As I write this letter, we are preparing for a July pilgrimage from Stonegrave Minster to St Oswald’s Church, which is taking place for the first time. This pilgrimage is the fruit of a series of conversations with Robert Thornton scholars (and keen enthusiasts!) from the Centre of Medieval Studies at the University of York. Robert Thornton’s family were a key part of Stonegrave Minster for four centuries. It is a privilege to journey together with modern pilgrims into some of Stonegrave’s long history, and then together, to appreciate afresh how Stonegrave Minster remains today a place of worship and prayer. It’s great to be a part of that. The sense of partnership and fruitfulness is therefore in my thoughts and thanksgiving at the moment. Not so much what can be achieved the more that come together, rather the fruitfulness of each inspiring one another to develop something that’s really quite special. I’ll let you know how it goes… Thinking of partnership, it does make me then consider more, and appreciate the many kinds of partnerships there are in ministry ‘for the sake of the Gospel’. This is in essence, of course, Christ’s prayer, that we might be one, as he and his Father God are one. This reflection on partnership, for the sake of the Gospel, also makes me think of ongoing discussions between the Church of England and the Methodist Church to be together in such a way that embodies and expresses a common unity. It’s important that the churches remain in proper loving dialogue about such matters.
Personally, I especially like building and developing partnerships on the ground with people and groups to see what we might do together ‘for the sake of the Gospel’, and it’s those first conversations that are often the most inspired. I then appreciate how an idea comes as a fruit of this and, sometimes, a momentum gathers, leading to an event or activity that draws others into receiving something of God’s grace and generosity – all through human hands being willing to serve, it’s amazing! In the Ampleforth Benefice, we rejoice and greatly value our shared ministry and worship with our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church, which is especially visible in some united services, for example, Harvest, which takes place late September. And I’ll look forward to seeing many of you there.
I wonder what partnerships you have taken part in and what good things came out of them? For myself, I give thanks to God for all the inspired conversations that have led to the Stonegrave Robert Thornton Pilgrimage, and I look forward to taking part in more of the same!