Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers.

Well, lads I’m not really sure what to think next! I was at the Clergy Fellowship Indaba this afternoon, and after Lavinia, the lady curate over at St Etheldreda’s finished a very attractive earth forgiveness dance prayer and went to change out of her purple leotard, the rural dean introduced the local Methodist minister. Colin Smee is a jolly Christian sort of chap–tall with a little mustache. Daphne says he reminds her of Basil Fawlty. I can’t see it, but she’s always got some sort of humorous comment to make, has Daphne.

Colin Smee was there to tell us all about the Fresh Expressions of Church thingy which is going on. Seems that this thing is really taking off. Methodists and C of E folks starting up their own churches. Colin said that rather than quarreling amongst ourselves all the time, we’re finally realizing that we all pretty much believe the same thing and there’s no sense in our fighting our own corner. “Why pull apart when we can pull together?” is the way he put it, and I must say, I’d never quite seen it like that before. Lavinia said, “What we really have to get away from is all this dogma. All it does is divide us. Once we realize that the gospel is about justice for those who are prejudiced against we can work together to create a more fair world.”
When we broke down into our sub indabas, Giles, the Anglo Catholic priest said he didn’t mind if dogma was divisive if that meant he didn’t have to be a Methodist and start up a Fresh Expression. I’m not too sure I agree with him. Seems to me all these Catholic types do is create divisions where there should be none. Lavinia got rather cross and said that if dogma could be done away with there would be no more need of denominations. “Give peace a chance!” she cried.
Colin said Fresh Expressions was trying to do just that, and they were trying to ‘create fresh expressions of church in a changing world.’ I looked over to see that Henry Horton, the Rural Dean, had dozed off. Simon said it looked like the Rural Dean could use a Fresh Expression, at which old Horton woke up with a snort and said, “Perfectly lovely. Perfectly lovely.” Which was very odd. When I told Daphne later she suggested that the Rural Dean may have been having a dream about Lavinia’s dance prayer. What an intriguing thought!
Well, lads, I’m getting off track. The thing is, Colin Smee asked if I would like to have a Fresh Expression at Great Snoring and Little Snoring. I still wasn’t quite sure what it all entailed, and not wanting to upset Sheila Throckmorton and the ladies of the flower guild I said I would have to put it to the PCC first.
The thing is, this Colin Smee fellow was awfully nice, but he was big on ideas and not very good on particulars. Just what exactly does Fresh Expressions mean? Does it mean we’ll all have to learn some new hymns? Does it mean more guitars in church? Will I have to grow a mustache to relate to the young a bit better? I tried that once and it wasn’t really very effective. I was in a rather troubled state of mind, when I got home to the vicarage and Daphne reminded me to feed her cat, Mefistofele . You could have knocked me down with a feather! I opened the cupboard door only to find that Mefistofele’s kitty litter is called Fresh Expressions!
I’m all for creativity in worship if that is your sort of thing, and I’m never one to discourage a good idea if it will help to bring in the young folks, but how on earth does one weave kitty litter into Matins? Perhaps it all has to do with St Francis and those rather wonderful pet blessing services they have in some parishes. Daphne said in her rather forthright way, “I thought it was a load of bull****, but it turns out to be only kitty litter.”
Well, I don’t mind telling you that I’m not a little confused. I’ll have to ask Lavinia about it. I’m sure she’ll be able to help me out.