists covenant means everything and as we are already in a covenant with them it should mean everything for us as well.  The journey, the path we have chosen may be the cautious one but it will demand boldness as well.

Oh, and the debate … the final amended motion was passed in all three Houses.  We move forward.

God give us the courage to be bold,
and the wisdom which calls for caution,
that in all things your will be done.
Amen.

The beauty of holiness

On Sunday we all go to church.  In fact we all go to York Minster and that is always a treat.  This morning ++Sentamu was presiding and ++Justin was preaching.  The Minster was full and it was all very lovely.  The Archbishop preached about the state of the nation and the need for reconciliation and the role that we, as the Church of England, have in helping with that.  I am sure he is right, the question we were asking each other as we walked back from the Minster to the University was ‘How?’.

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The Eucharist at the Minster always ends in the same way.  The organ plays as the altar party leaves and the choir follows and then as they reach a certain place in the nave they take over singing a setting of Psalm 150, unaccompanied and to a chant by ‘George Surtees Talbot (1875-1918) sometime Vicar Choral of York Minister’ as it says in the order of service.  The treble voices soar at the end of each verse and as the choir moves out of the nave and into the choir aisle the sound becomes more distant and more ethereal.  Even Google seems to know little more about Talbot apart from that he published one book.  There is no picture available online, nothing but these beautiful notes which much captivate thousands of people each year as the Eucharist ends and they prepare to leave the Minster ‘To love and serve the Lord’.  Leaving with the ‘beauty of holiness’ ringing in our ears must be part of the response we need to make to the nation, witnessing to the reality of our reconciling God, being salt and light, being bridge-builders, truth-tellers, peace-makers.

So we are back at the University and after lunch back to an afternoon of business.  Sunday afternoons should be about sleeping off a big roast lunch (with Yorkshire Pudding) and a bottle of claret with your feet on the sofa and a Doris Day film on the tele.  Not for us.  We will begin with Safeguarding Questions followed by a presentation on Safeguarding.  As the IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) continues and members of the Church of England are being called to give evidence and we are hearing the voices of survivors, these will be important pieces of business.

Then we will move on to a debate that has been ongoing for years and years and years, the discussions between the Methodist Church and the Church of England.  This debate is called ‘Mission and Ministry in Covenant’ and will call on the church to move forward.  I will be chairing this debate so I will say no more, only what a delight it was to sing one of the great hymns by Charles Wesley, ‘And can it be’.  That final verse should be ringing in our ears as much as the lovely Psalm 150.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness Divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Then this Session will finish with a debate on a motion from the Diocese of Southwark on ‘Refugee Professionals’.  It will encourage us to see refugees as a gift and not an ‘issue’, not a ‘problem’, arriving as so many do with the most amazing skills and professional backgrounds, which are so often ignored, so often wasted.

So, a busy and very serious afternoon.  So if you are watching Doris Day with your feet up, enjoy, and spare a thought for us.

Holy Spirit,
guide our thoughts,
our words,
our actions,
that filled with the beauty of your holiness
we may serve the world.
Amen.

Holy Land

A pilgrimage for returning pilgrims

My Lent Diary

A journey from ashes to a garden

In the Steps of Martin Luther

A Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage 2017

sabbaticalthoughtsblog.wordpress.com/

Canda, Jerusalem, Mucknall

Southwark Diocesan Pilgrimage 2016

Hearts on Fire - Pilgrims in the Holy Land

A good city for all

A good city for all

In the Steps of St Paul

Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage June 2015

LIVING GOD

Reflections from the Dean of Southwark

Andrew Nunn's reflections from General Synod

the personal views of the Dean of Southwark