Standing on Bishop Tony's left, (on the right of this picture), Casper, Rachel, Susan, Graeme and Michael, all from All Saints Elland, and Confirmed at St Thomas Greetland yesterday, together with those Confirmed in their home Parish. My thanks to Terry and to all at St Thomas' for their welcome and hospitality, it was good to share this great day with you all.
Yesterday evening, a reasonable number for a Snowy night gathered at St Mary's Elland, as we hosted the main Service for Elland & District Churches Together in this Octave of Prayer for the Unity of Christians. (I get irritated when it is described as the Week of Prayer - it isn't, a week being 7 days, and this Octave lasts for 8!) This years Prayers are a gift from the Dalit Christians of India, as we reflected on the Rule of faith in Micah, 'Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with your God.' Here, as in too many places, the energy has gone out of the search for Unity; compared with those who were involved when I first arrived here, few new faces have appeared over the years, and this and other events and Services still largely rely on those who have always supported them. There are fewer Churches here, and certainly fewer Clergy and Ministers around compared to what there used to be, and some, though not all, of our Churches, are ageing and gently shrinking. We are currently without a major project, as it is perhaps in mutual Christian service where the next stage of the Pilgrimage for Unity is to be found. Yet we continue, for we can do no other, if we are to be faithful to Christ.
Last Friday I was asked to take part in a meeting with Archdeacons and other Rural/Area Deans of the three Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, as the momentum gathers towards Decision Day on the Dioceses Commission proposals. (Latest here: http://www.wakefield.anglican.org/diocesesreview/) We were asked to consider the effect of the Scheme on the Parishes. The Meeting was positive and helpful, but, at a time when Diocesan Boards, Committees, Bishops and Archdeacons have spent a lot of time on this Scheme, the fact that only now the key element, the Parishes, is considered, speaks volumes.