30 Days, July 1997
Old friends of the Bishop of Birmingham who were unable to attend his marriage to the former wife of one of his own priests, will have been intrigued by his choice of preacher at the Blessing - his old Deputy and colleague at Westcott House, John Armson.
Fr John Armson, now Canon Librarian of Rochester and one of Michael Turnbull’s first appointments, preached on the text, “It is not good for man to be alone”.
The irony will not be lost on friends of the learned Canon, who has long been noted for his singular way of life.
A married couple who worship regularly at a large and thriving Forward in Faith church went on a day out recently to a university town. In the porch of the college chapel they fell into conversation with an elderly lady. When she discovered who their parish priest was she began to lament, “Oh what a pity, what a shame, what a waste.”
Temporarily dumb struck by this and wondering if perhaps their priest was seriously ill and hadn’t said anything they had no time to ask what she meant before her elderly husband arrived, heard the priests name and went into a similar lament....”such a waste....was a good priest....nice wife and family.....all wasted....what a pity.”
“What” the tragic priest’s parishioners finally demanded, “is a waste?” “Well”, explained the elderly gent. “He threw away his career by being on the wrong side of the women priests issue!”
And who were these delphic elders? None other than the recently retired Bishop of the Diocese and his wife!
The very same Bishop who had assured endless protesters that such considerations never affected his appointments and, most mysteriously, left his diocese without so much as an orthodox Rural Dean
Shopping and spirituality will collide in an extravaganza of creative worship at Lakeside Shopping Centre at the end of August. The faith will be presented “Through the creative arts of clowning, juggling, acrobatics, drama, music and conjuring etc.”
Star performers, apparently, include Roly Bain (Clown of the Year 1994) and Bishop Laurie Green of Bradwell.
Hull International Festival Five Hour Praisathon does not vouchsafe if the same team will be leading the “conjuring and juggling” bit of their liturgy in July.
Just a matter of time before the Roman Catholics start advertising “Pontifical High Trapeze with Solemn Prestidigitation”, surely.
Former members of Westcott House have just received a copy of the newly revived college “Chronicle”. Gone are the interminable and largely incomprehensible pages of liberal angst which characterised the previous regime of Rupert Hoare (Now Bishop of Dudley). In comes a smart 4 page glossy with simple news and updates.
The Principal, Michael Roberts (Runcie ‘65), has, however, no good news for prospective orthodox candidates.
The Vice-Principal can draw on two years experience as a curate, The Director of Studies is fresh from college, the half time chaplain is the community worker from the Methodist church in Battersea and the Spirituality brief “becomes a job share” for the heavenly twins of feminist theology Angela Tilby and chum Sr. Lavinia Byrne. Omission Praise
A correspondent, who was recently filling in his hymn list for the Christian Copyright Licence, was intrigued, on trawling through the hundreds available, to see the thrilling possibilities that he had missed. Major omissions included:
Ian Smales’s “I was frightened of spiders”, “I want to be a cowboy for Jesus” and “Lord you’ve put some bounce into my feet”.
Richard Hubbard’s anthem for the home knitters, “I’m a jumper for the Lord”.
Bob Gillman’s matey affirmation of the second person of the Trinity, “Jesus you’re terrific, I really think you are”.
John Hardwick’s suggestively ageist, “You have to be sixteen, anytime, anywhere.”
Pentecostal favourites for the speakers in tongues include, Ian Vallance’s “Shoop Shoop Doobee Doo Doo” and Sue McClellan’s “Zip Bam Boo” along with Doug Hooley’s masterpiece “Oh its great great brill brill wicked wicked thrill thrill.....”
And finally David Ruis’ offering, “Lord I groan (there must be more)”
I’m afraid there is but space doesn’t allow.
Pity the poor vicar who didn’t read the small print. The latest big film release, “Preaching to the Perverted” was filmed, with full presbyteral permission, in a quiet Anglican country church for the paltry fee of £500.
The Vicar claimed he had been duped into believing it was a light comedy. Quite how he clung to that view as, on the daily journey to Matins and Evensong, young women in bondage gear drove carts pulled by naked men in harness amongst topless harpies cavorting through the graveyard, is a total mystery.
As one elderly Archdeacon remarked recently, “If you’re going to make the Faustian bargain £500 is wholly inadequate.”
“The best job in the church is to be an ordinary humble parish priest in a community getting on with the job.” Thus said the Archbishop of Canterbury in an interview on Radio 4’s “On the Ropes” recently.
This being the case, ordinary mortals can only wonder at the immense sacrifice made by the Bishops in forgoing this great joy in such large numbers.
The number of Diocesan Bishops who have never been privileged to hold down an incumbency is in double figures and the average of the total of incumbencies of the rest is a truly self denying six years.
An example to us all.