Final Sermons and Statements

From Fr Lashbrooke

My dear friends in Christ.
This is the most difficult statement I have ever had to make and I am painfully aware that these last few weeks and months have been particularly challenging for all here at St Marychurch as well as for other Christian Communities up and down the land who have wrestled with the very essence of Christ’s call ‘to be one’.
It has been hard, as a parish priest, not to be more open in these last months especially when rumour and worry descended upon this community which I have faithfully tried to serve as parish priest. It was my hope that as people responded differently to the challenges of the wider Church in an ever secularizing and confusing world that we would have had time to be together and pray together and celebrate our common desire to be faithful Christians even if we are called to now journey on different paths. Sadly I was not at liberty to enter into a dialogue of why I am taking this course of action that I, with others, am about to take. If I had announced my intentions earlier I would have had to have ceased public ministry in obedience to The Bishop of Exeter and so I had to be sure, as I could ever be, that the course that I am now making is a proper response to God’s call. This reluctance to declare was for the sake of my family and those I now lead into the Ordinariate as well as those who will continue faithful service in this place which has, for nearly nine years, been my home. The apparent suddenness of my departure is hard for me to bear as it does not give the time that a leaving Incumbent usually has to say his goodbyes but when I come to say mass I say on behalf of The Bishop and once a decision of this nature is made a priest can no longer do so. So, although saddened that my departure has to be done in this way it must not be seen in any way as a criticism of Bishop Michael who, with Bishop John, has given me much needed support in these last months and both have assured me of their continuing prayers but it is about the nature of authority and so for clarity I quote from a letter from Bishop Michael.
Public ministry should cease on the date that a priest announces his intention to leave....I agree that the announcement and cessation of public ministry should be on 6 March, with formal resignation... on Sunday 17 April.
This reluctance to declare my intentions earlier may, to some, seem selfish but sometimes we just have to wait on the Lord especially when your decision affects so many people’s lives and one consequence of my decision is the impending prospect of no guaranteed income and no rights to accommodation which I have, up until now enjoyed. However,I am confident that ‘all shall be well’ and I am in the process of finding employment and a house is on the horizon. I would like to thank Lizzie and my children for their wonderful support over these last months and there willingness to journey in faith.
Another consequence, and the hardest part for me is that today I, with Fr Mike, I offer up my priesthood which is given by God and is such a privilege. Today may have been the last time I will have the privilege to celebrate the Mass as a priest but I am willing to offer this to God because I believe passionately that The Ordinariate is an answer to prayer and may, in time, play its part in the Unity of The Church. It is hard to think , that from today, I will no longer be able to celebrate with my brothers who have served with me here at St Marychurch or with so many priests who I have journeyed with, especially Father Bill, but I pray this will be only for a time. I am glad that Father Dexter, Father Haydn and Father Warwick will continue to serve this community that I now leave and Bishop John has promised that you will have a new parish priest.
I would like to thank you all for my time here at Saint Marychurch. It has been a great privilege. It has been hard work and I wish I could have done more. For those who I have offended I ask their pardon. In all that I have done here I have done because I have thought it right but I accept my own limitations and frailty. In the life of a parish priest one is often told of your failings when, in fact, we are painfully aware of them already. I have really enjoyed working with so many of you especially when you trusted me to try new things, some which worked and some were less successful but all were about welcoming new people into a life of faith. I hope you will continue to do so as it an integral part of Christ’s call.I have valued the courage shown in starting the shop and the enthusiasm of all those involved in ‘Voice’. I will miss so much as I leave you, from choosing the Hymns with Christopher to the School Masses, from the noise of Christingle to the stillness of ‘The Watch’. I thank you all.

I must now turn to my main reason for my resignation and my desire to accept the offer of Pope Benedict XVI given in Anglicorum Coetibus. It is, in essence, very simple. I believe God is calling me to this new journey. How I was led to this point is much more complex and I am very happy to talk to people about the complexity but here I am going to cite the main reason for my decision.

I believe that The Church is not a human institution but a gift of God perfectly expressed on that wonderful day of Pentecost. I believe that bishops are the successors to the Apostles and that Saint Peter and his successors have a unique role within The Church. I believe God calls the bishops to lead and to help us be faithful to all that we have received especially what we receive through Word and Sacrament.I believed that through our ordination rites the Church of England, with the exception of the Petrine Ministry, held that view. I believed that with the work of ARCIC and with The Papal visit in 1982 that the Church of England was serious in her desire to find unity again and anything less than the full visible unity of The Church is not good enough as The Church should reflect the perfect unity of The Trinity and should strive ‘to be one’ and anything less is a scandal.

However, this important desire for unity became sidelined when a new understanding emerged within The General Synod and over these last years the General Synod has taken powers upon itself which it had no right to do which has moved us further away from unity. Many are now of the opinion that The Church of England is ‘Episcopally led and synodically governed’ and that the power is within The Synod and in 2010 The Synod refused to listen to the Archbishops and was not prepared to be episcopally led Like other parts of the Anglican Communion The Synod is paying scant regard to Scripture and Tradition and is consequently making decisions that both the Catholic and Orthodox Church regard as moving the prospect of visible unity further and further away. I believe that Synod is trying to make The Church conform to the culture rather than being faithful to New Life found in Jesus Christ.

The Synod of July 2008 made it clear that I, and those like me, no longer fitted into this new way ‘of being church’. The Synod made it clear that it would not bind itself on any matter of faith or order. Some Anglican bishops were so perturbed by the situation that they appealed to Rome to help us find a way forward and in an act of extraordinary courage they did with Anglicorum Coetibus which values our Anglican patrimony which can bring much to the wider Church. All my life I have faithfully served within The Church of England but have always seen her roots going far deeper than The Reformation and I pray that The Ordinariate will express that which goes deeper and we may play our part in bringing Christ to our nation and beyond.
In these last years I have tried to serve as a faithful priest mindful that I did so in a divided presbyterate and the prospect of a divided episcopate within the same communion and a divided house will fall. I have fought for The Church of England to remember her roots but it is now time to ‘ put away my sword’. I accept that many in The Church of England do not agree with my understanding of these great matters and I leave wishing them well accepting that we are all seeking to do God’s will and sometimes that is hard to discern with the noise of the culture around us.
In these last months I have witnessed ordinations for those embraced by the Catholic Church within The Ordinariate and I have been overcome by the unity which those ordinations expressed and I pray that we all may know that unity in Christ. I believe that the Ordinariate is the right path for me and those who follow with me and in I time I pray that the ecumenical dimension contained within The Ordinariate will flourish for the good of all people and that it may be truly the bridge it hopes to be. I follow Fr Keith and those who already who have made this journey. I follow my now departed bother Michael Gould who had such courage especially in his last days. As all who follow Christ if he calls we must do as he bids and do it joyfully.

I turn now to practical matters.

Although I cease public ministry from today I remain Incumbent for a few more weeks. I have met with my brother clergy yesterday and will meet The Churchwardens and then with the PCC secretary and treasurer to enable a smooth transition and so you can get ready for the APCM and vestry meeting.

On a personal note. It is ‘open house’ at the Vicarage today so if you would like to come down at some point for some refreshment you would be most welcome I am sure many will have other plans already but it would be lovely to see you.

I now, with Fr Mike, will go and place my chasuble and stole on The Lady Altar as a sign that I place myself in his hands and offer to Him all that I am and all that I will be.

God bless you all.

Father David Lashbrooke

Farewell Sermon by Fr John Greatbatch


I want to put a picture into your mind – I want us to go to an Olympic swimming pool and there in front of us is a huge tower for diving, and in comes young Tom Daley in his speedos (steady ladies!) to take his dive!

The diving tower is very daunting – it takes young Tom quite a time to get to the top board, and probably as he climbs all sorts of things go through his young mind. Will everything go aright? Will I loose my nerve when I get up to the top? Should I even be here?

But Tom is a very courageous young man and finally reaches the diving board itself. Now if climbing the tower was daunting, then standing on the board itself is mind-blowing. For starters, it’s at least 50 feet, if not more to the water below, but worst of all, there is nothing to hold onto when on the board, there are no safety rails to cling onto, just this narrow strip of wood the stand on; young Tom is totally exposed, the only thing protecting him is his nerve, his balance and faith that he will be safe – Then he dives….twisting, turning and tumbling, until he eventually hits the water at terrific speed. Young Tom has to have faith in himself that he will hit the water just right, so not to cause injury but that the water may be like a huge pair of hands to catch him and bring him to safety, and hopefully the prize he has been working for. Indeed, he scores a perfect ten – his faith in himself leaping off that board has given him not only the coveted prize, but joy and happiness.

But hang on, in our vision, there are others climbing the diving tower making the journey towards the diving board. First on the scene is a young child with her parents; its Georgia, surely they not are going to dive off the board? Oh yes they are! Because the dive into the water is once again an act of faith and the water is that of the waters of Baptism. The journey up the tower is Georgia’s Mom and Dad’s decision for George to be admitted into the Church through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The leap off the board is their faith in God that God will keep Georgia safe and indeed save her in His loving hands as she hits the water. Hopefully, as Georgia grows and commits herself to the faith, she to will score a perfect ten on the day of judgement.

But now, there is a whole group of people climbing the diving tower, and it takes them ages to get to the top – a real long journey. Most of the group are perhaps little apprehensive and become more and more nervous as the diving board gets closer. They have been planning their dive for a long time, but now the day to jump from the board has arrived. The group includes me and around 22 other people. They all line up on the board, ready to jump together.

It has been perhaps the worst kept secret in Christendom that this week those wishing to enter the Ordinariate of England and Wales leave their Anglican Parishes. Officially, today, at the Bishop of Truro’s suggestion, I go on Study Leave and use up the holidays owing to me, to consider my position of entering the Roman Catholic Church. My actual resignation would take effect from Palm Sunday as the group will be admitted into the Roman Catholic Church sometime during Holy Week. From Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), I and the group will be attending Mass at St Augustine’s Catholic Church, from which time we commence a Eucharistic Fast, in preparation to be received as full members of the Roman Catholic Church. I apologise for not giving more notice, but we have all been bound by the authorities of the Anglican Bishops who have told us that we could not officially say anything until day.

In all, there are around 50 Anglican priests leaving today, some of them are retired, representing around 30 groups of people. Some of the groups are small, as little as ten, ours is an average group of around 20 to 25, whilst others are large and self sustaining such as a parish in Salisbury where I understand there is a group of 65 and a group of 75 from one parish in Kent. I estimate that there will probably be well over 1000 Anglican Laity leaving their parishes today. So today is a particularly difficult day in the life of our parish and difficult days lie ahead both for this parish and the Ordinariate Group, days for which we need steady heads and above all, charity and love for each other.

That long and slow climb up the diving tower represents the long journey that has been made by the group in deciding in what direction to go and to finally arrive at the diving board. The group has been meeting regularly since last May, and the basis for it was clearly outlined in last years Lent Lectures which explained the Ordinariate and even provided the opportunity of those opposed to the Ordinariate to have their say, such as the Bishop of Truro who was one of the speakers.

I have some comments  with people claiming it to have been a private group, that has not been the case at all. Up until this week, it has been an “enquiring Group” an open public group which has allowed people to explore if the Ordinariate is for them; indeed over the last ten months people have come juts to a few meetings and then decided it was not for them at the moment, people have come and gone, that was precisely what the group was designed to do; it was not private at all. We have met at St. Augustine’s as we thought it inappropriate to hold such meetings about possibly entering into the Catholic Church in this Church or indeed anywhere in the parish. We have needed these last ten months to carefully consider our future and what God wants us to do.

So today, with faith we jump off that board, having finally reached the top of the diving tower; we fully become exposed without the safety rails; but why jump at all? There comes a point in your faith and life when you have to accept that the direction and journey you are embarked upon is going nowhere and will eventually end in a dead end. It is therefore important to re-evaluate your journey to the extent of completely altering your direction; a change that can lead to great sacrifices and even transitional pain. For at least the last 20 years, I have been involved in the growing political scene of the Church of England that erupted in 1992 with the Church of England’s General Synod’s decision to ordain women as priests. We have been over the arguments of this many times and I am sure that a lot of congregations and clergy still do not understand what the arguments are. Suffice to say that those of us who uphold the Church as part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (as we say week by week in the Creed), have seen that claim seriously questioned and diminished as the Church of England decided unilaterally to change the nature and doctrines of the Sacraments of the Church which are no exclusively hers.


Some may say I should have left in 1992, indeed since 1992 some 500 Anglican priests have left the Church of England over this issue. But the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament came to the rescue from which came what was termed as the Act of Synod which effectively has kept the Church of England together ever since. It provided special bishops opposed to women priest to look after parishes such as ours; presently there are over 300 parishes in England who are cared for by the special bishops. Traditionalists, such as ourselves, were promised that these provisions would have no time limit and that we would have an honoured position in the Church of England

In the stormy session of the General Synod in July 2008, those promises were effectively dismissed. Instead of legal provisions, the special bishops will be done away with and a Code of Practise will be provided which is not worth the paper it is written on as Bishops would be free to dismiss it. If voted on, the Proposed Legislation will probably come into effect by 2014.

The battle for traditionalists within the Church of England has been lost, a new road needs to be found to avoid the cul-de-sac so that we can carry on proclaiming and keeping our catholic faith. Since 2005, Forward in Faith has asked Synod for an autonomous province whereby traditionalists could have their own bishops with authority whilst still remaining as part of the Anglican Church. Those pleas were repeatedly rejected, so a new road had to be found. In October 2009, after an appeal to the Vatican by traditional Anglican Bishops, the Holy Father announced the Ordinariate where whole groups of Anglicans could convert to the Catholic faith with their pastors, and remaining as worshipping units and taking with them, some of their Anglican traditions. The Holy Father effectively has given traditionalists everything they had asked of from General Synod.

But the decision to ordain and consecrate women as priests and bishops is only really a symptom of the true problem in the Anglican Church. The real problem is about authority and who has that authority. That authority now clearly rests with General Synod which has become a political parliament making all kinds of theological and doctrinal decisions for the Church, many of its members having little or no theological background. In July 2008 and July 2010 both Archbishops were voted against, even by some of their brother bishops, so “who has authority in Church?” is an important issue. This week the Archbishop of Canterbury told a group of MP’s that he would not consider same sex marriages to take place in Church of England Churches. We already have clergy living in civil partnerships, including in this diocese, I wonder what the General Synod will have to say on that one The Ordinariate provides a clear authority from the Papacy and its bishops as well as a clear understanding of belief on faith as well as clear guide lines on moral and ethical issues. So that is why diving; jumping off in faith from the board toward the waters below.

Things are no better across the pond. Since 2005, the Primate of the Anglican Church has spent $22m in law suits to depose traditional priests, such as myself, from their parishes. She currently has around 5 law suits against the Bishop of Fort Worth as he will not ordain women to the priesthood and she has even set up a shadow diocese within his diocese.

So the journey to this day has been a very long one and at times a painful one, but for those of us going into the Ordinariate, we feel it is a journey we have to make as we can no longer accept the direction the Church of England has taken. We mean the Church of England no harm and ask God to bless her in her ministry as he will hopefully bless us in our new journey, which is of course that great leap of faith that we make today off the diving board, that with like young Tom Daley and Georgia, those open hands of God will catch us, love and protect us as we dive into the water.

It is a difficult day – there are no doubt all different kinds of emotions within this building – sadness of leaving and losing member – apprehension , both of those going and those remaining who are still unsure of what journey to take – uncertainty and perhaps even anger. Our emotions are that of a bereavement as we try to let go and face a new but uncertain future, but it is very important that people be allowed the freedom to make their own choices as acts of integrity and faith and to follow through those choices. It is also important that we support each other in whatever faith journey we take. So whatever emotion we may feel this morning, let us love each other as God’s children and importantly retain our friendships.

It is a very emotional day for me personally to leave a parish which I loved and whose people I have loved and worked with for 14 years. I have no idea of where I am going to live (despite rumours I have heard circulating around the congregation) or what I am going to do work wise other than with the group. I would like to take this opportunity from the depth of my heart to thank you all for all your friendship and support for the last 14 years and I hope I shall still see you all from time to time when I am working with the group in St Austell. I would also like to thank the Bishop of Truro who has been very helpful and sensitive all through this process.

May God bless us all on our future journey and may we all have a safe landing in the water.

Amen.
Fr John Greatbatch


From Fr Mike Cain

During the late 1960’s there was a movement amongst young people, disillusioned with the way of the world as it was, It was idealistic, hopeful and looked to a future where they would play a part in bringing the world to peace. Their ethos was summed up by the Beatles “All you need is Love”.

Ten years later, a new generation had come along, they also were disillusioned, but this movement was cynical, hopeless and angry. Its ethos was summed up by the Sex Pistols. “No future, no future, no future for me!”

I became a Christian in 1980, in a church that was of Anglo Catholic tradition, like St Marychurch. I was taught that the Creed was the summary of the Christian faith, that Scripture was the foundation of Christian thought and living and that the Sacraments were given to us to bring order and to sustain us. I was taught that we needed a personal relationship with God, in the context of that worshiping, missionary community which is the Body of Christ on earth.

Ecumenical hopes were high, and just two years later when Pope John Paul II visited this country, the Church of England welcomed him, we had grown much closer together, and our differences seemed to be superficial, it seemed like reunion with the Roman Catholic church was there for the taking.

Twenty years later a new generation has come along, many who lead the church cannot say the creed with integrity, I have heard a serving priest describe the bible as a bunch of fairy stories, and the sacraments have been turned into political footballs. Even belief in God is seen in some quarters as optional, and the church is seen as being a human institution to be changed on a whim.

Last year Pope Benedict was welcomed half heartedly by many in the Church of England, and any idea of corporate reunion seems like fantasy.

I have spent much of the last two decades trying to serve God's people as best I can. This has been hindered by a constant and increasing criticism from colleagues and sometimes the hierarchy, for believing and teaching the things I believed and was and usually is still the official teaching of our Church.

I have spent too long fighting those who should be supporting me. I now believe that we are at a time when we all have to make a choice. Do we stay where we are and accept that we were wrong, that what we were taught was lies. Do we stay and try to fight on, praying and hoping that General synod or the Bishops will do something to allow us to remain with integrity. Or do we accept that we have lost this battle, and leave the C of E with grace, accepting the offer made to us by the Holy Father. I think you must all know that I believe the first option would be wrong.

I certainly understand the appeal of the second, I am stubborn, and don’t like accepting defeat. I know that there are many good people who will be staying, Bishops, priests and Lay folk. And many of them are my friends. However I do not believe this valiant effort will succeed. I have never heard anyone who is going down this route claim that it has a long term future. A generation, is what one Bishop told me. Ten years, maybe fifteen. And then what?

No I’m afraid that for me this will not do. As Christians we need to be part of that worshiping, missionary community that is the body of Christ. If we stay we will increasingly become isolated Churches despised by those who should be our brothers and sisters, and surviving by the good grace of those in authority, or holding on to our faith on our own.

For me the only real option is to bid farewell to the Church of England and make my home in another communion, where I will be free to believe and teach those things that I learned from Mother Church, so long ago. For me the only way to live the Christian life is in that worshiping and missionary community which is the body of Christ. I can no longer accept that the C of E is that, so I will be joining the new Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and pray that many of you will agree with me, and join those of us who are journeying in a new way together.

Of course some will not, and I pray that we will remain friends, I will continue to love and pray for you, and hope that you will do the same for me. We are all trying to serve Him faithfully.

Our brother in Christ,
Fr Mike

Personal Statement by Fr Simon Chinery
For the last two and a half years it has been my privilege and my pleasure to serve as
deacon and priest in this church and parish. It has been a wonderful place to begin my
ordained ministry and I will for ever value the friendship of the people I have met here and
the help of my brother priests in developing my skills.
However, while we have been faithfully teaching and practising catholic truths within our
churches, the wider Church of England has continued to stray from the path. Soon after I
was appointed to this title post, General Synod chose to bring forward legislation to enable
the ordination of women as bishops – a step which would end any hope of reunion with the
historic churches of east and west.
During my deacon year the drafting committee worked on the legislation and finally
produced a measure that – as they freely admitted – totally failed to address the needs of
those who held to the traditional catholic faith and indeed proposed the removal of the
existing provisions.
Last year a proposal from both Archbishops to provide arrangements for alternative
oversight for traditionalist parishes gained the support of the House of Bishops and House
of Laity, but was defeated in the House of Clergy. It became clear to me then that the
Church of England could no longer claim to be an episcopally led church, a church drawing
its authority from the successors of the Apostles. It now saw its authority as deriving from
itself – a house truly built on sand and structurally unable to maintain the Catholic faith.
Among this gloom and doom shone one beam of light. On the day of my silver wedding
anniversary, Pope Benedict announced the creation of structures within the Catholic Church
whereby groups of Anglicans could enter into full communion with the Church of Rome
while maintaining much of their own culture and tradition and work alongside, but
independent of, the local Roman Catholic dioceses. Since I discovered the writings of the
Oxford Movement as a teenager I have both loved and cherished the Church of England and
longed for re-union with Rome. Even if I believed that somehow the Church of England
could - even in part – be saved from itself and maintain a valid catholic witness, even then I
could not, in conscience, refuse Pope Benedict’s generous and prophetic offer. I have
therefore written to the Bishop of Exeter giving notice of my intention to resign as Assistant
Curate in this parish and to seek reception into the newly formed Ordinariate of Our Lady of
Walsingham within the Catholic Church. He has asked me to cease public ministry
immediately on making this announcement, and so the blessing I am about to give will be
my last act as a priest in the Church of England. I am sorry that this announcement comes
so abruptly, and I am particularly sorry that I have not been able to take my leave properly
in two of our churches, but I have been required to remain silent about my plans until
today.
I am, of course, by no means the first Assistant Priest of St Peter’s to move into the Roman
Catholic Church, but the first under this new provision. Whereas, previously, people have
gone across as individuals and been absorbed into existing churches this time priests and
laity are travelling together to form new congregations. Whereas, previously, Anglican
clergy would be expected to go through a lengthy process of discernment and extensive
training before perhaps being admitted to Catholic ministry, this time our vocations have
been accepted as indeed has our theological training. Whereas previously ex-anglicans
were stealthily admitted to the Catholic Church through a side entrance, this time the front
door has been thrown open and the welcome mat laid out. Jean and I hope to be received
into Communion with the See of Peter at Easter and – God willing – I will be made deacon
shortly after and resume my ministry as a priest in June.
Once again I want to thank you for your friendship and support over the last years. I and the
other priests locally who are making the same journey are committed to maintaining our
friendships and relationships with those we are leaving behind. We will pray for you both
individually and as a movement in the Church of England seeking to protect its catholic
heritage for as long as it is possible to do so. I hope you will pray for us as we head out into
an uncertain future in faith and trust that God will provide for us and with joy and
excitement in our hearts.
Pax et Bonum
Fr Simon Chinery

Choices     by Fr Simon Chinery
People who seek to follow God have to make choices; choices which can have huge consequences. At the beginning of human history our first parents chose to listen to the serpent rather than to God and mankind was estranged from God and condemned to repeat those bad choices over and over again.Our readings today have Moses and Jesus plainly laying out the choice to their followers. Moses is speaking to the whole people of Israel, encamped in the wilderness and he asks them to choose between a blessing and a curse – a blessing if they follow the commands of God and a curse should they turn aside from them. Now that sounds like a straightforward choice – a no-brainer to use a modern expression – but we know from the Old Testament that the Jewish people as a whole and individually did not always make the right choice. Often what God was asking them to do was radical and risky – leaving their homes behind and travelling into foreign territory for instance. They might well have longed for the comfort andfamiliarity of the status quo and persuaded themselves that perhaps God was not really demanding that they step out into the unknown but that could stay and serve him better where they were. How often do we here the prophets railing at God’s people for preferring their own imaginings, traditions and desires to what God actually wants of them? Even when they became aware of their need for a Messiah, a saviour, they were looking for someone to restore Israel – to take it back to an illusory former glory and a cosy special relationship with God rather than someone lead them into a new and unknown future, a future where all mankind could be reconciled with God.
So when Jesus came and once again called his followers to a radical and risky way of life, not everyone was
willing to take on the whole of the message. Some were happy to take on the nice, fluffy part of the call but not to go to extremes; not to go the whole way with him. Remember the story of the rich young man? A good, honest, generous and faithful Jew whom Jesus loved, but unable to give up what made him comfortable, what made him feel important. In the Gospel Jesus echoes the call that Moses made – choose to follow what I have told you or to turn aside from it. And Jesus’ words are just as uncompromising as Moses depiction of curse and blessing; there are those who think of themselves as followers of Jesus who are in reality not. They may call Jesus Lord and do works in his name but Christ will say that he does not know them. We believe, as St Paul reminds us in today’s epistle, that we are saved by our faith, that faith has to a be solid faith, founded on the whole of Jesus teaching not just on the bits that we like and are comfortable with. We can choose to listen to Jesus words and follow them or to listen to Jesus word’s and not follow them; we can choose between blessing and curse, life and death
Put like that, it again seems an easy choice but we know that we, like the people of Israel before us, do not always make the right choice. Sometimes decisions are genuinely difficult- two potential courses of action may both appear to have aspects of good or of evil; may both appear to serve or oppose God’s will in some way. Sometimes we will manage to persuade ourselves that a particular choice is God’s will when it is in reality our own will that is being followed. How do we know we are making the right decisions, are properly acting on Jesus’ words? How can we be sure we are like the man who built his house on the rock? In my protestant past I have heard preachers relate Jesus’ words to having a strong faith based on a good knowledge of the Bible – something that is very worthy but not enough. As Catholics we naturally remember the other occasion when our Lord referred to building on the rock – when he said to Simon ‘you are the rock and on that rock I will build my Church’. It is only to the Church, the Church founded on the rock of the Apostles, that we can look for true guidance in making our choices. The Church is not completely immune from the attacks of the evil one – the fact that is divided between East and West and that in the West it was further divided at the Reformation bears witness to that. Christ has assured us, though, that founded on Peter and the Apostles, it cannot fall. While the great schism that split the Catholic and Orthodox churches is a scandal against the unity that Christ wills, each of those two great churches has remained true to the teaching of the Apostles and so Rome can say of the Orthodox churches that ‘communion is so profound that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist’. The great churches of East and West remain firmly founded on the rock. Building on rock though is not easy; rock can be hard and unyielding. You have to design your building around the rock and accept the limitations that it places on you. Building on sand, on the other hand is easy. You can move the sand around, pile it up or dig it out. You can build what you want on it and the resulting building might look very good indeed; it might rival or be a replica of the building on the rock. That is what happened in many churches at the reformation; they chose to move off the rock
and build their own building and they built it on sand. Rather than found it fully on the teaching of the Apostles they copied elements of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church but incorporated their own designs and ideas; their foundations were suspect. Sometimes these churches looked very good; sometimes less so. While the outside environment was mild these churches could flourish; but when the storm came they could be fatally undermined. The Church of England tried to span the gap; it wanted to remain fixed to the rock of the Church’s tradition but allow people to extend beyond the boundaries; while there was a balance the structure remained sound. The Catholic wing of the Church of England has always fought to maintain this balance; the modern extension may look dreadful, but at least is soundly attached to the original authentic building. But what happens when the proportion of the structure that is built on sand grows so as to dwarf the traditional element? What happens then when the floods come up? Will it just be the modern structure that is lost or will it drag the whole thing down into the mire? How we maintain the Catholic faith in the Church of this nation is a critical question for us today. Do we concentrate on binding our part of the Church of England firmly back into the rock from which it was hewn or do we work to restrain how far the liberal wing extends out? When the strain threatens to pull us apart, which part of the structure do we dare lose to maintain the integrity of our own home? How can we hear Christ’s voice in these difficult times and act on it? Only in prayer and in trying to faithfully abide by the Church’s teaching can we hope to survive the storm, for the rain is coming down and the floods are coming up.


Final Sermon by Fr Ian Hellyer delivered at Lustleigh Parish Church

21"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matt 7

I take great inspiration today from our Lord's teaching in Matthew's gospel, that comes at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. It is very poignant for me as I reflect on my last 9 ¾ years here in the United Benefice of Moretonhampstead, Manaton, North Bovey and Lustleigh. And also as I reflect on my 16 years as a clergyman in the Church of England, and also as an active member of the Church of England for the last 44 years.

Today I give notice of my resignation from the living of this united benefice, and also give thanks for all the goodness and grace I have received from God through the Church of England and its members. In the Church of England I have learnt to worship God, to pray, to grow in grace through the sacraments of the church and to be built up in confidence in Christ by my brothers and sisters. It has been my privilege to have served the church as a layman and then as a clergyman, not least as your Rector here.

I do not leave the Church of England lightly. I do believe that I have been given little alternative than to seek a spiritual home elsewhere by the decisions of General Synod particularly, and more generally by the slow abandonment of traditional theology by 'powers' in the C of E. This movement of the C of E is welcomed by many, but I am very sad about it. After much discernment I know I must obey what I believe to be the call of God into the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham, in the Catholic Church.

This is a new and risky venture for the Catholic Church, she has created a special wing of the church in which former Anglicans and others may live their ecclesial life together, and where they may continue developing the particular gifts God has given Anglicans, but within the life of the Catholic Church.

It is a very generous offer and I can testify that it is with generosity and openness that I have been met by all the Catholic authorities I have dealt with so far. Nowhere have we been asked to renounce any of our Anglican life. We must of course submit to Catholic discipline and norms, and we are being helped to make that transition, but at every step tribute is made to the very good things in Anglicanism that has brought us to this place in our journey.

But I want you to be very clear today that my answering of God's call to the Ordinariate is in no way to do with any of you in this Benefice. I am very grateful for your support. I am very grateful to you for listening to so many of my sermons! I am very grateful for your forbearance with my many weaknesses that I have exhibited over these 9 ¾ years. I am very grateful for all the good things you have offered to God in service to the church. Please God you will have another Rector sooner rather than later and you will be able to do the same for your new spiritual leader.

Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Our Lord makes it very clear that actions speak louder than words as far as our Lord is concerned. That our Lord wants action. He does not want us just to think, nor to just talk, He wants action from us.

Before I was brought into Holy Orders I had to go through a discernment process. This was to test whether it was God's will that I should be ordained. It is very important that we test our sense of being called to do something by God. And the more radical that “calling”, the more discernment is needed. But it is also very important that we act. Too much time is spent in all the churches on talk, not enough is spent in action – that is doing God's will.

That does not mean all our actions done in the Lord's name are His will – that is the opposite error to make; and we have to avoid doing that too. On the one hand is inactivity (usually with too much talk) and on the other is blind activity without discernment.

What we need is discernment and then action.

I believe that is what I am doing. I cannot as a priest avoid doing something if I believe it to be God's will; even if it takes me to a seemingly less secure place; even if it brings hardships and difficulties.

I do not know what lies before me, but what I believe is that God is leading me and I take courage in that. And I want to end with the words of John Henry Newman (recently made Blessed John Henry Newman) as he reflected on his own journey. They are words I want to leave you as encouragement for your own journey of faith, and your own seeking for God's will.

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission - I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling. Therefore I will trust Him. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me – still He knows what He is about.

From Newman’s ‘Meditations & Devotions’

May the Lord guard your going out and coming in from this day forth and for evermore. Amen.

Fr Ian Hellyer