Monday 31 May 2010

Reflecting on Resilience - Seminar in Cloughjordan 31st May 2010

Reflecting on Resilience
A Seminar arranged by
Monday 31 May | 20.00 – 21.30 | €Free | St Kieran’s Hall, Cloughjordan
Our resilience can be described as our ability to deal with trauma, tragedy, and all kinds of threats. The more resilient we are the faster we bounce back from difficult experiences. The term ‘resilience’ is also widely used by ecologists and is defined as the ability of ecosystems to maintain themselves in the face of disturbance. Resilience from a community point of view refers to the capacity of a community to cope with stress, overcome adversity and adapt to change positively. The current economic and spiritual difficulties, along with the unprecedented floods and freeze that Ireland endured recently, highlight how unprepared we are to cope with any unexpected incidents and the level of our vulnerability.
Facilitated by Professor Peadar Kirby, this event brings a number of churches and faith groups together in Cloughjordan to explore the importance of nurturing resilience in these challenging times.
Featuring Noirin Ni Riain, theologian, musicologist and internationally acclaimed Irish spiritual singer; Sean McDonagh, Columban missionary priest and author; from Cloughjordan, Rev. Brian Griffin, the minister at the Methodist Church; Fr. Tom Hannon, a priest from the Catholic Church; and the Reverend Stephen Neill, Rector at the Church of Ireland.

Saturday 29 May 2010

Part Time Farmer - Corrigan Brothers and Pete Creighton

You've heard of 'Urban' music - now  an exclusive preview of this 'Rural' hit featuring in the forthcoming issue of the 'Farmers Journal' - Could this be the beginning of a whole new music genre?

A new Musical Genre “Rural”

Corrigan Brothers the Godfathers of Rural

Has Urban had it’s day? Are we tired of Drive by shootings and Gangsters . Well the Irish Band who had the international hit and have over six million you tube hits with “There’s no one as IRISH AS BARACK OBAMA” think so. They are pioneering a new musical Genre called Rural. Instead of gang war and angry homies there will be tractors, cows, sheep, eggs, rural pubs, marts and farmers markets. Lead singer Ger Corrigan explained “RURAL has arrived and we want to sing the praises of the country. We see joy in the smell of cow dung; we see love and vocation in the work of the vet. We love misshapen vegetables and we want to celebrate that in song”

Corrigan Brothers have released what they claim is the first track of the Genre called “Part time Farmer” – adapted from Stevie Wonder’s “Part time lover”- they are currently working with Stevie’s agent in the hope of a potential duet and live performance of the first RURAL super hit.

Corrigan Brothers are currently recording other RURAL tracks including “Turf Wars”- the sad story of EU regulation and the rights of the rural Irish people. Another track “ My carrots aren’t straight enough for the Supermarket” tells the story of the pressure on vegetable farmers to conform to supermarket specifications. While the sad and harrowing “Son please take on the Farm” is the heart rending story of a farming father who pleads with his son to abandon a career in hairdressing and keep the farm in the family name.

“Bittersweet tales and light hearted songs, that’s RURAL” , said Ger Corrigan of Corrigan Brothers- We think it will be big!

You can view Part time Farmer here on this you tube link:

Launch of 'Barack Obama - The Road from Moneygall' by Stephen MacDonogh

Great night in Moneygall - I had the privilege of launching Stephen MacDonogh's new book on Obama's Irish heritage. Below you will find links to reviews in today's Irish Times and Irish Independent as well as my 'few words' at tonight's launch:

Irish Times Review

Irish Independent Review

My Speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen – Many of us have been here on many occasions enjoying Ollie & Magella’s hospitality as yet another chapter of the Obama/Moneygall story unfolded. From the early days when the link was first discovered through primaries, the election campaign,  election night, the Inauguration itself, visits from the Ambassador and from various media crews, we have gathered here to celebrate and share our story, and how that story intersects with that of President Barack Obama.

Stephen MacDonogh has now provided us with the narrative of that story and it is a compelling one. The story is complex and Stephen’s greatest achievement is in drawing all the strands together and giving us what is both a hugely informative and hugely enjoyable read. I am not a historian, no more than I am a genealogist! (I am constantly amused and flattered to have been described as an expert genealogist in media coverage of this link) Stephen’s book is one for a person like me and I suspect most if not everybody present this evening because it doesn’t just present facts and figures, it tells a story and it tells it so well.

Central to that story is Barack Obama and this place in which we are standing, Moneygall, but it is about much more than that – It is a hugely revealing social history which sheds light on both good and bad alike. On the one hand we hear of some landlords who treated the people who worked for them with far less dignity than they deserved, but on the other hand we hear of how the famine relief committees in this area were characterised by Protestant and Catholic clergy and laity working together for the common good, and specifically in Dunkerrin & Moneygall where the Catholic priest and Protestant rector worked in tandem to set up kitchens.

Stephen’s meticulous research shows clearly that in the famine times, which are the backdrop to the later Kearney emigration to America, though there were tensions in the area as indeed throughout the country they were not so much sectarian as class centred. The sectarian element was to come later and bear bitter fruit for all traditions on this island. We can be thankful today that we have largely put the worst of that behind us but I can’t help wondering how different it might have been if the hidden history of better times and early ecumenism which Stephen so skilfully uncovers were better known and celebrated.  Just as Barack Obama’s heritage has proved to be complex and diverse so too Stephen reveals is our own and I certainly have learnt a lot about my own tradition, both good and bad by reading this fascinating book.

Equally interesting is how Stephen deals with the question of Irish identity in the United States as he provides the context for the arrival of the Kearney clan in America. I like many people assumed previously that the Irish American identity was largely if not exclusively a Roman Catholic one and was unaware of the fact that at least as many Protestants of various hues emigrated to the states at various periods, both pre and post famine. Also interesting was how members of my own Church of Ireland largely abandoned Anglicanism and became Baptists or Methodists due to the negative association of Anglicanism with England. In their desire to blend in their Irish identity was often if not disguised certainly not worn as a badge. 
Neither did Barack Obama trade on his Irish identity during the campaign though he did acknowledge it on many occasions. As Stephen observes in the book this did not stop the late Senator Ted Kennedy from giving him the endorsement of Irish America, because he recognised in Obama ‘an ability to deliver on his vision for Americans of all ethnic backgrounds’.

On a lighter note I also discovered something about my good friend Henry Healy from reading this book. Henry is as you know a cousin of President Obama’s. If you are at all sceptical about this the definitive proof of this came on the morning of the Inauguration when Henry and I, the Corrigan Brothers and other assorted chancers were on the very overcrowded Metro in Washington DC heading in to view the event of a lifetime.  The atmosphere on that train was electric – everybody was laughing singing and crying, not tears of sadness but of joy. When we introduced Henry to people on the train as Obama’s Irish cousin some of them were bemused and some were very excited but one African American woman asked by her friend if she could see anything of Obama in Henry said without hesitation: “Oh Yes! He has Obama ears!”  Henry if you don’t know it already it gets better – Stephen MacDonogh exclusively reveals in this book that through your relationship with your cousin Barack you are also a cousin of Wild Bill Hickok & ….. wait for it…. Brad Pitt! If you are ever looking for a pick up line there is plenty to go on there. (Its on page 191 in case you are interested).

Stephen I think all of us owe you a huge debt of gratitude for what you have produced. Not only does it tell the story of the Irish roots of someone who we hope and pray will come to be seen as one of America’s greatest presidents, but it also helps us understand a little bit better who we are. It reminds us that whatever party or tribe we belong to, whatever faith we hold, our stories are complex and intertwined through generations, and that our future is in working together to make this corner of our world a better place. I for one am proud to be associated with this story.
Thank you for writing it.

Sermon for Trinity Sunday 2010

Trinity Sunday is one of those Sundays preachers dread – Why? Because it’s all been said! – It’s a bit like Christmas and Easter only worse – How many takes can one person have on one event?

What’s worse about Trinity Sunday is that there is a very real danger of heaping heavy theological analysis on top of a concept that is already a theological construct in itself. The idea of the Trinity is a human attempt to represent the various ways in which God is experienced by humanity and Creation. Once we start talking about how the different persons of the Trinity are inter-related it gets even more complicated and involved and what began as an attempt to clarify only deepens confusion.

This confusion is nothing new – The doctrine of the Trinity was the battleground of the early Church and real blood was shed because of it. The Creeds as we have them today in which the Trinity is central are products of theological wars both verbal and physical and we must be aware that many of their statements are not simply definitions but arguments over and against other views that were prevalent at the time.
We misunderstand them if we treat them as absolute definitions or descriptions of what God is really like internally. Writing in yesterday’s Irish Times (29th May 2010) the anonymous religious columnist who goes simply by the initials G.L. points to the Athanasian Creed which you will find hidden away on page 771 of your prayerbook. That creed which hardly ever sees the light of day makes it clear that everything we say about God is insufficient and incapable of capturing God’s essence. It speaks of ‘the Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible’ – It is a much more humble document than the other 2 creeds and perhaps the better for it, in that the more we make absolute our own particular understanding of God the more we are inclined to exclude others from his Love. It is a sad but common human frailty that we tend to think that we can only become greater if others become lesser.

I am always nervous when I hear people who claim to ‘have’ the Truth because that is a blasphemous statement. We cannot possess the Truth but rather it that Truth which is indistinguishable from God which possesses us. Every time we make a claim to know the mind of God and claim the authority to impose God’s will on others we are trespassing.

Our concept of Truth is largely to blame – we are operating from a post-Enlightenment idea of objective ‘Truth’ which can be isolated and identified. The Trinity properly understood does not attempt to do this – rather it points to the fact that Truth is only found in relationship with God. I was discussing this recently and one of the participants in the conversation came up with the following statement. It was so good I wrote it down.
"Knowing the Truth" isn't some 'protestant think exercise.' "Knowing the truth" is about how we are in relationship with God the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit, in the Communion of the Holy Church.”

I think it’s a great statement because it says that Truth is found in simultaneous relationship with both God and our fellow human beings. It is not just an exercise of the mind but of our whole being. Truth is about how God is present to us today in the world as he was in the past and will be in the future. The Trinity is one way of expressing that Grace of God in our lives; Pure Love which offers itself to us with no limitation and no conditions. It is not so much in our understanding but in our response that we find Truth, the Presence of God in our lives expressed both directly and through the whole of Creation.

Are we aware of that Presence? – I am not so sure that we are. We live in an increasingly busy and noisy world with more and more communication but less and less conversation. Have you ever looked around a restaurant or a train station or a meeting and observed how many people are not really PRESENT to one another but rather interacting with an anonymous individual on the far side of the world through the screen of a mobile phone, iphone or laptop computer. We are so caught up in the virtual world that we neglect the REAL important presence in front of us. I know this because I am one of those who is sometimes guilty of this kind of behaviour.

In the same way I wonder in our fascination with the trivial do we fail to recognize the REAL PRESENCE of God in our midst. That is what the Holy Trinity is about – the various ways in which God has made made himself available to us and continues to do so and will continue to do so. The Trinity is a reminder that we are not alone and that whatever life throws at us there is a presence offered to us that may not take away all the pain and discomfort but will never lever leave us and will walk alongside us in good times and bad. The Trinity proclaims that God is REAL and that we are always in his PRESENCE. What could be more simple than that?

Thursday 27 May 2010

Another brilliant TED Talk from Ken Robinson

Mary McPartlan, Rick Epping & Aidan Brennan perform in St. Kieran's Cloughjordan

And what a musical treat it let the performance speak for itself - apologies for dodgy video (scroll to bottom of post) but only had iphone with me.
Below is a little info re the current tour which stopped in Cloughjordan last night:
Rural Arts Network Presents Mary McPartlan National Tour 2010:
A gloriously earthy mix of trad, folk and the blues to visit local communities across the country. This inspiring ten-date tour is made possible with financial support from the Arts Council and a special feature of it, are the six voluntary and community groups in Carlow, Waterford, Galway, Tipperary, Westmeath and Wicklow which are hosting concerts as part of the tour.
The Leitrim born singer is joining forces with multi-instrumentalist and singer Rick Epping, guitarist Aidan Brennan and the arts and community development organisation Rural Arts Network for the tour which will include a mix of arts centres and rural/community venues. The imaginative line-up incorporates the best of traditional music and song mixed with American folk and blues. The trio performed at this year's Temple Bar Trad Fest in February where they were acclaimed by Irish Times trad critic Siobhan Long, who stated that "McPartlans belly-deep voice is growing richer with the years, and her reading of Shane MacGowan's Rainy Night In Soho was a pinprick evocation of love and regret" while "Epping's concertina and harmonica-driven swing from Bob Dylan to The Rolling Stones by way of Willie Clancy was a master class in musical magpie-ism, undertaken with verve and delight."
The concerts will also provide a platform for local emerging artists to perform in a supporting role thus contributing to their professional development and promoting local culture and it should all serve to highlight the contribution that voluntary promoters can make in promoting the arts in local communities

Saturday 22 May 2010

Barack Obama - The Road from Moneygall - Stephen MacDonogh

This excellent and diligently researched  book is to be launched on Saturday 29th May in Ollie Hayes Bar, Moneygall and yours truly is delighted to be speaking at the launch. Rumour has it the Taoiseach, another Offaly man may be present. I was interviewed on a couple of occasions by Steve for the book and am delighted in however small a way to be associated with it. It is a cracking read and broadens  our perspectives on the nature of Irish America, previously assumed to be almost exclusively Roman Catholic in origin. In highlighting Obama's maternal ancestral roots in the Anglican church (Church of Ireland) Steve has provided another important example of how this extraordinary politician embodies in his genes a diversity which allows him to bridge many of the bitter divisions that currently afflict our world. Obama himself looked at his complex origins in 'Dreams from my Father' - It has been suggested that this is the natural companion volume: 'Dreams from my Mother' in drawing out his maternal ancestry.

Available on Amazon HERE

You can hear Steve interviewed by Pat Kenny HERE

From the publisher's website:  BRANDON BOOKS
A unique exploration of the president’s Irish ancestral origins.

In his presidential election acceptance speech, Barack Obama evoked a story of great change in America, and an America made up of many strands. In this book it is the strand of his own Irish background and ancestry that tells a story of emigration to escape hunger and of the struggle to build new lives in the land of opportunity.

"Our family’s story is one that spans miles and generations; races and realities," Barack Obama has said. “It’s the story of farmers and soldiers; city workers and single moms. It takes place in small towns and good schools, in Kansas and Kenya, on the shores of Hawaii and the streets of Chicago. It’s a varied and unlikely journey, but one that’s held together by the same simple dream. And that is why it’s American.”

But it is an Irish story, too. Falmouth Kearney, Obama’s great-great-great-grandfather, was born in Moneygall, County Offaly in 1831, lived as a child through the apocalyptic famine years, and left a decimated, devastated country for America in 1850, aged 19. Here we learn for the first time the story of the Kearney family, of the Ireland they came from and the state of County Offaly in the dreadful famine years.

We learn, too, of how two students met in 1960 and married and had a child: Ann Dunham from Wichita, Kansas, a direct descendant of Falmouth Kearney, and Barack Obama, Sr., a Kenyan from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province.
Brandon Books
Brandon Books
Steve MacDonogh, editorial director of Brandon, is the author of seven previous books, including the only book about publishing in Ireland, Open Book: One Publisher’s War.

Friday 21 May 2010

Wayne Rooney is our Hero - Corrigan Brothers & Shay Healy

What do you mean? The Irish have a World Cup Song? But they are not in the World Cup? - This must be a first!
This is the Ireland World cup song for South Africa 2010. It tells the story of an Irish Hero (Wayne Rooney……he has Irish Soul) and his quest to avenge the dastardly actions of Thierry Henry.
Written by Shay Healy (writer of the Eurovision winner “What’s another Year” and Corrigan Brothers (6 million you tube hits for “There’s no one as Irish as Barack Obama “), Corrigan Brothers and Shay Healy are proud to write and perform the first ever World Cup song for a nation that are not actually competing in the Tournament. “Thierry Henry’s hand saw to that” said Ger Corrigan, lead singer who refused to be named. (oops).

Wednesday 19 May 2010

This is how we fix the Anglican Communion - Light not Heat!

Just back from a couple of days in the diocese of Kilmore where I enjoyed the company of fellow clergy in looking at the issues surrounding multi-church rural parishes. The conference was led by Jeremy Martineau (Faith in the Countryside) and was most helpful if challenging.

On a totally different subject the following was in my inbox on my arrival home and I thought it worthy of sharing. It is an address by Bishop Michael Perham to his clergy in Gloucester anticipating the ordination of Canon Mary Glasspool as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles in California, an event which has now taken place. Unlike many contributions to this discussion it contributes I think more light than heat which in hindsight I wish were the case with some of my contributions over the years! It is not at all one-sided and does chastise TEC for undue haste in this consecration but it also puts some useful perspective on this
development. Well worth a read and perhaps the kind of thinking that may one day lead to a healing of our sad divisions.

Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of Gloucester
by the Bishop, The Right Reverend Michael Perham,
on 6 May 2010

I want to anticipate some of the inevitable discussion at least in the church media, if not in the pews of the churches of the Diocese of Gloucester, that is likely in the aftermath of the ordination in nine days time of Canon Mary Glasspool as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles in California. The interest, of course, will lie in the fact that Mary Glasspool is a lesbian woman, living in a committed relationship over the last 22 years with another woman. The interest will not be in all the spiritual and pastoral qualities that she will bring to the episcopal office.

I think there are some things here we need to explore sensitively together. In doing so I want to acknowledge the honesty and courage of my friend, James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, who has publicly told his own story of moving his position on the issue of homosexuality over recent years and urged the Church not to allow this issue to divide us in a way that breaks communion. (See Jim Jones' statement here) And I also need to acknowledge that I have long been in a different place and so have not had to travel as difficult a path as he has to be in the place where I now am. My own understanding has long been that the Church of England’s current stance is not tenable long term, but that, while we engage, struggle, with these issues, it must be task of the bishop to uphold our agreed policy, with all its weaknesses, and to try to hold the Church together while we tackle the things that divide us. I don’t believe I can move away from that position, though I need to share with you some of my discomfort.

It is difficult to know where to begin, but I think the best place is with the categorising of first and second order issues. I am quite clear that the issues on which the creeds make a firm statement  -  God as trinity, the divinity of Christ, the death and the resurrection of the Lord, the role of the Spirit and more  -  are first order issues on which there can be no change in what the Church teaches. They are fundamental to the Christian faith. I am equally clear that there are second order issues, which are important, and where interpretation of the tradition needs to be careful and prayerful, but where nevertheless individual churches and provinces need to be free to define doctrine in the way that seems to them to be in accordance with the mind of Christ.

Second order issues are those where we recognise that Christians can come to different conclusions and Christians can allow their view to be shaped in dialogue with their culture without imperilling the good news of Jesus Christ, setting back the Kingdom of God or breaking the fundamental unity of the Church. Among those many second order issues is, of course, that of the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate. I mean no slight to women to say this, for equally the ordination of men to the priesthood and the episcopate seems to me not to be on the same level as doctrine about the nature of God or the person of Christ. In relation to the historic step of ordaining women to the priesthood, and of recognising that there are compelling arguments for their ordination to the episcopate, this province and this Church of England has grasped the freedom, granted by the Lambeth Conference, inasmuch as it has authority to determine issues across the Anglican Communion, to decide this at provincial or national level. In doing so, we have recognised that there are other Anglican provinces that have not taken that decision, some that would be strongly opposed to it, some that simply recognise that, in their culture, the time is not yet. They respect our decision. We respect their position, even if sometimes some of us are a little impatient.

My own view is that decisions about the admission of partnered gay and lesbian people to holy orders ought to be made in a similar way. I am clear that this ethical question, though not unimportant, is not a first order issue. It is something on which we ought to be able to stay together while recognising that we honestly interpret scripture and tradition in different ways. I know there are those who believe it is a first order issue, because it relates to the authority and interpretation of scripture, but I confess that, while respecting and understanding that view, I remain unconvinced. Any church that has found a way of coming to terms with divorce and remarriage, in a way that our Church has, has put itself firmly in a place that says that ethical behaviour, especially in regard to human relationships, involves a dialogue between the biblical tradition and the cultural realities if the Church is to have any chance of ministering to people in the complexities of contemporary life. A decision about whether Gene Robinson or Mary Glasspool should be bishops is a decision we ought to have been willing to leave to the Episcopal Church and to have believed that they, listening to the Holy Spirit, would have done what they were led to recognise as right.

However the Anglican Communion has not resolved to give that freedom to the Episcopal Church. It has said, in some cases, “This is outrageous and wrong”, and, in other cases, “This is too difficult and premature.” We have simply not reached a point where the Communion has felt able to endorse the American decision. Now I may regret that (and many of you regret that, though others are greatly relieved that there has been no endorsement of that freedom), but the fact is that that is where the Communion is just now. For that reason I cannot rejoice in the ordination that will take place on the 15th of May. I have to share the prevailing view within the Communion that it would be better if it were not happening, though it pains me to say that, for everything I have heard about Canon Mary Glasspool convinces me that, unless you see her sexuality as a bar, she is in every way an excellent choice to be a bishop in the Church of God. But I do regret the American action, because it does fly in the face of the season of restraint that so many of us hoped would come after the Lambeth Conference.

And I am critical of the Episcopal Church, (humbly critical, for there are some issues on which they have every reason to criticise us and I will return to one of those), for pressing ahead with this ordination. For you cannot, in a worldwide Communion, move at the speed of the fastest. You need to give people space and time to understand what the issues are that compel them to act in a particular way, to listen to their doubts and anxieties. In England, though we may not agree with the decision of the Episcopal Church, because our culture is not so very different from theirs many of us can understand why both mission and pastoral care have led them to the policy they have adopted in relation to the rights of gay people.  But, in many parts of the Communion, and in Africa in particular, people cannot begin to understand. Their society is so different,  their attitudes to homosexuality so different, and the laws around marriage and sexual relationships so different, that they cannot begin to comprehend how the American action can be reconciled with the gospel. And, frankly, we need patient talking, time for conversation and gracious restraint to move from that total failure and unwillingness to understand one another’s context or one another’s interpretation of scripture.

I know that not everybody reckons the comprehensiveness of the Church of England to be its strength, but I am one who does reckon just that. I am glad that within our Church are people of varying believes and that through our history we have learned to respect one another and to lean over backwards to accept those who love the Lord but understand Christian truth in a way quite different from our own. I hope I never sound as if I believe that anything goes. I am passionate for the truth of the gospel and I have a clear view what that gospel is. But I recognise authentic following of Christ and listening to the Spirit in people who have come to a different view of that truth from me and I honour them. I want a Church of England that rejoices in that comprehensiveness and models it for the Anglican Communion. I don’t want to show anybody the door.

At this point I want to talk about our own diocesan triangular partnership with Western Tanganyika and El Camino Real. It was set up eighteen months ago, as you know, in order to facilitate just the kind of conversations that we need in the Communion and we have made a very good start. And behind the conversations, of course, the creating of relationships of trust and affection in which some honest talking can take place. In five weeks time Bishop Gerard, and his successor-presumptive, Bishop Sadock, and Bishop Mary will all be here for further exploration together of what it means to belong to a world-wide Communion and to find ways of staying together when there are pressures to draw apart. You can, perhaps, imagine, the email correspondence among the bishops over the election of Canon Mary Glasspool and our fear of what that ordination might mean for the Communion, but also for our partnership, given that some in all three dioceses will find that ordination difficult to live with.

I have to tell you that Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves has made what I think is a courageous, and I know a painful, decision, partly in response to representations from Bishop Gerard and myself, not to take part in next week’s ordination. Mary Glasspool is the first woman to be ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church since Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves herself two and a half years ago. Los Angeles is the neighbouring diocese to El Camino Real. The absence at the ordination of our Bishop Mary, if I may call her that, is a considerable personal sacrifice for the sake of our unity and out of respect for our position. And I want to pay tribute to that, to recognise the cost, to note, of course, that not all of you will rejoice at her decision, though many will be grateful. In reality I don’t think anyone should rejoice. Whatever our position, we need to recognise a lot of pain in ourselves and in those who disagree with us. But my hope is that Bishop Mary’s decision will mean that our partnership can move forward unaffected by the strident voices that will be heard internationally and we can go on working away at maintaining and enhancing the unity of our Communion. Certainly that is how I believe our Tanzanian partners have responded to her decision. I ought to add that I have written a personal letter to Mary Glasspool, who is caught in the middle of a controversy that is not of her making and, whatever you think of the ordination on 15 May, she is in need of our prayers.

I want to say something more about what could happen in relation to the Episcopal Church and its place in the Communion in the coming years. I welcome the proposed Anglican Covenant as an honest attempt to give us a framework for handling disputes and I suppose we do have to countenance the possibility of a kind of two-tier Communion, where those who cannot buy in to some agreed policies or restraints, are put at some distance from others. I recognise we do have to countenance that possibility, but I very much hope and fervently pray that we shall not find ourselves going down that path. And in relation to the Episcopal Church I want to say why. This was something that came to me very strongly during my two visits to the United States in the last year. It is this  -  that the Episcopal Church is so thoroughly Anglican that to describe it as something less than Anglican seems to be sheer foolishness and immensely hurtful.

You will have heard already this morning that I am not uncritical of the American Church, but I need to say that what I encountered, from Boston across to Seattle and down to San José, was deeply Anglican. Indeed the Episcopal Church talks about its Anglican roots, its Anglican ethos, its Anglican distinctiveness a good deal more than many members of the Church of England who hardly have the rest of the Communion on their radar. The American Church has a vibrant sacramental theology, a deep liturgical tradition, real attention to the Bible, a concern for church polity and order, and an approach to decision making that honours scripture, tradition and reason. If that isn’t Anglican, I don’t know what is! We must do everything to stay with them and they with us. These are our spiritual sisters and brothers as much as any in the world. It would be heart-breaking if our communion with them were impaired.

Just before I finish I want to put down a marker about something, which I think the Church of England needs to attend to and it may be that the Diocese of Gloucester needs to press this nationally. I discovered only recently that, although the Church of England has made a decision in principle that it is for the good of the Church that women should be ordained to the episcopate and although we recognise that in some Anglican provinces, not just in America, women have been duly and canonically ordained to the episcopate, men and women clergy from abroad, if ordained by a woman, are not permitted to minister as priests in the Church of England. In other words any priest, male or female, canonically ordained by the Bishop of El Camino Real, might need to undergo re-ordination if they were to serve in this diocese. That seems to me to be, at the very least, discourteous, and, at worst, insulting, and I believe that, without waiting for the outcome of our own tortuous process towards the ordination of women to the episcopate, we ought in the Church of England to put that right. Of course it will remain true that no bishop or parish need accept the ministry of a priest that they do not wish to accept, but, for those of us who would welcome such ministry, it seems unjust that there are legal impediments. This needs to be changed.

Time will not permit me to speak about the related subject of the report of the Legislative Committee on the ordination of women to the episcopate. The proposals, due to be published in a few days’ time, will have my support as being the best we can achieve in moving forward on this issue that is crucial in terms of our mission, quite apart from the case in terms of theology, ecclesiology and justice, while making it possible for most of those who see this as an inopportune development to remain among us. If the General Synod gives its approval in July, the matter will be referred to the Diocesan Synod and that will be the time to explore in more detail what the proposals will mean for us here, both for those committed to this development and those opposed to it. The fact that 30% of the clergy of this diocese are women will inevitably and rightly shape our diocesan response.

Nothing that I have said this morning should be heard as a desire to marginalize those who, either on the ordination of gay people or of women to the episcopate, have a view at variance with what I have said. Now (since Tuesday) in the seventh year of my episcopate, I hope everyone will recognise my deep desire to be a bishop for all the clergy and all the parishes and to honour the variety of views that are held here. But I am pleading for patient conversation, for unity, for staying together and for trying to move on from the stalemate that afflicts the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. It diverts us from the joyful task of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone in our society and it is not good for our souls.

+Michael Gloucester:

Thursday 13 May 2010

Moneygall preparing for its historic day

This tourist board installed in the village today - the momentum is building.

A song for the new PM

Not only do they sing the truth - they discovered this back in February! Daily Star ran it today (May 13th) as NEWS!

Friday 7 May 2010

Ode to a Volcano

Who would have believed that one could get a song dedicated to the Icelandic Volcano known as Eyjafjallajokull and have that name as the song title.

· Well , Ireland’s Corrigan Brothers , the band who had the international hit “There’s no one as Irish as Barack Obama” have done just that.

Here they bring you Eyjafjallajokull which is titled phonetically “AY-yah-fyah-lah-YOH-kuul.”


Lyrics Corrigan Brothers- Music Kaiser Chiefs

· “AY-yah-fyah-lah-YOH-kuul.” (Eyjafjallajokull)

Ohh watching the weather get windy
Blowing the ash down towards me
Planes on the ground are not going
We can’t go tooing and fro-ing

A friend of a friend he got stuck there
An airport the far side of no where
Credit card maxed out and NO CASH

La-ah-ah, lalala la la la
Ah-ah-ah, lalala la la la

ANOTHER friend he took a bus trip
5 days to drive across Europe
He got to the ferry port Monday
The ferry had sailed out on Sunday

A friend of a friends stuck in Greece says
The economy’s falling to pieces
He needs to get out of Athens
Before something the eventual happens

La-ah-ah, lalala la la la
Ah-ah-ah, lalala la la la

Ohh watching the weather get windy
Blowing the ash down towards me
Planes on the ground are not going
We can’t go too-ing and fro-ing

La-ah-ah, lalala la la la
Ah-ah-ah, lalala la la la


And if there’s anyone left out there
Who needs to get back in the air