A message from our Provincial Visitor, The Right Reverend Tim Thornton

The Right Reverend Tim Thornton, Provincial Visitor and Bishop at Lambeth

The Right Reverend Tim Thornton, Provincial Visitor and Bishop at Lambeth

I am privileged to be the Provincial Visitor for the SCP and as such very keen to congratulate the Society as it celebrates 25 years of existence.  Many congratulations and may God continue to bless all that is done in His name.

It is perhaps interesting to note that Fr Andrew Nun was quite correct when he invited me to consider becoming Provincial Visitor as he explained that he hoped I would not need to do very much in my official role!  I have not done very much at all!

That I have not been called upon clearly demonstrates how thoroughly Christian all members of SCP are and how there are never any quarrels or problems or disputes and of course no politics whatsoever in the church!

I am being ironic if you had not noticed. Whilst I do congratulate you on the 25th anniversary, I do also continue to be saddened that within the church we do have to have various societies.  When asked, I have often said I go along with the words of F D Maurice, who said that he was a member of the no party party.  Yet I also know, and have come to learn the hard way, that sometimes one does have to make it clear what you do believe.  Sometimes it is right and proper to meet together with those of like mind, to make a point, and, to stand up for what it is in which you believe.

There are paradoxes everywhere you look.  Those of us who want to embrace the word ‘catholic’ do so because we believe it says something about inclusion, about giving a broad, wide and warm welcome to all God’s people, right around the world. Yet we know that for many people the word catholic appears to be exclusive and is a barrier to some for all sorts of reasons.

In other words, things are never as they seem, and, whatever perspective we may have or think we have other people can and do, see things very differently indeed.  There is a clear need for the SCP to exist.  But, I hope and pray, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary, as well as giving thanks to God for all that has been, we might also be brave.   Brave enough to ask questions of what we do and why we do it.  To ensure that we have not ourselves simply fallen into the trap of being tribal and, however open we claim we are, in fact we have become exclusive rather than inclusive.

Language is thrown around so easily and used and misused by all of us all the time.  For those of us privileged to be ordained and to serve in the church of God let us always begin every day by praying that we might be open to what God wants of each one of us.  I have been especially stuck recently by a quote I read from Gregory of Nyssa  “If you form a concept of God, you make an idol of God.”  (Life of Moses).

Here is to the next 25 years.  May we all go on saying our prayers to the God who calls us each of us to be brave and obedient every day of our lives that we respond to the God who calls us and loves us.

SCP Europe