Yesterday evening I attended the Licensing of Father Gareth Jones SSC to the Parish of St. Mary’s, Ilford. Father Gareth has been serving in the Parish of St. Michaels, Brighton and many of his congregation were present. In a service which took over hour and a half Father Gareth was licensed as Priest in Charge. We were given strict instructions in the invitation that Anglican Choir Dress was to be worn: Cassock, Surplice, Hood and Scarf. In my ministry I have only worn this on one occasion previously, when I took a Remembrance Sunday Service as a Curate in my first parish and had I to borrow the Scarf as I don’t own one and have no intention of getting one. The reception afterwards was great but here’s a question: why do these services go on for so long?
For several years I was a member of the Diocesan Liturgical Committee and one of our briefs was to devise a new service for Inductions for the use of the Diocesan and Area Bishops. I remember this went on month after month as draft after draft was turned down. In the end when I left the Committee it was still coming up at every meeting and eventually the present service was approved. The service itself is alright but far too long, needlessly so!
St. Mary’s is a Parish with a long Anglo-catholic tradition right in the town centre of Ilford. It has a daily Mass and a well attended Parish Mass and Solemn Evensong every Sunday. It pays its Quota in full. During the 18 month interregnum I have helped with both Sunday and weekday Masses along with several other priests and it has been a real joy to do so for a warm, welcoming and friendly congregation. Sadly, the Diocese in its inexplicable wisdom suspended the living six months or so into the interregnum, so Father Gareth has not been appointed as Vicar as he should have been but as Priest-in-Charge which to my mind is a travesty for such a thriving parish. St. Marys has passed resolution A and B but regrettably not C although the previous incumbent kept promising to do so. This meant that they were unable to seek the assistance of the Bishop of Richborough in this suspension of the living. Perhaps if they had, this situation would not have arisen.
I wish Father Gareth every blessing as he starts his new ministry at St. Mary’s.