Sunday, 15 March 2009

Working in the Thirteenth Century

One of the things that’s helped me heavily into the notion of revolution by tradition is working in some fabulous medieval locations — like Charney Manor. Bishop’s Staff stayed there for a really productive overnight residential last week, where, as well as usual business, we spent some time exploring with Professor Martyn Percy what ministry education really has meant for us, and could mean in tomorrow’s church.
The house is owned by the Religious Society of Friends. It’s lovingly made available for groups with a basic commitment to peace, which I hope our Bishop’s staff is. Food is home-cooked and extraordinary. The house has a lived-in feel, not like a museum at all. Facilities are excellent — indeed they’re infinitely more homely but also stimulating than an average hotel-for-business-meetings site.

It’s good to work in a place where the Quaker tradition, that has played such a key role in British Christianity, is honoured and lived out. I was reminded of what it stands for by some words by her children about Joan Vokins, wife of Richard Vokins of West Challow, died 1690, after whom the annex in which I stayed is named:
She was one that did truly fear the Lord, and sought the prosperity of his precious Truth [“and” — surely a mistake] above all the glory and honour of this world. Whensoever the Lord was pleased to send her forth in his service, she went without murmuring, believing the Lord would carry her through it, though weak in body; who did enable her to bear a fathful living testimony to his Name, in this her native land, and in places remote beyond seas as in Barbados, and in other parts of America and in Ireland, through great exercises, in patience and cheerfulness, it being as meat and drink to her to do his will.


Geoff Colmer said...

Hi Alan! I stay at Charney two nights most months and it is a wonderful place. As you say, the food is 'extraordinary' - I've never had such exceptional bread and butter pudding with marmalade, and it's not as though this stands alone. Glad you enjoyed.

Jay said...

These pictures are beautiful. Thanks for sharing them. I think there is something to be said about using the ancient church to speak to the modern church. Have you looked into Anglimergent-where there is a conversation into bringing the wonderful classic practices of the church into a postmodern context and conversation? I think that is where the future of the church lies.

Mike Peatman said...

John Pritchard and Partyn Percy - sounds like a Cranmer hall reunion (John was pastoral tutor to Martyn and me)

Looks a fantastic place to stay and to think.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this as for so much else. The Quakers have a lot to teach us.

But are you sure you got the quotation right?

"She ... sought the prosperity of his precious Truth *and* above all the glory and honour of this world. "

Is the "and" between asterisks really there?



Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Thanks for comments reinforcing my very positive view of the place. Have logged onto Anglimergent, which is a fascinating community, though I fnd it a bit of a walled garden. I'm sure all the right people are there, and next time I have a moment (next weekend or something) wil go over and browse...

Mike, sunds like we were doomed. One of the great joys of having John as our bishop is his depth and understanding of learning — good at encouraging discipleship. And three of us (Me, Archdeacon Julian and John the registrar) wee all at Wycliffe together in the late seventies.

Mark I think I agree with you. I transcribed the quote from a photo I took of the dedication inscription in the Vokins annexe, but you're absolutely right — I think the quote must have been transcribed wrongly, and, guided by the inner light, will amend it accordingly.

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