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From the Rectory

  Febuary 2018  

The Feast of Candlemas (officially on 2nd February, but which we’re keeping on 28th January) is a major turning point in the liturgical calendar, as it marks the end of the 40-day Christmas season.

It’s when we look towards Ash Wednesday (which this year is 14th February), the beginning of the season of Lent.

And it means a distinct change of tone, as we anticipate the Church’s major time of individual and corporate self-examination.

There’s something particularly appropriate about all this, in the light of forthcoming events in the life of the benefice – and gives me the opportunity to reflect on my time in Cornwall.

Clergy tend to be fairly transient creatures, usually remaining in parishes for between three and five years (an itinerant pattern Methodists long ago adopted as official policy).

And whilst relatively frequent changes of personnel involve a measure of disruption, they can also be creative, as new voices get added to the local mix. Regular refreshing of the spiritual gene pool, reduces the risk of either clergy or congregations becoming stale or complacent, or having the spiritual life of a church identified in terms of a particular personality.

Given the open-ended nature of the faith journey, it’s important that different ways of seeing things are put before us on a regular basis. In religion, there is no one-size-fits-all – and variety is very much the spice of the spiritual life.

The increasing emphasis in recent years on Every Member Ministry means that the life of a church is no longer seen (if it ever was) as the sole responsibility of the clergy. Everyone has a part to play, and instead of homing-in on one other’s weaknesses and blind spots, we should be always focusing on the special gifts that others are able to offer, and the particular insights that they bring.

Churches can provide ready-made communities to new arrivals, whether lay or ordained. But whilst strong communities are almost universally seen as ‘good things’ – the stronger they are, the more difficult it is for newbies to become accepted. Communities have their own ethos and inertia – which can make them resistant to change of any sort.

In my role of rural dean, I came across a church where new ideas were invariably met with the response ‘that’s not the way we do things here!’ (meaning – the way they’ve been done for the last 30 years). That church is dying – because its leading figure is unable to imagine anything different. Why would anyone want to join such a closed and inward-looking outfit?

Spiritual health doesn’t depend on large congregations – but on a willingness to be open. To new people. To new ideas. To new ways of doing things. It involves a willingness to move out of personal comfort zones. And (of course) it means churches never, ever becoming personal fiefdoms. This is why it’s vital that there are regular changes of clergy.

Four years ago, when I was wondering whether to apply for this post, one particular phrase leaped out at me from the profile details. And that was the way the benefice was looking for someone ‘confident enough to risk shaking us up a bit and making us think’. It sounded an interesting sort of place – which is how I ended up coming here. And it’s what (for better or for worse) I’ve kept trying to do.

But we all need to be careful what we wish for! A parish profile is like the proverbial camel – put together by a committee. Which means not everyone is going to agree about everything that’s in it (with some people more open to being shaken up than others).

The Gospel is about the most radical message possible. And that means it’s got a distinct cutting edge – which can hurt. If it’s ever seen as safe and respectable and just plain ‘nice’ – it’s not the one that got Jesus crucified.

Thank you to all those who’ve supported and encouraged Pat and me in our sojourn among you, during these last three and a bit years. The warmth of your friendship has meant an enormous amount to us. May God bless your ongoing efforts to help further the Kingdom in this amazing place.

Revd Tony

Any enquiries relating to the Week St. Mary Circle of Parishes should be directed to:
Revd Tony Windross, The Rectory, The Glebe, Week St. Mary, Holsworthy, Devon EX22 6UY
Email:  • Telephone: 01288 341600

For local enquiries relating to Week St. Mary Church matters please contact either of the Churchwardens:  Lesley Booker Tel: 01288 341221  or  Richard Sowerby Tel: 01288 341348

For enquiries relating to Week St. Mary Methodist Church please contact
Rev Doreen Sparey-Delacassa • The Manse, Canworthy Water • Telephone: 01566 781854

© All of the content of the Week St. Mary website is the copyright of David Martin & Linda Cobbledick except where stated 2006-2018