Friday 26 October 2018

Serving those God is calling

I’m just selecting the most useful bits of a recent Leading Your Church Into Growth conference to feed back to our two Parochial Church Councils over the next couple of weeks. 

Having spent my initial time here holding back on initiating too premature a ‘mission action planning’ process - I wanted to wait to get a real feel for what might be going on here and I also knew this particular bit of training (which the diocese of Leeds requires of those coming newly to work in it) would be coming up - I find that I’ve been here for sixteen months and I have now been to the residential event at Swanwick so I need to change gear in feeding back, consulting and planning.

At the same time, I’ve intrigued myself by trying to ‘translate’ the slogan leading your church into growth into Mullins.

Leading sits slightly uncomfortably with me as the headline definition of an incumbent’s role, although Hebrews does reference it.  I knew the conference leaders were keen on model of a strong leader in schools and in sports, but I suspected that to be uncritical.  The Sunday Gospel readings we’ve been exploring over the last few weeks do suggest that a more dominate biblical theme is serving.

Your is a particular problem, although I’m as prone as many to talking about ‘my parish’.  I’d certainly want to remind myself that this is not mine but God’s.

Church is a less obviously discomforting or problematic, although I serve three churches and fundamentally think of myself as Rector of two parishes rather than of three institutions.  The root biblical word (ek-klesia) offers me a sense of those assembled but more fundamentally a sense of those called out.

Into is probably unobjectionably neutral, although my attention was again caught at our recent Harvest Festivals by the set Gospel for this year which uses the active word seeking.

Growth is striking (we were again told ‘if you are not leading your church into growth, where are you leading it?') but Paul teaches that God gives the growth, most of Jesus teaching about what grows is about the Kingdom of God, and the text about ‘seeking' is definitely about seeking the Kingdom.

So, serving – God’s – called out – seeking – Kingdom take me to something like

'serving those God is calling in seeking God’s Kingdom together'

as at least one possible take on what leading your church into growth might be intended to mean for me.

Meanwhile, two peacocks feeding at a chalice is a ubiquitous Christian symbol in Venice representing the glorious new life fed by the Eucharist.

Monday 22 October 2018

More traditional views

(The bottom one is our hotel.)

Saturday 20 October 2018

Monday 15 October 2018

Boats in Dosoduro

The back canal garage will service your gondola.

Recycling collection day is Monday.

Large ships are not universally welcome.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Saturday 13 October 2018


The word is Venetian and indicates an area where there was a foundry before all such dangerous work was moved away to a neighbouring island.  It was in the New Ghetto area (and later, confusingly, also the neighbouring Old Ghetto area) that the Jewish communities were confined, hence the term arose generally for areas in which Jewish communities were confined in other cities.  The three pictures, the first two showing the exteriors of synagogues within normal housing, are from the same small square in the New Ghetto; buildings became tall as the possibility of expanding sideways did not exist.

Friday 12 October 2018

Ai Wei Wei's Gilded Cage

But, for me, too easily escapable.  The work of his which I've encountered before brought home levels of oppression I hadn't imagined for myself.  Here I was reminded of passing through a caged check point where the experience was of young conscripts of the occupying forces who locked the turnstiles at will out of what felt like indifference or spite.  And, of course, I'm aware periodically of the privileged thoughts and habits from which I rarely escape.

Thursday 11 October 2018


But it is the interior of this church which is beyond imagination and they did not allow photography within.

Saturday 6 October 2018

Peaceable possibility

I had previously been unaware of the dove on the top of the eighteenth century chandelier in the Brontë Memorial Chapel (one of the few surviving furnishings from the pre-1880 Haworth Parish Church) but the shadow visible when sitting in a different position in the chancel for Matins this week made it unmistakable.  It turns out even to have a small metal olive twig in its beak: the desolation around you is not everywhere and so may not always be around you either.