Rules for Reverends IV

December 5, 2011 § 3 Comments

31. Falling asleep during a clergy quiet day isn’t a sin, but it’s embarrassing if you dribble.

32. The person who looks most miserable in a special service will be the one who tells you at the end how much they loved it.

33. You might have sung ‘Hark the Herald’ thirteen times already, but for most of the congregation it’s their only time in church this year.

34. The person who thought that an orange, some ribbon, sweets and a candle would be an aid to worship had to be joking. No one’s laughing now.

35. There should be a misprint in every order of service. Only God is perfect.

36. No one will notice if you do your bit at the wrong time. Everyone will notice when the organist does. Cut them some slack.

37. Virgers are God’s way of saying ‘I love you’.

38. Aggressive gestures at other drivers are given added spice when you wear a dog collar.

39. There is something curiously uplifting about doing 70 mph in a hearse.

40. You need a very secure safe for all the special treasures people entrust you with.


Women Bishops – The Next Step

November 12, 2011 § 5 Comments

York Diocese voted on the Women Bishops Measure today. Each House was in favour (Bishops 3/2, Clergy 25/14, Laity 42/8). We also voted on a ‘following motion’: to ask General Synod to ask the House of Bishops to amend the Measure ‘in the manner proposed by the Archbishops ofCanterburyandYork.’ We passed this by 62 – 24, with 6 abstentions.

I spoke against the following motion. I had voted against it at General Synod, have discussed it widely, and listened carefully. It was always going to be interesting speaking against it in a Diocesan Synod which values an Archbishop who spoke strongly for it. But the contrary arguments needed to be put. It looks like General Synod will have another look at the following motion in February, and I need to listen some more, so here’s where I think I am.

People who are against the consecration of women as bishops need the assurance that appropriate Episcopal ministry will be guaranteed to them. This ministry must come with ‘sacramental assurance’ (i.e. that the hands laid on the bishop in question at their ordinations as priest and bishop were themselves in the historic tradition, and that said bishop has not done anything to compromise this). The wording in the Measure simply speaks about a ‘male’ bishop, and it’s obviously not about gender alone. However, no scheme is going to offer an unacceptable bishop, and I don’t think this argument alone is enough to demand a change in the Measure.

Opponents also dislike the use of the words ‘Letter of Request’ when asking for such Episcopal provision. But there are letters and letters, and these ones have the force of law. So no need for change there either. « Read the rest of this entry »

Rev at Work

November 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

Having tweeted (@RevJFletcher) that my working day looked like being 16 hours yesterday, someone asked me to analyse those hours. Good question.

First: I think it was a good day. Lots of ‘Rev’ing. But what sort, and was it worth it? So:  

6.30 – 7.30. Up, and emailing. Not normal, this – just using being wide awake. Bye bye to Julia at some point during this time. She’s got an hour’s commute.
Work: lots of detail. Quality: more urgent than important. Rev quota: 4/10

7.30 – 8.00 Breakfast. Church Times. Bit of Daily Telegraph.
8.15 – 8.30: Dentist. Dens sana in corpore sano.
8.40 – 9.09: Admin in Office – noticesheet etc.
Work: lots of detail. Quality: more urgent than important. Rev quota: 4/10 « Read the rest of this entry »

General Synod Tuesday – an apology for my apology.

July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Further to this – after a couple of hour’s work I found my deleted stuff – so it’s back as if live up to 11.30 is when I lost it!!

The Education debate carried on xpected – except we added Higher Education to the list of stuff we want to support.

And then we went home.


Dear all

Apologies – in trying to add a photo I deleted my previous content, and have failed to find it…and now the laptop battery is about to go. Curses! I may find it later…

General Synod in July 2011, as it happens (some of it)

July 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve not blogged for
a while – and I’ve missed it even if others haven’t. So here I am
again, giving some live reports from General Synod in York. York
sees Synod in a completely different mode. All the rules of debate
remain the same, but it all feels different when you’ve had a late
night drink or eaten breakfast with someone who holds radically
different views to you. We all stay in the colleges of the
university, and you can find yourself meeting some amazing people.
Coming to York when I was first on Synod made the whole thing make
sense for me. And I can remember a brilliant breakfast, when I
found myself hearing about how to play leg-spin with a former
England Cricket Captain – the Bishop of Liverpool. This is the
first York Synod for new members – and I hope they have a lovely
time. We’ve opened with the usual stuff. We’re always addressed
first by an interesting guest. Today it was the leader of the
Orthodox Church in Albania. To be flippant, I loved his title –
‘His Beatitude’. Brilliant. And being serious he spoke carefully
how as a missiologist he worked with the church in ALbania after it
was allowed to exist again after 23 years of being banned, in 1990.
‘Do not worry about the future’ he told us. ‘The future in
Christ’s’. His first words in the ruined cathedral in Tirana were
‘Christ is Risen!’, and this became the watchword of the church
there. It was a humbling start. We also have the chance to say what
really should have been on the agenda – and we had some impassioned
pleas about emergency debates on the Sudan, the House of Lords and
the doctrine of marriage as it relates to Civil Partnerships. These
things are normally gently batted away – we are an ungainly kind of
oil tanker where debates are concerned. But Pete Spiers proposed a
way of getting an emergency debate onto our agenda, and I hope we
can do it some day. Later we have Questions – always lively. But
dinner first – and I hope I meet someone new! « Read the rest of this entry »

One fine day for one tired Vicarage

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes a day comes together to convince you that there can be no calling, no job, no career more satisfying and fulfilling and varied than the one you’re in. Today was one of those for me.

Morning Prayer, on my own, close to the site of the Shrine of John of Beverley, with the low sun illuminating the sculptures of broken pilgrims on their way to holiness. Psalm 65 reminds an end-of-the-week Vicar that God is “the hope of the ends of the earth” and makes “the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy”.

Two hours of graft at the computer produces a notice sheet, worship schemes, the booklet of music for our new Communion setting, and the Candlemas liturgy. Seems to me that putting the right stuff into people’s hands at least prevents worship from going wrong, and gives it every chance to shine.

Then a few minutes to sharpen an address for the slightly tricky funeral at noon. These things gestate for a while (the visit was on Monday), and then come out almost fully formed, but a phone call (during my earlier typesetting) from a family member I’d not met previously kept me on my toes. To the Crematorium, and a change with a minute to go: a planned poem will not now be read by a mourner, and mustn’t be read at all. I’m not sure how my observation of the dynamics of the relationships between mourners changes what I do on the day, but it’s good when the tightrope is negotiated and its clear at the end that the words (mainly supplied by them) have done their work.

Straight from there to Oncology at the Hospital nearby. One of our most active people has been completely and suddenly felled by cancer. I’m in no position yet to sum up what’s happening, and am only one of many who will accompany my friend in what will unfold. But there are intimacies I witness with his family today which squeeze through my clerical professionalism. Not something to treat lightly, being there at such a time as this.

Quick lunch in the hospital cafe, in glorious sunshine. A meeting back at church about an art exhibition, with the sunlit Minster looking impossibly wonderful. Back at the desk there is news of one of our office volunteers who was blue-lighted to the other hospital two days ago, and had an emergency op yesterday. So off to visit her: she lives on her own and I don’t think twice about the two hours the whole thing takes. Fantastic mixture of humour and reflection: the lady opposite is loudly talking to a nurse who is doing tests. “I’ve got tickle-itis” she declares. We assume this to be diverticulitis, but the nurse replies “I thought only Ken Dodd had that”, and people recovering from major surgery try not to laugh too hard. There is the most amazing sunset.

Tonight is our Youth Cafe (as featured on Songs of Praise earlier in the month). 200 young people swarm through the Minster, and an army of the Minster’s congregation (very few of whom would say they are youth workers) sort the whole thing out. Once again I’m amazed at the variety and commitment of the people of God here. There are so many parents picking up their offspring when it ends that the police have to come and sort out the traffic. Our Youth Minister deems this ‘a result’.

I have generated very little of what has happened today, and so much of it has been a gift. You take your training and experiences and humanity and personality and shabby attempts at prayer and your theology and into this grubby pot God pours riches. There is much that’s unfinished. My friends are ill, and one is critical. A family continues to mourn, and I hope they can see hope as they make the journey through grief.

This was only one day. Perhaps I’m over dramatising it. Lots of other clergy will have done similar, and much more vital, stuff today. But this job is stonking sometimes, and I can’t quite believe I do it. Thank you to those who make it happen, and let me in to their depths and their joys.

And your prayers for those who sleep tonight in trepidation, and worry, and wonder. “To you, O Lord, all flesh shall come” (Ps 65. 2)

English Baccalaureate

January 12, 2011 § 18 Comments

Am cross cross cross about the English Bac. Its a way of arranging the data about Schools to show how many pupils get 5 A*-C passes in ‘rigorous’ subjects – strictly defined (no RE in humanities, no music etc).

1. I’ve argued before that a league table only tells you one thing about a school, and the data is so vulnerable that it generally tells you the wrong thing.
2. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State, decided to manipulate the data in this way without reasonable warning. As Christine Blower from the NUT said:  “You can’t have schools judged against things that didn’t exist before.” A previous decision had allowed pupils to drop a modern foreign language. Why should schools now be marked down without warning for the number of pupils who failed to attain one?
If this Government believes in fairness it should have flagged up that it would require the data to be presented in this way in time for schools to do something about it (ie with at least 3 years warning so that option choices can be made with all the inormation to hand).
What Gove has done is to declare that something which wasn’t an offence now is, send someone to prison for doing it while it was legal, and justify it on the basis that the punishment will make everyone buck their ideas up.

3.  The list of ‘rigorous’ subjects not only has some glaring and offensive omissions – isn’t RE a humanity? – but it devalues all the others as well. My two sons want to pursue careers in music and the expressive arts/design. One of them was earning a wage in that field while still at school, and is supporting himself in his gap year doing the same. Well thanks a lot Mr Gove. Not rigorous?

The English Bac is an act of contempt for a teaching profession which was asked to do one thing and has now been attacked for it. It makes a spurious, elitist and dangerous distinction between ‘proper’ and ‘improper’ subjects. Its imposition is duplicitous from a government which is supposedly giving more power to schools: the EB  tells schools what they should do while saying that of course they can choose to do something else if they want to be at the bottom of the league.

I am all for rigour in teaching and learning. I have 13 O levels and did all the sciences, three languages and 2 lots of maths as well as the English I went on to teach. I am all for attainment, the measuring of ability, the stretching of potential. But this is offensive, gimmicky and unworthy of someone who is supposed to hold education and teachers in the highest regard. After the sport debacle it’s the last thing schools need.

This chap clearly agrees!

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