I hope you find what you read here interesting, and I hope you will have your own reflections to add. I am writing stories and essays about my life as a vicar with a vocation to urban ministry, drawing out what I have learned and reflecting on how it relates to my faith. I hope this will be interesting, and possibly helpful to others. I am keen for other people to comment on what I have written – hopefully to engage in an ongoing dialogue.
I have just retired after nearly 40 years as an Anglican clergyman, mostly in Urban Priority Areas, and it occurred to me that I might have learned a few things (often by my mistakes) that some others might find useful. Here are a few facts and influences which might help you decide whether it’s worth reading any further…
CV (very brief)
1976-79 Curate at St John’s Park, inner city Sheffield
1979-82 Curate at St Luke’s Holbeck, inner city Leeds
1982-95 Vicar, St Agnes’ Burmantofts, inner city Leeds
1990-94 Part-time MPhil research degree at Leeds University, on Spirituality in the Inner City
1995-2002 Canon Precentor, Coventry Cathedral (a bit different!)
2002-15 Priest-in-charge, then vicar, St Peter’s Braunstone, outer estate Leicester
Theological background: evangelical but not fundamentalist.
Trained at St John’s Nottingham 1973-6 with (among others) Michael Green, Julian Charley, Colin Buchanan, George Carey, John Goldingay, Anne Long, Frank Lake… they were good years!
Anabaptist influence – from early 1980s in Leeds, meeting Alan and Eleanor Kreider there. Connection from late 1990s with Bridge Builders – training and mediation in transforming church conflict, Anabaptist-inspired.
Social justice – an essential aspect of the Christian gospel.
Catholic spirituality – from St Ignatius to St John of the Cross.
Charismatic renewal – yes, where it enables ministry by all God’s people. I have benefited hugely from my charismatic involvement, particularly in Leeds. But not when it becomes a personality cult, or manipulative of vulnerable people.
What I hope from these essays/stories
Although preaching and teaching are still usually a monologue, the Anabaptist tradition believes in “multi-voiced preaching”, and I would really like to learn from others who read these essays or stories, so that the dialogue leads to more wisdom and enlightenment.
Although I did an MPhil research degree (1990-94 at Leeds) I am by temperament a communicator rather than a researcher, so don’t expect too many footnotes! Those well versed in academic theology (many of whom I count as friends) will recognise where I have pinched ideas from.