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So I mentioned earlier this week that our attic is full for this coming academic year… And then I had a tweet from another vicar’s wife who doesn’t exactly have an attic, but does have a space for a Ministry Trainee at their church in St Bees. So I said I’d get the word out. Their location is totally different to ours – rural Cumbria (with seaside!), and there is a lot of work with a local school involved – it looks like a great post for the right person. Cliff, the vicar, wrote to me with some further and better particulars of the post, which might whet your appetite:

St Bees is an ancient church complete with a famous dead crusader and a legendary Irish princess, but with a desire today to bring the Gospel to our community. The vicar is Cliff Swartz, an American who with his wife Katie moved to England in 1997. They’ve lived and worked in Cambridge and East Yorkshire, and had some years back in the States for boarding school ministry in New England and parish ministry in Manhattan. Each time they’ve moved, God has blessed them with a child, which means five children over their seventeen years of married life. They are now never going to move again. Cliff’s wife Katie is the one who would really give all the wisdom to the trainee, but don’t tell the wardens.

Cliff is vicar of the Priory Church in St Bees, which is moving along from middle of the road gently declining Anglican village church, by introducing a ministry with a greater focus on teaching the Bible to all ages and in all settings, and so it is gently growing and reaching its community, by God’s grace. The parish has been excited to have its first ministry trainee this past year. He has been encouraged to stay for the optional second year. We hope to add a second ministry trainee, and would prefer a young woman, but the right person is more important. Twenty pupils went along to a Gloddaeth Holidays camp (glod.co.uk) this summer from St Bees School, and the youth work in the parish is getting off the ground, so there is lots to do in that area. We are small enough to craft an experience to meet the gifts of the trainee, and mix up work at the Priory Church, St Bees School and the North West Partnership which offers the weekly training course.

Housing and term time meals are provided in staff housing at St Bees School. A grant is made available for living expenses along with ministry expenses and training expenses paid by the church council. We are a small outfit, where a broad experience and a safe environment to learn and grow can be achieved. We live in a beautiful, but remote, place, and so insist on the participation of ministry trainees both in the North West Partnership scheme as well as the Living Room, which is the 20-something Christian group run with a church in partnership with us here. And you’ll be home for Christmas.

There is a proper advert that Cliff sent me but I can’t get it to load up, but you can download an application form from their church website or email him vicar [at] stbeespriory [dot] org. BytheSea came to us via this blog last year because the Children’s Worker at his church is a reader. Maybe you or someone you know might like to work with Cliff and Katie…

Ministry and the seaside, an enticing combination

My lovely daughter turned 13 whilst we were away on our Pathfinder Venture. I popped my head round the door of her dorm to say Happy Birthday. Her first teenage words to me:

Go away Mummy!

(In her defence, I should probably mention that she was getting changed at the time….)

There’s all sorts of summer news on our Ministry Trainees past, present and future:

1. Our first Vicarage Ministry Trainee, Happy, was ordained into the presbyterate at the end of June. He’s going to come and celebrate Holy Communion here whilst we’re off on our summer holidays. Happy’s dad was ordained deacon this Petertide too.

2. Rocky, who survived a whole two years in our attic, was ordained deacon at the end of June. He and Bee are now living a short car ride away from us, excited to be serving back in the Black Country.

3. Gambit, who was a Ministry Trainee in our church in Wolverhampton, was also priested this Petertide. We were very happy to join with him in serving young people on our Pathfinder Venture just last week.

4. BytheSea, who’s been living with us this year, went to his Bishop’s Advisory Panel in early June and has been recommended for training. He’s now finished in the Vicarage and is off to train at theological college in September.

5. Red has also left us, to be a Ministry Trainee at the church where his fiancée is already working. He is hoping to go for Church of England selection in a few months’ time.

6. Very excitingly, two new Ministry Trainees have been appointed to join us at the end of August. King is coming to us from Essex via studies in Wales and The Shropshire Lad is from the opposite end of Lichfield diocese. Although it’s sad to see BytheSea and Red leave us, we’re excited about all the things that God will do with a change in the staff team in church and the new gifts and attributes that the new MTs will bring. Do please pray for the new-look Vicarage household. These are the first Ministry Trainees to come to a house with a teenager in it….

Woody and Buzz

Because I lose this number every year I thought I’d put it on the blog. And I thought you might need it too. If you are doing a Child Tax Credit return and you are an Anglican clergy family (or, I’m told, a spy or other sort of strange profession, but I’m also told it only applies to Anglican clergy – a perk of the established church, perhaps), you don’t call the number they have on the Child Tax Credit form. That would be too obvious.

You have to call their special secret number: 0345 302 1493. And unlike the main number, it is only open Monday-Friday from 8.30-5pm. Today it is experiencing ‘high call volumes’. And you only have until 31st July to call them. But at least you won’t spend hours on hold to the wrong number first….

Our plaster disaster is taking a while to sort out. I think we’re at 5 weeks meeting in the church hall on Sundays now. The builders have been busy removing great chunks of plaster and replacing it, and have been putting protective epoxy on some of the woodwork (I think, I wasn’t taking in the detail very well). They’ve had a lot to do – it all needs painting to match the existing decoration too. A much loved saint from our congregation went on to glory a couple of weeks ago and it would be lovely if the church could be ready for her funeral next week. I spoke to the builders as they finished yesterday and I think we’re going to be on track for finishing in time.

In the meantime, there is an enormous scaffolding structure occupying the whole of the front of the church. Our building is a great space, and pretty flexible as Victorian churches go. But getting scaffolding and builders sorted out is a lot more complicated than when there’s a bit of plaster coming down in the bathroom at home. Various brilliant members of the church have been involved in finding, contacting and appointing the contractor and organising diocesan architects and what not. The Vicar has had a hand on it all – including a trip to the top of the scaffolding. And I’ve been letting the contractors in and out for the last few days. There’s been a fair few people involved.

Next week could be a bit tight and is sure to require all hands on deck with the mops and dusters once the workers have left. We love our building, but it can be quite a lot of work. The photos are pretty rubbish, I’m afraid – but you can get an idea of the scaffolding size at least. The work is going on at the junction between the main roof (painted a shade of orange) and the wall between the nave and the chancel (a version of magnolia). Damp and ants were our problems. Hopefully the epoxy should stop the damp and the lack of damp will discourage the ants and we’ll not have anything more fall from the heights for a few years. I’m staying optimistic on this.

This is a fabulously fresh, easy and tasty recipe. It uses ingredients I nearly always have in, so is great if extra mouths need feeding, or if I’m not feeling up to fancy cuisine. A perennial Vicarage favourite, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Ingredients

  • Potatoes – 2-3 medium per fairly hungry person, peeled (if not new) and chopped into large chunks
  • Greens – cabbage (white, sweetheart or Savoy) or Spring greens are fine – finely sliced – a good handful per person
  • Bacon (2-3 rashers per person – I normally use smoked streaky), or leftover gammon, chopped
  • 1 lemon (for up to 4 people)
  • Olive oil

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes, then add the shredded greens for 3-4 minutes in with the potatoes. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, fry your bacon in its own fat or gammon in some olive oil.

Once the potatoes and cabbage are cooked, drain & place in a serving dish and pour over bacon or gammon in its oil. Add the finely grated rind & juice of your lemon and perhaps some extra-virgin olive oil, and lots of black pepper. Serve immediately. Help yourself to seconds.

Lemony Greens

 

On Hospitality

We’ve not been feeding people all that much lately. I got a nasty virus after Christmas and seemed to lose steam all the way to Easter. Sunday lunches (our usual slot for planned hospitality) were confined to the Vicarage household plus Dreamer. And I almost began to think that it was too much hassle to have anyone else over on a Sunday at all.

But then, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a sunny weekend. And I was overcome with a desire to barbecue. And that seemed like an easier Sunday lunch to organise. So we invited a family we’d been meaning to invite over for ages. And then we thought about another family who we’d seen a lot over our Easter mission and the Vicar called them but they didn’t answer the phone. So then we invited someone else. And then the second family rang back. And we invited them too. And so it was that we ended up having 18 people for Sunday lunch.

And you know what? In the garden, with the old church hall trestle tables from the shed, lovely sunshine and lots of laughter, eighteen people seemed like a perfectly normal number. And after that, inviting a family of five for Sunday lunch this week didn’t seem like a big thing either. It was actually very lovely to talk to people and enjoy eating with them. Of course I knew that, but I’d forgotten. And then this week I read this lovely post about Scruffy Hospitality by Wesley Hill, and it helped me to remember that the purpose of hospitality is the cultivation of friendship, the sharing of lives. And cooking a bit of extra food is really not that much trouble. It really isn’t.

So I’m grateful this week for a renewed vision for hospitality: scruffy hospitality, messy hospitality, doable hospitality, just inviting people anyway hospitality, hospitality for the saints, hospitality for the stranger, hospitality without grumbling, hospitality that is a welcome and a blessing. And I’m praying that we’ll keep on getting together with the saints and with strangers, we’ll keep on inviting others into the Vicarage for laughing and talking and growing community, building the body. That’s my prayer this week.

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