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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Ayup me duck!

Karen Bradley on her "ordination as a canon"            Photo: Derby Telegraph 

Ayup me duck! may not be as 'Father', dressed in floral frock and clerical collar, would normally be addressed in Derbyshire but perhaps that would be more appropriate than "Oh, look at her, just look at her. That's what it has come to now. Isn't it disgusting?" which is how Elaine Jones, Canon at Derby Cathedral alleges she was addressed adding "Just seeing me in the clerical collar was enough to make her recoil from me. To experience prejudice was a very good lesson and taught me a lot."

I say 'alleges' based on the the general tone of Joey Severn's article in the Derby Telegraph (here) when Joey refers to Karen Bradley's "ordination as a canon back in 2012". Far be it from me to dispute the 'facts' but I find it somewhat irksome to read articles about life in the Church written by reporters with no clear understanding of the subject they are addressing, rather like a ballet critic reporting on a boxing bout.  Here are a few gems from a very mixed up article - including the picture captions. The italics are mine.

"She was among the first women to be ordained in 1994, when being a woman in the Church was hugely controversial.... Women in the Church has been an issue that has divided the institution for decades." 

And get this! "The first women ordinations took place at St Paul's Cathedral, in London. However, it was not without controversy. Members left and entire congregations changed their branch of Christianity because of their unwillingness to accept women. 

"The next hurdle is for women to be given the right to become bishops."!

It is not unusual for hacks to confuse the facts but clerics should know better than to misrepresent Holy Scripture as in this piece of self-justification:

"The Rev Jean Burgess, who leads St Alkmund's Church, in Derby, is the Dean of Women's Ministry. She sees the reasons behind the unwillingness ["to accept women"] as being ingrained in thousands of years of tradition. She said: 'The tradition in the Church states that Jesus chose men. The reality is that, in the New Testament, it is very clear that it only highlights 12 men but that there were women disciples in his party. It is argued that most of the people in the Bible are men leading churches, but Paul clearly talks about women leading churches. The Bible we use is a translation from Greek and Hebrew. Greek is a very diverse language and one word can mean a number of different things. It seems to me, as a woman, that those scriptures are mistranslated and misunderstood. For me, it is about being equal under God and serving him as best we can."

There is a world of difference between serving and self-serving. St Paul used to be held up as the arch-misogynist. Here he is used to justify the ordination of women.

The article continues with what seems to me to be an odd contradiction: "Despite that opposition, women now make up a third of the Church of England's clergy and approval may soon be given for women to have the opportunity to be ordained as bishops. But for all the column inches in the press that the issue has generated across the country, people outside the Church are still surprised to see a woman in a collar."

Women have won their battle to become accepted as vicars in the Church of England. Their constant complaining about alleged inequality brings the Church into disrepute as does trying to convince outsiders that opposition to the ordination of women is simple prejudice rather than a question of theology.


  1. The constant complaining about alleged inequality.... is a foretaste of the coming battles with feminist "theology" - it won't be long before scripture, liturgy and everything else will have to be revised to fit in with the lamentable "equality" agenda, and we will be required to worship not God, but the Goddess.

  2. Llandaff Pelican3 June 2014 at 13:00

    At the risk of giving the impression that the needle on the record is stuck, I think it is worth repeating Professor Linda Woodhead's terse criticism of Justin Welby's theologically flaky sermon at the 20th anniversary of the priesting of women service in St Paul's Cathedral: 'To explain the resistance to women's ordination as just 'knee-jerk' institutional conservatism is no explanation at all - it's a knee-jerk cliche (and insulting to many serious-minded opponents of women's ordination).' Theological flakiness is obviously a characteristic of Derby as well as Llandaff - and we need to be grateful to a feminist theologian for being sufficiently objective and generous to point it out. Remind me, what was it Peggy the Pilot said at the GB...?

  3. What did Peggy say at the GB ? She can talk the hind legs off a donkey! She said:
    1." there should be no ongoing discrimination in law on the grounds of gender"
    2. "The provisions of the code should apply equally to male or female bishops"
    3."that the bishops should be willing and as necessary to assist one another in meeting pastoral or sacramental needs in each others' dioceses ."

    So it seems that any 'code of practice' will be formulated to advise the bishops that if there are parishes who are unable to accept the ordination of women,then ,out of the kindness of their hearts, a male bishop will attend from another diocese.
    There are no signs that there is going to be oversight from a bishop of traditional integrity, just a bishop in pantaloons.

  4. Reading this brought to this to mind, it's from Monday's Office of Readings, 1 Jn 4 1-10.
    "as for them, they are of the world, and so they speak the language of the world and the world listens to them."

  5. I've been following this blog with interest over the past couple of months, ever since an old college pal of mine (now a bishop in the C of E) brought it to my attention. He said it illustrated perfectly what happens when the leadership of a church, or any other kind of voluntary organisation, becomes the focus for a deeply felt malaise. Incidentally, my friend is a supporter of women s' ordination but not (as he says) in a campaigning way. We got on to your blog, by the way, because he and I were talking about how you instil confidence, as a leader, in those who do not share your views, or who cannot catch your vision, but who you want to bring with you. He was asking as a bishop, and I was asking as the director of a charitable trust, how you can go forward creatively while being a genuinely diverse institution. In short, how do you make sure those in a minority feel valued to such a degree that they want to contribute positively to the future flourishing of the organisation? This is when my friend started talking about your blog - and your Archbishop! What a disaster for your beautiful cathedral and its music - and who is doing something proactive about healing these wounds, I wonder?

    Thirty-five years experience in leadership, both in the charitable and commercial sectors, has taught me that those who concentrate decision-making in their own hands, bypassing colleagues and showing scant regard for the views of those you are called to lead, rarely attracts the confidence of the institution you preside over. You cannot move an organisation forward by imperious rule (however well you try to couch it in the language and imagery of 'the gospel'). People respond positively to intelligence, collegiality, shrewd judgement, a questioning mind, a willingness to seek disparate views, being a good listener and, above all, when they sense a sustained vision. Organisations implode when people perceive that they are being kept in the dark, where the leadership has lost touch with the entire range of opinion, and the future vision is no longer shared by everybody. That's my reading of the gospel anyway - and I'm just a fairly regular churchgoer in our village who helps out with the grass mowing and the fundraising from time to time.

    Which brings me to the reason for making a comment now. I really want to encourage you and your contributors to channel your clearly valid disaffection into creative and constructive action. By all means express your views here (some are very entertaining); but DO NOT, whatever you do, collude with the belief that the Archbishop, Peggy the Pilot (I'm sure she must have a real name?), the press officer and all the others are unaccountable. They are not. You have to demonstrate that, by a constructive show of protest AND support, through the properly constituted processes of the church, that you have a stake in this church too. There has to be a mechanism for calling these people to account when their words and actions are at odds with the values they seek to promote. If enough people can prove there is another way, and show that they can bring something affirmative and unique to the organisation, it will attract followers and change will happen. But that change cannot happen entirely through the comments page of a blog. Above all, keep the debate alive, and show your true colours where it matters.

    1. Hello James and welcome to this blog.
      Everything you describe is, in my opinion, valid but the exact opposite of our wretched Archbishop Barry Morgan.
      Those who attempted to do "something proactive" about the Choir were first ridiculed and then made redundant. Those who stood up for their rights to proper rates of pay for Songs of Praise were excluded.
      Those who have attempted to "contribute positively" have been told by the bullying Archbishop 'Tough!'
      Those who have attempted to hold Barry Morgan, Peggy Jackson and Anna Morrell (the press officer) accountable have learned to their personal cost that the "properly constituted processes of the church" are applied only selectively when it suits those in positions of authority.
      There is "another way" as you put it.
      Many have discovered that it is to leave Llandaff Cathedral and take their cheque books with them, hence the growing deficit.

      Meanwhile, one hears that the new Dean's answer is to seek to appoint a Personal Assistant for himself whilst attempting to persuade the few remaining gullible pew-sitters to give more money to his sinking edifice to Barry's hubris.

      And don't forget that his ex Dean Janet is allegedly seeking considerable amounts of compensation from ++Barry too.

      The input of your pal the CofE Bishop is welcome, as is your 35 years experience.
      But my 50 years experience of Llandaff is, I respectfully suggest, more relevant.

      How can you move forward?
      Don't marginalise and alienate your most loyal and most generous members.

    2. James - what you write could be uplifting to us all, if we could use the' properly constituted processes of the church', viz the Governing Body , which has been pruned and doctored to co- opt persons who have nothing to do with the Church in Wales but are aligned with ++ Barry's intentions.
      I have tried to talk to the Archbishop in a personal capacity and the reaction was to turn his back on me,which is the response that '1662' described and which others have met ,"tough!"
      Whatever meeting ++ Barry chairs ,he has a very clever way of getting his own way.
      ++ Barry is a 'control freak',and it may be quite incredible to you ,James. You hit the nail on the head in your second paragraph when you say that those who bypass colleagues in decision- making rarely attract the confidence of the institution over which they preside! I imagine the only people who could remove the Archbishop is the Bench of Bishops, but ,believe it or not,they are controlled too!
      There are many fair minded people who would welcome the opportunity to be listened to,but are being 'kept in the dark'. There are other faithful who do not involve themselves in the politics ,and I have talked to some who are similarly 'in the dark' and simply do not believe what is happening to the Church in Wales; very few in the pew have heard about ecumenical bishops, few have heard of 'The Gathering',and of the new service that has been written with no mention of The Holy Trinity or being part of the Holy Catholic Church.
      The Archbishop is unmoved by the prospect of the Church in Wales imploding : his dream will then come true of the new Protestant church organised according to his own gospel.
      It is truly good to read your contribution James,and bless you for thinking about us. I am sorry for our need to emphasise to you how awful is the situation here in Wales.

    3. "... and who is doing something proactive about healing these wounds, I wonder?"

      Well James, let us offer you a clue - it isn't ++Barry.

      It would be difficult to find a more divisive and less Christian leader than Darth ++Insidious.
      His aim is quite clearly to cause division and rule.
      A less christian man would be hard to find.
      How many Bishops do you know that turn away the children/grandchildren of long serving church families from the sacrament of confirmation?

  6. On a day I am proud to call myself Welsh, British and proud
    all the Church in Wales has to offer is this dog sh*t

    Since his Cathedra was the unfortunate recipient of a German landmine during the war, one could be forgiven for thinking that ++Bazza might have something/anything to contribute to the 70th Anniversary, something along the lines that so many Welshmen gave their lives in the cause of freedom and justice, b ut no, once more a deafening silence.
    Dutch football fans at last nights friendly football international were photographed holding up scarves saying Thank You Wales following the battle of s'Heryogenbosch.and reported at

    As usual His ++Darkness has nothing to contribute and is even unable to acknowledge the bravery of those Welshmen involved or the honour shown them by our Dutch guests.

    For shame, eternal shame.

    1. In the face of such tremendous sacrifice, all words are trite, but I hope this is of some help.

      Preaching at the 125th anniversary of St John's Church, Cymmer, the evening before last, I imagined all the reasons why people would steal into the church over its century and a quarter, and included the following: "In the 1940s mothers would flock here again, fearful for their husbands, their sons, as this nation out of all the world so bravely stood alone against Nazi tyranny. Imagine a mother coming here after her spitfire pilot son had been shot down in the Battle of Britain or died in the D-Day landings. So empty, so tearful, yet so proud. God bless her, God bless this nation for doing what it did when the rest of the world either rallied behind Nazi Germany or turned a blind eye. So many prayers, tender, heartfelt prayers, soaked into these stones, stones which have become a true temple of prayer.

      As Professor David Martin concluded: ‘Churches are the only institutions that deal in tears and concern themselves with the breaking points of human existence.’ And as even Philip Larkin conceded, in his poem Churchgoing:
      ‘A serious house on serious earth it is,
      In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
      Are recognized, and robed as destinies.’"

      My last parish had played host to a Flail-Tank regiment, who took heavy losses on D-Day. Virtually every Remembrance Sunday and every major D-Day anniversary since they returned from the four corners of the earth (South Wales included!) to remember their fallen comrades, and their costly but very necessary victory. I was humbled and privileged to lead and preach at their acts of worship. On the 60th anniversary of D-Day, we got an eighteen year old young man to read one of the lessons. He was the age many of them and their fallen comrades would have been on D-Day 1944, and as he read the lesson so beautifully there were many tears as memories stirred. For decades the Regiment's standard had stood in a dark forgotten corner of the church, but we took on the diocese and eventually were granted permission to mount it in pride of place in the sanctuary.

    2. Still a deafening silence from your master Darth ++Insidious.
      The regimental colours should never have been "stood in a dark forgotten corner of the church". Ever.
      If there was a need to take "on" the diocese to get "eventual permission" to place them in the Sanctuary there was clearly something seriously amiss there too.
      The regiment would have done better to entrust their regimental colours to the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

  7. Thank you for the responses to my incursion into your blog. As a contribution to the continuing debate, I was struck by something the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, wrote in his weekly reflection which I hope will feed further positive action for those who have a right to be heard: 'Not all of us have power, but we all have influence. That is why we can each be leaders. The most important forms of leadership come not with position, title or robes of office, not with prestige and power, but with the willingness to work with others to achieve what we cannot do alone; to speak, to listen, to teach, to learn, to treat other people’s views with respect even if they disagree with us, to explain patiently and cogently why we believe what we believe and do what we do; to encourage others, praise their best endeavours and challenge them to do better still. Always choose influence rather than power. It helps change people into people who can change the world.' I think that is apt to an archbishop, an archdeacon and an 'arch' anything else as it is to those of us who occupy the pews.

  8. I do usually enjoy Jonathan Sacks,however, this philosophy (not all of us have power but we all have influence) will not work when one is up against a tyrant and his army. Of course it has been explained patiently and cogently why we believe what we believe and do what we do. The Archbishop is deaf to all reasoning and pleading from traditional Anglo- Catholics . It is not possible to have"influence" over someone who will not listen and treat your views with respect.
    As I mentioned James ,in my previous reply to you ,this may all seem incredible to you ( and I guess I am correct there).
    I fail to see how the new proposed Church Uniting in Wales ,with its composition of ecumenical Bishops plucked out of the air,and a complete loss of the Eucharistic celebration which is reduced to sharing bread and wine together, can be acceptable to Canterbury and thus I cannot see how Wales will be in communion with the C of E. if this charade is the reality.