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30th October 2010
Jesus is indeed Lord, even in the Internet Age! [CRC Conference (Lancaster) July 2010]
I recently attended the National Conference at the University of Lancaster, for I knew, from experience, that networking with other Readers, from every sort of background and locations, was always productive - Philip Johnson
“Preaching in the Internet Age” was the object of some outstanding lectures by both John Bell, the former leader - and still associated with - the Iona Community, and Paul Johns from The College of Preachers. Graphically they illustrated the very real challenge of the instant, but only partially satisfactory, nature of our instant communication world. Powerfully they warned of the danger of the Church becoming out of touch with those whom, in the Lord’s name, we seek to serve. Winningly they spoke of the need to be in touch, in faith, in Christ. Illustrations were many, hope was undimmed and a glimpse of the vision of wholeness, tinged with practicality, in the themes. Especially memorable were some workshop sessions when individual Readers spoke of their usage of internet facilities to proclaim the message of One Church, One Faith, One Lord.
An attendance of 250 meant much useful discussion of varying practices amongst a whole new spectrum of fellow Readers. Acquaintances were renewed and spiritual batteries recharged. And, whatever might be the usefulness of the Internet Age, nothing replaces that feeling of unity and of common purpose which comes when two or three Readers come together, there He will be in the midst. 250 all intent on making full use of an outstanding bookshop, facilities for prayer cells and Bible studies in the kitchens of our comfortable halls of residence. Services of praise and thanksgiving could not fail to stir our souls, exercise our spiritual processes and give us an opportunity of corporate worship. We were led by a lively music group which saw the University’s Great Hall re-echo with the thought that “Jesus is indeed Lord”.
For me a particular memory will be that of the crowded Eucharist in the circular University Chapel with a meaningful liturgy, a devoted time of prayer, organ and music group subtly combined, particularly relevant prayers, for a world ever more needing our sustained concern, and a general sense of oneness in our proclamation of the Koinonia. The Bishop of Blackburn celebrated, the wife of the Bishop of Lancaster (herself a Reader) appositely preached [her husband was a young curate whom I used to assist, years ago!] and there was a sense of mission for us all which was both tangible and Spirit-filled.
For myself, perhaps one of enduring memories of the weekend (with especial thanks to CRC and its organizing committee) was the realisation that now Reader ministry is an enduring feature of Anglicanism and that, as a Reader body, we must forget our rights and concentrate on our renewed responsibilities. And there is the additional challenge, of which the Bishop of Sodor & Man hinted, that there must be a concerted effort to have a distinct challenge to seek out younger and a more inclusive group of Readers-in-training.