Called away…

At very short notice I have been given an opportunity to go on a conference for Missioners next week. Essentially, I will be subbing for Bishop Graham Cray (although I doubt if I have the qualifications to do that substitution any justice) on behalf of Fresh Expressions. It looks like it is going to be an interesting couple of days with some stimulating study and reflection and will hopefully give me a lot of fresh insight into enhancing both my missional practice and the shape of mission in a parish context. I believe that my work (in His mission) will also be able to be a useful feed into the discussions.

Oh, and it’s in France.

I have had to do some last minute unplugging to fit this in: a couple of cancelled or deferred meetings, the cancellation of next Friday’s Mass and the passing of a funeral over to a colleague, but nothing too serious. I am grateful to colleagues who have helped cover me. I hope that it will be a great opportunity to develop my missionary vision.

I am mindful of its location, as I have been a critic of our own deanery’s chapter meeting in France, which looks like a jolly to the outside world, even though I know it is not. Poor parishes like Elson can’t really afford to send their clergy to French monasteries. I also have a problem with our engagement with the monastic worship in French: my French is not good enough to really worship and so I spend the time there frustrated and confused. Thankfully this is an English conference in English with English worship: it’s no further away from Gosport than Manchester (although the Abbey of Mondaye is no further than Oxford from Gosport, I accept). The other key difference is that the place is already fully paid for, and it will cost our parish nothing; so I get ministerial development from a centrally funded position, and all is well. Praying that it will be a good conference.