It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today I was ordained into the diaconate of the Church of England in Newcastle Cathedral. Back then I loved the Church, especially the spiky bits of it. But now I realise that this was because I only knew its surface. Very soon in my priestly career I was to discover the disappointing murkiness of its depths; the hypocrisy of the clergy, the lust for power of its company men (and now, tragically, women as well) and the deep rooted, unregulated and institutional prejudice and bigotry that far surpasses anything the secular world is routinely guilty of.

I have spent a quarter of my priesthood unemployed and in exile, shunned and avoided by almost all my colleagues from the moment I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and admitted into hospital. Told by my bishop that a person who has suffered from mental health problems should never be a parish priest I have spent most of my time online among the outcasts, doing my own thing, making my own mistakes and winning my own victories. My refusal to toe the party line concerning these people and my insistence on using their language to tell their stories has given the powers that be yet another excuse to ostracise me and to feel righteous while doing so.

But, I now have permission to officiate in my diocese and I have always had a (built on the) rock solid assurance of my God given vocation so I continue, foolish as it is to most people, to have the hope and desire to one day soon be serving in the parish ministry to which I was called.

On the whole I now despise the Church but I still love my Saviour, Jesus Christ, who walked among the lepers and was crucified for doing so.


It Was Twenty Years Ago Today — 3 Comments

  1. If you would like, now you have PTO in your own diocese I will ask my diocesan bishop if you can have PTO to officiate at a mid week eucharist (or eucharists – 10.30 Thursday weekly) with me. It’s not a grand Church, nor are we particularly high church, but hey it’s a welcome I can ask the bishop if I can give now you are in good standing in your own diocese – let me know.
    I can pay £30 towards petrol costs.

  2. I still wish you would cross the Pond. You could go on a “Marry-ing Tour” in Episcopal churches (w/ permission), hitching up all those same-sex couples who’ve admired you through the years. Those of us who are single could follow you around from church to church, like Dead Heads: “Jon’s marrying Adam&Steve this Saturday @ St Swithin’s Chigago, and marrying Madam&Eve next Saturday at St Swuthun’s New York! Rock on!” Or something (I may have given this too much thought ;-p)

  3. He didn’t get crucified for walking among the lepers. He got crucified for refusing to endorse the hierarchy. So, they accused Him of claiming to be the King of the Jews, which he didn’t. Nowadays, we call attacking someone for their virtues or strengths “swiftboating.” Which only tells us the tactics are always the same.
    Why don’t we learn? Because we believe innocents don’t get attacked, when that’s exxactly what cowardly predators do. They have to have the element of surprise. Otherwise they’d starve to death.
    The Good Shepherd keeps an eye out for wolves.