Celebration, led by the Bishop of Bedford, to inaugurate the new Ouzel Valley Team Ministry at St Barnabas Linslade. This has involved the parish leaving our diocese and going into St Albans. The County boundary changed in 1966, and it’s plainly been the right way to go. Church Property shootouts are fun, but we don’t really do turf wars over here.
The pre-1966 county boundary had its uses, though. Someone was telling me that the licensing hours were different in Buckinghamshire to Bedfordshire, and people used to nip across the river our way to get another pint in at closing time!
St Barnabas serves what the Victorians used to call an artisan parish. There’s a sad First World War memorial. A lot of “pals” joined up together from the Church, leaving a dirty great long list of names, and two crosses on the wall from the original field graves of a choirman and one of the servers, killed in 1918. On a brighter note I was once preaching there of a Sunday morning and someone said to afterwards, “You know what, bishop? You’d make quite a good vicar!” — which I took as a real compliment.
It was a great joy to thank people for 162 years of faithful life and service in our diocese (it was Lincoln until 1846) with all its ups and downs, and to share the parish’s joy, offering love and prayers as it embraces a new future. During the service +Richard licensed Fr Bernard Minton to the new team ministry. Sadly Bishop Christopher of St Albans was ill and unable to be with us, so it was just +Richard and me. Having paid good money to see the three wise monkeys, all people got was the two stooges!