The very keen eyed of you will have noticed that the View from the Vicarage has been retitled Tottington Matters; I thought that was rather clever and means that during the interregnum the Curate will not have to sit in an empty and forlorn building seeking inspiration from the atmosphere that has housed many an Incumbent since 1802.
The first Vicar, Mr Wade took lodgings in the Bulls Head pub for three years as the stones were thrown up to create the pile that now sits authoritatively at the junction of Royds and Chapel Street; however, enough of the historical interlude I feel.
The point I am trying to make is this. And it is that over the past 27 years Tottington has always mattered to me as the Vicar not only of the Church but also the entire parish. Whoever lives within its cherished boundaries, we at St Anne’s as the Church of England, have both a privileged and legal responsibility to serve all comers. Sadly, this is not widely known or appreciated in numerous parish churches up and down the realm. For many years there has been a somewhat obsessive tendency towards inward looking, where belonging has something to do with attendance. Tottington matters because the Gospel with which we have been entrusted not only matters in the temporal setting of the here and now but in all eternity.
I make no apology for citing King Charles I in our prayer for the month. I come from the stock of generations of men and women who have lived in happy serfdom to the Crown and Charles is, whether people like it or not, both saint and martyr of the Church. Note his words, “I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of England, as I found it.”
I am not about to have my head cut off by treacherous roundheads (how is it that the instigator of regicide and butcher of the Catholics at Drogheda in Ireland still has a statue outside the House of Commons I wonder?) but as most of you know I will be leaving in a couple of months’ time.
The life of the Church of England in a parish does not however depend upon the parish priest, thank goodness! The PCC, Curate, Readers and in fact everyone connected with St Anne’s ought to guard jealously (in its proper sense) the rich Christian cultural heritage and bonds which have served the people of England for nearly a thousand years; simple parish Churches, open and receptive demonstrating a willingness to engage with anyone; a servant Church, with a generous heart that follows (as King Charles did to the scaffold) the man of Nazareth who promises us that unfading and incorruptible Crown that our good late King referred to as he forgave his persecutors and entered into glory.
Keep The Faith and God save The King!
Your good friend,