About Me

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After spending 9 years as a Church Army Officer, I went to Ripon College Cuddesdon in 2009 to train for ordination in the Church of England. I was ordained deacon in September 2011, and then priest in September 2012, serving as Assistant Curate in the parish of St. Botolph Northfleet and St. Mark Rosherville. Clare and I married in July 2000, and our son Nathan was born in September 2010

Thursday, 22 November 2012

React or Respond?

When the already infamous vote took place, I was with a number of colleagues in Rochester Diocese on a 24-hour Residential for Vocations Advisors. (As an aside, what bitter irony, to be gathered together as Vocations Advisors on the day that women with a vocation to the episcopate were denied the opportunity).

We heard a great deal of wisdom over that 24 hours, including the following snippet from the Diocesan Director of Formation and Ministry. In any situation, he asked, do we react or respond?

A reaction tends to happen in the heat of the moment, often without being thought through. It is an instinctive act, and not necessarily inappropriate, although it certainly can be. A response, on the other hand, is usually more measured, more considered, and, whilst not devoid of emotions, not made with one's emotions controlling the response.

If we look to the example of Jesus, we might think that he reacted on a number of occasions - the most obvious example, perhaps, being that of the cleansing of the temple, when he drove out the moneychangers. But actually, even this was a considered response - Mark 11:11 tells us that the day before this happened, Jesus "went into the temple and looked around at everything." His response to what he saw came 24 hours later, after he had spent time thinking and reflecting on what he saw.

It is to the great credit of many disappointed by the events of Tuesday that - even with emotions ranging from anger to frustration to devastation - that published responses have been just that - responses which have been thoughtful, prayerful and uncontrolled by their emotions. 

My hope and prayer is that this attitude will continue, and that all of us who are desperately disappointed (or whatever other adjective you wish to insert here) by the failure of Synod to reach the required amount of votes to pass what the Church at large has overwhelmingly endorsed - I pray that we will continue to be thoughtful and prayerful in our response, in our working to put this (as I see it) injustice right, and in our serving of our local communities as we join in with the mission of God.

The mission field will be harder now, no question, as people question the relevance of a Church which appears to endorse sexism; but I hope that, at least on a local level, people who already know and value and appreciate the ministry of the church and its impact on the local community - these people will continue to value it. I suspect it is the national level where the Church will have to work exceedingly hard to win back the trust and respect of others.

So pray for our Bishops and others who have positions on influence. And pray that those outside the church who cannot understand the failure to approve the legislation may too be considered in their responses, and recognise that the failure was down to a significant minority who are unrepresentative of the vast majority of the Church.

And finally, pray for all those amazing female priests who feel battered, hurt, unvalued, and many more emotions. May the love of God assure them of their inherent value to God, and may they find support and assurance from the many, many people who value their ministry.