Archive for the ‘Ely items’ Category

Carol Services at Ely

December 13, 2007

The Ely Standard announces the welcome news that this year there will be two Carol Services at the Cathedral, on December 23rd and 24th. This is very encouraging.

Apparently last year the Cathedral had to turn people away because it was full. This has led the authorities to plan two services.

Although a relatively recent innovation in the history of worship carol Services have a popularity comparable to the English public’s love of Harvest Festival. Nowadays Carol Services take many different forms, depending on location and circumstance. A Cathedral Carol service is probably the apex of the formal and traditional form, and has much to commend it.

At the same time in a generation when people are talking of ‘Fresh Expressions’ of worship, and ways in which to engage the unchurched, or those on the fringe, it is to be hoped that some creative thought is given to how the Carol Service adapts to different generation. Also, with so many attending, it is to be hoped that this is also seen as a way to encourage further commitment to worship. A simple invtiation to attend one’s parish church could be included on the order of service. A web reference could help people to find out more about their local church. A dedicated e-mail address could be published for people to comment about the experience of attending, and such comments could be collected for the Dean to consider. The Diocesan mission team could, no doubt, be asked for further suggestions – which would not change the worship but would also help develop christian faith and commitment.

Once again congratulations to Ely Cathedral for their work in drawing people to their worship, and serving the diocese well.


Harvest Festival – a popular festival

October 19, 2007

Harvest Festival Songs of Praise last Sunday evening in Ely Cathedral was an uplifting and impressive act of worship. The Cathedral had been wonderfully decorated for the occasion. The range of autumnal colours was most impressive. The worship blended traditional and modern. The event was not nostalgic. It appealed to both young and old. Harvest gifts were presented in style.

Harvest Festival remains a popular event in the calendar of many churches and schools. People clearly understand what it is about – giving thanks for food and creation. No other church festival does this so clearly. The obvious connection between presenting gifts and the Eucharist means that this festival can encourage Eucharistic worship and Eucharistic living.

It is therefore unfortunate if unimaginative clergy pour scorn on this popular festival. Harvest is a festival to which people can be easily invited and thus become a special service of welcome or evangelism. I suspect more people will make the effort to come to church for Harvest than will for, say, the Feast of St Philip and St James.

At a time when the Church of England is looking at the connection between its worship and the culture of the people it may be appropriate for a fresh look at harvest. The liturgical books of the Church of England could produce more provision and ideas for observing this festival.

Ely Cathedral are to be congratulated for their hard work and example in working with, rather than against, this popular English festival.

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.


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.”


Ascension Day in Cambridge

May 19, 2007

Being in central Cambridge on Ascension Day I decided to attend the Eucharist. Ascension Day is not the religious festival it was in the Church of England, and it was not as easy as I expected to find evening worship. St Clements and St Edwards advertised an evening Eucharist at 7.30pm. Great St Mary’s had no poster or notice for an Ascension Day service but when I got home I notice details of one on the notice sheet from that church, but not in the worship this week section! GSM clearly need to pay a bit of attention to their communications.

St Benet’s had a 6.30am service – not much use for the casual visitor on the day! However St Bene’ts mentioned a ‘Mass’ at Little St Mary’s at 7pm. I decided to attend that.

My first impression was how lovely Little St Mary’s was decorated. There were exquisite floral decorations. It was bright and welcoming, and all looked well kept and loved. There must have been about 50-60 attending – the majority, I suspect over 60yrs old. The worship was very traditional Anglo Catholic. The music was very good, especially the organist and cantor. (There was even applause after the final voluntary – reminiscent of the Episcopal Church of the USA).

There were some slight idiosyncracies, for example, during the opening procession the procession stopped and the clergy faced the pulpit for a while and then censed the pulpit after a reading then walked on, and the hymn was resumed. During the worship (and not before) the music of the worship was handed out. The sound system (not the clearest I’ve heard) was clearly causing the clergy problems – they kept fumbling with the switches in their pockets – presumably turning them on and off – but the gestures were awkward and at one point verged on the comic. Also strange was the awkward taking in and out of the processional cross through an archway – it looked decidely odd to the visitor. While one does not expect the clergy to have beaming smiles they were especially solemn looking – if not anxious, and sometimes they seemed a little unsure of what they were doing – for example, at times the subdeacon had to whisper instructions and guide the deacon.

The sermon given by the vicar, was light weight and  disappointing. It was extempore – and it showed. The readings were read with dignity from a lectern, the sermon was preached in the centre in front of the altar without lectern and the vicar kept swaying a little and looking a little anxious as he sought words to say. I’d hope for something more weighty – instead it meandered around the topic of regular prayer and eucharist, especially in the period between Ascension and Pentecost. It was difficult to see how the sermon related directly to the event being celebrated. There were uncomfortable pauses as the vicar thought of the next thing to say. One expected more from a central Cambridge parish on a feast day. I felt it was an opportunity missed – a good clear proclamation of the doctrine of the Ascension was missed.

I left the worship a little disappointed, and feeling it was likely observance of this ‘principal holy day’ of the Church of England was likely to continue to decline.


Find the Chaplain!

April 19, 2007

At the weekend I was talking to an undergraduate of Cambridge University who told me he had never met his college chaplain, and wouldn’t know how to. I replied (tongue in cheek, knowing the undergraduate was not a worshipper) that I would guess that the chaplain was present at chapel worship on a Sunday!

Outside the centre of Cambridge I have often heard questions, including from the clergy, such as ‘What actually do college chaplains do?’ ‘Why can’t they help out more regularly in the parishes of the diocese?’ One seldom hears remarks such as ‘College Chaplains are overworked’.

However, my young friend’s remark raises a different, and I would suggest more important issue. This is about the availabilty and visibility of Chaplains, and consequently about the level of pastoral care. It is sad if an undergraduate has never even seen their chaplain, for it is rare that we seek pastoral care or advice from a member of the clergy we have never met.

If one looks at King’s College website one will find, understandably, much information about the chapel, its choir, and its history – but I can find no reference whatsoever to how to contact a college chaplain or even a name of a chaplain of King’s. (Perhaps the information is there – but I challenge you to find it!) I would suggest that this is very unfortunate. Checking the interesting website ‘Christian Cambridge’ I discovered several of the links to College Chapels simply do not work. That is unfortunate.

Where they give the information it is interesting to note what Chaplains say about their availability. For example one full time chaplain is only available one day a week in college – the rest of the time people are asked to contact the Chaplain at home!

In contrast to this several Chaplains do advertise their availabilty clearly, and in a friendly and approachable way. For example, the Chaplain of Sidney offers a clear and friendly guide as to how he may be contacted (this would (perhaps!) be enhanced by a photograph).

I ask two simple questions:

Who oversees the work of the chaplains?

Who in the Diocese of Ely helps chaplains to take a part in the life of their local diocese and the wider church?


Think again about the Ely Cathedral Music Appeal

April 12, 2007
“Ely cathedral’s on-going Music Appeal, aims to raise an endowment fund of £10m to ensure the long-term sustainability of both music and the choristers at Ely Cathedral.”

So the Hunts Post reports, and Ely Cathedral website gives details of this appeal.

Lay people and clergy in the diocese must seriously question this huge appeal. Is it the best use of the church’s diminishing resources? Should so much energy be spent on the privileged? The choir is all male and not large. The fund will no doubt be used to provide private education for the priviliged. The Church thereby supports the rich getting richer and meanwhile poor parishes get poorer.

Parishes in dioceses are being squeezed more and more for money. Understandably they are being encouraged to look for ‘Fresh Expressions’ of Church.

The Cathedral music appeal is disproportionally large and is for too small a constituency. The Cathedral needs to look more carefully at the stewardship of its resources and how it serves the diocese and wider church. Let us not forget the other choirs of the diocese.

Fresh expression of Cathedral, please! More imaginative and creative thought is called for. The answer is simply not to have large financial appeals.

I certainly shall not support this appeal and I encourage serious questions to be asked about it.


Sawtry’s Sunday Club online

April 11, 2007

Congratulations to All Saints’, Sawtry on their online Sunday Club!

Go and visit this innovative and good site, intended principally for children, but also, no doubt of interest to others. Indeed I notice that Peterborough Today has discovered it too, and given an encouragingly positive review.

This website could become a useful resource to so many and Malcom Griffith and his team at Sawtry are to be congratulated on putting up this website.

It would be wonderful if more parish churches had such an altruistic approach – and used the web creatively for mission.

We look forward to the pages for the adults now!