About Me

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I was commissioned as a Church Army Officer in 2000, and spent 9 years working in parishes, mainly with children and families. In 2009, I began ordination training at Ripon College Cuddesdon. I married Clare in July 2000, and our first child, Nathan, arrived on September 22nd 2010.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

1st Assistant at College Eucharist

So it's been an afternoon full of firsts today!

This week, my College Group has responsibility for College Worship. That means we do pretty much everything, apart from presiding at any Eucharists. So this afternoon, the whole group cleaned the church, and then we rehearsed for the early evening Eucharist.

The rehearsal was absolutely vital, as I had volunteered to be 1st Assistant, without realising that, because it was a Festival (St. Simon and St. Jude), we would be using incense.

Now, the 1st Assistant has a pretty major role - they carry the cross, lead the time of confession, read the Gospel, lay the altar for communion, and say the dismissal. Now, none of that was particularly daunting before I knew that incense was involved, having done pretty much all of them at some point in the past. However...

Those of you who know about the use of incense are probably already ahead of the game in knowing what I'm about to say! Yes, when incense is used in a service, that means the Gospel is censed before it is read. So, as 1st Assistant, that was my job - having never even held a thurible before!

Hence the rehearsal! Of course, I had to be shown how to hold it, and how to swing it (my first attempt in the rehearsal, I was a little too close to the book...) I was VERY grateful to the other members of Group D for their patience and support! In the end, I think everything went off fairly well - I don't think there were any glaring errors, anyway - and it does feel good to have done something new in the worship of God. But next time it's our turn to lead the worship, I will let someone else have a go at being 1st Assistant!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Update: essays, swine flu and catching breath!

The last two weeks have, frankly, been a whirlwind. There has been so much to get my head around that I only now have a half hour window to finally get onto the blog! So here's a whistle-stop update...


I think I have mentioned that I have to produce an essay a week, to be discussed in Monday afternoon seminars. They are alternating between Old & New Testament texts each week; so far, there have been essays on Paul's presentation of himself as a model to the Corinthian Christians, an analysis of the Genesis flood story in comparison with the other flood stories of the world at that time, a look at Paul's use of the word 'body' in 1 Corinthians, and, the current one, how (if at all) the book of Deuteronomy can be used in Christian thought.

It's all fascinating stuff, and it can be very easy to get sidetracked into a particular idea - I have to be very careful to stick to the question being asked!


These tick along, with the addition that the Thursday morning Oxford University lectures have begun. We have three of them back to back (1 hour each): Old Testament, Patristics and Paul. It's a long morning, but again very interesting.


St. Barnabas Church has been very welcoming to us in the two weeks we have been there. It is a very different spirituality to anything I have seen before - and I have a fair amount of experience! - and there are lots of questions I would like to ask about the way things are done. To give one example: the Gospel isn't read - it's sung! I have never seen that done before, so am keen to find out what the theology and/or spirituality is behind that.

College Life

We are well settled now, and are getting used to the different rotas there are. Next week, my Group is on Worship Duty, so we lead services, read, assist at Eucharist, etc. I shall be wearing my cassock for the first time on Monday! I will also have a new experience at Wednesday Eucharist, when I will be Assistant 1 - this means that I lead Confession and read the Gospel (nothing new there), but also that I prepare the table - and this will be done from behind the altar (facing the congregation). Obviously, I have assisted as sacristan loads of times before...but never from that perspective. I have a feeling that it will feel very different!

Swine Flu

Last, but by no means least, this has been a very tough week, because poor Clare has caught the dreaded Swine Fle (as has half of college). She's close to recovery now, but was wiped out for the first few days. The Tamiflu brought her high temperature down straight away, thank goodness - it doesn't do that for everyone. Of course, it's meant a lot of dashing backwards and forwards for me, as I haven't wanted to leave her on her own too long. But, like I say, she's nearly back to full health, thank goodness!

That's a very quick update for now - I hope to have time to do another post over the weekend, but with this essay on Deuteronomy to finish, we may have to see about that one!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Lectures underway

So much for the plan to post more regularly! Last week - the first full week of lectures - has been so busy that it's been hard just finding time to draw breath! Add to that a stinking cold which affected me for a few days, and it kind of feels like I've been treading water recently, just to stay afloat. But it seems to be on the mend now, so hopefully next week will be better!

As I'm on the Bachelor of Theology course, I have twelve lectures a week (all in the morning, and three of them in Oxford on Thursdays). Some of these are specific to the BTh, others are standard in this term for all 1st years, and one of them - Greek - is optional.

Afternoons are generally set aside for personal study, reading, essay writing, etc, although I do have a seminar on Monday afternoons, and a placement on Thursdays.

Speaking of placements, I have been given mine for the first two terms. I shouldn't talk about the Thursday one yet, as the person who will be my supervisor is away at the moment, but my Sunday one will be at St. Barnabas, Jericho (in the centre of Oxford). I don't know a lot about it yet, except that it is Anglo-Catholic - and that is what I had asked for, having little experience of it to date. Clare & I are going there tomorrow, with another 1st year, so I will report back on my first impressions afterwards!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cuddesdon School of Theology and Ministry

Some of you who know us may well be asking where Clare is in all of the busy-ness of induction week. Well, she's getting herself well involved in the life of the college community (the weekly Partners' Bible Study is tomorrow morning), and she's still looking for work (with no success yet - the remoteness of Cuddesdon and her non-driving severely narrows her options).

But we have been delighted to discover a fringe benefit of my training at Cuddesdon is that all partners are invited to join the new Cuddesdon School of Ministry & Theology. I won't go into the details here, as you can read more about it by following the link - but this is a fantastic opportunity for Clare to do some theological study of her own, and, as the course info says, to perhaps discover more about her own vocation - it's not just to be a vicar's wife!

The induction day for Clare is this Saturday, so do please keep her in your prayers as she joins with several other partners, and other external students, in this exciting new venture for her.

The still small voice...

Induction has continued at a fast pace this week, with very little time to stop and draw breath. There have been lots more "introductions", and I have my first work to do in preparation for a New Testament seminar next Monday.

The essay title is: "Analyse the different ways in which Paul presents himself as a model in 1 Corinthians" - we don't have to do the essay this week, but we will for every subsequent week. With the lectures, placements and various community activities going on, balancing time is going to be very important!

In the midst of all this new information, however, we had a session with the principal that was much more of a "stop and take stock" time. And this is where I heard the still small voice of God.

As I've said, I've been hyped-up and excited about term finally starting, and wasn't feeling any fears or concerns that some of my peers have. But, after Martyn gave us a little reflection on the story of Jonah, he gave us space to go and be - whatever, wherever - and to come back if we wanted. During that space, I've felt God challenge me about a particular "letting go" that he may want me to do. I'm not certain yet, and I don't want to write any more about it this moment, but I have some serious reflection to do on this topic, so will no doubt be back with more news at a later date!