Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Lent - but Easter Experienced!

The last two days (well, last few weeks) have been an odd mixture of the start of Lent and ramping up for a local schools project - Experience Easter!

People from local churches took a set of stations into Dunoon Grammar School for the first year to experience interactively the Holy Week and Easter story. I've done it quite a few times down south, generally in primary rather than secondary schools - so this was a challenge to get it running in a new context, in a secondary school and in much shorter, packaged periods.

I'm sure I'll blog or reflect more on the event itself, the press coverage, the start of an ecumenical flavour in pulling it together, the plans for repeats in the future (and other similar projects for other seasons). But for tonight, I want to record one of the most profound incidents.

When we came in just before 9 this morning to start the second day, the gym was in complete darkness, except for the light inside the empty tomb. I was surprised, as I thought we had switched it off the night before. But it was busy, things are easily overlooked.

In the mid morning break, one of the school cleaners popped in, and apologised for having switched the light on - when they came into the gym early in the morning they had felt the urge to switch the light on inside Jesus' empty tomb, and to spend a quite ten minutes or so, surrounded by the Holy Week stations, just quietly reflecting.

The flows of people around us and our churches, and the ways that ripples set out in ways that we can anticipate - these never cease to amaze me.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Priestly rest...

After a busy day of peripatetic priestliness...


It has been quite a distraction over the past few weeks, all the busyness, tweeting, buying a flat - all rather a lot. And while it was happening - spring arrived! The rhododendron in front of the rectory in Dunoon has burst into magenta bloom (briefly confused by some snow and ice) but now a spectacular display of vibrant colour (even matching the Lenten violet of the vestments). The little bunches of daffodils have emerged from the turf and and started to show their heads. The birdsong is so rich that you can almost feel it as you step outside the house. A few yards away, the church is even starting to dry out a little after the winter - the long weeks and months of chasing leaks and pushing contractors and trying to get things stable seem easier as it gets lighter and brighter. The late spring project? To start and sort the peeling paintwork inside the chancel - in a way that will last and make fabric sense. We have a plan, we have funding, we will (hopefully) soon have the necessary permissions. Over the Kyles, there is a similar sense of spring. The visitors have started to appear, and there is a shiny new board to greet them and tell them that we are here. Quotes are flowing in to solve the various problems around the buildings, people are in good spirits! I suppose the only thing to be done is to change the picture on this blog from a snowy one to a spring-like one!

Friday, 11 March 2011


I'm having another go on Twitter, having let it lie fallow for rather a long time.

Tweet tweet. Broadcast boring, if one's not careful.

andyswift39, if you are interested.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Synod 2011 for Argyll & The Isles

Just returned from my first diocesan synod in Argyll and The Isles. My impressions?

As a new arrival in the diocese, I tried to approach with no strong expectations one way or another. The new bishop, only a few weeks into his episcopate, was always going to bring a fascinating twist to the sense of the synod, but as for the rest of us?

A pre-Synod day on building a vision was hard work, but creatively done. Did we hear any new hopes or fears? Probably not too many - the challenges we face as a widely distributed church in the 21st century are well known. The opportunities that ministry offers in a breath-takingly beautiful place, a thin place, a rooted place are wide and varied.

+Kevin managed to remember to constitute synod at the eucharist that evening, and the dining and dancing flowed on smoothly from there.

The business of synod was brisk - finance, the progression of canonical change, diocesan review of provincial initiatives. The financial story was improving very greatly (although, as at the local level, still a way to go!). Canonical change seemed largely uneventful and largely not relevant to this diocese: no licenced posts held by over seventy-year olds. The provincial gender audit was of interest: more women than men worship, a universal truth it seems. More men than women lead - a statistic that I believe time will even for the clerical side of the balance: less than 20 years of female priests, several hundred (in the modern era) of male!

A good debate on the rural report: there is tangible and relevant hope for ministry in the rural swathes of Scotland. But how to embrace this opportunity? We had plenty of tales of successful initiatives and positive encounters.

Elections, reports, all the usual business of a synod. But all done in good spirits and with a positive, optimistic sense.

The post-synod day - a clergy day - was very interesting too. The clergy do not have the answers on where the diocese will go, but are the ordained 'specialists' in some areas (oh, the debates one can have on that title!). The conclusions from this morning? There are opportunities for mission and growth, and we all need trained and formed to seize these opportunities. And we all need trained and formed to grow a vision that will lead us there.

Tired but feeling positive, we departed for our far flung yet beautiful corners of the world!