FORWARD IN FAITH UPDATE -- SEPTEMBER 1998
BORN IN ADVERSITY
As we dismantled the Bishops' Conference support office which had been manned by Forward in Faith right throughout the Lambeth Conference, the more missionary minded Bishops were going off to deputation preaching for their provinces. This meant early starts for their hosts while the Bishops fortified themselves with breakfast awaiting their lifts.
Bishop Paul Richardson (that well known contributor to this publication) fortified himself with kippers while Canon Brandie, reviving the rising patterns of his early curacy days, left Brighton at half past six to pick him up. He continues:
"The Sunday dawned bright with every sign that it would be another scorcher, so I put on shorts with a short sleeved shirt and my SSC cross to travel to Canterbury. Imagine my amazement when I reached the M25 and it suddenly became grey and overcast, so that by the time I was on the M20 1 had to turn the heating on in the car! I had not realised that the fury of liberal Bishops at recent events at the conference could have a reverse effect on global warming!
When I arrived at Rutherford College to pick up my PNG Bishop, I was not too surprised to see a very disgruntled looking African Bishop's wife sitting on the steps surrounded with luggage with that kind of "if he leaves me alone like this again, I'll murder him" look in her eye.
Having read his articles in New Directions over many years, I was intrigued to meet Bishop Paul who looked just as curly haired but rather greyer than I remembered him from Wembley Arena. The conversation from Canterbury to Brighton was, as you might imagine, a post mortem on recent events, with those insights that his rapier mind produced. He was coming to preside at the Parish Mass and to preach on behalf of Papua New Guinea and then to be with us for a lunch, all done in order to raise funds to help the tidal wave disaster. It was reassuring to be reminded that not all parts of the world have had a complete breakdown in the relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, and to know that, though the area largely affected by the flood was mainly Roman Catholic, all the churches were working together in New Guinea to channel the pastoral aid that was being raised. Our Parish had adopted PNG when it became abundantly clear that other missionary societies and areas were fast falling to the liberal tide and pushing particular agendas.
For those who do not know the Papua New Guinea Church Partnership, it is staffed in England by a one woman band (Chris Luxton) which serves an utterly Orthodox province which, as we heard Bishop Paul say, still preaches the Gospel in a way that can be understood in the culture to which it is proclaimed but is true to the Jesus Christ who is "the same yesterday and today and forever" ".
MERRILY ON HIGH
There is not much else for a Director to do but to flee the country after Lambeth. So he took himself to France where his first engagement was, of course, Chartres where it's most prestigious Honorary Canon was to be for the Feast of the Assumption. Meanwhile in Bishop Kemp's own Diocese, Father Benfield, the Rector of Storrington, revived the ancient title of his Parish, not just "St Mary's" but "Our Lady of the Assumption" and actually kept the Feast on the Saturday with a good congregation not only from the locals but, led by the Regional Dean, from other parishes around the Diocese who wish to support this missionary endeavour in reviving the Catholic Faith in a Deanery not noted for its Orthodox credentials.
In those Parishes where the Feast was translated to the Sunday, Sussex was preparing to celebrate the Feast. Canon Brandie takes up the story:
"Ever mindful that the Christian Faith was brought to Sussex by Wilfrid, a Northern Bishop who forcibly reminded the Church in England that it could not exist in isolation from the mind of the universal church, not only on the date it kept Easter, but also in its liturgical practice, Forward in Faith, together with the Catholic Societies of the Diocese of Chichester, invited the Bishop of Beverley to make the journey from North to South once again. Together with his family, but (Northerners take note) without the caravan, he arrived in Brighton on the Saturday night after a road journey fraught with motorway snarl-ups and frustrations while trying to visit long-standing friends, in need of a walk and something to quench his thirst. Thus those members of CAMRA will be delighted to know that a Northern Bishop has been transformed by our Southern beer, so much so that be even took samples away with him, no doubt to get them analysed and reproduced at Tadcaster! Strangely enough it's brewed by a firm whose name reminds us of nineteenth century pastoral bishops persecuted for their faith and a modem doughty fighters for the cause of all that is just and right.
Fortified with this substance and some supper, he enjoyed a trip down memory lane on the subject of the Festival of Faith, and rose refreshed the next morning to preside at the Parish Mass at St. Martin's, and after a "Brighton lunch" to preside and preach at the Diocesan Festival "Merrily on High" in the evening.
This celebration was born out of the adversity after the vote, but has taken on a life of its own in encouraging traditionalist Christians across the Diocese to bear witness to their faith. So it was that some 250 priests and people gathered in St. Martin's on Sunday night to sing their lungs out and to reflect at Vespers, with music ranging from the traditional to the "Whoopee Goldberg number". Bishop John spoke of Mary as the missionary who told others to do what Jesus commanded them, and so leads us in having the courage to bring other people to Jesus, bearing in mind that the door of the church, rather like the door of a betting shop, could be intimidating to those who weren't used to what went on inside. Naturally, following that, the church doors were flung open and the procession with the image of Our Lady of Walsingham was formed through the streets of Brighton to the frustration of some motorists, the anger of at least one who threw a bottle out of an upstairs window (shades of earlier persecutions!) but ended peacefully in the School playground where Benediction was given, and various thirst quenching liquids consumed.
After the party had dispersed, the Bishop was seen sneaking with his son and the Dean to meet up with the local Parishioners in their hostelry, for by now his craving was so great that he had to have at least another pint or two of the local tipple. It's name, Broadwood by King and Barnes
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