Archive for July, 2007

Bishop Inge

July 30, 2007

Bishop John Inge, currently Bishop of Huntingdon is to be the new Bishop of Worcester.

The appointment brings to Worcester a relatively young Diocesan Bishop. Worcester Cathedral has also had recently appointed to it a relatively young Dean. Such appointments inevitably raise questions. How long will the people be there? Bishop Inge could hold this appointment for 18 years.

Bishop Inge’s career in the Church of England is slightly unusual. He is not a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge, and so will be in a minority among the diocesan bishops. He did not serve traditional curacies – being instead chaplains at private schools. His experience in parishes has been short (six years in one parish).

Bishop Inge will be a bishop who will be prepared to work in a team, and who will listen to the advice of others. His international interests will bring much to Worcester, and he will now have a larger platform to speak of injustice in our world. Bishop Inge is familiar with the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, while also supporting the evangelical wing.

Ely will now await the appointment of a new suffragan. In recent years the suffragans in Ely have varied in their gifts and this is to be welcomed. Bishop Gordon Roe was a popular, friendly and holy man. Bishop John Flack had deep pastoral experience and clear presence. Together with Bishop Inge they held a more Catholic than Evangelical position.

Perhaps the time has now come for a modern evangelical to be appointed to be Bishop of Huntingdon – someone with wide parish experience, and who can take some of the establisment aspects of this role sympathetically but lightly. Appointments to this post have usually been from outside the diocese, and this would be advisable for this next appointment. Perhaps someone who has proven experience of innovative Fresh Expressions of Church could be considered.


Canon Christine Sindall

July 6, 2007

Canon Christine Sindall is retiring. The Cambridge Evening news has details of the retirement.

Originally from West London Christine Sindall came to Cambridgeshire in 1969. She had felt a call to ministry at an early age – 13 years old. In 1987 she became one of the first women deacons in the Church of England. After working in Cambridge she became Vicar of Cheveley, from where she has recently retired after eleven years of faithful ministry. She has also been a careful and respected Rural Dean in the slightly remote Linton deanery. She has been appreciated for her role as Bishop’s Adviser in Women’s Ministry.

Canon Sindall worked in a difficult period for women priests – when many needed to be persuaded about the appropriateness of women priests. In rural Cambridgeshire the issue was never a theological one, but rather about accommodating change in a traditional millieu. Through her love of parochial pastoral ministry and her dedication to her work Canon Sindall convinced many of the value of ordaining women as priests.

Undoubtedly some militant campaigners were needed to further the cause of women’s ministry in the early days, but at the same time what was also needed was women priests of prayer and dedicated pastoral care. Canon Sindall was one of the these and her solid faithful ministry will be missed in Ely Diocese. I hope she, and Dennis, enjoy their retirement in the north of England, they will now have more time for gardening and reading.


Innovative Worship at St Edward’s, Cambridge

July 5, 2007

The efforts by the Church of England to proclaim afresh the inherited faith are encouraging and innovative in many places. In some places they go under the name of Fresh Expressions or are related to Mission Shaped Church.

Inevitably this trial period will bring some initiatives which are short lived, and some which are of lasting value. I am particularly impressed by the Fresh Expressions initiative, which seeks to develop church, in addition to, and away from, the traditional places and times of church.

At first I was anxious that such initiatives would undervalue those treasures in our store which are old and honoured, and which are still valued today in many places. My fear was that the richness and challenge of the Anglican tradition would be watered down in favour of ‘Family Service’ type activities. I am discovering that I need not have been so worried.

I am greatly impressed by the work being done in this area by St Edward’s Church, Cambridge. This small and distinctive church in the centre of Cambridge has a special part in the history of the Church in Cambridge, not least because of its role in the Reformation.

Today interesting and gently pioneering work is being done to present liturgy, and faith, in ways which are engaging to people of all generations. At the same time traditional Book of Common Prayer worship is also held. Once a month Odyssey attempts to link Spirituality with contemporary challenge. Other style of worship includes Silence, Taize and other style music, light and incense combining to form a gentle Meditative Eucharist – one of which is sensibly held at the end of the working week at 5.30pm on a Friday. The Goth Eucharist is a splendid innovation.

If, like me, you have visited St Edward’s recently you will have found it to be an open friendly place, and this beautiful traditional building in the heart of Cambridge retains its peaceful, homely and spiritual atmosphere.

Congratulations St Edward’s! May your inspiring work continue. Not everything St Edward’s do would work outside city centre Cambridge, but the themes and ideas with which you experiment, and the spirituality and intellectual pursuit you encourage should stimulate ventures elsewhere.

The St Edward’s approach to Fresh Expressions gives that initiative substance and stature.