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Sacred Spaces - A Day of Parish Renewal

The Foundation team and I are available to run an away day for your parish. The day programme invites key members of your congregation to reflect on where best the energies of your church are deployed. A week or so before the away day we invite you to take a survey, which we provide, from as many people as possible in your church. During the away day we help you analyze that data to discern a vision for the next few years.   

The survey imagines seven sacred spaces of a monastery as a metaphor for the life of a church community. Respondents are asked to rate how much energy and effort is put into each aspect. The survey then gives a snapshot of what people think the church is up to.  

The away day includes worship and prayer, talks and lots of time for discussion.  We suggest that you will need two short follow-up sessions a month or two later to build up a complete picture. By the end of the process, you should have two or three concrete plans for the year ahead that you can take to your church council (PCC). 

 

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We suggest that the away day is best done by taking your team to somewhere unfamiliar and away from your normal setting.  Here in this benefice, we can offer Holy Trinity Church, Galmpton which has in the countryside and has lots of space for groups or Holy Trinity Salcombe in the heart of the town which is spacious and modern.

For more information, on possible times and suggested donations, etc. please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Submit by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. an essay on one of the following titles and the best will receive a £50 Amazon gift voucher. Essays that are well written and suitable will be made available on this site at the webmaster's discretion.  You can send the essay in Word format but please do not include superscript/subscript footnotes. Entries are restricted to the UK. The essay will be judged by me and one other judge. The maximum length is two thousand words.  I am looking for something that presents traditional doctrine in an accessible and exciting way. The deadline is September 1st 2017 by midday.

You must choose one of the following headings.

1. Belief in the Nicene Creed is more important than ever. 

2. The third schism in Global Christianity is now between conservative and progressive Christians irrespective of their denomination.

3. Consumerism is the new religion for modern people. Catechesis is about detoxifying individuals from its worse effects.

4. Christians in the West have lost the culture wars so now is the time regroup by retreating into small communities.

5. In terms of Christian mission, it is better to be faithful than successful?

6. Can we love newcomers into our complex liturgies or should we ditch the old rites for Fresh Expressions?

7. What ever happened to Tim Farron?

8. Are there careers that traditionally minded British Christians cannot consider because of political correctness or new leglisation ? 

9. Why is Saint Benedict experiencing new interest - especially amongst evangelicals in America?

10. Is it possible for our society to identify and affirm "British values" (David Cameron) without reference to its Judeo-Christian roots?

11. Does Brexit/Trump tells us something about the state of liberal democracy today?

12. Is it accurate to say that the cause of  Middle Eastern Christians is deeply unfashionable in the West today?

 

(And for a bit of fun..)

13. Are Church of England pews full of Telegraph readers being preached to by Guardian reading clerics? 

 

 

Good luck and God bless!

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'The Shift' is a book that is currently being written to explore discipleship. Using Saint Benedict's (480-547) idea of the Ladder of Humilty and combining it with a theological version of the AA Twelve Steps this course invites people to consider how to grow as Christians and build flourishing communities.  The need for this has come out of Father Daniel's experience of overseeing the residential community of St Peter's Foundation at Malborough, Devon. 

"I quickly got a sense that there was a lot of material out there for them to study about or around discipleship but all of it looked at the business of following Jesus as an intellectual thing. What these guys needed over the year was resources that really tugged at their hearts but was also intellectually deep. We had to look at conversion as a daily process which allowed them to consider how God was making, breaking and reforming them."

Looking at the recovery programmes the first steps are always the hardest and the bravest. Here there is a parallel for Christians in the realm of theology. Conversion to Christ requires for believers a leap of faith and a shift away from past behaviours and the values of the world. Just as the alcoholic has to come to that rock bottom place so the sinner has sit in that pit, the place of desolation and acknowledge that life is unmanageable.  In particular, for the Christian I believe that the four areas of unmanageability are..

  • Our individual lives
  • The unity of the Church
  • Civilisation (What St John the Evangelist means when he employ the words "the World")
  • and the environment, namely the impact of climate change.

We may not feel the crushing defeat in all four areas but if we are not aware of the troubles in at least one area of unmanageability then we are kidding ourselves. Sometimes it can be said that we are blinded by other forces from seeing the full effect of our disenfranchisement from God. Commercialism in the West, for example, dulls our senses to the plight of others or what we are doing to our inner life. It creates a codependency.  This affects the manner in which we worship and how we relate to other Christians. Modernity at its most pernicious pressurizes congregations to believe that worship is entertainment and that unity is somehow not about a humility to each other but a series of negotiations of theological territory. 

So for Benedict the first rung on the road to heaven is the fear of God. If we do not have the awesomeness of God haunting our every step then how can we expect to grow as Christians? So the Shifts I am beginning to flesh out integrate The Ladder of Humility and the AA Recovery like this..

Shift 1 - Part 1.  
There something badly wrong since my life, the Church, the World and the environment have become unmanageable. (AA adapted)

Shift 1 - Part 2.
God is awesome and everywhere. "We should always have the fear of the Lord before our eyes." (Benedict)

Shift 2 - Part 1
We came to believe that only Jesus Christ could restore our lives, unite the Church, heal the World and restore the environment. (AA adapted)

Shift 2 - Part 2
"We love not our own will but the will of the Lord." (Benedict)

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So this is it so far and a series of talks are being composed at the moment so that the September 2017 intake can enjoy these and work through stuff which is both intellectually stimulating and (more importantly) moving.

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"I was ordained in 1997 and have worked in Kent, London, Scotland and Devon.  Married to Frances we have two children, Nathaniel and Francesca.  Originally I was qualified in computing and have done some teaching at further education level.  Catholic in spirituality and evangelical in heart - I have been the parish priest of the benefice of Salcombe, Malborough, Galmpton and Hope Cove since 2008. During that time I was the rural dean for five years and am currently the warden and director of our new intentional community, St Peters. My theology leanings are towards a generous orthodoxy that could be described as post-liberal. In 2015 I wrote a rule of life called 'The Extra Mile' aimed at busy people trying to find some sustainable structure in prayer, discipleship, and service. Currently, I am working on another book called 'The Shift' which combines Benedict's Ladder of Humility with the Twelve Step Recovery Programme. This will be aimed at people wanting to go deeper in discipleship both in mind and heart."

Father Daniel A. French

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