The twice yearly Bradford Area Episcopal Forum took place in the week. Not so much this time to consult and explore as to brief and encourage those not involved with the Diocesan Synod. So we heard briefly about its budget (and the human cost of redundancies in diocesan staff was mentioned), the operation of an Intern scheme (where the questions about what is appropriate remuneration and fair access for those unable to finance themselves were not probed) and the importance of parishes having ‘leadership pipelines’ (for the active nurturing and sending on of new leaders, to which the evening’s brief Bible Study related).
Samuel’s journey from before his birth to his anointing of Kings of Israel was the chosen pipeline story, something reflected on in a post here in June. The recommended Bible Study findings focused an upbeat message – making me recast my earlier reflections in my mind:
Eli had a significant church activity and plant to run and was grateful for the diligent involvement of Samuel, an Intern working with him (albeit on terms which would give rise to significant safeguarding concerns today). He was able to offer inspired spiritual direction to his Intern and exhibited mature willingness to take the challenging Ministerial Development Review feedback which his Intern offered. This experience was all foundational for Samuel’s vocational discernment which eventually flowed through to a post of particular responsibility for identifying those to serve at the most senior level, although he then selected deeply flawed leaders whose lack of mental stability and whose sexual exploitation of others (among many other things) eventually brought repeated institutional conflict and crisis.
All consistent with what I have felt to be the important way of reading the confession of Peter, although perhaps I was over reacting to being in a bubble of asserted and encouraged confidence (not to mention one style of loud and repeated praise). Perhaps I have been over influenced by the sorts of old and new quotations which have come through in the bubble of my Twitter feed in the week (not to mention one style of silent and penitent prayer):
There is an epidemic of certainty and I am increasingly aware of the importance of not knowing. Jean Sprackland
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together: our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our own virtues. William Shakespeare