A good Boat to Fish From?

This past week saw the Archdeacon's visitation. Its purpose is to 'admit' the deanery's churchwardens to their office. It's actually full of good, solid, stuff, and our Archdeacon, Michael, is a 'no-nonsense' character- well-seasoned with good humour - who likes to 'get on with it'. He is keen to stress that, although things like building maintenance (in some ways the traditional churchwarden's stock-in-trade) are important, they are not the true mission of the church, which is to

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15

The 'good, solid, stuff' is along these lines:


"Churchwardens are called to represent the people of God; to work with the leadership of the parish, ordained and lay; to be an example and encouragement to their fellow Christians; and to promote unity and peace.

As you come to be admitted, I ask you to affirm your commitment to this calling, and to seek God's grace and the power of His Holy Spirit to fulfil it.

Will you, as Churchwarden, seek to work with the Bishop, the Parish Priest, the Parochial Church Council, and all those who exercise leadership in your parish, to further the mission of God and His purposes in the world?"

To which the collected churchwardens (I wonder what the collective noun for churchwardens is?) answer "I will, the Lord being my helper."

Being churchwarden is quite a responsibility, and this service always acts, for me, as an opportunity to examine my conduct, my life and my example, and to re-dedicate myself to the job, with its huge variety of different threads and many demands.

There are usually a couple of 'talks'. I find some of them uplifting, such as the Archdeacon's 'reflection' last night on the words of Hebrews 10:19-25:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

His theme was to encourage us to think about whether we had been 'provoking' those around us in the church 'towards love and good deeds'. A moment for some soul-searching - examining myself, what I've done, and what I've failed to do. 'Could do better' was my conclusion - as is probably right - I can hardly claim to be a paragon of sinless virtue.

One of the Church of England's great strengths is its stability - it has a very strong doctrinal basis, and there's little chance of it falling, as a whole, into heresy. That very stability can be a source of frustration at times - decisions to change things can take forever. However, leaving the frustrations aside, and returning to concentrate on our own little bit of the church... We can major on the strengths, and use them to God's advantage. The firm, biblical, doctrinal basis makes a good solid platform to work on.I am happy to belong to an Anglican church, despite my occasional frustration.In the words (I believe) of John Stott, the Church of England is 'a good boat to fish from' - referring, I believe, to this passage:

And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17

Afterwards, in true Anglican fashion, we retired to the pub!

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022