On Monday I toddled off to lovely Lincolnshire to attend a Church of England institution, the setting All Saints Waltham.
I am pretty certain it would never have got passed canon 35 – well not in the diocese of Glasgow and Galloway at least – but for those who canon 35 means nothing there were plenty more clues to come our way.
Attending such an occasion should be compulsory for all those who say that the SEC is the CoE in Scotland for something more different to a SEC institution you are unlikely to see. For a start there was no Eucharist, but then as the service progressed the fact the CoE is an established church became more and more evident. It was at least as much about the community and state as it was about the people of God. The May Queen welcomed Kimberley on behalf of the local community, one of the local head teachers very enthusiastically welcomed Kimberley on behalf of all the schools, the local Methodists welcomed Kimberly, the deanery clergy welcomed Kimberley. It was nice to see the community so involved and obviously wanting to be involved.
I was struck by the start of the service, which was the renewal of Baptismal Promises and they way in which they were used to recommit everyone to the building up of God’s Kingdom. I shuddered at the oaths and thought rather you than me. I welcomed at the way the congregation and Kimberley were called to together to worship, to be faithful, to be servants, to be evangelists. However I do question if people realised that was what they were doing as they replied, ‘By the grace of God, we will.’ I presume this joint calling and commissioning was the reason why there was no formal welcome from the congregations for Kimberly, they are all in it together. I was taken aback when a member of the congregation led the intercessions, mainly because I am so used to the newly instituted leading them and I think that is such a powerful part of an institution.
There was so much upping and downing that I thought I was in an ejector seat, twice I flipped back in my order of service thinking have we not already done that bit, not to mention the turning around – ohhhh hokey cokey. Don’t get me wrong there was lots good about the service but the liturgy, in my opinion, didn’t flow and felt convoluted, maybe it was trying to do too many things. It was a joyful occasion and I was delighted to be there, however it made me realise afresh how rich, precious and beautiful the SEC and its liturgies are. As part of the Anglican Communion the SEC is a sister church with the CoE but we are not the CoE in any way shape or form and for that I give thanks.
I can’t end without saying how fabulous the choir, choir master and organist were. The singing was angelic, the organ playing sublime and the choir master was obviously a master at his art as he held the choir on the tip of his fingers.
I pray that God will richly bless Kimberly, the churches and communities she has been called to serve God in, and if you are ever in that corner of the world then pop in to All Saints it is a delightful church with some stunning stained glass including some censing angels!
(Kimberly was licensed and installed as Priest in Charge of Waltham with Barnoldby le Beck, and New Waltham, and has pastoral oversight of Brigsley, Ashby cum Fenby and East Ravendale)