The Bishop and St Michael
The Bishop of Reading, the Right Revd Stephen Cottrell, has recently hit the headlines, saying that the Church has to shed her middle class, Marks and Spencer image, if it is to attract as worshippers those who feel more comfortable shopping at Asda or Aldi.
As this news reached the ' staff of 30DAYS just as we tucked into a particularly delicious job lot of M & S sarnies, we were naturally disturbed - particularly as we went on to reflect on the outcry when Jamie Olivers wife was photographed dragging most of the contents of their local Waitrose into their house just at the time that his long-running series of adverts for Sainsbury's first hit the small screen.
Where, we wondered, did the rest of the Cottrell household go shopping for all those small essentials for which over one third of us resort to M&S? A posse of photographers is presumably even now on its way to Reading.
The way Way lives now
30DAYS has been much diverted to read online a number of Reports of recent Inspections of Theological Colleges carried out on behalf of the House of Bishops - part of the C of E's commitment to quality assurance,' whereby seminaries are checked for 'the quality of education and formation being offered to the ministers of the future.'
Crudely Speaking, each inspection results in one of three possible and self-explanatory outcomes: 'confidence,' confidence with qualifications,' or 'no confidence! So, for example, S.Stephen's House Oxford, Wycliffe Hall and Oak Hill have all recently had the 'confidence with qualifications'
outcome, whereas Ripon College, Cuddesdon has come through with flying colours in the top category. None of which would be of more than passing interest to 30DAYS were it not for the identity of the Church House apparatchik who we understand is in charge of the inspection process. David Way, the Theological Education Secretary at the Ministry Division, wrote to all the colleges and courses on 17 October 2005 as follows:
'... Before I came to Church House, I worked as tutor and director of studies with ordinands at the then Salisbury and Wells Theological College. During this time of working intensely on vocational matters I began to realise that I had real questions about the exercise of ordained ministry in my own case. Consequently when I moved to Church House I did not seek a licence or PTO but gave myself time to reflect and review my position. I have now worked through the issues and have discussed them with senior colleagues here including the Bishop of Chelmsford, Chair of the Ministry Division, and the Director. I think it is time for me to indicate to a wider set of colleagues that, though I very much want to continue to serve the Church, I do not wish to do so through the exercise of ordained ministry. To clarify, I am not resigning my orders, but I will no longer be using the title 'the Revd' in correspondence etc ...'
By way of therapy, 30DAYS readers might care to apply one of the three possible judgements listed above to this curious situation, whereby the quality of ministerial formation
offered at our seminaries is measured by a system in the hands of one who has chosen no longer to exercise that ministry for which he was trained. (At Cuddesdon, since you ask.)
Talking of priestly formation, there's a seminary in Poland which seems to have a lot to answer for. For an as yet un-named Polish priest recently walked into a bank in Szamotuly in western Poland, threatened the cashier with a knife and made off with several thousand zlotys. (One thousand zlotys is worth around £217.) Apparently, he's unemployed, so he won't be able to say in his defence that he only did it to pay whatever is the Polish equivalent of the quota, which is a bit of a shame, as any number of clergy of the C of E would do anything to avoid that parish fete worse than death with which so many PCCs try to balance the books and would have been watching on tenterhooks to see if he managed to get off!
Downhill all the way
Tragic news from the Scottish Episcopal Church, where a Provincial Conference due to take place early in October at the McDonald Aviemore Highland Resort has had to be cancelled owing to lack of interest.
Thankfully, though, the Diocese of Brechin has stepped into the breach, by deciding not only to hold its own conference at the same time, but also to invite folk from all over the SEC to join in!
Whether the conference title Growing Towards a Thriving Church is supposed to be satirical only time - and registrations - will tell.
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