People sometimes wonder what a parish priest does with a day other than Sunday. In case you are one of those people let me describe my day. I am in one of the local private primary schools, the other side of town though, by 8.55am. I lead a collective worship assembly for girls aged 5 to 11 years, for which I choose as my theme “Peace”. We enjoy the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Then I return to the parish office to see our secratary/administrator who has some mesages she needs my anwser on. After that it is into church for a service of Holy Communion for mothers with babies and young children. The children join in as they wish, in between playing with toys on the sanctuary carpet or exploring the pulpit! They like the activity songs with percussion instruments and they like sharing the Peace when we all gather around the altar and join hands in a circle. The short talk I give is a thought for their mums to take away. Today I offered the thought that there is such a thing as a Christian ethic which provides us with a “law” for life but it is not a simple matter of using “off the shelf” answers from the Bible.
After the service we have a coffee break after which I went into the parish office again to briefly check through the weekly newsletter the secretary prepares for distribution to the congregation of our church as they arrive for worship this Sunday.
12.15pm found me in a neighbouring parish chairing the monthly meeting of local Anglican clergy (the “chapter”) in my role as Area Dean of this part of the Diocese around Wokingham. After some prayer together for various concerns we shared, and some joint planning of forthcoming activities, we spent about 45 minutes discussing “fresh of expressions of church”; new ways of giving formation to Christian community in a complex post-modern society. This was led by two of our colleagues who have been tasked by the Bishop of Reading to develop this in our area. The discussion focussed on elements are required for a fresh expression of church to be a distinctively Christian community.
After the meeting formally closed I spent a few minutes in the car park discussin with a collegaue a new ministry network or association we are trying to form which I will blog about later when it goes public!
Then I drove about 10 miles to the other end of my deanery – there are long straight country roads where I can indulge my enjoyment for driving fast (within the limits and safely) and playing music loudly without disturbing anyone. This was to reach a forum of church school headteachers and parish priests meeting to learn from each other about collective worship. Anglican church schools are schools of a Christian foundation serving their local community and able to offer to their pupils an experience of Christian worship and community. We heard an exciting input from a parish priest who has worked with his local church school to develop a cohesive framework for collective worship themes through the year which enthralls and inspires children using creative story-telling.
After that it was back to my own church for an important meeting of a task-group appointed by the church council to consider proposals for a process to change the structure of governance of the church to enable us to implement the changes needed to achieve the strategic goals for the next four years.
Dinner with the family was followed by a home call to a parishioner whom I am offering pastoral care.