I’m now not sure what the purpose of the Candlemas Convocation was.
I’d got the impression in advance that the Bishop wanted to consult with us and reassure us about the combined impact on stipendiary ministers of things like new tenure arrangements, new pension arrangements and his ‘The Way Ahead’ document.
But less was presented about tenure than could be summarised on a single briefing sheet, apologies were given that the final details of new pension arrangements were not yet agreed, and ‘The Way Ahead’ hadn’t been mentioned by the time I slipped away at 3 o’clock. And consultation was limited to one brief opportunity for open responses and the specific group work task reported in the last post.
I suppose the impression I have afterwards was that the purpose was to present and drive home a message.
Extraordinarily enough the message was very close to the one I presented to this deanery in 2007, a version of which appeared on one of the earliest posts in this blog (putting ‘Too many churches?’ into the search box at the top took me there, just as putting ‘The Way Ahead’ took me back six months to my first post about that).
Things are changing fast. Not so much‘many things are changing and quite a lot of them are doing so quickly’ as ‘there has been an acceleration in fundamental societal changes (which used to take epochs, then centuries, then decades but which now are even faster than that) and the factors influencing change in the church are pressing at the same speed (whether you view them as a process of decline or as 'the working through of a paradigm change') ’.
So the gradualist adaptive planning changes we’ve been making in the diocese in the last few years won’t do any longer. I think that was it. Not so much consultation and reassurance as a definite message and a call to be faithful. The gradualist adaptive planning changes we’ve been making in the diocese in the last few years won’t do any longer.
I took the picture in the churchyard in Bradley village yesterday when trying to use an inadequate churchyard plan to help a family identify an unmarked grave from the 1950s and 60s into which they wish to place the cremated remains of a relative (which is a task the then full-time Vicar for the village might have been able to give substantial time, but isn’t an example of the radical new style of ministry to which I think I’m being urged).