A letter from the Vicar Aug-Sept 2015
It was a joy for me to be present in Canterbury Cathedral on the Feast of St Mary Magdalene, 22nd July, to witness the consecration of two women bishops. One of them, the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, is the first woman to be in charge of a diocese, and she will sit in the House of Lords. The other new Bishop, Sarah Mullally, will be working as an assistant to our former vicar Robert Atwell in the Diocese of Exeter.
It was a wonderfully happy day. Eighty bishops took part, among them the elderly Barbara Harris who was the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion. The Bishop of Stepney, Rachel’s former colleague when she was the Archdeacon of Hackney, preached a rousing sermon which you can read on the Diocese of London website here: http://www.london.anglican.org/articles/consecration-rachel-treweek-sarah-mullally-sermon/. He charged the new bishops to be a bit dangerous, to “socialise us and subvert us”.
As Bishops Rachel and Sarah processed down the aisle of the cathedral at the end of the service, there was a wave of applause and cheering that all but drowned out the voluntary being played by the organist. Everywhere you looked there were smiles of delight.
Back in 1999, when I was a brand-new incumbent in St Thomas, Clapton Common, I took the advice of my spiritual director and invited several friends, also new incumbents, to form a cell group with me. We met over lunch every couple of months and shared our experiences of parish ministry. It was a real help, and we continued to meet for nearly ten years.
I am preening myself for choosing well, because two of the people I invited were Rachel Treweek, now Bishop of Gloucester, and John Hawkins, who has just been appointed the Archdeacon of Hampstead, to replace Luke Miller who is going to be the Archdeacon of London. I am sure it was all that peer support over tapas in Camden Town that set them on their trajectories!!
We are entering a new era in the Diocese of London. Bishop Richard had several vacancies to fill and had to appoint simultaneously quite a number of senior people to his team. Here in Edmonton we will have not only a new Archdeacon but also a new Bishop, Rob Wickham, whom I have known for many years. He went from Camden Town to be the Rector of Hackney at roughly the same time that I made a journey in the other direction.
Rob is an enthusiast for urban ministry and outreach and has been engaged with many of the same issues as we have been at St Mary’s, including leading a drive to sign up to a local credit union. During the 2011 riots he was active in working to bring people together peacefully and was given the Speaker of Hackney’s award for outstanding community building. I am very pleased to report that he is happy to ordain women to the priesthood.
Bishop Rob is also willing to support the Bible Challenge as an Area-wide initiative starting in Advent 2015, based on the success of St Mary’s experience. I promised him that we are willing to do it again, so I hope many of you who didn’t take part in the last Challenge will decide to give it a go this time, and also that many who completed the Challenge will take it on again this year.
Most of you have now met David Lawrence, the intern who has come to us for a year thanks to the Centre for Theology and Community (the organization that gave us the resources for our money season). He will work part-time for an MP and part-time in our local community. He is full of ideas, energy and enthusiasm and has already had many one-to-one meetings with members of the congregation to find out what the pressing issues are for people living in our neighbourhood. I hope that some of you will be able and willing to join the CTC’s Buxton 180 Club by donating £180 towards the cost of his time with us. If twenty people do so we will cover the cost of the day a week he will spend on parish projects. To find out more, go to http://www.theology-centre.org.uk/projects/training/buxton-leadership-programme/, and be sure to mention St Mary’s Primrose Hill if you decide to donate.
It feels like an exciting and positive time in our parish, our Area, our Diocese and our national Church. I hope that you all have a restful and refreshing summer, and do come back from your holidays ready to engage with new people and new ideas in a spirit of adventure!