Monday, April 14, 2008

With a whimper

This evening we re-opened the adjourned 2006 AGM of the late Rectorial Benefice of Central Cardiff, to receive the audited annual report and accounts, a year late, and after much heartbreak to the Parish Wardens. Thankfully, there was some good news in addition to the reports about the sale of the curates' houses, from which revenue eventually, both Parishes will net a quarter of the total sum, to put away for a rainy day. Archdeacon Bill Thomas kindly returned to preside of the resumed meeting. There were just fourteen of us present with him out of the 120 odd 'faithful' registered on the last electoral roll of the benefice.

The Archdeacon asked me to open the meeting with prayer. For a while I felt quite dumbstruck, deprived of my usual eloquence, not knowing how to begin without saying something that might make members present laugh, if not our Heavenly Father. It's not as if I ever wanted this moment to come. This occasion for me was a bit like a cross between an inquest and the reading of a will - a sombre occasion, the final end of the collaborative team ministry project I'd come back to Cardiff to lead in 2002 and seen progressively stripped of members, until two positions remained, when the Benefice was divided, on the opinion that team ministry didn't work, and was no longer regarded as a career prospect, so could be done away with. Well, that wasn't my view. The Parish discussed it, and made the decision, although I don't think anyone really understood the implications, nor what problems might arise from dissolution.

Well, it's all over now. We're in our second year as separate Parishes, and will remain so until either fashion favours collaborative ministry once more, or more cut-backs necessitate some kind of merger. Meanwhile, I'm working on my own, and not at all happy about. The painful isolation of working alone and unsupported in hostile circumstances abroad is something that lately I realise I've not really recovered from. It's tough going when there's so much to be done, and less time and energy than ever to do it with. I'm just so grateful that I swim in an ocean of kindness and good-will among the faithful of St John's, St James' and the school. That makes my sense of loss just about bearable. All I need now is a programme for recovery from disillusionment.

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