UPDATE FIF

news from the Forward in Faith Regions

A Ministry for Women

There are, thankfully, a number of members and supporters of Forward in Faith who, whilst being unable in conscience to accept the innovation of women priests, are themselves women engaged in licensed, public ministry in the Church. Whether they be permanent Deacons, Church Army Sisters, Deaconesses or Licensed Lay Workers, their contribution to the life and witness of the Church is of enormous value and their support of Forward in Faith - and Forward in Faith's support of them - is ample testimony to that fact that Forward in Faith is in no sense a sexist or misogynist organisation, despite what many of our detractors would have the Church believe.

There have been a number of suggestions that some sort of network might be set up for women of our integrity who are engaged in active, licensed ministry and, to this end, the Director at Faith House would be glad to hear from any readers who fall into this category and who would be interested in such an initiative. Perhaps other readers who might know of such women and who suspect that they might overlook this paragraph could be kind enough to draw their attention to it!

Forward in Faith in Portsmouth

Forward in Faith in the diocese of Portsmouth met for its Annual General Meeting at the Church of S.Michael & All Angels, Paulsgrove on Saturday, 3rd February. After a Eucharist celebrated by the Regional Dean for East Wessex, Fr Barry Fry, those gathered heard a powerful and rousing keynote speech from Fr Ronald Crane, Forward in Faith Council member and Regional Dean for Mercia. In his address, Fr Crane reminded his audience of the inspiring example of Fr Dolling, the parish priest of S.Agatha's, Landport during the final years of the last century, who built up a vibrant catholic parish in the slums of Portsmouth, but who resigned that post rather than submit to the unreasonable demands of his bishop.

Forward in Faith in Exeter

Some sixty people from all over the diocese battled through gale-force winds to the isolated and beautifully-restored Georgian Marley House at South Brent (the former Syon Abbey), by the kind invitation of Mr and Mrs Andrew Crosbie. Huge log fires, endless supplies of hot drinks, and the ballroom converted into a magnificent Chapel all helped to set an atmosphere of welcome and calm for a Forward in Faith Quiet Day on 17th February. The Day was conducted by Canon Gordon Reid, the Vicar-General of the Diocese in Europe, whose addresses on the Blessed Trinity, combined with worship, quiet and the opportunity to walk in the beautiful grounds, provided an experience much appreciated by the participants. All was not silent though, as the lunch and coffee breaks were very lively, providing the opportunity to meet together and talk, when so many live miles apart in what is a very large diocese.

Spring Assembly for Tamar Region

Forward in Faith members from all over the dioceses of Truro and Exeter will be gathering on Saturday, 20th April at S. Bartholomew's, Plymouth for an Assembly presided over by the Regional Dean for Tamar, the Venerable Robin Ellis, Archdeacon of Plymouth. The day will commence with a Eucharist at 10.30 am, which will be followed by coffee and a business meeting at 11.30 am. After a lunch break, the keynote speaker at 2.00 pm will be the Archdeacon of York, the Venerable George Austin, who of course is also a member of the Forward in Faith National Council. Forward in Faith members and supporters in the south-west will not want to miss the opportunity of hearing one of our constituency's foremost speakers, whose work on television and radio is so much appreciated by so many tens of thousands of members of the Church of England. Further details of the day can be had by telephoning 01752 793397.

Those Resolutions again . . .

An interesting post-script to the piece in January's Forward in Faith Update about the difficulty in obtaining a nationwide list of parishes which have passed Resolutions A & B under the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure, 1993. At the February Sessions of the General Synod, a question was asked as to when a national list might be available. The answer given was to the effect that there is to be no national register, and for two reasons - the practical and the ecclesiological. The practical difficulties of 43 Diocesan Registrars faxing a current list to a central point every quarter are obviously mind-boggling . . .

More from the Floor

Forward in Faith Members of General Synod (when their minds had stopped boggling) were much taken with the February Sessions - or, at least, odd moments. Our man on the Floor reports that the hymn chosen to commence proceedings on one morning was The Church's One Foundation. Strangely, the verse about "schisms rent asunder" and "heresies distrest" was omitted! The debate on clergy differentials swept up both penniless parochial clergy on income support and poor bishops' wives shopping at Tesco, lumbered with heavy gas bills and eking out a miserable existence in their flats in the Palaces. Our correspondent assures us that there was not a dry eye in the Houses, as votes were cast to keep the status quo.

News from France

The Forward in Faith Clergy Chapter in the diocese of Canterbury, led by Bishop Edwin Barnes, are going on Retreat at the end of April. Wisely, perhaps, they have chosen a venue outside of the diocese and it is only with a modicum of jealousy that we report that they will be spending three days at Les Tourelles, near Boulogne-sur-Mer. With the Catholic League holding a Retreat in Montmartre during the same week, the Director is rapidly coming to the conclusion that there is a very real need for a branch office of Forward in Faith in France - which he will of course be happy to oversee!

A Plea for Help

The Calendar, Lectionary and Collects Revision Committee of the General Synod is much exercised at present by the suggestion that Our Lady of Walsingham should appear in the revised Calendar. Members of Forward in Faith will, we are confident, wish to lobby their General Synod representatives, so as to ensure that this central aspect of catholic life in the Church of England is properly marked. We are certain that the Committee will wish to listen to, and act upon, the views of ordinary members of the Church! The Secretary of the Committee, Miss Jane Melrose, will also no doubt welcome the views of members of Forward in Faith at her office at Church House, Westminster (Fax: 01171 233 2660).

For your Diaries . . .

Finally, if it isn't already in you diary, please be sure to book Saturday, 29th June, for the annual Glastonbury Pilgrimage, at which the Principal Concelebrant and Preacher at the Solemn Eucharist at 12.00 noon will be Bishop John Richards. The Preacher at Solemn Evensong, following the Procession at 3.30 pm, will be Bishop Colin James.

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