On Easter Sunday, Fr Derek once again led us in worship with the assistance of a loyal team of servers and choir. This was the end of the first leg of a new journey for St Barnabas church since the departure on Ash Wednesday of some of the former congregation to the Ordinariate. Since then there has been an unprecedented coming together in the church community which now proves to be stronger than ever.
A new PCC has been voted in and everyone is finding their individual roles in which they can help the church. We have had many messages of support, seen old faces return to the church and welcomed newcomers to the congregation; only today we heard that a family from London had travelled to seek out a church of the Anglo-Catholic tradition and joined in last night’s Holy Saturday vigil service.
Holy week can only be described as a tremendous success and celebration with moving compline, beautiful music from a visiting choir on Maundy Thursday, foot washing and vigil. On Holy Saturday everyone busied themselves with cleaning and polishing and preparing the Easter garden as well as arranging flowers – some of which you can see in our gallery. The children also made crosses and were entertained with a puppet show.
After the stripping of the church everything was put back into place having been well cared for. I think everyone at St Barnabas would join me in thanking all of the visiting clergy since Ash Wednesday, including The Right Reverend James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, The Archdeacon of Tonbridge, the Ven. Clive Mansell, Fr Derek Taylor, Fr Martin Beaumont, the Chaplain at Tonbridge School, Canon Bruce Sharpe, from Bickley and Fr Stephen Mitchell of Edenbridge – all of whom have stepped in to officiate over the past few weeks.
Church wardens Jon Sparke and Chrisitne Avery want to say thank you to all for all the help over Holy Week and Easter which made it one of the most wonderful Easter Worship at St Barnabas.
Proof of Resurrection – the Parishioners of Saint Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells, in England, have not only survived the departure of their former parish priest and other parishioners, they have been resurrected to new life.
Where the departing former Vicar and parishioners were off to find a new ‘certainty of their catholicity’ (no women clergy) with the Roman Catholic Ordinariate; those remaining loyal to their Anglican Catholic tradition have already shown that they can still walk through the liturgical celebrations of Holy week and Easter – with the capable assistance of other local (mostly retired) clergy – together with their Bishop and Archdeacon, who are determined that the parish will continue to rejoice in their historic Anglican High Church tradition.
Here we have evidence of the fact that one can be catholic in belief while yet accepting the ministry of women as ordained clergy. Many Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England have chosen not to leave the Church on this issue of the ordination of women as priests and bishops. While some may yet be hoping that the English General Synod may yet hold back from raising women to the episcopate; they have drawn back from accepting the Pope’s invitation to become virtual Roman Catholics, with submission to the Magisterium.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch