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Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 6:35 am
One of the great feasts in the church universal. The Ascension of Christ to his Father. The Gospels tell the story very well, and we celebrate it today with services world wide.
This is one of the feasts in the Anglican Church, were people are encouraged to attend a service of Holy Communion. In the Catholic Church, it's a Holy Day of Obligation (one of 8 in their Calendar).
Sometimes this feast is transferred to a Sunday, but not in our parish, we celebrate with two services. One at 10 am and another at 8 pm (which might be regarded as the equivalent of a Catholic High Mass. A sung Eucharist with full robed choir and procession. I will be privileged to take part in this to Deacon and to Lead intercessions.
So, I hope that many people have a service available for them to attend, as I know that some churches don't have the resources to put on a service during the week.
Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 2:02 pm
Under the Education Act we used to be allowed to take Ascension Day off to go to Church. It was a useful rule particularly for anybody who got choir pay. I don't think many children can be following that convention these days, with so few churches having daytime weekday services anyway, let alone a sung one.
Radio 4 used to play Hail The Day That Sees Him Rise when it opened on Ascension Day but I'm often just going to bed at that sort of time these days so I don't know if they still do.I wasn't awake at that time today, having gone to bed around 5 am.
In France and many other European countries it's a public holiday today. I don't think it ever has been here. According to my American calendar it's Mother's Day.
I remember when Whitsun/Pentecost ten days later used to be the big Celebration here,with street parades and fairs until the holiday was changed to Spring Bank Holiday on the same Sunday and Monday every year regardless, which may or may not be at Whit,since when the fun seems to have declined.
Posted: Sat May 12, 2018 6:31 am
You are quite right about Whitsun, which was celebrated widely when I was young.
Somehow secularist views on religious celebrations have taken the fun out of it. A bit like the moves to fix the date of Easter, which takes away the opportunities for a change of view each year.
I have been reviewing parish magazines from the early 20th Century in our parish, right through to the 1960's and note the number of services held than, and weddings and funerals held at Easter and Christmas. The number of Parish Clergy available. At one time, our Parish had the Vicar and Family and five curates living together in the vicarage. Our latest curate, who was self supporting lived nearby, but not in the parish, and he has just moved on to a diocesan job, which is part-time paid.
Our other LLM is to be ordained in September and is already living and working in her next parish. Leaving the Vicar and me, and she is retiring in November, meaning just me. Exciting times, but a huge responsibility in the vacancy to maintain ministry, outreach and all of the occasional offices for the period of the vacancy, Fortunately, we have a very able and experienced Parish Administrator, but our two church wardens are newish and have never dealt with a vacancy so far. Learning curves abound.
Posted: Sat May 12, 2018 6:32 pm
I went to our Ascension Day service, having been asked to do a reading.
Going by the average age of our ever dwindling congregation, I would say 10 years is a generous estimation of how long the CofE can remain active in areas such as this one.
A shame in many ways as we have a good vicar and the Services are quite agreeable. But, for whatever the reasons, the general population has turned away from traditional Church worship and there is absolutely no evidence of it turning back.
Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 6:29 am
It appears that Rural congregations are restless, because many have been joined into benefices of in some counties like Lincolnshire of 12 or even 14 churches. The idea behind that was that they would have one priest who would travel around the churches and hold services in several churches in rotation, with the congregations expected to travel to the one nearest to them with a service.
I had experience of this in my previous parishes, with just five churches and one priest. But we found it was quite difficult for people to travel, or they resisted travelling, preferring to go to their own church on the rota and it was hard too get them to change, and to be honest, I agreed with them. As I lived outside the benefice, I used to travel to at least two of the churches as I was involved in lay ministry across the whole benefice so could be serving at one, doing the prayers at another or even both at a third on occasion. It was tiring and I than had a 54 mile journey home afterwards.
They went into vacancy before I left and were without a priest for 18 months, and the one who came in, had little interest in travelling and expected pe otople to come to him at the main church, and he left in less than two years and went to Canada.'
By that time, I too had moved on to a single parish church, closer to home, and felt that God was calling me there, and that has worked well for me. I am licensed as a Reader, and that license has just been renewed.
I still see people in my previous parish, as my spiritual director lives there and I see him every month. They now have a vibrant, young Vicar, who is invested in the benefice, with young children at the Church School and committed for the longer term. She has already made a difference, ensuring services at each of the five churches weekly, thereby removing the need for people to travel. This requires a huge effort on her part, but she is supported by a number of retired priests (plenty living around Canterbury) who minister in support of her. And the benefice is now thriving. In the last 12 months, they've managed to raise nearly £100,000 to make repairs to the main church, which was in dire need of major works. That is a demonstration of the commitment of the whole benefice, well led and inspired by a Priest who takes the need to minister across the whole of the benefice seriously and is prepared to put energy into doing so.
But if they are given more churches, that would probably prove to be unmanageable. They have only one Reader, who is in her late eighties, but who managed to hold things together in two vacancies in three years, along with some very dedicated Church Wardens.
They are not dying, but in my personal view, the way that the church is having to organize its clergy is one main cause of the decline in rural areas In contrast, we in an urban area, with much local deprivation, still have a viable congregation with over 120 on the electoral roll and people coming regularly. But we suffer from low incomes, meaning that we struggle to pay our parish share and to keep the church maintained. Signs of hope, are new people coming in, and a much younger group of people now coming onto the PCC and two church wardens under 40, which is a novelty for the moment.
Facing a vacancy from November is going to galvanize us to ensure that our worship continues, as more people will be encouraged to help out.
I have been given more to do, as we come towards the Vicar's departure, with time to grow into the extra responsibilities implied in a vacancy. If I do as well as Margaret, the Reader in my last parish, who mentored me, I will be happy.