Manna - Issue 30

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Issue Thirty

From the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells

Winter 2018

Disagreeing well


• Brendan Cox on the importance of getting together • Meet the peacemakers • Agreeing to disagree in the C of E

Read Reflect Pass On


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Encouraging confident Christian communities in Bath and Wells onflict is impossible to avoid in life, but how do we keep that conflict civil and even constructive – and what can we do when it spirals out

of control? Brendan Cox, husband of Jo Cox MP who was killed in 2015, knows the personal cost of destructive disagreements. He talks of the need to come together ahead of this year’s ‘Great Get Together’. The Very Revd Dr John Davies, Dean of Wells, also references the importance of community, along with learning, in his interview. Whether you are struggling to deal with a conflict situation at home, school, work or church it is good to know there is always someone who can help – you can hear from three of them in our ‘Making peace’ feature. Peace is something that Ecumenical Accompanier, Anne Plested who has recently returned from the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, prays for. She shares her faith story on page 10. We hear some personal perspectives from two of our clergy on the ordination of women and human sexuality, while Simon Keyes, Professor of Reconciliation and Peacebuilding at the University of Winchester, asks us to reflect on good and bad disagreement. Louise Willmot Editor Image credits: All images copyright of the author and licensed under Creative Commons, P6: Unlocked CC Alan Levine P7: Jim Elaborates CC Quinn Dombrowski P16: Rainbow flag church CC Alan Fagen P18: Derek Cockell (A well-earned rest) 2 Winter 2018


3 Brendan Cox: Stronger together


5 Making peace

My faith

10 Life on the margins


12 The Very Revd Dr John Davies,

Dean of Wells

Feature 14 Agreeing to disagree News in brief 17 Updates from the Diocese

of Bath and Wells

Out and about 18 Happenings and news from

the parishes

Time Out 20 Some titans revisited 21 No easy answers Soul Food 22 Good disagreement

Manna editorial panel for this issue Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton (Chair)

Revd Preb Stephen Lynas, Bishop’s Chaplain Revd Kenneth Cross, Old Cleeve, Leighland and Treborough Louise Willmot, Communications (Editor)

Get in touch

Email: manna@bathwells. ph: 01749 685145 Diocese of Bath and Wells The Old Deanery Wells Somerset BA5 2UG T: 01749 670777 Manna Magazine


Stronger together By Brendan Cox.


ast June, on the first anniversary of my wife’s death, millions of people took part in events across the country as part of ‘The Great Get Together’. It was an occasion to remember Jo and to bring communities closer together. There were gatherings in churches, village halls, football grounds and public spaces. People arranged barbecues in their back gardens or parties out on the street. It was a wonderful example of what’s best about this country. Give people a reason to come together, whether it’s a Royal wedding or a Manna Magazine

Brendan Cox

“It was an occasion to remember Jo and to bring communities closer together.”

major sporting event like the World Cup, then they jump at the chance. With ‘The Great Get Together’ they did it because, like Jo, they believed in stronger communities and wanted to show it. The response we got was overwhelming. When we asked people afterwards, 96 per cent said they thought we should do it again at least once a year, if not more. So at Christmas we encouraged people to share Mince Pie Moments with people who might otherwise be having a lonely time. And this June we’ll be encouraging everybody to come out for the second ‘Great Get Together’. ➜ Winter 2018 3


We’re hoping that reaching out to others, starting a conversation, putting the meaning of ‘community’ into action, will become a habit. For some, including many churchgoers, it already is. But as we look around us it’s hard to escape the conclusion that we don’t live in as close communities as we used to. Sometimes it’s because of how we live and work – people don’t tend to go to church or the pub in the way they used to. People spend a lot more of their time on social media. It’s easy to mistake online friends for real friends. But the research shows that we are all happier and healthier if we have at least four meaningful connections with people who we know will always be there for us. Stronger communities help counter loneliness and enrich lives, but they do more than that. In Jo’s words, they help remind us that we have more in common than that which divides us. And in the uncertain world we now live in, they also serve to protect us from those who would spread hate and fear and try to divide us. Extremists want to spread mistrust and the idea of everyone hating each other. They may be Islamist extremists or the Far Right, but their objectives are the same. At its worst this can lead to appalling events like the terrorist atrocities we have seen in our major cities and across the world. And it can inspire hate crimes that could occur anywhere and be directed at anybody who doesn’t fit into the narrow world view of the extremist. Violent extremism can do untold lasting damage to the families of those caught up in it and our thoughts should always be with them. I don’t underestimate the pain it can cause. I and my family know it only too well. But I don’t think extremist groups have grown in size, I think they’ve become more noisy and sometimes more dangerous. 4 Winter 2018

16 –18 JUNE

“There is a huge readiness among people to focus on the things that unite us.”

We have to make sure the silent majority finds its voice. That we all talk more about the basic things that show Britain for the great place it is. A sense of fair play, tolerance, and being outward-looking as a country. If you give people the opportunity for a sense of togetherness, people take it. For me, that’s what The Great Get Together is all about. As I said in the days following my wife’s murder, Jo’s killing was an act of terrorism, but it was perhaps the most incompetent and self-defeating in history. It was designed to silence her voice, but has instead made sure that millions of others hear it. It was supposed to unleash hatred but instead created an outpouring of love. It aimed to divide communities but has instead bought them together. That bringing together of communities is more important now than ever. I think people are sick of the narrative of hatred and division that neither represents who they are nor our great country. At a time when extremists of all types are trying to divide our communities there is a huge readiness among people to focus on the things that unite us, and to draw closer to their neighbours and communities. Those are the people who represent the true spirit of Britain. I’ve been touched and humbled by the way so many have responded already and I’m confident that this June we will again show that spirit in action ■ Manna Magazine

Making peace


For the times when we don’t disagree well, there’s always someone to help. Manna talks to three people used to helping people through challenging situations.


eter Merson has recently retired from many years serving as a commercial and family mediator. Originally a veterinary surgeon, Peter’s first experience of mediation was when he was involved in an employment dispute which went to mediation. He became interested in the process, signed up for a training course at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution and didn’t look back. Peter says, “In terms of my faith, I just feel it goes with the fact that we are called to be peacemakers. That’s a strong motivator. If you can see a way to help people find a peaceful solution to what has been a difficult situation, that’s highly motivating. “It’s a skill that I feel, even if I’m not now not using commercially, will stay with me and it is one we can all use nearly every day. Maybe not in a formal situation, but in a PCC meeting or a diocesan group, for example, you can see people forming opinions or having pre-formed opinions on issues that you may have to shift. Having the skills to help do that - so we can move forward is useful.” Manna Magazine

Peter Merson, one of our Zambia link supporters, recently retired from mediation.

“We are called to be peacemakers.”

Peter feels that the ‘soft’ people skills are the most important if you are a mediator, rather than specialist or legal knowledge. “To have a degree of empathy is important, and you need good listening skills and a basic grasp of how people work. These soft skills can then be reinforced in any mediation training. You also need a degree of resilience, otherwise there is a risk you can get subsumed into the dispute and end up not being able to cope - because it is hard and sometimes you feel you have done nothing useful and the situation is getting worse not better.” ➜ Winter 2018 5


Mediation is a voluntary process and Peter explains, “You can’t force people to do it, it won’t work. But taking part in a mediation is a way you can take control of a dispute, to an extent something I remind people of, along with the fact they can walk out at any time. They have to use the whole of their mind and personality to make a shift, but it is quite empowering when they do. In mediation people often realise they have more power than they thought, which can be a great help as often by the time they reach me, they can feel quite depressed about the situation. They inevitably feel things are happening that they can’t control and see maintaining their position as a way of maintaining control, when actually it’s a way of stopping things getting sorted. For Peter, mediation is an underused service, particularly in light of its success rate. “Be it family, commercial or community mediation, there is a good chance of finding a resolution as long as people are willing to explore it. Typically, 70 to 80 per cent of disputes across all sectors which go to mediation will find a solution. That’s not a bad track record,” he says.

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“There is a good chance of finding a resolution if people are willing to explore it.”

Sometimes the smallest thing can unlock a disagreement.

Even if the situation isn’t fully resolved, Peter finds that it can still help people come to terms with a difference which will allow them to move on. On his successes, he says, “I find it endlessly fascinating that you can see something that moves someone’s mind a small amount, and once the movement has started that can lead the way. When you think you’ve reached deadlock, often a very small thing can completely unlock the dispute. When people find they can they can move a small distance they can surprise themselves by how much they can move later on. It sounds counterintuitive, but it tends to work that way. “Most people involved in mediation inevitably start from a position where they expect the other person to move first. But I say that is not going to happen, so what are you going to do about it? I also say to people that very often the first person to make a move towards the other is the one that has the advantage. Because they have already moved off their original position, and will have been seen by the other party as having done so, the natural instinct in most of us is - if we see someone move towards us - is to respond to that, no matter how bad it has got. There is then a sort of innate pressure in a person to move, not just to reject it. That can surprise people. “My role is to get people to concentrate on looking forward to the future. They have got to where they are because of things that have happened in the past, but that’s the past. That’s where my faith comes in, I hope I help people look forward with hope.” Like Peter, Revd Mike Haslam also came into the role of peacemaker following a personal experience. He explains, “I was drawn to train as a Bridge Builder after serving as a vicar in a parish where a small village of around 200 households had been surrounded by a massive new estate of about 20,000 homes. There were some inevitable tensions and Bridge Builders Manna Magazine


Recently appointed Chaplaincy Adviser, Revd Mike Haslam is also a trained Bridge Builder.

was recommended to me as a way of learning how to respond appropriately to it. The ethos is very much about transforming conflict, not resolving it. I went on to do additional training with Bridge Builders, which equipped me to go into churches as a mediator or facilitator. Bridge Builders grew out of the London Mennonite Centre in 1990. It recognises that while church should have a culture of peace it does not

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“We need to name conflict and transform it as we go to keep it creative and constructive.” Chatting over coffee or enjoying a creative conflict situation?

always ‘do conflict well’. It aims to strengthen the ministry of Christian leaders, by helping them develop the skills, confidence and resilience to work with tensions and conflict in the church. Mike is one of several people in the diocese who has trained with Bridge Builders and is available to offer churches support in times of tension and conflict. New curates in the diocese now also receive training on how to manage conflict which, as Mike points out, is ever present. “There has been conflict right from the start, throughout the scriptures and the life of the church. The key is to have good disagreement or positive conflict. Bridge Builders is about enabling the conflict to be creative not destructive and to be issue focused rather than person focused. As Christians, we all want to share the gospel and serve God but we have very different ways of doing that. Sometimes, when we are discussing how to achieve our goals, we allow the personal to get in the way”. “You can have a group of people sitting around a table having a coffee and a discussion. They all have one aim but different ideas about how to ➜

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get there. They may have a ‘to and fro’ discussion and there is conflict there, but it is a positive conflict. If church leaders have the skills to ensure that positive conflict does not turn destructive that is a useful skill. Too often, we are instinctively scared of conflict so it festers. We need to name it and transform it as we go.” And it’s not just leaders who can learn skills to avoid destructive conflict. Mike says, “We can all do our bit to keep conflict creative and constructive; the first thing is to be ready to listen. We need to always take our time and always pray. I find that Stephen Cottrell’s book ‘Hit the ground kneeling’ is a useful reminder to stop continually trying to hit the ground running. We also need to learn to take one issue at a time and respond to one issue at a time.” Mike also points out that we also need to acknowledge we can’t always work together, and that can be part of how we demonstrate ‘disagreeing well’. “The apostles in Acts don’t always go the same way. They have the same aims, but such different ways of leading the church that they end up going in different directions. I am also intrigued by the story of Jacob. After he finally realised he was wrong to cheat his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing, he went alone to seek reconciliation with Esau. On the way he encountered God, as we still do within the journey of reconciliation and transformation. The brothers did indeed reconcile, but then went their separate ways. They were no longer in active conflict, but too much water had gone under the bridge for them to become friends again. Sometimes that’s a good ending; not the best ending, but a good ending. In a similar way I have seen people leave churches and communities well and with God’s blessing; it’s a source of grief and sadness, but far better than leaving badly.” 8 Winter 2018

“Too often, we are instinctively scared of conflict.”

“Finally, the longer you leave asking for help, the harder it is to transform a conflict, so please, please, ask early. Your archdeacon will be able to point you in the direction of someone who can help you build bridges and transform conflict,” concludes Mike. Transforming conflict is something that school chaplain, Neil Wylie, is used to. He says, “A lot of conflict resolution I deal with is centred around when children fall out. I have worked with some aggressive children and a big part is trying to get them to understand someone else’s perspective. Not just that of their peers, but teachers as well. It’s not always easy to get teenagers to understand someone else’s feelings. It comes with experience and if you are coming from a place where you don’t understand your own emotions, then it is difficult to understand somebody else’s.” For Neil it is a case of chipping away and offering constant positive reaffirmation, pointing out the good but addressing the bad. One of the biggest challenges he faces, however, is apathy. School chaplain, Neil Wylie

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He says, “Apathy is one of the worst things to happen to our young people. How can you get someone to care? Education is key, along with helping them find their passion. I try to do that in a variety of ways, with catering and media clubs, but also through the skate park that I helped establish. If you have a passion in one area of life then that can transfer into other areas. But we are almost having to teach children empathy, and doing so in a polarised culture which revenge is seen as the best thing and where there is no place for forgiveness. Everyone, from pop stars to presidents, use their social media channels negatively, promoting polarisation or attacking their peers, so it is a big challenge.” Online bullying is another challenge. Neil says, “Schools are very good at handling bullying inside their walls Manna Magazine

The GSUS truck visited Nailsea School.

but cyber-bullying is more difficult to tackle. Again it comes down to education and empathy, reminding children that a snide comment or a sneaky silly photograph can be hurtful, and with children permanently connected now, there is no escape from that.” Recently, Neil arranged to have the GSUSlive Trailer an interactive mobile classroom visit Nailsea and Clevedon schools. “Children visited to explore the themes of Fear, Rejection and Forgiveness. The exercise had a social media feel, allowing children to interact with a variety of characters from the present day and from history, such as Malala Yousafzai and Martin Luther King, in a range of situations, before finishing with a short gospel message.” Neil’s advice to the children is seemingly at odds with current culture, “Be nice or be quiet. When you see our politicians and people in the media who aren’t modelling this, and even some people in our churches, it is hard for children to get that message but as Christians the bible teaches us how to do this. If you have a problem with someone you go and speak to them. You do with grace, you do it with love.” ■

Next steps

Find out more about mediation at Find out more about Bridge Builders at

“We are almost having to teach children empathy.”

Find out more about the diocese’s plans for chaplaincy at developing-chaplaincy Find out more about the GSUSlive trailer at

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My faith

Life on the margins By Anne Plested.


recognise God as one who lives alongside His people and His world. I feel called to be a part of this. I am particularly drawn to live among those who live on the margins, and to share in their lot in this world. Much of my life and work has had an element of ʻaccompanimentʼ. Fifteen years in The Gambia — as a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) volunteer and Church Mission Society (CMS) mission partner — was of this nature. Although going to share skills, I increasingly wondered ʻwho is the teacher?ʼ I felt I gained as much, if not more, than I could give. Five years living with the Pilsdon Community in Dorset was again a time of being ‘alongside’. This time was spent with those dealing with life’s crises, and where ‘community’ can bring healing. Invariably it is not the ‘doing’ or ‘saying’, but the ‘being’ that is most important. During the summer I had the privilege to spend three months in the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank. This was made possible through the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) – implemented in this country by the Quakers. ʻAccompanimentʼ is a term recognised under international law. It aims to provide a protective presence to vulnerable people that are 10 Winter 2018

“The programme works with Palestinian, Israeli or any other.”

Anne Plested

at risk, and to monitor human rights. EAPPI adheres to non-violence. The programme works with Palestinian, Israeli or any other who would like to see a peaceful end to the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, and peace with justice and dignity for all. EAPPI is not pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, but pro-human rights. Situations are assessed through the lens of international humanitarian law. For example, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, ʻThe Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.ʼ Manna Magazine

Thus, under international law, the Israeli settlements on the West Bank are illegal. As an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA), the sort of activities I was involved in were invariably to provide a protective presence in the face of Israeli settler harassment of Palestinian shepherds and Palestinian families. I bore witness to life in that place at that time – a region with a deeply troubled past. I find deep theological significance in the concept of ʻaccompanimentʼ. Emmanuel – God with us. Jesus’ earthly ministry had a focus on relationships – often spending time with, and supporting, people who were vulnerable – through position in society, ethnicity, sickness, disability, loss of provider, gender and so on. A ministry that can be costly. It certainly was for Jesus. Strangely, people who stand alongside those on the margins can be seen as a threat to the status quo. Archbishop Oscar Romero (martyred 24 March 1980) understood this when warning – ‘Christ invites us not to fear persecution because… one who is committed to the poor must risk the same fate as the poor. And in El Salvador we know what the fate of the poor signifies: to disappear, to be tortured, to be captive and to be found dead’ (Romero 17 February 1980). He made the ultimate sacrifice. The place I found myself during the summer was different. However, I and fellow EAs could be targets of harassment from Israeli settlers, in the same way as the Palestinian shepherd we accompanied. Ahmed, the shepherd, grazed his flock on his family’s land (their ownership endorsed by the courts). He lived on the margins as a Palestinian in occupied territory. We lived on the margins with him. A question I have been asked – and which I have asked myself is: “Is there hope for the future?” From a political perspective, I can see little evidence of hope. Hope comes more in the people I met: those who maintain daily life in an occupied territory; those who do not Manna Magazine

My faith

Shepherding on the margins.

respond with violence to provocation and injustice; those who hold on to a compassionate heart; a Bedouin man who has the grace to recognise the fear in which his settler neighbours live, even though they are regularly hostile to his community; the brave Israelis who oppose the oppression and occupation. Ultimately, I have hope because I am one of the People of the Resurrection. The future? I pray for one of peace with justice and dignity for all in this area – where, over the years, there have been rights and wrongs all round. The words of Rumi speak to my soul: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” ■

Next steps

You can read Anne’s account of her time in the West Bank and articles from other Ecumenical Accompaniers on the

“Hope comes more in the people I met.”

Would you like to share your personal journey of faith? Get in touch at Winter 2018 11


A cathedral for everyone

The Very Revd Dr John Davies, Dean of Wells talks to Manna about the cathedral’s centuries-old role in supporting learning and the importance of building links with the community.


ells Cathedral is renowned for its architecture, its world-class musical tradition and its worship, but perhaps less so as a seat of learning. This aspect of the cathedral’s ministry to the community is one that the Dean and his team want to bring more to the fore. “A cathedral has many, many roles. One of the things in place from ancient statutes is that we should be a place of education, reflection and learning,” explains the Dean as we meet in his study in Wells. “It’s why we have a library, which is beautifully kept, but we need to remember that the learning has to go on. And, while it is wonderful that hundreds and thousands of schoolchildren visit us every year we also need to remember that learning isn’t just for children, it is for adults too.” This year the cathedral is hosting a series of lectures on the centenary of the First World War, examining its impact on theology and society as a whole. The Dean hopes it will mirror the success of last year’s lecture series, which marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation 12 Winter 2018

The Very Revd Dr John Davies, Dean of Wells Cathedral

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and attracted over 400 people from Wells and across Somerset. The Dean says, “Cathedrals should draw people in to think about the world we live in, the beliefs we have and the challenges of modernity. When they came to the Luther lectures, people asked ‘What was this theological teacher, Martin Luther all about?’ They wanted to engage and to explore their own pattern of belief.” With a doctorate in theology, and a former teacher of theology, the Dean recognises the crucial role the cathedral has in terms of providing opportunities for people to learn and to explore their faith. “At a time of strong secularization, the church can give people a stronger and deeper sense of their faith by engaging in theological exploration. I am so grateful for the theological formation that I had that I want to pass it on to others.” In a year in which we mark the centenary of the end of the war, the Wells Cathedral Lent Lectures will trace the painful end of Victorian and Edwardian culture and explore what emerged. “We will be examining how our image of God changed as a result of the horror experienced in the trenches,” says the Dean. “We’ll also be looking at changes to the place of women in society, how the war affected the countries of the Ottoman Empire and how that in turn has had an influence on who we see as our neighbours – and how we, as Christians, interact with them,” he adds. As well as drawing people in, as a former parish priest, the Dean recognises the importance of looking beyond the walls of the cathedral. The Dean says, “The cathedral is here for everyone. I hold to the description of cathedrals as the parish church for the diocese as well. We need to be interested in our community and parishes and invite their interest in us.” The Dean’s personal approach to his role backs this up. He says, “Deans are Manna Magazine


not meant to be tied to the cathedral, they are called to be out and about in the diocese,” he says. “I strive to be outward facing and accessible. This week I will be giving a talk to the Wells Civic Society, attending a meeting with a deanery chapter and preaching at a parish church 50 minutes away from Wells. I received a warm welcome at a number of deanery synods and chapters last year, and hope to attend more of these in 2018.” As they continue to develop the cathedral’s vision, the Dean and the cathedral team are looking forward to a busy 2018, which builds on the successes of 2017. The Dean says, “I joined a team that was ready for a vision and together we are developing one that is being received very positively. Last year we saw an increase in worshippers, in volunteers, in giving and in visitor numbers, which can only be good news for the diocese, the Church and for the faith.” ■

Next steps

Find out more about Lent 2018 at Wells Cathedral at 18 February: Poetry and the Collapse of a Culture – The Revd Canon Rachel Mann, Canon Poet, Manchester Cathedral. 25 February: Women in Society – Professor Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor of Winchester University.

“Deans are not meant to be tied to the cathedral, they are called to be out and about in the diocese.”

4 March: God – The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. 18 March: Islam - The Revd Canon Professor David Thomas, Birmingham University. All welcome! No booking required.

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Agreeing to disagree

Two Bath and Wells clergy share a personal reflection on topics the Church of England has had to learn to disagree well on in recent years, the ordination of women and human sexuality.


s the representative of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet in the south west, Father Julian Laurence, vicar at Holy Trinity, Taunton, feels that throughout the history of the church, there have been differences in terms of churchmanship, understanding and ecclesiology. He says, “The most profound difference was seen in 1992 with the measure being passed to admit women into the priesthood. It has had a great theological effect not only within the Church of England but also on our relationship with our sister churches.” Father Julian believes there are a number of ways that we cope with differences of opinion of any kind: we can pretend the disagreement doesn’t exist; we can use it as an excuse to subjugate the minority and use difference as a division. He says, “The five guiding principles, introduced when the ordination of women as bishops order was announced in 2014, offer a framework by which we can differ but at the same 14 Winter 2018

Father Julian (right) time live together. How we actually with Father Adam. live together is what is important and the guiding principles help us do that and allow mutual flourishing.” While Father Julian’s parish was “How we one of a number in the diocese actually live which, following the measure, took the decision to come under the together sacramental care of the Bishop of is what is Ebbsfleet, rather than the diocesan important.” bishops, that does not mean that he

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and his parish are disconnected from the diocese. Father Julian sits on the Diocesan Advisory Commission for the Care of Churches and is Bishop Peter’s Deliverance Adviser. Holy Trinity also recently welcomed Bishop Ruth to preach at their 175th anniversary celebrations and to join them afterwards for a parish celebration. Both diocesan bishops were present at last year’s ordinations, which saw Father Adam, curate of Holy Trinity, Taunton, ordained priest by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, after being ordained deacon by Bishop Peter. “That was an act of grace on their part and I believe both Bishop Peter and Bishop Ruth have demonstrated a ministry of disagreeing well,” says Father Julian. “It may not have been comfortable or agreeable to do so, but I think it is necessary, although painful, to have differences pointed out. Knowing the differences are there, not covering them over, keeps in focus the task that we have to live with them and reconcile them. It remains important that the views of the minority, in this case those of the Catholic tradition, are not subjugated or belittled by those in Manna Magazine

Bishop Ruth and Bishop Peter with the Bishop of Ebbsfleet at Father Adam’s ordination.

Revd Kenneth Cross

the majority, just as it is important that those of my tradition are generous and respectful to men and women with whom they disagree on this point. It hasn’t always been the case that they have been and that is a cause of shame, but I very much hope we have put this behind us now and recognise this is the best resolution we could come to. “We do however need to continue to work to understand our differences and recognise the pain that has been felt on both sides. It’s impossible to fully understand another person’s pain but we can draw on our own experiences and empathise with it and also reaffirm our desire not to cause more pain.” For Revd Kenneth Cross, Rector at Old Cleeve, Leighland and Treborough, empathising with others and recognising their pain played a part in his personal change of position on an issue the church continues to debate, the issue of human sexuality. “As I met and got to know people who happened to be gay, I saw some of their anguish and longing for acceptance, and for stability in faithful relationships just like everybody else. Being ordained as a priest was a big factor in all of this as I have, over the years, had the most enriching encounters with real, compassionate human beings who carry this anguish, with whom I share so much common humanity and whom I respect deeply. This was part of my conversion from an often subliminal, judgemental attitude towards those of differing sexual orientation to compassionate acceptance, as equals, of those who are different to me.” With a background in the Church of Scotland, which he describes as “having both its treasures and its trappings, as all denominations do,” Kenneth says, “I became involved in independent churches where I became entrenched in a narrowness that was far from the grace of God. However, things were to change: over a period ➜ Winter 2018 15


of 10 years or so I entered a profound season of questioning where some of my deepest wounds and prejudices began to come into the light of grace. Becoming Anglican was, among other things, an expression of wanting to be part of a church where great diversity was allowed! It was liberation, and I still love the Church of England despite its current travails. Show me a group of human beings without them. “My attitude to the Bible was transformed as I had a conversion away from anxious literalism towards recognising the deep riches of evolving conversations within Holy Scripture with all their ecstasy, horror and hope. I began to see the inconsistency of

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“We must be patient with those who disagree with us.” Shared Conversations at the Church of England synod.

Love binds us together.

insisting on a traditionalist attitude towards sexuality while simultaneously embracing more enlightened attitudes towards remarrying divorcees or gender equality among evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. I began to discern my own unacknowledged fear of change and of different others (bluntly, xenophobia) which I had once understood to be about defending ‘what the bible plainly says’. I came to see that the Bible was far from plain! For Kenneth, the human family is like any family - full of conflict. “In Christian terms, our journey is one of a shared meal - table fellowship. In following Christ we recognise that ‘we who are many are one body, because we all share in one bread’. We are the Body of Christ, God’s love embodied in the world, humanity renewed - and this is meant to be an outrageously welcoming family of broken people. It is only as a fragile and fractured family that we become a sign of hope in the world.” He adds, “We are not united because we all think the same, act the same, eat, drink or dress the same, are successful or ‘have arrived’. We are enormously diverse. What unites us is that we are all broken people, united in Christ who was broken for all. From time to time our broken edges will agitate one another, sometimes deeply – and we must be patient with those who disagree with us. Love binds us together. That is what it is to be Christian.” ■ Manna Magazine

News in brief

News in brief

Updates from around our diocese.

Bishops’ Lent Appeal 2018

The Bishops’ Lent Appeal 2018 is celebrating Lay Ministry of all shapes and sizes. In doing so, it hopes to raise money to directly support lay ministry roles in Zambia. The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, says, “This year we are celebrating 40 years of partnership with our link dioceses in Zambia – and what better way to celebrate that fact, than to raise money and awareness to support lay ministry in Zambia and in our own diocese.” Over the course of Lent the Bishops’ Lent Appeal will showcase and celebrate the variety and diversity of lay ministry in our diocese and Zambia. Parishes are invited to participate by setting aside one Sunday during the Lenten period to pray for, reflect on, and make a donation in support of the Bishops’ Lent Appeal ■

Fresh Expressions

Manna Magazine

Live the link

As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Bath and Wells-Zambia link, the diocese is making plans for two groups to travel to Zambia. April will see a selection of lay and ordained Bath and Wells’ folk travel to Zambia, while a group of young people will visit Zambia to explore and learn alongside Zambian Christians what it means to live and tell the story of Jesus in the two countries. They will also share and celebrate the differences, common ground, challenges and joys of our Christian calling in very different ways. Review the full programme on page 23 ■

Living and telling

Want to know what this diocesan vision is all about then? You can download an at-a-glance guide to support conversations in churches and communities about what it means to live and tell the story of Jesus. Available to parishes at no cost via ■

Want to get the true picture of how Fresh Expressions have grown in Bath and Wells? Wondering what types of Fresh Expressions are represented here? What works and what works less well? A report, published in December, outlines the impact our Fresh Expressions of church are having in the diocese is compares this information with other dioceses across the country. One of the key findings of the audit is that there are perhaps

fewer current Fresh Expressions in the diocese than we might collectively think, with 38 Fresh Expressions (or FxC for short) meeting the Church Army’s criteria. Armed with this information, the diocese’s Evangelism Team, led by Revd Tina Hodgett, is to shape the way in which we can best encourage, equip and support our Fresh Expressions. Download the report at fresh-expressions ■ Winter 2018 17

Out and About


across Bath and Wells

Send your images to To see more photos, visit our Facebook page Abbey House farewell (Right) ■ Bishop Peter (centre), joined Revd Preb Peter Martin (right), Chair of Trustees, and Revd David FoxBranch (left) and 70 guests, at the final thanksgiving Eucharist for Abbey House, Glastonbury.

A well-earned rest (Below) ■ After 25 years maintaining the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Bishops Lydeard, Mike and Jill Hansford have retired. We offer our grateful thanks for their service.

Boxed and ready (Above) ■ Parishioners load up some of the 110 boxes that the Benefice of Street, Walton and Compton Dundon donated to Operation Christmas Child.

A special anniversary (Left) ■ The church of St Michael the Archangel in North Cadbury celebrated its 600th anniversary in September.

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Manna Magazine

Out and About

St Thomas’s, Wells — Place ‘n’ Space (Right) ■ St Thomas’s, Wells welcomed the community into its refurbished church for a weekend of celebration. The changes allow the church to offer it as a resource for the whole community for a wide range of activities and exercises.

A fond farewell (Below) ■ The congregation of St Mary’s, Hutton, said farewell to Revd Raymond Davies and his wife Menna as they move to Yorkshire. Raymond, who was ordained in Cardiff in 1954, retired to Hutton in 1999.

Supporting the homeless (Left) ■ Children from Bishop Henderson School, Taunton, have been busy distributing gifts to Taunton Food Bank and the Taunton Open Door Project for the Homeless.

Lychgate for Binegar (Above & Right) ■ The gifts of the community were celebrated at the Manna Magazine

blessing of the new lychgate, dedicated to the memory of Chloe May Wilcox, at Holy Trinity, Binegar.

To find out what’s happening across the diocese, see our events calendar at Winter 2018 19

Time Out

Some titans revisited… By Richard Calverley.


n the current climate of historical reappraisal, who are our heroes? Perhaps today they’re those focused on seeking justice and reconciliation, often at personal cost to themselves. In the following stories, mostly based on true events, here are some alternative titans to remember. Gandhi (1982). It’s worth reflecting on how Gandhi became the ‘spokesman for the conscience for all mankind’; making ‘humility and simple truth more powerful than empires’ through ‘peaceful, nonviolent non-cooperation’. Sound familiar? Joyeux Noel (2005). Based on the unofficial Christmas truce of 1914 in WW1, which saw soldiers on both sides of the trenches lay down their arms for a moment of peace, this film documents the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ and the cost to those involved. Hacksaw Ridge (2016). Desmond Doss reconciles his wish to serve his country and refusal to kill the enemy by serving on the front line at Okinawa, without a rifle. There’s little glory in the battle scenes but much in the saving of the lives of comrades. 12 Angry Men (1957). Henry Fonda plays Juror No.8 in the classic and gripping courtroom drama. Facing indifference, prejudice and critical opposition, he stands as a lone voice to turn hearts and minds. Remember the Titans (2000). Herman Boone, politically appointed to coach a recently integrated school football team in a traditionally-separated Virginia — where intolerance is the accepted norm — faces physical and institutional opposition ■ 20 Winter 2018

Surf style

How do you do in an argument? How do you resolve conflict? Do you need to improve your skills? may be the starting point to improve interpersonal skills, conflict resolution and mediation skills. Several Christian sites offer advice on how to ‘argue well’. is a ‘go to’ for this and a range of other issues, as is US site; it’s also a subject covered in a myriad of Life Skills sites such as Corrymeela is a Christian community that promotes dialogue and reconciliation. — based in Northern Ireland and borne out of experiences in WW2 and the ‘Troubles’ — works alongside fractured communities to break down barriers using a range of techniques. The Network of Christian Peace organisations links a range of ecumenical groups offering resources and opportunities to engage in reconciliation. Want to pray for reconciliation in conflicts around the globe? is the definitive prayer guide to global issues or conflicts.

The Diocese of Bath & Wells is not responsible for any content on external sites. Manna Magazine

No easy answers Book reviews by Richard Greatrex.


ue Pickering opens her gentle and generous book ‘Listening and Spiritual Conversation’ (Canterbury Press) by recounting meeting a bird named Kahurangi in a wildlife sanctuary. Kahurangi, a rare blue-wattled kokako, was so young when she arrived in captivity that she had never heard the distinctive song of her species. Without that refrain she could not fathom who she was and so had been unable to mate. Every day her carers played recordings of her species’ song; Kahurangi listened and slowly began to sing her own half-formed version. Listening is a key component for working out our place in the world – listening to others, God and ourselves. Jesus, Pickering tells us, empowered people by attending to them with his whole being. Respectfully engaging with others requires us to refine our own interpersonal skills and use of power which means, when communication breaks down, being aware of what is going on inside us and in those we are talking with. Knowing not just what winds us up, but why it does so, alongside taking responsibility for, and owning up to, our problems, helps us grow more authentic in our relationships. But listening, especially to others, involves risk. Sally Nash, Jo Pimlott and Paul Nash begin their chapter on conflict skills in the SPCK Library of Ministry collection ‘Skills for Collaborative Ministry’ by reminding us that the Chinese characters for the word ‘crisis’ are those representing ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’: if handled correctly, disagreement can move from crisis to creativity. Like Sue Pickering’s, theirs is a deeply practical book, immediate and understandable, aimed at developing Manna Magazine

“There were also places where they could not agree, where it was hard to respect the other’s position and to maintain their own with integrity.”

Richard is the manager of Aslan Christian Bookshops and associate priest in Long Ashton with Barrow Gurney and Flax Bourton.

Time Out

a wide range of skills that encourage entire Christian communities to work together in building the kingdom of God, including those times when disagreement arises. Breaking down conflict by type, then identifying problematic sources, perspectives and defence mechanisms, they swiftly move towards a series of different approaches that can be implemented to help resolve these situations. The image provided by Lis Goddard and Clare Hendry, introducing their chapter in ‘Good Disagreement? Grace and Truth in a Divided Church’ (edited by Andrew Atherstone and Andrew Goddard, Lion Publishing), is of two stoutly defended castles sited on adjacent hills bursting with ammunition, readied for action. The book comprises essays by a wide range of authors that unfold the concept of ‘good disagreement’, applying it to a variety of church situations. Lis and Clare hold very different views on headship and women in ministry, yet they were asked to write a book together exploring the subject. In the chapter, ‘From Castles to Conversations: How to Disagree Well’, they describe their journey together. While they found common ground, there were also places where they could not agree, where it was hard to respect the other’s position and to maintain their own with integrity. Here it was not possible to ‘agree to disagree’, yet for both it was vital to disagree in ways that were gracious and loving. Good disagreement, they believe, is not an optional extra. In fact, the authors feel it is a clear Gospel mandate, one without simple or easy answers but which requires constant work, unceasing reaching out and a purposeful striving for reconciliation ■ Winter 2018 21

Soul Food

Good disagreement By Simon Keyes, Professor of Reconciliation and Peacebuilding at the University of Winchester.


f we expect religion to provide a sense of stability in a turbulent world, it’s no wonder that church conflict is painful. When the gremlins of human behaviour – anger, lies, gossip, betrayal – are unleased our assumption that the church should be a place of effortless harmony disintegrates. “The house becomes divided against itself” (Mark 3:25). Bible readers should not be surprised. Our scriptures, Hebrew and New, are encyclopaedic in their descriptions of conflict. Acts and the Epistles show the early church oscillating between joyful enthusiasm and internecine argument, subjects on which Paul and Peter have useful advice. Jesus not only anticipates disagreement but actively welcomes it, announcing that he has come with a sword to “set a man against his father” (Matthew 10:35). Disagreement disrupts the unquestioning conformity which stunts our growth. As Richard Rohr puts it “The Gospel creates necessary conflicts that grow people up.” What matters is how we disagree. Archbishop Justin advocates “good disagreement”. This is much more than a passive “agreeing to disagree”. It’s about seeing value in the process of disagreement itself; in being open to the possibility of growth by going outside the comfort zone of our opinions. Disagreement done well is driven by curiosity about why others think differently and by a desire to understand what’s really at stake. It encourages protagonists to question their own ideas and examine where these come from. It values our opponents because they offer us the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us. They reveal the limited horizon of our assumptions and prejudices. 22 Winter 2018

Good & Poor Disagreement

Difference Arouse Curiosity Take Sides Listen Select/ignore info Question Assume & attribute Acknowledge Personalise/generalise Incorporate Interdependence Devalue/Demonise Understanding Combat

What path will you take?

According to Jung, our enemies represent aspects of our psyche with which we have not come to terms. We have much to learn from them. Perhaps this is why Jesus says we should love them. Poor disagreement traps participants in defending a position by selecting and ignoring information and diminishing those who don’t share their views. It frames the disagreement as a combat that must be won. A good disagreement is a thoughtful conversation between adversaries, characterised by questioning and listening rather than asserting one’s own views. It is a search not for agreement but for understanding in which our intelligence and compassion are aligned. “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves,” Jesus said ■

Next steps “Jesus not only anticipates disagreement but actively welcomes it.”

Read: Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians. (2014) John-Paul Lederach. Herald Press Reflect: ‘How good am I at listening and asking good questions?’ Act: Next time you disagree with someone, try and summarise your opponent’s position as accurately as possible. Manna Magazine

Celebrating 40 years of the Bath Wells – Zambia Link Since 1978, parishes in Bath and Wells and Zambia have supported each other to live and tell the story of Jesus in their communities. To celebrate the 40th birthday of the link, we have a programme of events planned in Bath and Wells and Zambia in 2018. Join us for this time of thanksgiving and joyful celebration!

Take a look at the programme and get involved!

Zambia celebrations

Bath and Wells celebrations


Saturday 14 July

‘Live the Link’. Jane Chamberlain, who oversees training at the diocese, will lead a group to Zambia on an immersive, educational experience.

A week of celebrations begins with a thanksgiving service at Wells Cathedral at 2.30pm, followed by a picnic in the grounds of the Bishop’s Palace.

Sunday 22 April The five Zambian dioceses will celebrate the link with special services, all taking similar readings and liturgies.

Sunday 29 April Bishop Peter Hancock and Bishop Ruth Worsley visit Zambia to be part of a national celebration service in Lusaka Cathedral, giving thanks for the partnership. Why not plan your own ‘Zambia Sunday’ on 22 or 29 April – to celebrate alongside our Zambian brothers and sisters? The diocese will be making the readings and liturgy available to all. Could people from your parish coordinate their own visit to Zambia to coincide with Bishop Peter and Bishop Ruth’s trip and join them at the Lusaka Cathedral celebrations?

Join the service of thanksgiving and ‘after party’ in Wells on 14 July. Make a day of it!

Saturday 8 July – Saturday 22 July Zambian visitors to tour link parishes

Sunday 15 July Visiting Zambian bishops and clergy to speak at services in Bath Abbey, Backwell, Frome, Martock, Minehead, Taunton and Wellington. Go along to one of the services led by our Zambian bishops – More details to follow. Plan a party or other event and invite one of our Zambian bishops as guest of honour in July – contact Jane Tompsett if you would like to host such a visit.

August Summer youth exchange where a group of young people will enjoy the hospitality of each other’s countries, and build links for the future.

For more information visit or email: Manna Magazine Winter 2018 23

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Manna Magazine