THERE ARE NO FRESH STARTSIN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

I went to see someone this morning to try and get permission to officiate in my new diocese. I was unsuccessful. The next time it will be discussed will be December "at the earliest."

As I have said many times before, I am now just waiting to die. The chances of me ever returning to the priesthood to which God and the church called me are becoming more remote as each day passes.

Comments

THERE ARE NO FRESH STARTSIN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND — 49 Comments

  1. Did they give a reason? Since some dioceses do want people to be part of a church for a number of months before they give PtO.

  2. Yes. They want me to go back to being just a member of a congregation for an unspecified amount of time. In my new diocese this is unusual, you normally get permission when you move in. The thing is I don’t think I can cope with the shame of being on probation and knowing that the other members of the congregation will assume that I have done something awfully wrong to be so distrusted. Anyway, a priest cannot be a member of a congregation as C. of E. rules don’t allow it. So I remain in limbo waiting to die.

  3. One option available to you is to make a subject access request under the data protection act, thus enabling you to read what has been written about you by your previous diocese.
    It’s what I would do…as you can challenge anything in it which is factually incorrect or opinion

  4. But surely everything is said off the record, over the phone or at one of their meetings. My last bishop never even told me his real reasons for sacking me. I doubt that he wrote them down anywhere.

  5. re verbal / written records.

    You may be correct, but for the price of a stamp or the time to write and email it’s worth finding out if they made a mistake…

    and emails count under data protection, and it is quite possible that an email was sent… it can be so much easier than catching someone on the phone.

    Worth adding of course that bishops and their staff make mistakes

  6. Yeah, you’ve been done dirty, Jonathan. I don’t know what else to say.

    I do know that if it were me, I’d damned well not sit around waiting to die. If only to spite them, I’d give my all to make a life for myself. But you’re not me, and you’re also depressed, and with good reason.

    Sooo, hang in there, luv.

  7. In all seriousness, what life for myself, Mimi? I have really tried. I have even been seeing a counsellor to try and get my head round this. But I can’t think of any life for myself, other than that of priest, that would be worth living for. I agree that I could become a shelf stacker at the local supermarket but that would be no life worth living and would certainly not spite anybody. They would be laughing over their gin and tonics in fact.

  8. In all seriousness, what life for myself, Mimi?

    Jonathan, I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to work it out for yourself. What I can tell you is there’s life in you…as Big Daddy said about Maggie the Cat. 😉

  9. The way they are going, there won’t be any fresh starts FOR the Church of England either…..

  10. Durham Diocese usually requires a 6 month gap before PTO is granted. I am unaware of any rules which forbid a priest from being part of a congregation whilst awaiting such permission.

  11. I was told the opposite this morning, Ivan.
    And my point is that a suspended priest can never be part of a congregation because they are not allowed to be part of the clergy or part of the laity. They cannot hold any office, they cannot vote for synod members etc. and they cannot even speak at an AGM. They are non-persons.

  12. It’s only a denomination; had you considered going elsewhere? There’s also the possibility of building up a ministry which can’t be denied. You’re already halfway there via your internet ministry, but what else can you develop? I don’t believe that God has finished with you.

  13. I am not in any way qualified to speak, but hey, when did I ever let that stop me.
    You have so many good things going for you Jonathan, not least your fantastic sense of humour.
    Robert is right, you are half way there.
    God bless you.

  14. Yeppa. No 3-D community, no altar, no voice, no vote –a non-person parson –it is anti-gospel and anti-Incarnational and is a death. A real death.

    And it hurts. Like hell… there is no assuaging it.

    –but the good news of Resurrection is hell to those who ordered and guard the tomb. And Resurrection is forever….

    Love you MP.

  15. It’s only a denomination; had you considered going elsewhere?

    Jonathan has already addressed this elsewhere. The C of E is *not* simply a denomination to him. If that was the case, he’d already be out of there and doing priestly duties in some other church. This is his inheritance, passed down to him from generations long gone, and he (rightly so) does not want to abandon the church he and his ancestors built and lived in and guided their lives by, to a bunch of smarmy-ass frat boys who play head games with, well, people like him.

    And I don’t blame him one effing bit.

    wv: senses

    As in “when is the c of e going to come to its fecking senses about what a gem they have in Jonathan?”

  16. MadPriest, the Church of England, Diocese of Durham, the church of your ancestors, the church of your inheritance, laid out the rules for you to obtain a PTO. The rules may be wrong; the rules may be unjust, but there they are. You have a choice. The choice may look to you like a Hobson’s choice or a Procrustean bed, but the rules of the game of the powers in the diocese are the rules you must play by. So. Will you/are you able to play by their rules, however capricious, dastardly, etc. they may be?

    If you play the game by their rules, you may be able to function as a priest in the diocese, but I expect the outcome is no sure thing, but then I am not a particularly optimistic person.

  17. There are no rules involved in their decision. They are just making it up to suit themselves. As I said above, if they applied the same rules to everyone else as they are to me then I would agree to them. It’s the discrimination that sucks.

    And if everyone took your attitude, Mimi, you wouldn’t have the vote.

  18. It is indeed quite possible that the ‘rules’ were made up just for you. I allowed for that in the use of ‘capricious’.

    I’m not you, but I’d follow their damned rules if only to annoy the living shit out of them, to show them I’m not going away easily. I’d see a kind of victory in that, even if the outcome was not to my liking.

    Do you think I’ve lived my life in a cloistered convent? Do you think I have no experience in the world of work, that I’ve never worked at menial jobs, that I’ve never had to fight my way?

  19. I just want to jump in here and express both sympathy and solidarity here, MadPriest.

    As you know, I lost my preaching license and it’s clear that I will never get it back. I think it’s nearly as hard for someone with a clear vocation to preaching not to have a pulpit as it is for someone with a priestly vocation not to have an altar.

    And I, too, am a cradle Anglican. It is the church of my ancestors so I really like what Tracie said.

    I’ve had a couple of preaching gigs in other denominations and I’m happy to do that sort of thing but I’m definitely there each time as a “guest”. It is hugely painful for me that I can never be invited to preach in an Episcopal church.

    And for those who don’t know the story, no, I did nothing to warrant the loss of my license. My sermons have always been impeccably orthodox and I’ve not committed (nor have I been accused of) any misconduct of any kind.

    So, I think I know a little of what this is like for you, MadPriest.

    That is all for now.

  20. “I’m not you, but I’d follow their damned rules if only to annoy the living shit out of them, to show them I’m not going away easily.”

    I like this, Mimi.

  21. They want me to go back to being just a member of a congregation for an unspecified amount of time.

    Even if you can’t be a ‘real’ member of the congregation because you’re in no man’s land, go to be a presence, to remind them that it’s your church, too.

    That’s what I would do, but, as you say, we all have different battles to fight.

  22. I’m with Mimi. I suggest you show up like Banquo’s ghost to every feast–don’t let them off!

    W/V sylly, they are being sylly about this!

  23. Dear Jonathan+

    danielj here…I havent posted for quite a while, so i will remind you that I have walked the road you are on…several years and now several years past where you are now. I have experienced what you experience, and i understand your pain. you have been in my prayers on occasion ever since I learned of your situation. I hope you will hear my words in the humility in which they are intended.

    Your current situation is actually one of power.
    1- For, the more the church witholds from you your just temporal authority, the more the Spirit will provide you with spiritual authority.
    2- And, there is great power and healing for you in “returning good for evil”.and a great witness to the church if they still condemn you

    these two truths were very helpful and guiding for me when I was in my version of your situation.

    If i may be so bold…these are my suggestion to you.
    1- Put your collar on and go to church; every sunday,arrive early and sit in the last pew. Before service, be in prayer for everyone who walks thru the door. Surround yourself in prayer and be in the Spirit… and, being in the last pew, you will be surround by folks who are the least churched, the least comfortable, in the congregation. Be the face of Christ welcoming them in love. The priests at the front of the church are separated from the people…you being at the back will be as Jesus among the people.
    2- Be graceful and supportive of the priests, deacons etc. do not voice your pain to anyone in the church, but be a man of prayer and a loving, caring priest to all around you.
    3- During the time of the sacraments, pray for the Priests in charge and silently pray over the sacraments as they pray over them.
    4- After several months, move to the front pews and be there for a bit, being the same prayerful priest as when in the last pew…. and then tell the powers that be that it is time for them to make a decision concerning you.

    If you return good for evil in all these things…will the church bring you back in from the cold…God only knows. In my case, it did not result in a position for me, but I came darn close to coming their bishop.

    Even if you do not get a post, there will be no doubt within yourself, the parishioners around you, and to the Lord Jesus that you are a true priest and a good and faithful servant.

    the Lord be with you danielj

  24. Oh dear. I’m afraid I’m too confused about the complexities of all this. All I got is

    “One Day at a Time”

  25. Ooh, danielj, what you did is awesome. I’m not saying I could follow your example, but it’s much more the way of the Gospel than my suggestion.

    Jonathan, if I lived nearby, I would go with you and sit in the pew in the back and pray with you, and the two of us might give one another courage. Unfortunately, I can’t be there physically, but I can be with you in spirit and in prayer.

  26. Grandmere…dont know about awesome, I know it was diffecult and costly, and the only way for me to climb out of that grave. My prayer for Jonathan is that he be filled so much with rhe light of Christ, that if they ultimately reject him, it will look like a rejection of Jesus as well.
    blessings danielj

  27. Just writing to say I’m so sorry. Bah. Which doesn’t help any, but just didn’t want to let this pass without comment.

  28. 8For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:9But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God. — 2 Cor 1:8
    — AT

  29. Now, given my comments above…

    Sometimes I wonder if (at least temporarily) it would be a good idea for you, Jonathan, to at least give “independent” ministry a try, like what Mark Townsend has been doing. If nothing else, it would get you out among people, officiating at things like weddings and baptisms (I’m not sure about Eucharist…but perhaps that too) and funerals and all that, and it may get your ministerial blood moving.

    And it’d get you out among weirdos like ME, who are very hesitant about church and Christians and whatnot, and show them that not all Christians are Nazi fruitcakes with nefarious plans to rule the world as NOT-so-benevolent-dictators.

    It’s a crazy idea…yes…but it just might work.

  30. I hear your concerns, MP, and have been and will continue to hold you in prayer.

    I do wonder, though, if perhaps God is prodding you in another direction. While I know you reject the validity of another denomination/independent church, perhaps the challenge is to live with/through your discomfort with that so you can reach out to the people who really need you as a minister and leader. There are people out there for whom CofE does NOT work. What if God is saying, “go out and preach to these my people, even if you feel like a fish out of water doing it”? Maybe it’s less about you, and more about the people out there who are thirsting for the gospel as MP sees it, as MP makes sense of it, as MP rails against the corrupt church and finds a way to bring the love of Christ to others who are outcasts.

    I think I read that Mother Teresa lived for years having no faith – none. Yet she continued her ministry. I admire her courage and conviction to keep doing that, even when she felt abandoned by God. I admire your courage and conviction as you crawl through the muck CofE has put in your path. I DO think there is a place for you as a priest, but it may be an uncomfortable journey getting there and it may require you to challenge long-held beliefs and assumptions.

    Not easy to hear, and certainly difficult to do. I’m not speaking without experience, though. I have been through a similar journey, and still struggle with it sometimes. I think God is calling you to a ministry that is much larger than the box that CofE has drawn around Him. But that’s just my 2-cents, for what it’s worth.

  31. While I know you reject the validity of another denomination/independent church…

    Forgive me for jumping in here…but this is a mystery of great significance…

    I don’t think it’s a case of Jonathan rejecting the validity of, say, the Methodists or the Lutherans or whatever.

    It’s just a case of, those other denominations are not HIS church.

    They simply are not the church that his ancestors operated within and even built some of the structures of, going back to (at minimum) about the 1600s, if not (even further) back to the time of Augustine in Canterbury.

    I think we Americans have a big problem understanding this, because we just don’t quite have anything comparable, on a physical/geographical level. It gets really weird with us, given how young this country is compared to Europe and the UK, and a big chunk of us don’t live in the land of our physical ancestors. It’s hard to explain.

    But that talk of “rejecting validity of other denominations” just squicked me, because that’s not really it at all.

    Sorry…

  32. Again you are absolutely correct, Tracie. I accept the validity of every “holy” man or woman be they Methodists, RC, Unitarian, Sikh, Hindu, Druid, Odinist, Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever takes people’s fancy. I believe that the gods are both real and contextual and my context is the Church of England for exactly the reasons you suggest.

  33. Forgive me, I do understand all that. Perhaps I didn’t phrase it quite properly. What I have understood Jonathan to have expressed in the past is that another being a priest in another denomination would not have validity *for him*. He feels that his priestly authority comes from God and the CofE. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say “reject the validity of your serving as a priest in another denomination.”

    What I was trying to say is, I think, essentially what you (Tracie) have written.