I have just successfully applied for the possibility to attend a conference to be held at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, on 25th and 26th April this year. It will be just a few days after our Diocesan Synod in London (21st April) and I will just need to see what I will have time for between those dates. I just need to send my £10 cheque for registration.
The conference will be called The Gospel and the Catholic Church, A conference discussing Anglican Patrimony today. The introduction to the conference informs us that this title came from the book written (and still in print and available) by Archbishop Michael Ramsey, so the word Catholic means much more than simply the institutions in canonical communion with the Pope. This is encouraging in symbolic terms.
I won’t be there to beat any drum of my own or even represent the ACC (except perhaps to show that its priests can be quiet, have a listening and learning attitude and be open-minded). It will make me feel quite nervous because most of the people involved are from the Ordinariate, which I will certainly perceive as less frightening than a few years ago. However, there will be Bishop Gavin Ashenden, a former Church of England cleric but now a bishop of a continuing Church. There will be a number of serving Church of England clerics and the Principal of the establishment hosting us. There will also be Bishop Fenwick of the Free Church of England.
As I mentioned to a friend, I am not looking for anything, and I should be too small to be threatening. I trust there will be conversations like I had with Msgr Andrew Burnham before the Ordinariate went ahead. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Fr Hunwicke (whom I have never met) and Msgr John Broadhurst whom I met in Portsmouth in 2007 and found very cordial.
There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about Anglican Patrimony and what different people think it is. I look forward to being “in the flesh” with some of those people and getting a feeling of what they are about. People always say more than what they are prepared to write! I look forward to learning how they think Anglican things like scholarship, pastoral leadership and liturgical aesthetics will work in the modern world to advance Christianity. I would also be interested in knowing about study groups, serious academic periodicals and other inspirations for my own work for The Blue Flower. The Catholic movement in the Church of England began with a small group of clerics in Oxford University, largely fuelled by the new ideas of Romanticism – the Oxford Movement.
As always, there will be the talks and question-answer sessions, but there will also be informal socialising. I think the experience will be very valuable for me and a possibility to verify (or otherwise) the soundness of my own analysis of certain questions. Solitude can be a good thing, but it can also distort judgement very badly. The Americans call it reality-check. I am also aware that I am not completely unknown with my presence on the Blogosphere since about 2009 and involvement in Christian Campbell’s The Anglo-Catholic. I will certainly find some final answers to my confusion about Archbishop Hepworth’s narrative of Anglicanorum coetibus and what actually came into reality in England and elsewhere. However, the important thing now is the present and the future.
The essential is to be simple, quiet and humble. I have nothing to prove, and everything to learn. Maybe some of my English readers might be interested in going.