As Bishop Gregory will be on his sabbatical until the end of October, Archdeacon John Lomas contributes a message for this month’s ad clerum.
So often we can be afraid of our doubts, shying away from the danger of inspection and the possible ridicule or disappointment of our peers, we quietly place them in the draw marked pending, hoping that they may eventually be reconciled with our faith, our life experience, theology and of course the church in which have been called to serve.
I was always taught to engage my brain before my mouth, I can’t say my practice in this lesson has proved entirely successful. I often say what I think without first thinking about what I say, and it can be very embarrassing, not just for me.
I have always felt it to be such a shame that the Apostle Thomas, whose day is celebrated by Roman and Syrian Catholic churches July 3, should after a couple of millennia, still carry the word “doubt” as a preface to his name whenever we speak of him. It sort of proves the point that we see doubt as something less than the ideal in a healthy Christian life. Thomas aired his doubts in the company of his friends. John in chapter 20 of his gospel decided to go public, and we’ve been talking about it ever since.
I would hate “doubting” to be forever added to my title, and I suspect so would you. But if we don’t air our doubts and fears what then? Surely our faith is as much about wrestling with doubts as working with certainties.
Jesus met Thomas in his doubt and fear. Yes, Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” But there are many other things to doubt and be fearful of about.
Two things I observe as a lesson for my life. When I carry my doubts to the right place they are reconciled and I become stronger for the journey, I see more of Jesus and am strengthened by the experience, not weakened. Secondly doubts reconciled propel us into service that we could never imagine in our own strength. Thomas carried the message of a risen Christ all the way to India. There is a chapel on a hillside outside Madras that still carries his name and is a testament to how far doubts laid at the feet of a risen Christ can take us.
We congratulate Philip Chew on his appointment as Vicar of Ribby Cum Wrea, Weeton and Ballam in the Diocese of Blackburn. As Philip returns to home territory at the end of September, we thank him for his nine years of service in the diocese and the inspiring contribution he has offered in the formation of mission area strategy.
Bishop Gregory writes: I am hugely indebted to all those in the Esgobty team, the Cathedral teams and the Diocesan Office team who worked hard to ensure that the ordination this year was the success that it was. I know that an immense amount of effort went into ensuring everything went smoothly, and apart from a Cathedral congregation that was bursting at the seams, it was an impressive and joyful occasion.
A warm thank you also to all those clergy who made the effort and came to support our six new deacons, six new priests, and two stipendiary lay Chaplains on Saturday. The weather supported the occasion, our preacher, Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ, gave a most powerful sermon, and many people commented on how moving a service it was. There were, perhaps, slightly fewer clergy than in previous years.
I hope that clergy make ordinations a priority. It demonstrates our commitment to support one another, and celebrates our life as the Teulu Asaph. I hear talk of wedding commitments, but the ordination has always been on the last Saturday in June, and could be blocked in the diary well in advance. In any case, there is still time for later afternoon wedding slots if absolutely necessary.
Next year, we are likely to have more ordinands than this year, and it may be good to consider changing the pattern, although for now, Saturday, 27th June is our date, and the Retreat Conductor has been booked. I would be interested in hearing views. Would clergy and congregations sustain their attendance over two ordinations? Would a pattern of two ordinations on one day, over one weekend, over two weeks, or even a Petertide and Michaelmas Ordination work, bearing in mind the huge demands that these occasions make on the Cathedral staff and volunteers? It would be good to hear your views.
Please remember Bishop Gregory in your prayers during his sabbatical that he may find refreshment and re-creation away from the day-to-day demands of episcopal ministry.
28 July, 11am: Welcome Service for Jayne Coxall to Aber-Morfa Mission Area (St Margaret’s, Bodelwyddan)
Later in the Year
25 August, 09:30: Welcome Service for Chris Spencer as Assistant Curate in the Aber Morfa Mission Area (St. Ann’s Church, Rhyl)
26 September: Clergy Synod (all day)
12 October: Diocesan Conference (all day)
14 November: MAL Training Day, Llyndir Hall, Rossett
10 December: Advent Confirmation (Cathedral)
23 January: Clergy Synod (all day)
12 March: Mission Area Leader Training Day, Llyndir Hall, Rossett
09 April, 11am: Chrism Eucharist & lunch (Cathedral)
11 April: Easter Vigil and Confirmation (Cathedral)
27 June, 10am: Ordination (Cathedral)
24 September: Clergy Synod (all day)
19 November: Mission Area Leader Training Day, Llyndir Hall, Rossett
Adrian and Hilary Murray
Please remember Adrian and Hilary Murray in your prayers as they prepare to travel to the Diocese of South West Tanganyika on August 12th to begin their residency for at least twelve months. Commissioned by Bishop Gregory at the June meeting of the Diocesan Standing Committee, Adrian will be working with the staff in Milo Hospital and two dispensaries to encourage, mentor, train and support them, especially in developing the hospital into a centre of excellence for maternity services. Hilary will be working in health education and removing the stigma of HIV/AIDS. We wish them Godspeed and will be able to follow news of their residency at https://brechdan.wordpress.com.
Diocesan Youth Pilgrimage Expedition
We wish our young pilgrims every blessing for their pilgrimage later in the summer, that their travels may be safe and that they make it to Bardsey Island for the first time. Please do encourage prayer for the pilgrims especially between 25th– 30th August, that the young people all feel accepted and valued, and grow in faith and self-confidence.
Mr Llyr Williams, the Diocesan Registrar writes:
“Some of you may know that, over the last 12 months, I have lost 7.5 stones in weight, and as part of my weight loss routine I started running in late July 2018. This continues and I have built up my stamina considerably and last Saturday managed to cover 19km.
In a moment of madness, I signed up to run the Manchester Half Marathon in October this year, and the Manchester marathon in April 2020, raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
I have a number of family and friends who are struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia at the moment, or have lost loved ones to the disease, and as a professional person who relies heavily on his brain and memory, dementia and Alzheimer’s is my biggest fear in life. I am therefore keen to do what I can to help in the battle against this condition.
If anyone would like to donate to this very worthy cause, and offer me encouragement as I continue my training, I would be very grateful. My Just Giving Page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LlyrWilliams”
This ad clerum comes with good wishes for peace and renewal during the summer months.