Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Day at the Zoo


“Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise” Proverbs 6.6

Monday we went with our daughter and two granddaughters to Colchester Zoo, which we enjoy visiting from time to time. This gave me the excuse to visit the baby hippo sponsored for me as a birthday present for the last couple of years. I became fascinated with baby hippos when I was in Bristol and was the Team Curate of what was then the Knowle Team Ministry (now back working as two parishes Holy Nativity & St. Martins) The Diocese of Bristol was linked to a Diocese in Uganda and we had visitors come to Knowle from there. One of them was a teenage girl called Grace who came to stay with us and we asked what she would like to do. She was very keen to visit Bristol Zoo to see African wild animals. I thought she would see them in their natural habitat at home but I gathered that the only animal she and her family saw regularly were baboons. So of we went to Bristol Zoo and it was there that I first became acquainted with baby hippos and I just thought they were so cute.

On Monday at Colchester I had time to watch the ant colony which I always find very fascinating. The ants in the colony at Colchester are leaf cutters and they transport huge (for them) pieces of leaves etc. from the source back to the nest where it is turned into fungi on which the ant community feed. You see 100’s of ants crossing over in the transparent pipes from home to the source of food and 100’s travelling the opposite way returning with the pieces of leaf which they have cut usually at least twice as big as the ant carrying it. The colony is well-organised with different sorts of ants fulfilling different roles but all working together for the good of the community. No doubt it was this industry and community spirit which inspired the writer of the Book of Proverbs.

Perhaps we can learn a lesson from the ants working together in harmony for the good of every ant in their colony.

Sunday, 27 March 2011


The truth is out! In today’s edition of the Sunday Times there is a report that much of the bread, rolls, donuts and cakes, on sale in the Supermarkets, have been frozen prior to being on sale. What has been advertised as “fresh” bread etc can be up to a year old. Often the thawed bread is reheated to give the appearance of being fresh. I’m afraid that my wife and I had already found this out when a loaf we purchased went stale within 24 hours. The EEC are trying to make supermarkets clearly mark items that have been previously frozen but, surprise, surprise, supermarkets are trying their best to defeat this move as “it would confuse shoppers”. No it wouldn’t – I would like to know so that I can avoid frozen and thawed bread etc. Often we buy bread to freeze so when we aren’t able to get to the shops we have some put by. As any fool knows you shouldn’t re-freeze items. I think they whole thing is a disgrace. The answer is to boycott those supermarkets which do this and patronise the independent bakers, whose product is so much better any way.



I understand that prior to the Budget being delivered in the House of Commons by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a number of garages were busy increasing the price of their petrol by 1p. The reduction in petrol tax had been widely reported prior to the budget so this gave unscrupulous garages the opportunity to profiteer. Having put the price up in the morning, they reduced in the evening; which, of course, was no reduction at all. It is also clear that a number of garages did not reduce the price of their petrol as they were supposed to using the excuse that they would have to wait until they received a new delivery. It seems to me that the motorist is often exploited like this and nobody does anything about it. As far as the Government are concerned the motorist is their milch cow. And now we learn that some of the petrol companies, unhappy about the tax imposed by the Government to fund the 1p reduction and the temporary removal of the tax increase designed for April, are intending to increase the costs to the motorist, at the pumps, despite the Chancellor’s promise that wouldn’t happen. So it looks as though the 1p will be going back so the reduction was a waste of time.

Friday, 25 March 2011

From the BCP

One of my favourite prayers from the BCP is The Prayer of Humble Access:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
In the original version the following words were added, after “and to drink his Blood” in these holy Mysteries, that we may continually dwell in him, and he in us.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Last night I was at the Redbridge and Havering Ordinariate Exploratory Group and Mass was celebrated according to the Book of Common Prayer. Like many of my generation I was brought up on the BCP and its rich and poetic language has enabled me through the years to remember the words of many parts of the services I attended in my youth. I don’t think the same will apply to our present generation using Common Worship or its predecessor the ASB. Of course, the Mass according to the BCP rite had many faults but one fault it didn’t have was it’s language. After all these years of ever-changing liturgy: Series 1, Series 2, Series 3, ASB and Common Worship, I think I only remember one beautiful prayer that was written by David Frost “Father of all we give you thanks and praise”

Father of all, we give you thanks and praise that, when we were still far off, you met us in your Son and brought us home.   Dying and living, he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory.   May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.   Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us so we and all your children shall be free and the whole earth live to praise you name, through Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Authorised by the United Nations, the UK together with the USA, France etc., has mounted a no fly zone in Libya which has now been in place for several days. Gaddifi the dictator of Libya, has repressed his people for many years and now has taken armed action against them, shelling and killing many innocent people campaigning for democracy. This is the man that was responsible for supplying semtex to the IRA and for the Lockerbie bombing yet it is only a short while ago that the Prime Minister of the day, Tony Blair, was courting Gaddifi.

In a report in The Daily Telegraph, Rose Prince – Political Correspondent points out that: that the two leaders agreed to co-operate on defence matters in a range of areas, including exchanging information about defence structures and technology. It was signed during the former Labour prime minister’s “Blair-well” tour of Africa in May 2007, in Gaddafi’s tent in the Libyan desert. Included in the document was an agreement on “co-operation in the training of specialised military units, special forces and border security units”. They also signed up to “exchanges of information on Nato and EU military and civil security organisations”. The document was personally signed by Mr Blair and Gaddafi. Together with many others we have been supplying arms to this dictator.

Why are we taking this action? We let the people of Rwanda suffer genocide and the west stood by and did nothing. We have let the people of Zimbabwe suffer under the repression of Mugabe and have done nothing. I think that the only reason we are involved in Libya is oil.

Sunday, 20 March 2011



This morning I celebrated and preached at St. Barnabas, Woodford Green. In my sermon based on the Gospel for today, The Transfiguration, I alluded to the bride and groom coming to the Vicarage to arrange their marriage. It was often the case that when you saw one or other of them, you questioned, rather unkindly, what he saw in her, or what she saw in him. At the wedding the rather frumpy woman had been transformed into a radiant beauty and the geek of a man had been changed into handsome beau. This experience is a form of transfiguration; for just a brief period you could see these people for who they really are and you could understand exactly what it was that they individually saw in each other. You experience the real person and not someone perceived just from an outward appearance. The Transfiguration on the Mount allowed Peter, James and John to see Jesus for who he really was. And then we are told as were Peter, James and John, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to Him” that’s what we all need to do Listen to Jesus.

Friday, 18 March 2011




It was announce on Thursday 17th May that Pope Benedict XVI has elevated Father Keith Newton to the rank of Protonotary Apostolic and Father John Broadhurst and Father Andrew Burnham to the rank of Prelate of Honour. This will mean that all three will be known as Monsignor. We offer them many congratulations.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Would a turkey vote for Christmas or Thanksgiving? I really have my doubts. Therefore it is hardly surprising that so many of our politicians of all party persuasions are dead set against AV (the Alternative Voting System). After all many of them are in seats which the present first-past-the-post system preserves but which under the AV system would probably mean a different result and a loss of seat for them.

For years now we have been run by political parties which have a majority in the House of Commons but which don’t have a majority of the votes cast. Under the new system a candidate will require 50% of the total vote to win the seat. If no candidate succeeds then the second preference votes will be allocated from the least successful candidates until one of the candidates has obtained the necessary 50%. Whilst this system is not ideal it is a far fairer way of electing members of Parliament.

The turnout at General Elections has often been pathetic with many people opting not to vote. One of the reasons for this could be that in many constituencies there seems little point in voting. One or other of the parties has such a stranglehold that it is impossible to unseat them. I remember some one said to me years ago that in Constituency x if they put a blue cabbage it would be elected (for blue cabbage read red cabbage/yellow cabbage). With the AV system there would be a good chance that predictable safe seats would no longer be that. And that would be good for democracy.

As John Richardson points out on his blog “The Ugley Vicar” the General Synod of the Church of England have used this system for some time now and, of course, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats elect their Leader using AV and it is in use in many other countries and institutions. I hope that come 5th May the people of this country will vote for the AV system of voting to inaugurate a new system of voting, fit for the 21st Century.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


I think I have become a grumpy old man. Every time I switch on BBC1 I see an advertisement for Comic Relief. I can’t stand it any more! There is no let up; no relief for good behaviour. It keeps on and on and on and on, constantly on, morning, noon and night. So if by now you don’t know already. FRIDAY IS COMIC RELIEF DAY or RED NOSE DAY. Let me repeat myself FRIDAY IS COMIC RELIEF DAY or RED NOSE DAY. You see it’s catching. Just like the television! Now I’m repeating myself.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


This seems to be the message coming form the Hutton Report on Pensions in the Public Sector. Workers in the public sector will now be required to work much longer before retirement, will be expected to make a greater contribution to their pension which instead of being based on the last three years (the final pension scheme) will now be an average of their working life and this will result in them getting much less in pension. Also the Armed forces and the police would have to work for a further ten years and no longer be able to retire at 50 on full pensions. No surprise that people like nurses, firemen, civil servants etc. are feeling miffed.

The Telegraph reports that: Gordon Brown was warned explicitly that he would cause the death of the final salary pension scheme and cost companies and individuals billions of pounds when he took the knife to the pension system in his first Budget. Confidential documents sent to the Chancellor before he axed the dividend tax credit in 1997 also warned that the worst-hit victims would be the poorest members of society.

The internal Treasury forecasts, released last night under the Freedom of Information Act, state that the changes would "cause a shortfall in existing assets of up to £75 billion" and that "employers would have to contribute about an extra £10 billion a year for the next 10 to 15 years to get pension scheme funding back on track".

His actions were, without doubt, the death knell for the final pension scheme. I was one of many victims of this money grab: when I retired I had a retained pension from one company which had been estimated to produce £750 per annum on an escalating basis. It ultimately produced less than £250 per annum; another scheme was so infinitesimal that I was paid a lump sum which amounted to around £250 instead of any monthly income.

I remember when some of the largest investors were pension funds and they had so much income that they could fully fund pensions into the distant future. Following that first Budget many Final Pension Schemes were no longer viable and, over the course of several years, have subsequently been replaced by a considerably inferior scheme known as “money purchase”.

As a nation we are always being lectured that we should make provision for our “old age” and yet here are the Government taking away benefits which have always been considered part of the remuneration of people like nurses, firemen and civil servants whose incomes have never been top rate so that their retirement will not be as comfortable as they had been led to expect and, having to pay more for their pension, they will have less to save to make a nest egg for retirement.


Please keep the people of Japan in your prayers following the devastating earthquake and the terrifying tsunami.

Friday, 11 March 2011


The new website for the Ordinariate can be found HERE

Admit unbaptised to Holy Communion say some Anglicans in Canada

I read this on a blog yesterday (click here ) and I could hardly believe it: "Some Anglicans in Canada are pressing for the abolition of the requirement that communicants be already baptised. This they believe will reverse the continuing decline of the Canadian Anglican Church. According to this view, it would seem that the reason that Canadians do not attend the Anglican Church is because (a) they are not baptized, and therefore (b) are cruelly denied Communion. It follows that once it is announced that one does not need to be baptized to receive, then all the churches will fill up once more." (see article in National Post, to read click here nationalpost/)

I suppose nothing should surprise me anymore especially when last year we heard about a priest from the USA giving the Blessed Sacrament to a dog! I thought that Baptism was a sign that a person was a Christian and that he or she had accepted the faith and that before making their Communion they would have been suitable prepared for First Communion and/or Confirmation. This has been the practice of the Church for 2,000 years; I can see no reason, theological or doctrinal, to change it

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Last night I was a guest at The Catenian Association, Upminster Circle, for their annual Clergy Night which they hold every Shrove Tuesday. This is a Roman Catholic organisation for men and exists in many RC Deaneries. Amongst the guests were many local RC priests and nuns including a Franciscan from Canning Town who explained how the Friars are helping the very poorest of the poor in that area. We were treated to a wonderful meal at The Cranleigh Banqueting Suite, Hornchurch. The custom of holding this event on Shrove Tuesday is apparently to give the clergy a feast before the Lenten Fast. With all the road works around this area a journey which would take 15 minutes at the most, took me 40 last night.

Tonight, I will be presiding at St. Barnabas, Woodford Green for the Blessing and Imposition of Ashes and the Solemn Mass of Ash Wednesday.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Giving a Wave to the First Wave

It is with a tinge of sadness that I am watching so many priests and people, colleagues and friends, depart from the Church of England to make their spiritual home in the Ordinariate. From Ash Wednesday they will begin a Eucharistic Fast until Holy Thursday. They go on their spiritual journey accompanied by our prayers and good wishes. This is the first wave and others will be joining them later. Already 5 wonderful Bishops have made the journey to Rome in preparation for the Ordinariate and they are now Roman Catholic Clergy.

It was interesting to listen to a speaker from REFORM at a meeting I attended last week. The problems that the Evangelicals are facing with the legislation to consecrate women as Bishops and other liberal innovations are, in many ways, the same that are faced by Catholics but unlike Anglo-Catholics they don’t have the option of taking up the offer of the Holy Father of the Ordinariate.

I wonder if those who have been so keen to introduce all the liberal changes in the Church of England fully realise the price that is being paid by their intransigence. Although they make think otherwise, it’s not just about women in the Episcopate but all the other things which are contrary to the tradition of the Church and the scriptures. It is also the breaking of an solemn undertaking, given to Parliament and to Anglo-Catholics and others, enshrined in the Act of Synod, which is now to being revoked by the passing of the Legislation to consecrate women. Any promises made to traditionalists by General Synod must now be treated with total scepticism; if they can renegade once they can do so again.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Congratulations to Fr. Edwin on his priesting yesterday as a Roman Catholic Priest.

For more pictures click here

Friday, 4 March 2011


The Revd. Dr. John Fleming talks about "can an Anglican be a Catholic" the 5 videos are published on The Redbridge and Havering Ordinariate Exploratory Blog. These talks are interesting and well worth seeing and hearing. To listen to them click here

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


In my secular career, before ordination, I worked in the Insurance Industry and although most of my time was spent in Life Assurance and Pensions, specialising in commercial and domestic mortgages, I still have knowledge of Car and Home insurance. For a short period I ran my own Brokerage and I then managed a branch of a London Brokerage. At no time did anyone ever query the fact that in the field of motor insurance, women were a lesser risk than men, demonstrated by the fact that they are charged less in premiums than men. All Insurance Premiums are based on “risk” and that means, for example, that in Life Assurance policies men are a different “risk” to women. Women live longer than men so their Life assurance Premiums are less whilst the amount they receive on an Annuity is less as well, for the same reason. Car Insurance and Home Insurance rates are also based on where a person lives as this can affect the “risk” i.e. some areas are more prone to burglaries and this is taken into account. Will this ruling mean residents of London will no longer be expected to pay higher car insurance or home insurance premiums as this is also discrimination!

It seems that the whole basis of assessing “Risk” has to change because the European Court of Justice has ruled that using differences between men and women as a risk factor in setting premiums for car and medical insurance and pension schemes breaches EU rules on equality. "Taking the gender of the insured individual into account as a risk factor in insurance contracts constitutes discrimination," the court said in a statement. The Telegraph points out that “the verdict - which applies from December 21 2012 - will force changes in the current standard practice across Europe of basing insurance rates on statistics about differing life expectancies or road accident records of the sexes.”

The effect of this will be to increase the premiums paid by women for their car insurance and paying more for their Life Assurance as well as getting less on their pensions. As an example a pension annuity for a male aged 65 is £3,274 a year from a £50,000 pension fund whilst for a female it is £2,993. These figures are based on life expectancy and as generally women live longer than men the annuity company has to pay the pension longer for them. The effect of this ruling will be to reduce the amount payable to women. “Risk” is assessed by people called actuaries who are experts in their field but this ruling turns the whole basis of their calculations on their head.

When God made men and women he made them equal in His love but with a different purpose or role to fulfill. Modern society has blurred those roles but despite this there are still gender differences which should be acknowledged. By and large, women are safer drivers than men and this has resulted in women paying less for their car insurance. To ignore the differences is a nonsense which the Court of European Justice promulgates in this ruling. Christians should glory in the wonder of God’s creation; glory that he made men and women in His image, and glory in the gender differences which are part of His divine plan.