The funeral takes place today for the parish priest of Frodingham (the central parish in Scunthorpe) who has died in his mid 50s, and our prayers are with his family and parish.
My thoughts as a Rural Dean are also with his Rural Dean. As we operate in both Scunthorpe and Grimsby with strikingly fewer clergy, any illness or vacancy (let alone the death of one of the clergy) stretches us even further. I may have blogged the figures for here before: when I arrived ten years ago the two Grimsby Teams and the Scartho Group had thirteen parochial clergy in post (two working half-time); today we have four (one working half-time).
Actually, my particular sadness at the moment isn’t in our local provision of parochial clergy but in the difficulty of recruiting to non-parochial posts; both the local Mental Health Trust and F.E. College have been willing to finance and deploy Chaplains but we have not been able to come up with suitable candidates.
Thankfully, things look a little brighter at the New Year for our neighbouring parish (the central parish for Grimsby) where announcements are being made in turn of an MBE for the Rector (after more than twenty years positive engagement with the local community), the actual appointment of a new colleague, the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury (who is coming to main Sunday service there when he is in the diocese for the Edward King centenary weekend in March), and the expected elevation of the Parish Church into a Minster.
The picture is the sweep of one of the most loved terraces near the centre of that parish, known locally as the 'spectacle' terrace because of the shape of the windows along the roof.
Meanwhile, regular users of the local swimming baths can’t wait for others’ New Year’s resolutions to wear off, so some of them told me yesterday. Apparently, the baths are always crowded in the first couple of weeks of the year until the crush of such people suddenly thins out. We will see what the pressures and opportunities of the New Year does to us.