Sorry I have been so quiet.. work is… complicated at the moment, and takes up more thought space than it should.
My mind is also in a weird place, slowly formulating what to write in my essay to the diocese, and how to do it without reading another flipping book about the joys of the priesthood or readership (no offence to my Reader and Priest friends).
Anyway.. enough apologies, time for the actual reason for the post.
So.. last night was meant to be an evening with bishop Alistair (Derby Bishop) followed by a Deanary Synod vote about whether we merge our two deanerys (Heanor & Erewash Valley). In the evening the bishop gave our table groups questions to discuss for 5 mins then present to the group.
One of the questions was along the lines of “if we are saying that the kingdom of God is spread by encouraging people to encounter God even in the smallest of ways, then how are we to use our structures and resources for this kind of witness?”
We discuss the issue, then the wonderfully obliging person (one of our churchwardens) who had stood up for the previous two answers suddenly nudged me, refused to stand up, and did a “Your turn”.
I took a deep breath… and said something along the lines of:
“We discussed that is was not about getting people to feel that they have to do things a certain way, but ensuring everyone in our community knows that they both belong and are loved.
We must be in our communities and engaging with them regularly for them to see this, it is not about the community becoming members of the church, but the church being part of the community so that the encounters with God can happen.
We need to be more flexible in our structures to allow this to happen *deep breath*, one of the problems in the Church of England is that we say we want community involvement, but we have drawn away from it and seperated ourselves from the communities to which we belong. We push so hard to encourage people to the priesthood or readership that we have lost sight of our diaconal calling to the community, and this is to our detriment, when our churches lose focus on the community others rise to take their place – an example being when the church was often not involved with the impoverished in the Victorian Era, the Salvation Army rose up to take up what we had lost.”
There had been nods throughout, and happy faces doing the nodding in a “finally, someone said it” way… but I dared not look to the bishop as I have been told on a number of occasions “Derby does not ‘do’ deacons, and is unlikely to change”.
My girlfriend said something similar as her table had people like ours (and our diaconally minded vicar (woo hoo))
Afterwards the bishop came over, and thanked us both for what we had said – and it does not seem to have been just being polite, as before that he had been speaking to the rural dean, did a gesture of “ah, I just need a moment, excuse me” when he came over, and then went back to the rural dean…
Which then begs the questions…. if our parishes want us to work in the communities… and the bishop wants us to too… why are we a diocese that “Does not do Deacons”?
I can see this essay being quite interesting to write.
Terry, it’s a good job these two aren’t in your diocese! They’d never have made it!
St Francis of Assisi – deacon
St Laurence – deacon