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Letters to the Editor

07 October 2022


Accession service and public ritual

From Mr A. McMillan

Sir, — At the time of Her Late Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, the incumbent of a benefice a couple of parishes down the line, one of the Queen’s Honorary Chaplains, invited me to play the organ for a service in celebration of the anniversary. He thought that there might be a congregation of about 50.

The order of service included elements of the Accession service at the back of the Prayer Book (before the Articles). A homily and suitable hymns were included, together with the National Anthem.

By 7.30 p.m., the large church was full, with people standing at the back and in the aisles. In addition to parishioners, there were many from other denominations, and the joyful service was indicative of the affection and esteem in which Her Majesty was held.

In more than 70 years of playing the organ for eucharists, evensongs, and various occasional services, this was the first time I had ever experienced this form of service actually in use, and have never done so subsequently.

May I suggest that other churches take some aspects of this service on board, with possibly a civic and ecumenical slant on the anniversaries of the accession of King Charles. It would be a good indication of prayerful fealty, and a good witness in the neighbourhood.

Perhaps some portion of a retiring collection could be donated to specific charities that enjoy royal patronage.

16 King’s Court, Well Lane
Higher Bebington CH63 8QL

From the Revd Andrew McLuskey

Sir, — A recent report from the think tank Theos shows that increasing numbers of people are describing themselves as non-religious. This will obviously concern many of us.

Believers, however, may be heartened by the recent How Religion Evolved And Why It Endures by Robin Dunbar (Feature, 22 April; Books, 29 April). The author acknowledges the serious decline in religious observance in the developed West. But, drawing on psychological and anthropological research, he also says that “It is difficult to see any convincing evidence for anything that will replace religion in human affairs. Religion is a deeply human trait.”

Dunbar also talks about the importance of ritual in society. In relation to Queen Elizabeth II’s recent funeral and the planned Coronation of the King, we may all want to say Amen to this. I guess there’s still hope for those of us would like to see (healthy) religion continuing!

70 Stanley Road
Ashford, Middx TW15 2LQ

Ordination vows are also for lifelong service

From the Revd Janet Robbins

Sir, — The Church of England has welcomed King Charles III at the age of 73. At his Coronation, when he will, almost certainly, be 74, the Church will witness to the life-long vows that he will make, and anoint him for the task.

Church leaders have been, in their addresses to us, justly full of praise for Her Late Majesty’s faithful fulfilment of her vows right up to her death at 96. This is in strange contrast to the Church’s attitude to its ordained members, who, since 1976, have been required to retire at 70. The vows made at their ordination do not mention a time limit.

Of course, the manner in which they fulfil them will have to change, as did Her Majesty’s. Eventually, she ceased to ride a large horse at the Trooping of the Colour ceremony. Garden parties and investitures became too tiring. But she continued weekly contact with her Prime Ministers and faithfully read through the red boxes. Similarly, an ordained priest may become unable to be in charge of a large parish, or group of parishes, but there are other ways in which priestly ministry can be exrcised. I am sad that, since my 70th birthday, the Church has made my obedience to the vows that I made at my ordination increasingly difficult to fulfil. I know that I am not alone.

It has surprised me that, when, coming from a different diocese, indeed Province, all that was required of me to be granted permission to officiate (PTO) by my Bishop was the DBS check. Would that that granting of PTO not be an appropriate time to discuss how my, or any applicant’s, ministry might continue, with subsequent reviews, until death releases us from those ordination vows? It should also prevent retired clergy, from, as Revd Malcolm Liles puts it (Letters, 9 September) “from feeling forgotten in the Church of England”.

Bredon View
40d Bridge Street, Pershore
Worcestershire WR10 1AT

From the Revd Christopher Miles

Sir, — While not wishing to question the experience of my friend and former colleague as a chaplain in the ATC, the Revd Simon Douglas Lane, I should like to portray the very different experience in the treatment of retired clergy in Rochester diocese. Our recently appointed Archdeacon invited all the clergy with Bishop’s PTO in her archdeaconry to a study morning at West Malling Abbey in August. Our new diocesan Bishop, installed as I write, on 24 September, has invited all the clergy with Bishop’s PTO and their spouses to a service in Rochester, followed by lunch at Bishopscourt, on 28 September.

Although, in more than 20 years of retirement, I have conducted services in about 50 churches in our diocese, now at the age of 86, with a vacancy for a Vicar at Hadlow, I limit myself to Hadlow and then normally to one Sunday a month and two or three midweek communions a month. I have also made it a firm rule that I do not conduct baptisms, weddings, or funerals, as, with a large workload in my other role as a lightning-protection consultant, I cannot cope with extra requirements, some at short notice. Our churchwardens are good at seeing that I am not imposed on.

Our treasurer pays me the appropriate fees within a matter of a few days of my submitting my monthly list of services conducted. I have always been made welcome at our deanery chapter. I would not ask for more.

2 Spa Close, Hadlow
Tonbridge TN11 0JX

Memories of Posbury and Mother Teresa FSJM

From the Ven. Robin Turner

Sir, — I was delighted to see and read Bridget Gillard’s memoir of Mother Teresa of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary (Feature, 30 September). I served my title in the parish of Crediton between 1966 and 1969. and Posbury was one of our attached “country” churches. The House was a wonderful setting for both our ordination retreats, and I was one of the three curates we had at that time.

I remember Mother Teresa very well, as well as the other sisters, especially Mary and Hilary. I quite often encountered Sister Mary when she was astride a large tractor, tending the estate. I particularly remember our Rogation Sundays, when we set about beating the bounds of the parish, always ending at Posbury for tea, one of the sisters leading singing on an accordion.

From time to time, one or other of us would visit to preside at an early-morning eucharist if their chaplain was away. The house would be in the Greater Silence, but always after the service on the vestment press would be a pot of home-made jam as a “thank you”. It is sad that the community has ceased, but, during their time, they, following Teresa’s example, were wonderful examples of the Franciscan principles of service to the community and fierce loyalty to the Church.

12 Chimes Meadow
Southwell, Notts NG25 0GB

Looking east, but grateful for his time in C of E

From Dr Jim Wellington

Sir, — Having been a Church of England priest for 44 years, I have been received into the Orthodox Church. I have left the Church of England not in anger, not in sorrow, but with a deep sense of gratitude for all she has given me. These blessings include the privilege of having served under a succession of bishops, all of whom in their different ways have support me well in my ministry.

There are also the joys of happy relationship with many priests, deacons, and lay people, alongside whom I have served in the name of Christ. Neither will I forget the financial support and encouragement that have enabled me to study at Cambridge and Nottingham Universiites, and to gain a doctorate via the Archbishops’ Examination in Theology.

While there are current directions of travel within the Church of England with which I am unhappy, I must emphasise that this decision has far more to do with the attractions of Orthodoxy than with irritations with Anglicanism. For some time, I have had the sense of being an Orthodox soul in an Anglican body.

It is this growing realisation that my heart is with Eastern rather than with Western Christianity which has prompted me to take this path. Since my visit to Mount Athos 25 years ago, I have been on a pilgrimage in heart, mind, and soul which has brought me to this position. “People, look east!” I could resist this call no longer.

Michaelmas House
28 Dunholme Avenue
Newark NG24 4AR

Learn from general approval of traditional liturgy

From Mr N. J. Inkley

Sir, There has been widespread approbation of the services from Westminster and Windsor, both with their impeccable traditional liturgical form. I hope the Church is listening and learning.

6 Knot Lane, Walton-le-Dale
Preston PR5 4BQ

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