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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Women Bishops and the Synod vote

So, here we are the morning after. I'm not sure it feels any different this morning. Still hurts. Still feels personal (and I'm not even ordained - yet...). Still feels completely bonkers.

I am in Chichester Diocese (ok don't all shout at once) and to be honest it's pretty hard right now to be here and to stand up for the Church. Sniping, name calling and angry outbursts will not help the sitution but man it's tempting. It's funny how I preached on the weekend about being part of a community is like being in a family. sometimes there are disagreements and arguments, but the important thing is how we deal with them... ironic really as I'm pretty angry with The Church right now.

I actually cried when I heard the result. We were having dinner and I had been following the debate via twitter. I was actually in disbelief when I read the news. I think most had been so sure this would be carried through. My kids couldnt understand why I was crying, I tried to explain to them but I just don't get it, so how could I? I want my children, especially my daughters, to grow up in a church that really values them, not see them at a secondary level.

I'm not yet ordained, but I feel called to the Priesthood and having been accepted (ha!) I will start training next September. So to have this legislation fail is heart-breaking. I have no desire to be a Bishop but just imagine working for an organisation where you are not valued enough to be a Manager. In fact it's probably illegal, but either way, it's not exactly encouraging is it? Good managers encourage employees, doing what they can to build up their staff and get the best from them. Way to go CofE, great example of management...

2 weeks ago I felt pretty unencouraged by my Bishop. Now I feel even more so. I mean why would anyone want to work for an organisation like this? It is actually beyond me this morning. At the school gate I was asked what I thought ,by someone who is not even in the church, I just didn't know what to say. I am so angry and saddened, and yet this is MY church that I feel called into. Yet I just can't defend her at the moment. In the past when people have had complaints about the church I always say, that's the church not God. Look to him. And yet I, and lots of others like me or in ordained ministry, will this morning be facing the same questions - how can you work for an organisation like that? why do you let them disrciminate against you? How do you put up with it?

Well we do it because we love Jesus and right now that's what we all need to get us through this.

It's Jesus who calls us to lead and to minister, it's him who we serve and it's him that gives what all we need to do it. As women in the church we have two choices - 1) get angry and throw our toys out of the pram, or 2) with grace, fight on. Stand up for what we believe in, continue to do all that Jesus asks us to, and show the love that seems to be lacking in parts of the church this morning.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Christmas Chord...

If you haven't seen this yet, do check it out below. It's done by a friend of a friend and we are hoping to use it in our church carol service this year. Just love the simplicity of it, but so clever too...
and the lovely chap that made it, Dai, even enabled embedding via youtube for me, so that I could post it here - top bloke :)

As I understand it this is a free resource so if you need something for your church for Christmas.....

You can find out more about the guys that made it here and follow Dai on twitter: @twitwitandgrit

PCC elections

So I've just been tweeting about whether to vote in todays Police & Crime Commissioner Elections. Until about an hour ago I had thought I would get up, check out the candidates online, choose one and go vote. Then I noticed on twitter there was a lot of talk about spoiling papers and boycotting the election. Suddenly I was in a quandry. My only opportunity to vote will be this morning before 10.30 (it's now 10.05..). quick decision needed. Thankfully good old twitter came to the rescue and gave me some pointers. In case anyone else is in this position here's a quick round up of posts I have been pointed to or found myself. I won't make any bones about whether they are biased or not or whether there is a balance of opinion, I've done this in 30 mins so this is what you get...

how to find out your candidates at Choose your PCC, gives more info about the elections and enables you to find out who your candidates are.

The BBC have a  post on how the elections work and some FAQs

Then from the blog world....

Opinionated Vicar has his own take on it, plus some links to Avon & Somserset info

 Bishop Alan, brill as always, who will be voting....

Sussex based and anti, but a very informative and helpful post: Vicky WJ

and lastly, tongue in cheek (or perhaps not...) Inspector Gadget...

So based on all of this and some quick thinking, I'm pretty sure I think the old system would be far better for various reasons, but it's going to change anyway and with that we are entitled to a say and so I would rather exercise that right and vote independent than not at all. So that's what I'll be doing...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Many Coloured Days...

Have you ever read 'My Many Coloured Days' by Dr Seuss? It's a kids book and I read it to my children. I love the amazing colours and illustrations in it, but I guess that's the artist in me. And although it's for children it's actually amazingly descriptive of our emotions and how we see our days...

So, today I feel like going back to bed, pulling the cover over my head and staying here all day. However I have a schedule to write, plus Sundays sermon, not to mention various household jobs, school runs and pick ups. It's a purple day...
I don't know why it is that today I am falling into a pit of doom. I'm usually pretty strong. Today I just feel 'bleeuurgh', that's the only way I can describe it. Feeling sorry for myself, not wanting to speak to anyone and just generally irritated.
There are things that have brought this on I am sure, like being ill several times recently, having a particularly busy two weeks and of course the unknown future of my training.
A few years back (was it that long... wow time flies when you get older....) I was diganosed with CFS. I have written about this a fair amount. I don't like the diagnosis, although some, ok many, of the symptoms fit. In fact I often don't accept it or believe it. I have felt fine for months. But today is one of those days when I think, ok well maybe it is CFS rearing its ugly head again. Maybe I really do have it. Maybe I am doing too much (and in truth it has been a busy few weeks). But then I wonder how long I will have to think like this? To plan my life according to what might happen if I book too much in. I hate that. Really. I hate it.
There is a lot going on at church right now and I think it's fair to say that it has felt like like the devil is hammering our church and the people in it. I keep justifying myself lately by saying 'I'm not someone who sees a demon behind every lamp post' which is true, but I do also believe there is a very active force of evil and it seems very evident to me at the moment. So perhaps I'm just next on that list, and it does kind of feel like that to be honest. Because I then start to wonder how I will manage going into training and then ministry full time. I can't even seem to manage the little I am doing without feeling like I do today. Which is probbaly exactly what the enemy would want, for me to doubt my calling, doubt what God has asked me to do...

Don't get me wrong I'm not going into a fit of depression, and I'm not seeking sympathy, and I will probably wake up tomorrow and feel fine, I think I just need to get this out. I am not going to give in to the devil, or anything else for that matter. I love my God and I will serve him always as he has asked me to. I'm just having an off day! So today is a feel sorry for myself day, a stay in bed day (albeit with my laptop and writing a sermon), and a day with chocolate cake and lots of tea.... For now I shall pray (in my nice warm bed, with electric blanket... it's the little things)

Hopefully tomorrow will be a pink day :)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Women Blogger Rankings// November 2012// Religion & Belief

I'm sorry this is a bit late this month, but November's e-buzzing rankings for Women bloggers in the Religion and Belief category are below. As I said last month, although there is some discussion about their validity, I still think it's encouraging for women bloggers so I will continue to post them. We are down to 18 women in the top 100 in this category, so come on ladies!!
Congrats to Rev Ruth who has zoomed up the list in the last few months, into third position now! well done :)

Blog Title November Rating Change Position
iBenedictines 7 1
Lay Anglicana 18 2
RevRuth 23 3
Revising Reform 27 4
LLM Calling 44 5
The Vicar's Wife 45 6
A Reader in Writing 47 7
Dreaming beneath the spires 48 8
Living Stones 53 9
Looking Deeper 54 10
Talking   Christian  58 11
Living To Please God 62 12
Cyber Soul (Vicky Beeching) 63 13
Learning from Sophie 68 14
Significant Truths 70 15
Seeker 73 16
Tracing Rainbows 80 17
Apples of Gold 97 18

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Loving the whole church...

So, something happened this week that has really questioned my path to ordination...  I won’t go into details but anyone following me on twitter will know what it was!

 I have spent the last 2 ½ years thinking about my vocation, going through the discernment process and finally being selected and sponsored for ordination training. Next September, all being well, I will start training to be a Priest.

 This has not been an easy process, and one that I have blogged about at length, but at the end of it I feel convinced of my calling and what kind of journey God is putting me on. Part of that is, I feel sure, about reform and making a difference. I have never been afraid of a ‘fight’ or standing up for what I believe in and I felt from early on that would be significant in my journey in ministry. The other part (but wholly related) is about doing things a bit differently, being a pioneer and being involved in contemporary ways of doing ministry.

 Despite all this I am not taking the OPM route (Ordained Pioneer Ministry) for various reasons which I won’t go into now. But, I will say, that I am not one for labels, I don’t think they are helpful generally, they just pigeon-hole people and this happens a lot in the church. Someone is labelled ‘Anglo-Catholic’ and we instantly think incense and Saints, we don’t see the heart of the person who desires to be closer to Jesus. We hear ‘Evangelical’ and we think hands in the air, anti-women, anti-gay... Neither of these are fair descriptions of the people who are labelled in this way. I, for example, would be referred to as evangelical, but I’m certainly not a conservative, I’m a woman heading for ministry if nothing else...

Part of ‘discernment’ is about understanding the breadth of the Church of England, knowing what all areas are about so that we can live and work together under the same banner. Great,  I totally get this and think it is really important. I think it was John Wimber who said we need to love the whole church from the incense swinging all the way to the hands in the air... After all we all serve and love Jesus (I hope!) although we might show it in different ways and have different ways of expressing our faith. We might think that some of our counterparts practices are a bit odd or not something that we choose to do, but we can respect them anyway. We can learn to have an understanding of why others choose to worship in the way they do. Whilst I attend an evangelical church and that is the kind of ministry I feel called in to, I also choose to go the chapel at my sons school each week, which is very traditional, includes incense and bell ringing each week (I do not say this in a derogatory way and whilst I may not know what the bells are called I do accept and understand it). I really like the services there. I was brought up in traditional village churches and perhaps this reminds me of my childhood, I don’t know, but I do appreciate the space, silence and comfort that this service brings me.

 This, I think, is the kind of thing we should expect from potential ordinands. From whatever spectrum, that there should be an openness to all disciplines of the Church of England. I can just as equally sense Gods presence in the Chapel at school as I do in our sports hall at church. I would also hope that this is something that we could expect from all our clergy from Vicars up to Bishops and ArchBishops. Sadly in my experience this is not always the case.

 I really love the Church of England. Sometimes I wonder why, I really do, it frustrates the crap out of me, but I actually do. Perhaps because I attended church as a child, perhaps because I was baptised and married in the CofE, perhaps because that’s where I first experienced God. I don’t know, but I do know that’s where God has put me and that he plans for me within it.

The thing is, although I knew part of my journey was about reform facing up in battle and so on, I’m not sure how prepared for that I was and so early on in my ministry life! Someone said to me today it would always be like that in the CofE and a little bit of my heart sank. Funny thing is the other part was up for it and already putting on the armour...!

The thing that happened this week had me in tears, and yet afterwards I felt God telling me effectively to ‘man up’ (or woman up) and get on with it, he had put me here for a reason and there would be bigger battles to fight than this one... And that’s totally fine, armour at the ready, I know God is my shield and my strength, but I do wonder if it should be this way... I mean I don’t need to rant again about what I think about the future of the CofE, but really shouldn’t we be encouraging people who might want to do things a bit differently?  Whatever we feel about the church and its practices, we must all recognise that things aren’t actually that great for the traditional church as it is, are they? Yes there are pockets of greatness and wonderful clergy and I’m not having a dig at anyone, but can we all agree that perhaps it’s time we thought about trying something else? Look at the churches that are growing most, they are those that are contemporary and forward thinking; or those that are really serving their communities and reaching out in ways that are actually needed; or they are those that are appealing to a particular area of society;  as just a few examples.

I find it so frustrating that sometimes these things, these pockets of greatness, are almost overlooked or not encouraged, not given support, because perhaps they don’t adhere to every section of canon law, because the Vicar doesn’t wear a dog collar at every second of the day, or perhaps because someone is allowed to preach without being licensed by their Bishop.

 Although I have deliberately not written about what has caused this post I realise that it’s probably quite foolish to write publically about some of this stuff before I am actually ordained. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said to me over the last 2 ½ years, ‘just jump through the hoops, once you’re in you can do what you like’. But I have always found that quite hard as I am someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and I don’t find jumping through hoops all that easy (and anyway it doesn’t seem quite right for someone serving God to effectively be dishonest) so this post holds back a bit, but hopefully shares some of my frustration. It may not make much sense and I quite admit it’s a bit of a rant but there you go. I haven’t written much recently, mainly because I’ve been so busy, but that seems to happen, I go in phases when I write every day for a week or two and then not for a month. That seems to suit me. I miss my blog when I don’t write but then something comes along that makes me so desperate to write that I have to pour it all out and I guess that’s what this is!!

So, my desire is to serve God and to serve the church, to see people meeting with Jesus and even when they don’t personally, that they will recognise something a bit different in my church or in me or those around me. And my prayer is that I can do that in unity with those around me, with other clergy and with my superiors. I hear so many stories of people doing more contemporary ministry getting up the noses of those around them and those in more traditional parishes nearby. This saddens me. Why can’t we all recognise that we serve a broad church with a very wide cross-section of people. We say there is a place for everyone in the Church of England and so let’s recognise the need for that breadth and diversity...