Thursday, 31 January 2008

Clearing the Decks

Today was the day I finally managed to create enough space to clear the various papers (and assorted other items) that have clogged up my desk, my chairs and my floor in recent months. It feels good to have a bit more control... and papers filed.

While doing this I managed to deal with a couple of issues at a bit of distance which I have to trust will be OK. So much of ministry is actually about handing things over to God in the hope that he will be at work in the invisible edges... It's not always about what you do yourself - in fact it's always about the work of the Spirit in some way or other...

Had a good meeting with Liz B, and planned monthly supervision sessions through till April...

Iona came back from her residential and seems to have had a wonderful time - the highlight was holding a snake.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Using the Book

Today I had was involved in a visit at St Mary's, handled some tricky emails, met Ross and Tim C to talk about Areas 10 and 11, and attended the Holy Cross Church Council. A fairly average day.

One of the more fun things I needed to do today was to visit Ron and Joy Cramp for Communion. This gave me an opportunity to use the Book of Common Prayer they gave me for Christmas. It's a really super edition, with reproduction engravings in the margin. They appreciated me using it, and we had a good time - in the best sense of the word.

Visiting Church

Christ the Sower Year 2 came up to St Mary's today. We had a great visit. They were very enthusiastic and asked lots and lots of questions. They were excited about seeing the new rooms, which gave them a way of comparing old with new. When I asked how old they thought the church was, I had a range of answers from 65, 108 and 256 to one million. I've never had such specific ages before...
Miss Thomas mentioned that she had not been at the front of a church for an unreportable number of years, so this was an opportunity to change that. Here she is:

This group will now be doing a virtual tour of Cornerstone to experience new church, and they'll be back at St Mary's in December when they're in year 3 for the carol service.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Blog out

I've just got home from an evening of meetings to discover that our house is connected to the rest of the universe again! Alleluia! Yes, our (exceedingly slow) Broadband connection has been out for over twenty-four hours... On the one hand, this is a good thing - it stops me from having to respond to all the emails that will have been sent in my dirrection... But it also means that my emails couldn't go out either... In 2008 internet failure can be like loosing your senses... How dependent on it we have become!

There are various aspects of the Internet that I have missed - not least the ability to end a family debate by checking Wikipedia - but I have particularly missed the ability to blog. Partly, I feel a (very very tiny) twinge of guilt that the blog hasn't been updated, causing people to visit an out of date site - but really I miss the daily brain dump. It's five minutes for me to think back over the day and try to extract meaning. Isn't it odd that I need a web site to help me do that. What an odd world we live in...

Perhaps there's something important in the ability to reflect with other people - which the blog makes possible in a non-labour intensive way... There may be something to learn here. Perhaps ichurch is worth plugging? - or we could look again at our thoughts of CyberCell? Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they had started a blog, but hadn't written anything because no-one would read it. Perhaps we need to set up covenanted blog circles of mutual reflection? What fun we could have(!)...

The business of the Church

Today I attended a meeting of Team Space, a meeting to discuss plans for Area 10 and 11, the Ecumenical Pastoral Committee and the Watling Valley Ecumenical Council. These were all meetings at which a huge variety of things were discussed. Here are just a few subjects:
  • Expenses for ministers - in particular NSMs and ministers in training...
  • What resources do we need for mission in the new areas?
  • What is going to happen at the Covenant Service? (smoke and mirrors by the sound of it...)
  • Ecumenical Confirmations - particularly the date of...
  • Review of ministers in LEPs...
  • The appointment of a student Youth Worker in Watling Valley...
and much more that I couldn't (or shouldn't) mention. No one could acuse us of being inactive, but I am also beginning to feel that this activity is achieving something. Sometimes I feel that we (I?) have spent the past eight years on crisis managemant, trying to get us out of a hole - preferably before the hole appears. I am increaingly hopeful that good things are beginning to happen and some of the seeds are beginning to sprout.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Prophet Driven

John and I were thinking about success critria for churches. We noticed that decisions in comercial organisations were often profit driven, we wondered if decisions in churches should be prophet driven.

It's an old play on words, but you could use this to produce some very interesting business plans... Perhaps we could set up an alternative Dragon's Den, with prophetic entrepreneurs passing judgement...

Monday

We had to wave Iona off on her school residential this morning - three nights away! This is suprisingly disturbing for us as a family. I can cope with it on one level by being glad that she's having a good time, but the house doesn't seem right somehow.

Workwise, this was a fairly straightforward day: an hour in the morning with Tim Clapton, an hour at lunchtime with John RJ - both good, worthwhile meetings - interspersed with valuable desk clearing time. I can now see one!

I managed a run before lunch. Three and a half miles in 33 minutes, 15 seconds. Not my best, but a big imporvement on recent times. My hope to run the half marathon in May could still be achievable.

A couple of key emails to write - which didn't go out because of Broadband failure...

The evening was family time, with a birthday to celebrate. We watched Walace and Gromit and went to bed. Asleep by 8:30pm!

This meant that we woke up at 5:00am - so the internal clocks must be doing something...

I do feel absolutely shattered at the moment. Reserves of energy are very low and there are so many demands... This must be the year that changes...

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

We were really tired after the trip to Kent.
Didn't sleep well.
Got up - All Saints' then Holy Cross then All Saints again...
Absolutley shattered!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Birthday Visit

Went down to Kent for Bruce's Birthday. Bought him a digital camera and took him to Bluewater. Here he is learning how to use the camera.
He had a great day.

Friday, 25 January 2008

More Kiwi Weather

On the 24th of January 1996 a Japanese tourist got lost on Mt Taranaki. He was so certain this was the end, he wrote out his will.
(from my slightly bizare calendar of New Zealand Weather)

Loughton Residents

Vicar's Letter for Loughton Residents Magazine
In medieval times the difference between a hamlet and village was the presence of a church. In the same way that a city had its cathedral, a village had its church. Even today, a church building can be seen as a benefit to a community. Living close to a good looking old church building can be good for house prices - unless you don’t like the bells…
Modern Loughton has undoubtedly changed a great deal since medieval times, and yet some things have remained the same. There is still a real feeling that Loughton is a village – not a housing estate. Many people refer to it as “the village” and enjoy the benefits of being part of this wonderful community. The old medieval church is still here, and many people like to see the tower poking up above the houses – a reminder of our past, and symbol of village identity…
Not so long ago, most people lived in small villages. They knew all their neighbours and they would often travel only a few miles in their entire life. Today, most people live in towns and may not know their neighbours. They sometimes travel hundreds of miles every day and may go on holiday on the other side of the world. Medieval villages were quite small simple communities. Our community is massive and complex. It’s easy for people to feel lost or disconnected… We live busy lives. We work long hours. We struggle with issues that our ancestors wouldn’t even understand…
Some people think that churches are just a reminder of the past, but they can have a very important role in a modern “village”. They can be places where people find space to reflect; they can be communities in which some people find home; they remind us that there is more to life than what we can see and touch; they are meeting places where significant things can happen.
All Saints’ Loughton, like the rest of the village, has changed a lot over the years, but it’s still there, and you are most welcome to share it with us. Come and join us for some of our events. Come and see if you want to be part of our community. You are welcome to spend time with us and with God, who we believe is still here with us in Loughton today and adds value to our lives, just as stone and mortar can turn a hamlet into a village.
Best wishes from All Saints’ Church

Written on 25/1/08

Not sure about this letter, but needed to say something. Loughton is interesting. It's one of our most prosperous areas and it has two churches, a memorial hall, a sports pavillion, two schools, and various other fascilities within easy walking distance. In some ways its easy for Loughton to be a village - but what about some of our settlements without these fascilities. In many ways we ought to be drawing attention to these areas and encouraging the people of Loughton to think about how less well resourced grid squares might develop as contemporary villages - and what they could do to help... although this may not be realistic...

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Area Deans and Lay Chairs

The Area Deans and Lay Chairs of Buckingham Archdeaconry met today at the Green Park Conference Centre. The last time I was in Aston Clinton was for our wonderful new year circular walk. The sun was shining today (apparantly) but we spent the day in a windowless room. The food was good and it was great to spend time with colleagues - as always.

This eveing we had the second gathering of pastoral carers in Watling Valley. Most of the Ministry Team came (as agreed) which I hope was an indication of the Team's commitment and support. The only problem with having six ministers turn up though, is that it could give people the impression that we have a lot of ministerial resources to play with... which isn't entirely true. I think it was a useful evening, but I'll keep my ears open for feedback...

This was yet another evening when I needed to start work again after 10:30pm. I had something to write for a meeting next week - which emerged from the meeting today - so I needed to get that done. This I didn't mind, but there were another couple of jobs that came in today and wouldn't wait until next week... So it was another long night at the desk...

It is intersting to think about how easy it is for us to do far more that we really should. Prioritisation is really hard when so many jobs are both urgent and important. I would reflect more on that, but I'm too tired. Time for bed...

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Wednesday

We had a very productive meeting of the Local Shared Ministry Project Group this morning. Nearly everyone was there and we motored through a very practical discussion about the remit and makeup of any new Project Group - should we get the go ahead from the Presidents. I feel more confident that this group will be able to help things function and grow. In terms of time scale, we are still waiting for the Presidents to meet in March and won't be able to put forward a new remit until May at the earliest! But progress is definitely being made and there is now a real head of steam which will not wait...Had lunch with Alastair Wood, and we had a great chat about church, the Universe and everything... Alastair works for Scripture Union and is a candidate for Pioneer Ministry, based at Holy Cross.

Taste and See planning meeting took place at Christ the Sower. We sorted out the event for Ash wednesday. The big issue is still the involvement of real locals, but this is likely to be a long term thing...

500 111

Blog visits pass 500...
This is post number 111...

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Staying Connected

I hosted Team Space this morning, which was followed immediately by the Deanery Leadership Team - four hours of solid networking, updating, linking and communictating - after lunch it's off to see the Anne at Christ the Sower for more of the same. I have a pile of emails to write, which are all about passing information, making sure people are in the loop and that they have been consulted... and a pile of further similar tasks to do by voice or in person... Unfortunaetly I couldn't be at Ministers West who were supposed to be thinking about joint mission, because it clashed with the DLT...

It does remind me of the old quote the networking is "not working" and there is some truth in that. You can spend all your time meeting new people and extending your contacts, but, there is also an important truth that friendship is dependent on the time you put into it. Even if we don't spend time building new realtionships, we need to maintain and develop the relationships we already have. In other words, networking is never "not working" if it is the glue that enables life to happen...

There are too many stories of people who had great ideas, and then forgot to tell anyone about them; people who had big plans and wondered why no-one was interested. Ultimatley nothing is possible without relationships, information and a common understanding. Get these things right and there is a great deal you can do. Ignore them and your plans will fail... As Growing Leaders puts it: comunicate as much as you can, as soon as you can, as often as you can, with as many people as you can...

I'm writing this in a five minute gap while I prepare for my next networking session. Looking forward to some time later on tonight when I don't need to communicate...

Spent most of the evening looking after the girls. Went to bed early - 9:30ish - and went straight to sleep. Isla woke me up because she couldn't sleep, so I got up to do some writing for tomorrow's deadlines. Good job I did, beacause I have no time for desk work tomorrow... Finished work at midnight. 900 words to go. Will have to squeeze them in between meetings...

Feeling generally tired, a bit hazy and achy. Probably a bit grumpy... Must concentrate and work hard and try not to miss anything really important...

Monday, 21 January 2008

Fresh but rainy

Drove across to Oxford for the Fresh Expressions Oversight Group. It took over an hour to get there - with traffic jammed up from Biscester to Oxford and flooded fields along the side of the city - but it was a worthwhile and productive two hour meeting. The drive back was slightly quicker, but the rain was miserable...

Had a good support session with Derek in the evening, but my meeting with the St Mary's 9:30 service worship leaders was cancelled - so I was free after 8. A very rare occurance. Watched half an hours telly with Isla and then went to bed. Couldn't sleep so got up and worked. Managed to tidy up some of the papers I want to send out about deanery posts.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Second Sunday of Epiphany

This morning I took the 9:00am Communion Service at Holy Cross. Numbers were up again, which was good and there was a very good atmosphere. I spoke about Growing Disciples and shared the story of the peanuts...
Since (or so I thought) there was a gap before my next service at 11:00am. I stayed at Holy Cross longer than usual. This enabled me to pop in on their Sunday Clubs and have a chat with the young people - something that I'm not able to do very often.
I was impressed by the standard of the teaching - top marks all round! The older group (the teen-agers) are rapidly becoming a junior ministry team, rather than junior church. It was an encouraging visit - although the helpers may not have appreciated having the vicar drop in...
Unfortunatley, I was wrong about having free time! It turned out that I was booked for a 9:00am, a 9:30am and an 11:00am! I'd spotted the 9 and 11, but missed the 9:30 - oops... Never done that before!
The good news is that Ted wasn't fazed and held the service together - even preaching an impromptu sermon that had rave reviews! I must appologise and investigate this sermon a bit more... The 11:00am Service at St Mary's went very well this morning. We had a blessing for a little girl called Emily who sang through the reading and turned round to face me when I said her name... We had fun with the SU material, which included a game about emotions. It was a tie between "Colin's Team" and "St David's" (A name chosen by Arwell with obvious Welsh influence...)
After the service we had a very productive 11:00am planning meeting. We discussed Christmas, Children and Music. This is a great group who really have a good sense of vision and team work. I fully expect this congregation to grow...

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Growing Disciples

The serious work of the Growing Disciples retreat began in earnest in the morning and we motored through a very full agenda... We use the CPAS materials for Growing Leaders, and this session was all about Vision: What is it? How do we find it? How do we make it happen?
We've done this retreat before with a different group, but it didn't feel repetitive. This group had their own reflections and experiences. I think everyone found it valuable.
One of the hightlights was the peanut task. The challenge is to move a large pot of peanuts from one side of the room to the other, using the limited range of materials available. It's a competition and the winning group gets a chocolate bar.
Last year the groups got very competitive. They not only created splendid functional designs, they also decorated them - and tried to win points for sucking up to the judges!
This year's winning group decided to invite all the other groups to join them and share the prize. They then lined themselves up as a human chain and passed the peanuts along in a couple of small pots. It was creative, visionary and inspired! What can you say...
A long and full day, but a good one. Since the day focussed on vision, I found myself thinking about vision and the deanery... so I found the retreat useful myself...

Friday, 18 January 2008

Growing Disciples

The Growing Disciples Retreat took place over night at Begbroke. It's a valuable opportunity for those on the course to spend time in more focussed reflection, and it's usually a very productive time.
The evening started with a meal together in the pub. There were serious conversations, and less serious conversations. I've recorded a video of Ken twitching his ears - which may be shown at this years AGM if I can display it...

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Thursday

Went for a run with Isla this morning. 3 miles in 31 minutes... slow...

Spent the morning on paperwork, emails and phone calls...
but did manage to transfer one of my old blog databases onto this one, so I now have seventeen entries for 2006 - which looks a bit odd. The interesting thing is to see how the issues haven't changed over that time period. Wonderfully, I actually recorded the meeting at which we agreed to abandon the grand plan building plan for St Mary's and focus on a more practical scheme. It was great to re-read that entry at the very moment when the work is being completed...

Pots and Kettles

I've had a number of comments recently from people who read the blog and think I work too much. It would be nice to publish some of these since they're filled with wisdom.
One of the comments that has struck me most was, "rest isn't a reward for finishing". I appreciated that, since I clearly operate on that basis. The problem being, I never finish...
Which brings me to the issue that I discussed with some fellow ministers this week - how can a minister stop working if there are things that should be done - and there are always things that should be done - and if they aren't done you've failed - and are clearly scum... the voice of guilt-management runs deep...
Lots of issues here. This question won't go away. But if we can solve it, we will produce a much more productive Christian workforce...

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Joint Council Meeting

It was the first joint meeting of the St Mary's and All Saints' Councils tonight. We all enjoyed exploring the new fascilities and the Church Room was used for the first time! - by St Mary's.
There was a good energy in the meeting and a general sense on productive concentration... A good meeting(!)
The first half hour was joint, with ministry and WVEC news, then the councils met separately - St Mary's in the Room, All Saints' in the Church. I spent 45 minutes with each. It worked. Lots of synergy...

Fish

Last Christmas we bought a fish tank for the girls. They wanted a cat and we said they could have one if they could look after the fish until September. We still don't have a cat. I think the reasoning is, they didn't look after the fish, I did... Twelve months on, the fish have survived - which I consider an achievement! But I have been a bit worried about Molly recently - the grey one. She's been looking a bit ill. In respnse, I've replaced the water, cleaned the tank and given her a spell in quarantine. She's beginning to look better, but I'm still keeping an eye on her...

It strikes me that working with churches in Milton Keynes can be a similar task. We can clear out some of the muck from the past, try to create a favourable environment - and even give certain congregations or individuals a great deal of attention. If we're lucky, this can work, but there's no guarantee. It's ultimately between the fish and its maker whether it survives or not - the same goes for our churches...

Tyres

Here is the tyre from the car with the knife blade sticking out. I still can't believe someone would leave a sharp knife in a car park - unless it was done on purpose...
I went to Bletchley today and got it replaced.

Wednesday

Managed to run this morning. I really must get back into a good rhythm. I find I need to run three to four times a week to actually make any difference - and there's good scientific evidence for this. I managed to trot round the wood in three ten minute miles, which is OK but nowhere near my best... I must prioritise exercise, since exercise seems to healthy eating and a more relaxed me...

Did some work in the study, answered a few phone calls, signed some papers for St Mary's. Went to Bletchley to get the tyres done...

Spent most of the afternoon in All Saints' with the Patronage Board for Stantonbury and Willen - a very long meeting - talking about the appointment procedures for a new Team Rector. This is relevant to Watling Valley and elsewhere since whatever happens in Stantonbury will be a model for everywhere else...

In the evening we had the first joint meeting of St Mary's and All Saints' councils...

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Wet Tuesday

We had our weekly Team Space this morning, during which we planned the Pastoral Care Meeting in January. We came up with quite an exciting plan with brief sessions with Liz (and Derek?) on the Theology of Pastoral Care, with Yvonne on referal and myself on overall strategy... tied to practical input on listening skills and the creation of a contacts list. Should be a good session...

Then I met with Phyllis and Jeff to talk about Holy Cross. This was a great session and I feel I should say more, but I'll check with them first...

In the afternoon I had a fascinating conversation with John Punshon who's the conveener of the Worship Forum and an expert on Quaker History. The Theology Commission are going to do some work on Local Shared Ministry - which should be enormously valuable! There are so many issues connected with local ministry where denominational differences become problematic... I look forward to seeing what they produce...

This evening's Exec Meeting was in Simpson Church - which was a nightmare to get to since the road was closed. In the rain and in the dark I found myself driving round in circles... I found parts of Milton Keynes I'd never seen before - and eventually found the church...

Monday, 14 January 2008

Monday

I was hoping to have a quiet morning - to catch up on some sleep - but Isla rang to say she had a flat tyre. It turns out she had run over a knife in the car park... A couple of students managed to fix it, which saved me a trip...

We have an issue with funerals. The basic problem is that we have fewer and fewer ministers who are becoming busier and busier. We used to have a duty day each in Watling Valley. This is no longer possible. We've tried a couple of alternatives. I'm currently wondering about posting my available slots to the undertakers, so they know when they can book me. The only problem is I can only find four sensible free afternoons between now and the end of Feb, so I hope they can plan the funerals for those days... It will be interesting to see if this experiment works.

Took Jeremy out to lunch. The first victim for lunch with the AD in 2008. I must make sure I take all the anglican clergy out this year. It's a very productive use of time...

Then it was time to meet Alison and Liz to talk about Voices - our first editorial session of the year. It's good to have a plan...

Tonight, I'm meeting Tim H, and then it's time for All Saints' Worship Group...

A short night

I was up until 5 trying to finish some work. I may have misread a dealine and needed to get the job done for today.... oops...

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Sunday

I didn't sleep well - I never do before an 8 O'clock - so I got up and finished off the work on the Baptist Service for All Saints'. The idea is to have a standard card for Baptist style services, which gives the general structure, and then to have little book of prayers that ministers can use when they lead worship. This would be particularly useful for those who from a very different tradition. I'm quite pleased with the result. Whether our baptist members appreciate it or not, only time will tell.... (I'm guessing not...)

The 8 O'clock service was small in numbers today, which suprised me because the car park was full. Did everyone take two cars? Or is our space being borrowed?

At 10:30am I introduced the Viewpoints Course at All Saints'. I'd planned to do this for a while, but it's alway different when you get into church. Not sure whether I communicated what needed to be said or not, but there were some signs of interest... I don't think the readings I picked were quite right, but I have some ideas for alternatives...

Took Iona to see Aladin in the evening. Great fun - particularly when the "Five Toilet Roles" got stuck in the lighting rig... Bradley Walsh on top form. He seems to have built up quite an MK fan base, indicated by big blokey blokes shouting out, "We love you Bradley!" To be fair, without his mucking about, it would have been fairly pedestian, which shows what a good front man can achieve...

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Saturday

Need to work on Scripture Union material for June today. The deadline is rapidly approaching... I've managed to come up with some ideas this morning, I just need to write them up. I may test drive them next week...
Now getting back to the baptist service for All Saints'...

Friday, 11 January 2008

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Let there be light!

Exciting news! There are now lights at St Mary's. They won't turn on though...
And there were buidlers with diggers and big pipes - could be good news on the drains...

Priesthood

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of priesthood recently. Technically, I'm a priest in the Chruch of England, although I've never really felt comfortable with the title: my built in protestantism pointing out to me the biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers - in spite of this I'm slowly realising that there are some really important questions to examine...

The issue came up in the Mission Partnership Exec discussion about Local Shared Ministry. James Cassidy and I continued the discussion by email. I explained my concept of local leadership and he challenged me to look at the patristic concept of the Eucharist making the Church... What is the relationship between Eucharistic presidency and leadership?

Thinking about Local Shared Ministry and the way this may develop raises the question of local priesthood. Should a congregation have a number of priests who share sacramental ministry - this is quite possible with Ordained Local Ministry and Associate Priests... If there are a number of priests (or equivalent in denominations who don't use the title) what effect does that have on the leadership of the church?

Wes Frensdorf spoke of a ministering community, rather than a community gathered around a minister. I'm up for that. It sounds right, but does this ultimately mean letting go of my own priestly ministry in order to become something else?

Then another catholic priest looked me in the eye (during a conversation about lay people taking funerals) and said "we're all priests" - which I think was a reference to the priesthood of all believers - coming back to me from the opposite direction!

What is "priesthood"? Is it the call to stand with Christ in the holy spaces between earth and heaven where human beings encounter God? Much priesthood is therefore often "unauthorised". It's simply part of what we do as Christians in our incarnational, sacramental lives... Ordained priests are those who have been set aside by the church to do this on behalf of the church. They are special, in some ways, and are empowered to act in a way that would be impossible without the authority of the church community - but in other ways they are just like everyone else - visible priests amongst a community of priests... Is this a heretical view?

I've watched ministers thrive in "priestly mininstry". They may not have gifts in preaching, teaching, leadership, organisation or anything else particularly - but when they stand at the altar, or hold the baby in their arms, or pray for God's blessing on a married couple - you can see that they were called by God to do this - magical! There are people who are called to a priestly ministry - but are they called to lead churches? There are people who are called to lead churches - are they automatically called to a priestly ministry?

And yet, the Eucharist does make the church... Steve Coterell has a wonderful chapter in his book "Doing Nothing to Save your life" where he talks about the role of the Eucharist in giving us life. I've even read a paper from an annabaptist talking about the sacred space created by the celebration of the Eucharist in the early church - which stood at the heart of their mission...

I had a converation with another minister recently where we spoke about priestly ministry without celebrating the Eucharist. It's possible. But the celebration of Holy Communion provides an opportunity to express that ministry - and to empower it - to recreate it... A sacramental act for the celebrant as much for the bread and wine...

Much to think about...

Sam Norton posted a very interesting article on the subject of time, clergy workload and priest hood on his blog: Workload, Priorities, Vocation. Worth a read. I stumbled on it while looking for background info for my meeting this morning...

300

There have now been 300 visits to this blog since December 16th. I watched the number change... Who reads this stuff?
(by the time I'd clicked puclish on this entry there were 303 - someone else is up...)

Thursday

Up early. We're not feeling 100%. But good to get up and get on, since I have a meeting at 9:30am and still have papers to prepare. This is a meeting of a DPC working group looking at new appointments. I need to make sure we've got the best information we need before hand, so that the meeting is productive. The archdeacon asked about clergy numbers and workload. It would help to have most of this data on the table before the meeting, otherwise we'll spend the whole meeting assembling it...

The meeting went well and there were some really good ideas. It felt like a significant moment. We looked at the whole picture and how posts could be created and moved around. We meet again next month...

Went to Kilkenny House in the afternoon. One or two of the residents have gone since Christmas, which is sad. There was a particularly smiley one who will be missed. It was a subdued and small gathering. Linda and I planned the sessions for 2008 and she has some good ideas for activities. Always a priviledge to be involved here...

The rest of the day was taken up with bits of paper work and emails. Spent the evening trying to work out how to structure the Baptist service at All Saints' and resource it so that any minister can lead it - not an easy task.

Was glad when we called it a day at 9:00pm. Watched two episodes of the Boosh and went to bed... Feeling achey - must be coming down with Isla's bug...

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Wednesday

Started the day with a three mile run. Didn't record time, but tried to calibrate a step counter. Managed to get it to record one mile as 1.05 miles by setting stride length to 52 inches (note to self). Am hoping to run the MK half marathon during my study leave, so need to get back into regular runs.

Met with Yvonne to talk about her work at Oakhill STC.

Spent some time working on the Viewpoints Course Material. It's not perfect but is complete enough to circulate and begin the pilot... I had already decided to introduce it in the service at All Saints' on Sunday, but haven't planned this yet... must put some work into the congregational side of the project!

Took the girls to the dentist in the afternoon. It's amazing how quick checkups are these days. We were in his room for only a couple of minutes... I wonder if vicars should try doing our work in the same way. Two minute funerals and thirty second weddings - we could be much more efficient and cost effective...

Had to open up All Saints for the Pastoral Care course this evening. There are 26 people on the course - which is a bit tight for the church room! - but it's really good to have so much enthusiasm! As Peter Ballentine says, things do seem to be happening...

The Team Meeting was good tonight. Jeff was in the chair and brought the whole thing in within two hours - always an achievement! I presented the report on Local Shared Ministry and we agreed to make this the theme of our next Away Day - should be interesting...

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Back to the meetings...

After a relatively quiet Christmas and New Year, today sees the return of regular meetings. This is a fairly typical day with four meetings to attend - three of which are primarily about buidling relationships - which is good - but on a day like today, it's hard to find time to do the jobs that need doing. So I'm consciously up at 5:00am and will probably sit up after the evening meeting - otherwise I get behind...

9:00am - Team Space: Only four of us this morning. We all commented that it seems a long time since we last met. It's only been a couple of weeks - but they've been very full!

11:00am - Ministers West: Meeting of the ministers on the west flank of Milton Keynes. Only four of us here too, but good to catch up on what's going on in the other churches...

No time for a lunch break... Beginning to get hungry... good job most meetings have a plate of biscuits on the table...

2:00pm - Ecumenical Oversight Group: Meeting of local denominational leaders. We were joined by the Salvation Army for the first time. A good time of sharing. Questions asked about Local Shared Ministry...

Home for tea. We're all on different diets so cooking was complicated...
Peter Ballentine rang. 26 people have booked for the Pastoral Care Course!! Beginning to get worried about room in the church...

7:00pm - Deanery Finance Committee: Meeting to discuss the presentations/discussions we hope to organise with the three parishes with most challenging share/deployment calculations...

Monday, 7 January 2008

Monday

Isla at work all day, but the kids are still at home. I have a lot to do, so I'm going to try to keep them entertained while I work....

Morning
Worked on the Team Meeting Agenda for Wednesday. This takes quite some time because I need to go through old agendas, minutes and emails; update the information and sharing items; think about what people need to have and attempt to construct an achievable agenda. This month I've set up a Google Group which may provide a tool for managing all of this - and sharing the load. This didn't take much extra time this month, but should simply things next month.
Mary Cotes rang at 12 and we had a long conversation...

Afternoon
In an attempt to do two things at once, I took the kids to activity land with a pile of papers in my hand. My hope was to work throught the Scripture Union sessions I'm suposed to write this week. It was not easy to find any free space, but I managed to find a seat on the edge of a half abandoned, rubbish strewn table, where I managed to do some thinking about the story of Peter and how we can learn from it... The young people, however, soon got tired and wanted to go home...

Evening
Standing Committee for Watling Valley. Isla out.
Took me a while to get to sleep afterwards. Always so much to think about...

Sunday, 6 January 2008

A Day for New Beginnings

8:00am Holy Communion at All Saints'
First 8:00am service of the year.

9:00am Holy Communion at Holy Cross
Did the first part of the service at HolyCross - Phyllis did the second. There were quite a few people there this morning. Phyllis, Jeff and I are planning to meet.

10:30am Holy Communion at St Mary's
Big event at St Mary's. This was a joint service to celebrate the new building work. Liz preached, Tim presided, Nigel was worship leader and I "oversaw". We had a big procession arround the building with incence. We blessed the kitchen, vestry, loo and room. Great fun!
Not many people noticed, but we also have six new notice boards in the porch which look great. Michael Nelsey is busy taking photographs of everyone.
The loo still isn't connected, there's no water and no carpet in the church room, but it's a good moment to have a positive celebration. We'll have more opportunities in the next few months...

3:00pm Baptism of Rowan Morris
Rowan's baptism took place this afternoon. I did the prayers, but didn't have long to prepare. I think I spoke in gramatical sentences...

We had a quiet evening at home. Last pause before things really get busy!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Aston Clinton Walk

We went on a walk with the Solloways today. Started at the car park near the Green Park Centre near Aston Clinton, then up into the hills. Along the ridge, across the road and along the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. 5.5 miles. Only rained during the last mile - wet... Had rung Dave to see if he wanted to join us. He texted us after we had passed Lincesalade and were looking for the car park. Maybe next time...

Saturday

According to my new calendar of New Zealand Weather (present from my sister) on the 5th January 1999 - "Sweltering conditoins over the lower North Island created a 'sea of bitumen' on State Highway 1 between Otaki and Levin, stopping holiday trafic for nearly three kn and delaying repairs by roading contractors."
Not that warm in MK this morning... But I'm sure the delays are just as bad on the M1...

Friday, 4 January 2008

Friday

Isla at work, girls at home...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Jobs for January

January's "to do" List

  • Organise blessing of St Mary's new building work: Done (6/1/08). It went reasonably well given how complicated it was. We managed to find the incense, but not the boat. The procession seems to have been appreciated. Mixed responses to the incense...)
  • Relaunch Local Shared Ministry Project Group
  • Put together proposal for Deanery Posts: First Meeting took place (9/1/08). Papers have gone to Bishop etc... for reflection...
  • Organise first joint meeting of All Saints and St Mary's DCCs: This went exceedingly well!
  • Organise Team Meeting: Produced agenda (7/1/08).
  • Write three weeks worth of Scripture Union Notes
  • Organise and plan parish visits by Deanery Finance Committee
  • Plan sabatical
  • Finish planning and writing Viewpoints
  • Organise Local Preachers courses
  • Organise meeting of Pastoral Carers
Plus lots of little jobs...

Flat Pack

This morning, I've been working with the girls to assemble two new bed side cabinets - nice pieces of Ikea Flatpack. They had a whale of a time - lots of nice hammering and liberal use of an electirc screw driver...
Flatpack is wonderful stuff - all the bits you need and clear instructions (!) - with reasonable experience, a bit of common sense, and occassional brute force you can build something useful, practical and (if you're lucky) fairly solid...
Planning worship can be a bit like designing flatpack furniture - for an "overseeing minister". In Slough I used to write all the Christmas Services in November and give everyone the "materials" in good time. Last December I produced all the "bits" for the Covenant Service (February) and dished them out before New Year. People need all the elements in good time so that they can then assemble the event - and add some creative flourishes which require a bit of forthought...
Long term worship planning is not being obsesive - it's about equiping people to assemble flatpack - with style!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Dynamic Local Ministry

Dynamic Local Ministry
By Andrew Bowden and Michael West

This is good book if you want a well structured (british) introduction to the development of local ministry.
It includes a wonderfully uncomfortable description of the catalogue of troubles that have beset traditional ministry during the twentieth century, a solid account of the history of local ministry in the UK, and a series of sections dealing with local ministry from different perspectives.
The final section is whistle stop tour of developments in the US and New Zealand - Total Ministry and Local Shared Ministry.
This book is on my mind at the momment because we're relaunching the Local Shared Ministry Project Group in January 2008. I've reread this book and would love to get it into a few people's hands... I may start circulating it...

Pots!

I've just finished working on the order of service for Sunday's celebration at St Mary's. (1:00am)
This morning, Audrey rang from Sutton House to cancel the monthly communion, so I'm now making pots with the kids on their new potter's wheels(!) (10:00am)
Lots of people want me today - 8 phone calls about weddings and people looking for relatives burried in the churchyards (a long time ago).
Once Isla got back from work I did my fees and expenses for December while the girls wrote thankyou letters. All now done! Alleluia! (6:00pm)

Feeling a bit down this evening. It's the usual winter cycle: I have to work hard to get through the long Autumn term, for which I'm rewarded with a Christmas break that can be pretty hard work too, and then it's back to work with a bang in January... I'll need to use all my reserves of energy during this next week to keep the smile firmly in place... All in a day's work...

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to Everyone!
Hope 2008 will be good for you!

Slept until 9:00am this morning. Stayed in bed late - great!
Am now up and working - clearing the desks and the emails after the seasonal chaos...