Costa Blanca Anglican Chaplaincy
Senior Chaplain’s Report to The Annual Parochial Church Meeting,
Tuesday 21st March 2017, Esmerelda Hotel, Calpe.
Firstly Huge thanks to so many.
I love my colleagues. The Olympics had Team GB, We have team CB. Ray and Jim are such delights in their very different ways. They each have great gifts, Ray’s includes wonderful and deep Preaching and joyful Pastoral Care – Jim’s is very much about being completely natural in every circumstance, getting to the point and having a unique are somewhat crazy sense of humour.
Our Wardens, Stephen and Andrew are both so supportive, not only to us clergy, but to all in the Chaplaincy.
Gary, our Treasurer. His is a MAJOR Ministry, and we are so very grateful. He guides us with wisdom and common sense.
The Local Wardens, Council, Safeguarding Officer, PTOs, and of course members of the Holy People of God and all who do so much in every church – It never ceases to delight me that people put such a great deal into the life of the Chaplaincy.
Also, although Fr Steve has retired, he still looks after the weekly prayers on our website, and they get over 1,000 hits a week!!
All who are involved in giving us such positive publicity.
Those who have stood down this year, and those who have stood again, or for the first time, or again.
Do you remember our last meeting in 2016. It was lovely.
Well, things on the whole have been great since then. There have been a few hiccups, but on the whole all is good.
But I want to take you back.
May last year. I had met the Bishop in Valencia, and we went to see the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Valencia. No mean feat, setting something like that up, all very posh and dignified. How was I to know you were supposed to wear a jacket.
Anyway, a Brilliant event, and hugely positive on both sides. The idea was to explore if there was a chance of us appointing a woman to serve our Chaplaincy.
The following day we went down to Orihuela, and met the RC Bishop there, and again it was a really good, uplifting and positive meeting.
The long and short of it was, however, that our RC hosts are very keen for us to work together, and to build our relationships, and do as much as we can in common – but we are not quite at the stage where they would be happy to have Anglican women celebrating at their altars. But progress was definitely made. The Pope has set up a commission to discern whether women in the early church who were Deacons were actually Ordained! If so, things will probably move fairly fast.
As a direct result of these meetings we have been invited to share in the Good Friday Liturgy with the Roman Catholics at Calpe Church, and to share in the Procession through the Old Town.
I was feeling great, and the next day, Saturday 14th, at 2pm Bishop David presided at the Confirmation of Charlotte Giller, Gail Gordon, Rosemary McKernon, Dave Peachy, Susan Vijgeboon and Arabella Wallace.
It was such a brilliant service, and we all ended up on a wonderful Spiritual High – and I am not sure that I have come down yet.
As he introduced each candidate, he explained something of the history and meaning of their name, and then
+ David, held each candidate by the chin, and looked straight at them with complete and direct eye contact said
N., God has called you by name and made you his own.
and, with the laying-on of hands and anointing with the oils of holy chrism, says:
Confirm, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit. Amen.
It could not have been more beautiful, or more personal, and I know the Holy Spirit was poured out that day.
Of course it was. Our Bishop, here in our Chaplaincy dedicated to the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost confirming new members.
I want you to remember that: God has called you by name and made you his own
The reason I am focussing on this is to major on our Dedication to the Holy Spirit. Ours is very much a Pentecost Parish, and we do well to remember it.
I am going to read the story of Pentecost from a version you have probably not heard before:
Read The Word on the Street, put together by Rob Lacey P343.
Every day…. And the locals love it.
Those early Christians were seen as an attractive bunch, with joy in their hearts.
Reminded me of Bishop Jack at Synod teaching his clergy about running their parishes. Prayers and Parties.
But it is the fact that they are Celebrating God and the locals love it which moves me.
I believe people respond positively when they see that the Church Community is attractive – that they enjoy their faith, and they enjoy one another.
In this respect I think we are doing well.
It seems that our regular members enjoy the offering of worship each week, and give of themselves freely.
Those engaged in house groups and studies seem to enjoy what is on offer, and my regular Bible Study in Calpe remains a highlight of my week.
While on that subject, we had absolutely Brilliant Bible Studies at Synod. Led by Rev Richard Briggs, Director of Biblical Studies at Cranmer Theological College. We had two packed sessions: Jonah and the Assyrians – Discerning God’s work amongst others, and Daniel and the Babylonians – Engaging in God’s work amongst others. Full of insight, inspirations, intelligence and incredible humour! Even us oldies continue to learn. How important it is to see God beyond ourselves!
The crux is, as always, what is the bible saying to us – and for us here, I think it is about Engaging in God’s work and sharing it with others!
Back to where we were – we do well with our Occasional Services, and we are working on building our profile with regard Wedding Blessings. Our rules have been relaxed, and we could certainly do more. Eileen is working on promoting what we can offer.
We seem to be doing slightly fewer funerals. It is the case that a growing number of people are doing their own – having a family member lead them. Not always with great success – so we just offer the best we can. Always first class.
We do well with our Songs of Praise, our Carol Services, Remembrance days, Harvest Celebrations. With that in mind, we have approached the BBC suggesting they film a Proper SOP in a couple of years. Early days yet, but let’s hope it comes off.
We seem to enjoy our hugely wide range of Social events, and our fund raising. This is exactly the right venue to remind you of our Disco on May 4th at the Gran Sol. Are you ready for this? We’ve got lights and everything!
We seem to enjoy just being here in Spain and living our lives to the full.
So when you hear all this it has to be the case that we are seen as an attractive crowd, and our mission is working.
Some of our churches are growing in numbers, and all of them are actively building on their relationships across the communities they serve, and it gets even better, because as you know Fr Rodney is coming to us – his first Sunday is May 14th – so he has lost a point already by missing the disco – and his Licensing is at Denia on Monday June 12th at 12 noon.
This is a Chaplaincy event, and we encourage everyone to come, and bring food to share.
The first thing is to discern what we are to call him. Rodney sounds a bit formal – and I am moved by Only Fools and Horses –so it is either Rodders, or Dave.
He has great expertise in the Healing Ministry, and so he will be building on what is already growing in that area across the Chaplaincy. When I was in the Parish of Shoreham Beach, we had an extensive Healing Ministry, and it was a huge growth point for our church.
Fr Rodney, or Dave, has a colleague, who retired due to an issue with his eyes a number of years ago. He went to live in the Vicarage, and his eyes improved, and he became a great asset to the parish. He too is coming over, and so we have applied for him to be granted PTO.
But, let’s go back. Enjoying being who we are – children of God. Enjoying celebrating God, and discerning his will – and enjoying the gifts of the Holy Spirit of which there are many.
1 Cor 12 7-11, 27 -31 read from my NIV
I am loving the gift of administration –found in others!!!
But we are called to desire the greatest gift – to Love.
Let’s have a break for a moment and sing Tell out my soul.
Last year, as part of my Report I spoke about growing the church, and each member trying to bring in one person.
Some of you have done that and Praise the Lord for that. Some are still working on it, and some are still waiting for the opportunity.
I would like to repeat that call. I am passionate about God, and his awesome and wonderful creation, and I am passionate about the Gospel, and its message of love and peace and reconciliation.
I am also passionate about this Chaplaincy, and I want it to grow – but not for its own sake, and not to make our lives easier, and not to find new people we can pass jobs on to – as great as all those things are.
I am passionate about growing this Chaplaincy, because the Gospel is worth hearing, and Jesus is worth listening to, and the world on its own is not enough. God, in the person of Jesus Christ makes sense to me, and a world without God makes no sense.
I also think that my passion is not mine alone. I think we share a desire for people to know and love the Lord, and to join us in worship. But it is not always easy to get the whole question of Evangelism right, mainly because it is so scary, and that is closely followed by the fact that most people who don’t go to church think that those of us who do are weirdos.
But, as I have tried to point out. We love the Lord, and we love one another, and we try to love our neighbours. We are an attractive community, and we do have a Gospel to proclaim –so let’s do that faithful thing – and be open to, and trust in the Holy Spirit working within us. All we have to do is draw people close – and allow God to do the rest.
We draw people in, by believing that the prayer we say every Sunday is real:
Send us out
in the power of your Spirit
to live and work
to your praise and glory.
I think it is simple – let’s not overthink it. Just build relationships with people, and opportunities will arise whereby they will see that we enjoy our life and our faith. If we feel comfortable with inviting friends to something – whatever it is, then we have a starting point – and anything could happen.
Our vision for the coming year includes the clergy being able to focus more clearly in their own Pastoral Areas, and thus work more locally to strengthen each church.
To build on the Healing Ministry throughout the Chaplaincy.
To explore options for more Lay Ministry across the Chaplaincy.
To make sure we involve ourselves in many local activities, both within and outside of the churches.
To rehearse and perform The Gift – The Christian Musical by Graham Kendrick. Perfect for early December.
To increase our profile with regard Wedding Blessings, using word of mouth, leaflets / posters, Facebook and of course our website. Eileen is looking in to this.
To solidify our finances so that we are, and feel financially secure.
To continue being seen as involved in local charities and good works.
To be, and be seen, as a safe place for all.
To have worship booklets for every season.
Bishop Jack at Synod had the right idea, it is about getting the balance right between Prayer and Partying, and perhaps the simplest thing is more of both.
God Bless you all