Bishops & marriage

I have been preparing, writes Fr Nicholas, for some teaching on the effects of the Marriage (Same sex couples) Act 2013, and the confusion it has caused about so called ‘gay marriage’.  The House of Bishops of the Church of England produced a quite superb response to the Bill at the consultation stage;  two years later they produced an abject and embarrassing response to the Act itself.  Only one of these is now still available online.  Guess which?

To remedy that lack, here is their Response, produced in full consultation with legal and other experts, in June 2012;  so effective that it completely changed the whole make-up of the Act:


Charles Henry Hall

Charles Henry Hall

Painted by Gilbert Stuart Newton

With thanks to Laura Irwin and Judith Curthoys for hunting it down in the Christ Church storeroom and sending the photograph.  The picture, as you can see, is in good condition, but as it is no longer on display, its frame has not been as well looked after.

St Peter’s Church has photographs of every rector since the late nineteenth century.  All Saints’ Church, like St Mary’s, has no photo of any former rector;  but we have recently unearthed a copy of a painting of a pre-photography priest.  He deserves a mention for this reason alone.

Charles Henry Hall, was born in 1763, the son of an Essex clergyman.  Sent to Westminster School in 1775, he went up to Christ Church, Oxford in 1779.  Winning both Latin and English prizes, he gained his BA in 1783, and then stayed at the college as a Tutor.

He delivered the Bampton Lectures in 1798, a prestigious series at Oxford that continues to this day, each year’s offering being published;  his subject was the ‘fulness of time’.  I have read them:  his style is easy and pleasant, his theme wide-ranging, but the level of argument does now seem remarkably dull;  he wins his point largely because he says he does.

He must, however, have been well regarded at the time, for in 1807 he became Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, until he resigned on becoming Dean of Christ Church College and Cathedral two years later.  Finally, at the age of 60, he was made Dean of Durham Cathedral, but died in 1827.

In the midst of this academic life, in 1794, the year he got married (they had one son who became a noted pacifist and a Plymouth Brethren), he became Vicar of Broughton, a post he held until he took up the Durham preferment.  Christ Church held the rectorship, so he really was Vicar, not Rector as the present curate is called.  Thirty years as Vicar of All Saints’ Church – what service!  Except (and I am sorry to disappoint you) he most probably never came here.

Possibly just once?  Someone would have made a decision, and applied a signature, on an exchange of land with the Broughton Hall estate that occurred in 1795, whereby a (seemingly disused) vicarage and its land was given to the estate, in exchange for land near the church, on which – if the deed means what it seems to say – it was the estate that built the existing Old Rectory, along with the barn and the stable on the other side of the road.

The good Dr Charles already had, after all, a busy life as an academic in Oxford.  He also held another (more lucrative) parish in Yorkshire, a prebendery stall in Devon, and yet another parish in Bedfordshire.  He received the considerable income from each, paid for a poor curate to do the work for him, and pocketed the profit in absentia.  (The land, which supplied the income, was given away by the diocese in the early twentieth century to Mr J.J. Duckworth who owned the Elslack estate.)Charles Henry Hall

So we have one picture, for a vicar who wasn’t.  Better than none at all.

St Bede’s Day gift

Today we celebrate St Bede, one of the greatest English scholars of all time, and one of the most European in outlook.  I think he would be saddened (on the 1,283rd anniversary of his passing from this world) by the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation.  Not because its aims are not admirable, but because of its bias towards large organisations (the very ones that caused the problems of data selling in the first place).

For example, because we cannot be sure of any list of emails, we must advertise future events by means of Facebook (a cruel irony).  We should also lobby hard for a removal of the annual fees.  True, they have been waived for the moment, but only temporarily.  If they were to be enforced, they would cost the parish £210 a year.

Enough of whingeing.  Here is the Parish Privacy Notice:

Parish Privacy Notice

Society of Mary

It is part of the ministry of the parish, and certainly a privilege, to welcome parish groups of The Society, mostly from difficult, urban parishes during the summer months:  we forget how beautiful it is round here.

It has been a good summer with various groups coming for a Mass or Sprinkling or both, most notably the re-formed Church Lads and Girls Brigade from St John’s, Belle Isle, Leeds (they camped across the road);  and Mass and a good lunch for SSC at Broughton back in July.

Today, it was the Society of Mary, its active North-West Ward:  Mass, Angelus, Sprinkling, picnic lunch, a short reflection on prayer, Benediction.  With visiting clergy leading the different parts:  the parish was hosting an event rather than putting it on.

And there are already plans to return for something similar with the Society in May 2018.  Small rural churches have a valuable ministry, even if (and probably rightly) the emphasis is now on urban communities.

A lovely day, and the rain held off perfectly while we were outside.SoM 17.09

Fr Alex’s ordination

AnointingMost probably, the first ordination ever held in the parish.  On Saturday, 24th June, Bishop Tony Robinson of Wakefield, with Bishop Robert Ladds and priests of The Society, ordained Alex Ladds, our curate-in-training, to the sacred priesthood, in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Thornton-in-Craven.  Good weather, a full church, great singing, a wonderful and moving occasion.

The next day, Sunday morning, at the Church of All Saints, Broughton-in-Airedale, Fr Alex celebrated his First Mass, giving individual blessings at the end of the service;  before we all gathered in the church hall for a buffet lunch and presentations.  Fr Damien Feeney, a former curate of Bishop Ladds when he was a vicar in Lancashire, and one time Vice-Principal of St Stephen’s House, gave a memorable homily which can be downloaded here.

The trilogy was completed the next Sunday at the Church of St Peter, Martons Both, when Fr Alex celebrated his first Holy Communion according to the rites of the Book of Common Prayer (complete with the Exhortation).Fr A & two bishops

Fr Alex’s own words:

‘Over a decade ago I walked into a room at Mirfield for an Additional Curates Society weekend exploring vocation; I was surprised (and encouraged) to find that out of the two dozen people in the room I was one of three police officers! Fast forward to the last week of June 2017 and I am reflecting upon being Ordained Priest and celebrating my First Mass. It has been a long journey, not without unexpected twists and turns, ups and downs and the odd dead end.

‘The journey up to this point would not have been possible without the help, encouragement and support of so many people, my family, friends, Father Nicolas and Canon Ann, and last but not least the wonderful parishioners of BMT. Despite all the preparation I was not prepared for the impact that this weekend would have on me. I have tried to explain to others how Ordination ‘felt’ and words fail me. The sense of being supported, uplifted, blessed and loved leaves me with no words.

‘This was followed less than 24 hours later by my First Mass. once again I felt unprepared for the emotions that would accompany this service. The sense of closeness, not just with God but with you all was so consuming and overwhelming; I hope and pray that celebrating the Mass never loses that sense of awe and wonder, that numinosity. I would like to thank all who worked so very hard to make my Ordination and First Mass such a wonderful occasion.

‘The churches looked fantastic, the flowers adding to the beauty of the buildings. Thank you too for all the effort that went into the catering at both services and the magnificent cake! I was very well fed, not just spiritually but physically as well. I am looking forward to continuing my Curacy in the Parish and also for your continued support and patience, I may have been Priested but I am still learning. I am blessed to have so many good friends to help me on the next leg of this exciting journey.’

For more photos, go to the Gallery