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Monday, 13 July 2009

Early morning radio, and how many bishops?

One of our Chichester General Synod members is Gavin Ashenden (to be accurate he is a University's rep; not a Chichester one, but we lay a claim to him too.

In his spare time, Gavin also runs the Radio Sussex/Surrey Sunday morning programme, nicknamed 'Get up with Gav'. When he is running short of sensible material, Gavin has been known to trawl around anyone who owes him a favour - which on a couple of occasions has included me. I did a very brief bit for his show a few weeks ago, and I got a 4am text message request on Sunday morning. There was a gap in the shows schedule - could I help fill it...

Rev'd Dr Canon Gavin Ashenden, at 5:30am

Over breakfast, I managed to trace another Chichester synod member, Lorna Ashworth to join me for the live link up (one earpiece each, chatting on mobile phone live with Gavin).

Lorna spoke a bit about her Private Members Motion is support of the ACNA, and Gavin asked me a bit about the synod motion from Bradford Diocese asking to reduce numbers of senior posts - especially bishops. Having been a member of the Chichester Bishop's Council for some time, and seen the work of bishops and archdeacons through the lens of being a General Synod member, I know the tremendous calls on their time and energy. I understand the expenses currently incurred by senior staff make them look 'expensive' but cutting their number will not help significantly. The discussion with Gavin provoked me to think of contributing to the debate.

"When was the last time you saw your bishop?" was the opening line of my speech, picked up by some of the press. My own speech was not nearly as erudite or historical as that by the Archimandrite Ephraim Lash - one of the ecumenical observers at synod from the orthodox church, who suggested that what was needed was the orthodox tradition of a bishop in every village! (The Church Commissioners blanched at the thought!)

It's not that we bishops, or other senior staff don't want to be in the parishes; they are too stretched to be so. So we need more of them. Not as they currently are, but in a different way. Already in some provinces the role of Archdeacon has been absorbed into the role of the Rural Dean.

Not long ago it was unheard of to have NSM clergy in charge of a parish, but now it is relatively common. How about NSM bishops? Yes, well it needs a bit more thinking through than just that, but we  need to find ways of doing things a bit differently - and that was some of my 'heads-up' suggestions. Some folk seemed to warm to the idea.

... I may be able to add audio in to this post later...

Alastair Cutting GS101

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