Friday, 31 August 2012

The Elland Parishes

The 100th Post, and a structural and Pastoral Change.

The Church Commissioners have just confirmed that the Team Parish of Elland will cease to exist at midnight, to be succeeded by the United Benefice of the Parish of St Mary the Virgin, Elland, and the Parish of All Saints, Elland.

Do listen out for the fireworks......

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

By Death our Sister Praised be...

To All Saints, Otley, where I had been asked to Assist with the Requiem Eucharist for Barbara, my Sister in the Third Order, and to offer words of Tribute on behalf of Tony, (my training Incumbent all those years ago) , and his family.
And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.
O praise him! O praise him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Where next for the Team Parish of Elland

We are on the verge of a new beginning in the Parish, or perhaps I should write the Parishes of Elland. Following widespread consultation, last year our PCC began the process of dismantling the Team Parish of Elland, and creating two Parishes, St Mary the Virgin, Elland, and All Saints, Elland, to form a United Benefice of these two Parishes. The Diocese and our Bishop Stephen, together with other interested parties, have all supported this Scheme, and we are now awaiting final confirmation from the Church Commissioners, which may arrive as early as 1st September, but is more likely to be 1st October.
Full details of the Scheme have been on display in our Churches, together with a map of likely new Parish boundaries. Basically, everything to the South of Victoria Road and Dewsbury Road forms the new Parish of All Saints, and we have also tidied up an anomaly by ‘ceding’ all of Ravenstone Drive to the Parish of Greetland and West Vale, rather than at the moment, where the boundary goes through several living rooms and someone’s kitchen. We are keeping the Historic title of Rector, so I will become Rector of the United Benefice, rather than Team Rector, and will continue to live in Elland Rectory. Our Church School will serve both Parishes, and members of the Pastoral Team will continue to be Licensed, work across and belong to both Parishes. Both Parish Churches will continue to be open and welcoming to all, largely regardless of home address, except where we are obliged by Canon Law to take notice.
It is worth reminding ourselves why we are doing this. The Team Parish, established in 1983, enabled All Saints to become a Parish Church, and encouraged us to look at collaborative and supportive ways of working as both priests and people. There have been many good things to celebrate, and we will be marking some of those things in our Worship in both churches in weeks to come. Yet a Team Parish needs at least 2 full time Incumbent Priests, and, since August 2005 when Fr Martin Wood left, that has not been the case, and the post of Team Vicar was ‘cut’ by the Diocese after I became Team Rector. In other words, we have been left with a structure designed to be operated by 2 Incumbents, operated by 1. After I leave, (no plans yet, sorry, although the appendicitis nearly got me!), a Team that is not a Team will not be terribly attractive in terms of our Succession Planning.

Alongside this, it became clear that many people in both of our Churches felt that the identity and distinctiveness of our Churches’ worshipping and decision making traditions had got lost in this thing called ‘the Team Parish.’ As we explored ways of working with the Wakefield Ministry Scheme and the Core Groups, it also seemed right to allow the two Church Councils, or DCCs, to reclaim their identity, and become the places where the real thinking and decision making was to happen. In the new structure the DCCs become individual PCCs in their own right, and the existing Team PCC/Standing Committee layer is the one that is taken out.
Inevitably, there will be teething troubles in setting up a new structure, and a need to bear with one another; there is a lot of ‘detail’ to sort out. The crucial word we have to work on is the first one in the phrase, United Benefice. For we are still, along with our brothers and sisters of other traditions in Elland, one people of God. All through this process, the need to be United has been stressed, we cannot and will not ignore one another, that we may be  committed to taking our share in God’s Mission in Elland together.


Monday, 27 August 2012

The Miracle of the Bread

Several Sunday Gospels reflecting on Christ the Bread of Life from John 6, have inspired me to try and bake bread again for the first time in many years.
Even with the always helpful if not uncritical contributions of the current Mrs Burrows, I have to say that, while not perfect, this has turned out OK.
For once, today, this parish priest has achieved something!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Our Lady of the Harvest

At this Assumptiontide, let us remember that the Souls of the Saints rejoice in Heaven!

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Wednesday 15th August is the Church's Principal Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church. We give thanks that Mary, Seat of Wisdom, leads the joyful hymn of heavenly praise to her Son.


Into his joy, the Lord has received you,
Virgin God-bearer, Mother of Christ.

You have beheld the King in his beauty,
Mary, daughter of Israel.

You have made answer for the creation,
To the redeeming will of God.

Light, fire and life, divine and immortal,
Joined to our nature you have brought forth,

That to the glory of God the Father,
Heaven and earth might be restored.
-OSB West Malling Abbey

Our Lady of Haddington


Sing of Mary, pure and lowly,
Virgin mother undefiled,
Sing of God's own Son most holy,
Who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother,
God the Lord who came to earth,
Word made flesh, our very brother,
Takes our nature by his birth.

Sing of Jesus, son of Mary,
In the home at Nazareth.
Toil and labour cannot weary
Love enduring unto death.
Constant was the love he gave her,
Though he went forth from her side,
Forth to preach, and heal, and suffer,
Till on Calvary he died.

Glory be to God the Father;
Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit;
Glory to the Three in One.
From the heart of blessed Mary,
From all Saints the song ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes
Unto earth's remotest ends.
-Fr Palmer SSJE

Virgin and Child, Imogen Stuart, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

Thursday, 2 August 2012

St Mary of the Angels

Today, August 2nd is a commemoration of particular significance for the Franciscan Tradition, Our Lady of the Angels. The little Chapel that bears this dedication, also known as the Portiuncula, the Little Portion, stands at the foot of the approach to Assisi, now contained within the Basilica that serves as a Protecting Veil over the place Francis saw as a gift from the Lord, when he and his first group of little brothers needed a shelter and a chapel.

An early life of Francis tells us that, 'in olden days, there had been built in this little portion a church in honour of the Virgin Mother, who, by her unique humility was worthy to become the highest of all the Saints after her Son. In this place, the Order of Friars Minor began and here, as on a firm foundation, arose their noble structure in its vast array.' The Chapel is still regarded as the Mother House of all Franciscan Orders, and is also the site of Francis' Transitus, or passing.

"Franciscans celebrate today as the feast of Dedication of all Franciscan Churches, particularly when no other date is known. The origin of the dedication to 'St Mary of the Angels' is obscure. However, Mary received the good news of Christ's coming by the message of an Angel and then herself was the first to share that message with humanity. So Mary is the chief patron of Franciscans, and her intercession at the throne of grace in the heavenly places is the subject of constant pleading and gratitude by all the followers of Francis and Clare. " (The Late Brother Tristam SSF)

Loving God,
by the message of the Archangel Gabriel
Mary received your word
and by her willing obedience
brought forth him who is the world's redemption:
may we, like her, share the good news of his coming
and with Angels and Archangels
give praise and glory to you for ever;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever, Amen.