At 5pm, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be welcomed by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church. She will address the Synod on 'Mission'. I will be leaving the meeting at that point, as I am concerned about the signal this visit is giving out. The Presiding Bishop clearly wants to create the image that TEC has good relationships with the different Anglican communities in the UK, as she visits Scotland, the USPG conference and Southwark Cathedral this weekend.
I'm not only concerned about TEC's approach to the moratoria - it's also about the ongoing litigation against congregations which try to leave TEC with their church buildings. Some of my friends have faced terrible pain as a result and there seems to be a slash and burn approach which lacks any grace at all. I think the timing of this talk and welcome at our Synod is inappropriate. It would be just as inappropriate to have invited a GAFCON primate, as some of my reappraising colleagues would be upset by that.
I simply don't feel that I can stay and pretend that all is well. I'm too hurt. I'm going to find a quiet place to pray with at least one other who feels the same way.
Instead of dinner at the Sheraton, I'll just have to watch France play Uruguay in the World Cup.
I'm at the annual gathering of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bloggers. Actually, it's the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, but it seems that just about all of the clergy bloggersare here, tweeting, blogging, texting and whatever. We've just been asked to keep the noise of our keyboard clicking down. I feel persecuted.
Two days or so in my old stomping ground of Haymarket in Edinburgh and the opportunity to catch up with old friends will also help to make it a worthwhile trip. I've just met Rev Dr Maurice Ellott, former verger at P's & G's in Edinburgh when I was there in the '80's, and now principal of the Church of Ireland Theological College in Dublin.
The gender audit will reveals that not enough women are getting to lead the Church. Apparently we need to stop stereotyping women as secretaries and men as treasurers at local level (I'm excited that during my time at St Silas' we've had more male secretaries than female and more female treasurers than male, therefore we break the mould. We've also always had a lot of very gifted women in leadership positions). The big issue will be the 'glass ceiling', where it's felt that there aren't enough women in senior clergy positions. I guess that there will be some kind of call towards positive discrimination. I understand the frustration if people feel that their gifts aren't being used, but then a lot of the blokes in ordained ministry can feel that too. Maybe we get too wrapped up in our rights or what we believe we should be doing, when we forget what a privilege it is to be called to any ministry. It ain't a job and it certainly isn't a career (and I worry about anyone who is in it looking for advancement, whether they are male or female). I'm concerned that we need an age audit and some solid attempt to get younger people to consider giving the whole of their lives in ordained service. We need a policy of getting 'the ungifted, shifted' (whether they are male or female) and then we need to ensure that the people with the gifts (whether they are male or female) are called and equipped to get the job done. 'Nuff said. Oh, and a wee bit of humility all round doesn't go amiss.
My position on all this can be summed up as follows:
We have different
gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is
prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is
teaching, then teach;
if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then
give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show
mercy, do it cheerfully.
Or, to put it another way:
If you preach, just
preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take
over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging
guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge,
don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress,
keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the
disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed
by them. Keep a smile on your face.
I can't make this on the 19th June, because I'll be at 21st Century Disciples, but the Blessing of the Bikes sounds like fun. Shame I can't make it, as I like the idea of processing up the aisle of St Mary's on my mountain bike. Could I wear a cassock alb while doing so? I'm sure it will be a joyful event which some of our many cyclists at St Silas' will want to attend.
Something I will be at on the 20th June is the Gibson Street Gala, which we play an integral part in (and not just because we provide some lavvies). This year promises to have exceptional participation from St Silas', with some quietness, coffee, stalls, spiritual stuff, 'fairground attractions' (including one where it seems that I will get ritually humiliated and you'll get the opportunity to get your own back for anything I've ever upset you over - all in the name of 'charidy', of course). Details to follow......I fear that the advertising of this will draw hordes of people for this one purpose. There will be a low key worship thing at 6.30pm, assuming I have survived the afternoon ordeal, at which we'll be thinking about 'Belonging'. Bring your friends to all or part of the day.
Vestry Meeting on Monday night, Building For The Future Completion Group Meeting on Wednesday Night, and some lunches with very interesting people.
General Synod in Edinburgh Thursday-Saturday, then St Silas' Annual Business Meeting on Sunday.
Of course the really important business begins on Friday, when the FIFA World Cup kicks off. England vs USA on Saturday. There will be a gathering at the rectory from 6pm onwards. I'll be supporting England until they reach the final (that's hope for you!).
I left home at 5am this morning to hook up with some of the board and staff of Glasgow City Mission. We were travelling together to the Hilton at Haymarket in Edinburgh for the National Prayer Breakfast. It was good to see some old friends, and though the format was a bit staid for my taste, nonetheless it was poignant to pray together for the military, their families and the nation in general. All the more poignant as events in Cumbria unfolded this afternoon. I've just begun reading Pete Greig's 'God On Mute' which trys to deal with the silence of unanswered prayer. It's an appropriate read for such a time.
The First Minister, Alex Salmond, was at the next table, as were Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Annabel Goldie, and the Moderator of the General Assembly. I was glad I wore a suit! I was still wearing it at the Gibson Street Gala meeting later in the day. The manager of one of our local coffee emporia, Offshore, was amazed at this sight.
General Sir Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC (Chief of the General Staff 2006-2009) was the main speaker, and a fascinating one at that. He shared his personal testimony of his walk with Christ, and gave an excellent presentation on good leadership and leaders' failings. He twice mentioned Radislav Krstić's loss of moral compass when he was ordered to kill over eight thousand muslim men and boys in 1995. Dannatt saw the realisation of that failure in Krstić's face as he was sentenced in 2001. A stark reminder of the need for leaders to keep the moral high ground, even at the cost of one's own life.
I was reminded again that 'Obedience to God, Commitment to Christ and Openess to the Holy Spirit' are key attributes of Christian leaders. I needed to hear that and was much encouraged by the main speaker's contribution. He had much to say about the state of the nation and the need for Christians to reassert with confidence the contribution that Christ brings to any society which embraces Him.
I laughed when he described how Sandhurst is designed to strip away everything a young potential officer was in order to rebuild them in to what the army needs them to be (I believe this involves quite a lot of something known as beasting). That sounds just like many experiences of Coates Hall (the defunct Theological College of the Scottish Episcopal Church), only without enough of the rebuilding bit!
It was a very worthwhile morning which I'll need to reflect on a lot more.