Many thanks to St Stephens House alumnus A.N. Wilson, writing in the Daily Telegraph, for the news that the Heritage Lottery Fund folk have decreed that, in order for grant-funding to be made available, a proposed staging of the York Mystery Plays in 2008, 2010 and 2012, using local students, will have to be 'multicultural'. 30Days' advice to York City Council is to consult Fr George Austin, the retired Archdeacon of York, who is bound to have some words of wisdom for them on the subject.
Of course, the Lottery people are only trying to show that they are right up to the minute, just like The Episcopal Church. News reaches us from across the pond of the Revd Dr Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest and theologian who has become a practising Muslim. Redding's bishop, the Rt Revd Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement hasn't caused much controversy yet, he said. Well, it wouldn't, would it? Not in The Episcopal Church (sic).
More sad news from York, where the Archbishop's Principal Adviser (yes, it really is a job - Crockford's says so!), the Revd Dr Emma Loveridge, has stepped down after only 13 months in post. The reason, reportedly, is that she is pregnant - a cause for rejoicing in most circumstances.
Unfortunately, she had failed to take the most obvious precaution by getting married first. According to the Daily Mail, her job involved keeping 'a finger on the pulse of day-to-day and wider issues faced by Dr Sentamu.' Still, it's nice to think that she will have plenty of time on her hands to concentrate on the issue she faces.
Meanwhile, in the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (honestly), they have just elected a new bishop. Did they opt for the Revd David Breuer, ordained for 32 years? Of course not. Perhaps they
went for the Revd John Palarine, with his 34 years in orders? No way. The Revds Paige Blair and Gale Davis Morris, 11 year and 18 years ordained respectively, didn't make it either - perhaps voters were unsure of their gender, although evidently Paige really is a girl's name in the land of the free.
So who topped the poll, with a stunning 13 years in Holy Orders? Step forward the Venerable Mary Gray-Reeves, currently Archdeacon for Deployment' in the Diocese of Southeast Florida. A Google search seems to suggest that she is the only such Archdeacon anywhere in the Anglican Communion, but presumably it is only a matter of time before the Diocese of Southwark has one, to keep the other six archdeacons on their toes!
Archdeacon for textiles
Talking of archdeacons, sighs of relief have been heard in the Diocese of Oxford, where the announcement has recently been made that the new Archdeacon of Buckingham is to be Canon Karen Gorham, currently Priest-in-charge of St Paul's, Maidstone.
On paper, the news that their new Archdeacon was a published author seemed encouraging, until it was discovered that her claim to literary fame was as co-author of a Grove Booklet, Naturism and Christianity: Are They Compatible'? Traditionalists of all shades can rest easy, though. The new archdeacon will not be causing more raised eyebrows than necessary, for although she was brought up in a naturist household, she does not practise it herself.
Money for old rope
Recent correspondence in New Directions about the necessity of paying the parish quota comes to mind as 30Days reads a recent press release from the CofE about the launch of the latest generation of its 'pioneering' worship planning software, Visual Liturgy Live. In an attempt to ensure that all and sundry bag it up without undue delay (a snip at £125), the Authorised Lay Ministry Coordinator for Administrators for the Diocese of Ely, one Peter Maxwell, waxes lyrical about how 'intuitive and effective' the software is.
And it gets better: retired clergy may get a discount if they buy it. 'Retired clergy who wish to take advantage of our discount should contact Church House Publishing on 020 7898 1451 and choose option 3 from the menu or click the link to send an email'
A retired bishop of our acquaintance waspishly observed T am sure in view of our reducing pensions that there are many like me who will know just what to do with this generous offer.' Quite. Especially when every penny is needed in order to support one's parish, so that it can ensure long and rewarding employment for all those key diocesan personnel.
Still in Ely, many congratulations to the diocese on being likely to hold the first kangaroo court under the new 'pastoral breakdown provisions. The victim is the Revd Tom Ambrose, Vicar of Trumping-ton. The offence he gave to his parishioners by putting the harvest supper back a day and removing four pews to provide space for after-service coffee was naturally great, but when he suggested adding loos for the ageing congregation it was all too much.
The good Christian folk of Trump-ington alleged pastoral breakdown, and lawyers have said Fr Ambrose's legal fees alone (to be paid by the diocese) could be as high as £150,000, while the tribunal and subsequent appeals could cost another £500,000.
How fortunate the Diocese of Ely is to have PCCs so willing to cough up the parish quota! On top of this, of course, if he is dismissed it might be possible for him to claim compensation under civil law, either for stress caused by the parishioners or for constructive dismissal by the diocese.
Any fool could see that this sort of action would be the inevitable result of the introduction of such proceedings, so one can only assume that at last synodical lunatics really have now taken over the asylum.
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