Archive for June, 2007

Worse than oaths at Trumpington

June 25, 2007

The sad disagreements between the vicar and some parishioners at Trumpington at first seem another sad parochial story. The vicar, Dr Ambrose, appears to want to innovate, others in Trumpington seemed determined to resist at any cost.

And it is at any cost. The dispute is moving from the parish stage to a larger Church of England stage. The Bishop of Ely has directed that a ‘provincial tribunal’ be formed to advise him. The immediate legal costs are estimated at £150,000, for this, and some estimates have put the cost at nearer £500,000 when further appeals and hearings are considered.

The story was covered at the end of May in The Times and in early June in the Church Times and more recently and comprehensively in the Cambridge Evening News.

The Cambridge Evening News article includes a long and detailed comment by the Bishop of Ely, who draws attention to the attempts at peace making which have been attempted over the years.

I make no comment on the particular situation at Trumpington, save that I generally find it takes two to argue – I suspect there are faults on both sides. Similarly it takes two to reach a compromise, and make peace.

As a member of the laity I  have three questions;

1) In May 2005 the Bishop of Ely directed that this should go to a provincial tribunal. This tribunal has not yet met. Why not? It surely does not take two years to form a panel and agree a timetable! What stress this must have caused to those involved.

2) The projected cost to the church of the legal process is outrageously large. When parishes are short of clergy this parochial dispute is costing the greater church at least five years of a clergy stipend, and most probably more. Do the warring parties consider this to be good use of the money that parishioners in parishes have put on the plate?

3) Given this dispute is costing the church a lot of energy, time and money, how do those involved intend to give back to the church what their dispute will have taken?



Fonts and water features

June 19, 2007

I am aware that fonts in churches are receiving more attention, and this is to be welcomed. Baptism is an important rite and sacrament and a clean, well attended font helps emphasise this importance. Many people revisit the church where they were baptised and appreciate the font being in good order.

However, I find rather curious the appearance of what could light heartedly be called ‘water features’ in fonts. These are devices with a small motor introduced to create a spray of water or a small fountain, rather like one finds in some garden centres.

Such a feature has now been introduced to the font in Ely Cathedral. It is a small device which makes water flow, and, frankly, does not add to the dignity of the font. It is ugly and incongruent. It would be interesting to know the rationale behind its introduction. Surely flowers and lit candles close to the fiont, and the font simply standing with fresh water in it would be more appropriate and fitting. I was pleased to discover I am not alone in my dislike of Ely Cathedral’s water feature in the font – a senior member of the clergy described it in my hearing as “totally naff.”