30 days

Stewardship news

Following the publication of the 2005 details of bishops’ expenses, 30Days is pleased to announce this year’s winners of the Commissioners’ Achievement awards for the Most Expensive Bishops (excluding Canterbury, York, London and Europe). The diocesan bishop with the highest office and support staff costs in 2005 was the Bishop of St Albans at £88,583 – that is a total of £242 per day. He fell down on individual expenses however so that the Diocesan Golden Mitre Award this year goes to the Bishop of Exeter, with a total of £136,080 or £372 per day. A wonderful result!

Congratulations too to the Bishop of Willesden who easily wins the Golden Mitre Suffragans award with £45,207 – almost £123 per day. The four London area bishops of course have exceptional demands in the vast distances they must travel. Together they total £173,275 – £474 day in toto.

The Wooden Croziers for the smallest expenses is a close call, so a joint award goes to the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and to the Bishop of Bristol, both hovering around the £73,000 mark – only £200 per day. Similarly with the suffragans, the Bishop of Grantham could only manage to spend £18,975 and Bedford a total of £19,104 (£52 per day). They really must pull their socks up this year and try and match the expenses of their fellow bishops. The biggest problem in this respect is clearly the diocese of Lincoln where, like his suffragan, the diocesan bishop too falls well below the average episcopal expenses – though we do recognize that in contrast to the London situation, Lincoln is the largest diocese in England. Meanwhile the three PEVs really let the side down with expenses of only about £100 per day each, clearly demonstrating that they do not have what it takes to become even a suffragan bishop.

Irritating church members

Fun and games in the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, where, at the start of a canonical trial on whether she violated her priestly vows, the Rector of Grace Church, Madison, Wisconsin, one Martha Ann Englert, was portrayed as a power-hungry manipulator who traded secrets about parishioners for influence. Thomas Scrivner, attorney for the diocese, told the panel of judges that Englert had ‘disclosed information about adultery, financial problems and mental illnesses of parishioners.’ He also said ‘she boasted of marijuana use, used profanity and mimicked delivering a ‘communion’ of hemlock to irritating church members’. So far, so pedestrian.

What makes this case such fun is the fact that fourteen members of the congregation together with Associate Pastor Roman Shemayev have brought a complaint to the Presiding Bishop against Bishop Steven A. Miller of Milwaukee, accusing him of abusing the authority of his office and of violating church law in bringing charges against Englert in the first place! 30Days looks forward with interest to hearing how new Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori manages to square this particular circle – a complaint on behalf of a ‘victimised’ woman priest against an ‘irredeemably patriarchal’ male bishop!

Post-colonial news

Lucky, lucky diocese of York! Next year’s Diocesan Conference will celebrate the ‘Inclusive Generosity of God in the Body of Christ,’ when the main speaker will be the Revd Dr Ian Douglas, Angus Dun Professor of World Mission and Global Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr Douglas is, apparently, a ‘consultant to the Presiding Bishop’ (whatever that may mean). His areas of expertise are given as ‘Missiology, globalization, studies in contemporary society and the post-colonial Anglican Communion, and American church history with special attention to the international work of the Episcopal Church, USA’ – which will no doubt all be of singular relevance to the folk of, for the sake of example, Teeside.

He will be ably supported by Dr Paula Gooder, who will be leading the Bible Study; she recently spoke at Gloucester Cathedral on ‘Women and the Pauline Church’ on behalf of our sisters in Watch who, as we so regularly have occasion to report, are so very filled with the Inclusive Generosity of God.

Life on earth

Geoffrey Kirk’s piece on p.17 of this month’s New Directions only scratches the surface in its consideration of relationships not unadjacent to the animal kingdom, if a story on the BBC News website is anything to go by. Under the headline ‘Oslo gay animal show draws crowds,’ it reports that a Norwegian exhibition on homosexuality among animals has been well received, despite ‘initial indications of strong opposition.’

‘Homosexuality is a common and widespread phenomenon in the animal world,’ say the exhibitors; ‘not only shortlived sexual relationships, but even longlasting partnerships; partnerships that may last a lifetime.’

The exhibition, entitled Against Nature?, reportedly includes photographs of ‘one male giraffe mounting another, of apes stimulating others of the same sex, and two aroused male whales rubbing against each other.’ Presumably it can only be a matter of time before Peter Singer, the unwitting hero of Kirk’s article, has to re-write his curiously unerotic hogwash.

SLAG

No, not more of the same, but rather the attractive nomenclature of the longgone ‘South London Argument Group’ – a group of Southwark priests who used to meet regularly in order to… well, have an argument. Who used to be a member and where are they now?

Well, memories are short, but it seems that a Fr Hind went on to be the Bishop of Chichester, a Fr Ford became Bishop of Plymouth and a Fr Atkinson has just been appointed Dean of Worcester. Obviously a club worth belonging to! And as though to demonstrate that exceptions do indeed prove the rule, a

Fr Kirk remains where he has been these last 25 years. Mind you, he was asked to desist from attending – for being too argumentative…

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