Director’s Newsletter – September 2016
This Newsletter is being prepared prior to what in many churches is known as the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity. The Lectionary Gospel reading for this day (Luke 16: 1-15) recounts the activities of the corrupt steward as he realizes that his master is about to sack him for incompetence – and worse. In essence this is an early account of the management (or mismanagement) of wealth. Wealth is a subject that preoccupies almost all societies both historically and today. The management of wealth can be very divisive and it clearly threatened the relationships between the corrupt steward, his master and his debtors as it has adversely affected relationships within many contemporary commercial and political institutions.
Today we worry about wealth, having sufficient to lead a reasonable life, the widening gap between rich and poor in our society and many others, the management of national wealth and the stewardship – good and bad - of corporate wealth by companies and banks. Within the British retailing sector we have recently seen the devastating effects on tens of thousands of people through the closure of BHS, in part at least through individual greed. In contrast, the John Lewis Partnership offers a model of shared wealth where all employees are partners and benefit from the profits made by the business through their efforts within it. It is pertinent that two current Sunday evening UK TV series, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Poldark’ both have as their subtexts the relationship between rich and poor, opulence and destitution and the power and privilege that wealth and social position confer.
Young people are very interested in wealth and its associated characteristics, fame and success. This is frequently a challenge to the work of chaplains in schools and yet any successful school community relies on an accumulation and careful management of another form of wealth or capital - spiritual capital, renewed and augmented by a Christian community life that chaplains commend and live out in their schools.
SCALA has received information from the Culham St Gabriel’s Trust about various items that could be of benefit to schools that the Trust is proposing to sell, or in certain circumstances, donate to schools. These items, which have come from the former chapel of what was Culham College, near Abingdon, include some altar silver which the Trust is obliged to sell as well as a number of additional items including a lectern and some pews. I am going to Abingdon and Culham to view these items very shortly and further details will be emailed to all SCALA members. Preliminary photographs are included below. The items include a lectern which may be of particular interest.
One of Scala’s tasks during this academic year is to create more productive and enduring links with dioceses, both Anglican and Roman Catholic, as well as equivalent structures in other denominations. If any individual SCALA member has a contact within a diocese or equivalent structure or a proposal for the development of such links do let us know because personal contact is more than likely the key to building these productive links.
Another central task of SCALA is to update the operation of the website and increase the centrality of its use for SCALA members. If anyone has comments on the efficacy (or otherwise) of the existing site and suggestions as to how its layout and content might be improved, again, please let us know.
Meetings and Conferences
The following are confirmed for this term.
- Thursday 6th October, 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm – meeting of the Bath and Wells school chaplains’ group, Taunton Academy, Taunton
- Wednesday, 12th October, 10.00 am – 12.00 pm - meeting of the Chester school chaplains’ group, Bishop’s High School, Chester
- Thursday 13th October 10.00 am – 3.30 pm – Fettes College, Edinburgh – a major Scottish Conference ‘Discovering the Person in Pastoral Care’ at which the principal speaker will be Revd Dr Emma Loveridge, Director of ‘Rafan House’ a psychotherapeutic centre for families and children. This is intended to attract not only Scottish delegates but also those from the North of England (or, indeed, any part of the UK). The cost of this day is £40 to include refreshments, an application form is available via the ‘Events’ dropdown on the SCALA website.
- Friday 21st October ‘Conference on Spiritual Leadership – for the Young’. At Framlingham College, Suffolk, IP13 9EY. Keynote Speakers: Sir Anthony Seldon, Ms Georgina Noakes, Bishop Martin Seeley, Dr Larry Culliford £15 including lunch
- Friday 21st October, 11am - 2pm Canterbury Diocese Chaplains Network. At Diocesan House, Canterbury, Kent. Includes lunch, education updates and networking.
- Wednesday 9th November – 10.00 am -3.00 pm Chester Cathedral – ‘The Joys and Challenges for Joint Anglican and Roman Catholic Schools’. The principal speakers will be the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Most Revd Malcolm McMahon and the Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, Revd Nigel Genders.
ADVANCE NOTICE – FOURTH NATIONAL SCHOOL CHAPLAINS’ CONFERENCE
Wednesday 21st June – Friday 23rd June 2016 at Liverpool Hope University.
There will be additional meetings of local network groups and other events which will be emailed to members as soon as the dates and venues have been finalised. They will include meetings of the North London group and the York diocesan school chaplains’ group.
New to Chaplaincy
We are still hoping to hold a day, or part-day, event for those who are new or relatively new to school chaplaincy. It could be held in one or a number of locations, depending on demand. If anyone knows of colleagues who would be interested in such a day do please let Paul Hansford (email@example.com) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org) know and we will respond.
Recently published books
On the website is a selection of books that have been reviewed by SCALA members. If anyone has a recommendation and possibly a review to submit it can be added to SCALA’s existing reviewed titles.
Books that have come to our attention over the summer include the following titles.
‘How then shall we live?’ is written by Sam Wells, the Vicar of St Martin’s in the Field, a distinguished theologian and broadcaster. The book takes a number of contemporary and very pressing themes about which Sam Wells argues, the Church should have a view. These themes are diverse but are all of great relevance to contemporary life. They include global issues such as Islam and Islamic extremism, migration ecology, Europe, inequality and social media. Sam Wells also identifies issues of our humanity which include the family, disability, childhood, marriage, obesity, retirement and vocation. In a third section on ‘Facing Mortality’ Sam Wells draws our attention to bereavement, chronic illness, disappointment, old age, dementia terminal illness, assisted dying and death itself. This is a really challenging and timely book and is an immensely valuable resource for the ministry of school chaplaincy as it attempts to place the Church in the world. The book is published by Canterbury Press.
For those with a strong Eucharistic liturgical interest, Sam Wells has also published ‘Joining the Angels’ Song’ a compilation of Eucharistic prayers for each Sunday of the year and Holy Days for each of years A, B and C. the prayers are most beautifully written and gather together themes from the readings for the day. I have used them with two different congregations and they are much liked for their power to integrate more closely the themes, thoughts and intentions of the service. This book too is published by Canterbury Press.
Rowan Williams has also produced a new title over the summer, ‘Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian Life, whichdefines the nature of discipleship and then examines its characteristics through chapters on faith hope and love, forgiveness, holiness, faith in society and life in the spirit. The book combines close argument – one of Rowan Williams’ characteristics as a writer and theologian, with a pragmatism that is of inestimable value to all who read his book. Again, school chaplains will find it of great help in projecting aspects of the Christian life to their school communities.
Another of the most prolific and profound theological writers of recent times, Tom Wright has recently published ‘God in Public: How the Bible speaks truth to power today’. It deals sectionally with the postmodern world, truth in the world and biblical truth, god and earthly power, power, faith and the law – including secularism and fundamentalism –and finally God, power and human flourishing. Again it is an invaluable book for chaplains wishing with their school communities to relate the contexts of the world to Christian faith. It is published by SPCK.
There is a relatively small number of analyses of chaplaincy per se but they have been recently augmented by ‘Chaplaincy Ministry and the Mission of the Church’ byVictoria Slater, theologian, Anglican Priest and former healthcare chaplain. Victoria was also a member of Ripon College, Cuddesdon for a number of years. The book is of great significance in examining the distinctiveness of chaplaincy and its crucial relevance to the contemporary church. It is published by SCM Press.
School Chaplains as Accruers of Spiritual Capital
We are familiar with Matthew 6:21 (or Luke 12:34) ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ The Church – and, of course, chaplains - are the representatives of the church in our schools which encourages, indeed demands, the accumulation of spiritual wealth or spiritual capital both in our individual and our collective lives. Such wealth or capital is renewed and augmented by our life in a Christian community. Through prayer, worship and a constant awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it truly becomes wealth to be shared for the greater good of all. At the start of the new academic year may all SCALA’s members in schools be mindful of the immense significance of the role in schools building up the spiritual wealth that is required for a rich and truly successful life.
May this school year be one of great positivity and progress for all of us.
Gordon M W Parry