Thursday, February 28, 2008

In training

For the first time today I managed to get to an event organised as part of the the Diocesan Continual Ministerial Education Scheme - what we used to call in-service training - INSET for teachers. Such events span the middle of the day, a time when I have a lunchtime Eucharist, and that means I can have problems freeing myself to attend.

Getting a priest to cover me, rather than cancel is one thing. Ensuring that both the church, chancel and sacristy are accessible is another, involving an extra set of keys. (Vicar's rule, never part with your own. Even if they come back safely soon, guaranteed you'll need them desperately just when you don't have them) You need someone to hold them, someone to collecte, use and return them. Sounds complicated? Churches used employ people just for things like that. No longer. We rely on volunteers and they are great are turning out when asked, if they can manage it. There's no guarantee you'll be certain to find one out of half a dozen or more keyholders available at the exact moment of need.

To add into the equation today, the team of builders and painters working on the church outer aisles have nearly finished the south and about to start sealing off the north aisles, to start work stripping off old paint, patching and applying a fresh coat of real limewash (ancient superior technology, a breathing skin for the plaster to replace a not-so-smart sixties coat of paint). So, they had started to dismantle and transfer scaffolding across the nave, a Health and Safety nightmare. So, access had to be arranged to the chancel via the sacristy with diversionary notices put up, and a phone call to brief Gwyn, who serves for me on Thursdays. This entailed an early visit to church to make the arrangements, and then a bus trip out to St Michael's College in Llandaff for the course. Mercifully, for once I was punctual. Thank you Cardiff Bus.

Oh yes, the course? On conflict resolution and the disciplines of peacemaking and mediation in church practice. It was given by CME organiser Canon Adrian Berry, and based on material produced by the Mennonite church for eleven of us. It was first-class - thought provoking and enjoyable - the sort of learning process which many people in leadership, inside and outside the church, professional and lay would benefit from. It made me reflect upon the situations of conflict to which I've been exposed, and probably contributed to unwittingly or otherwise during my ministry. It rang true to my experience. Thank you Adrian.

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