Friday, 11 September 2009

CTE Forum and Naval Chaplaincy

Monday September 7th saw the opening of the Churches Together in England (CTE) Forum, a three- yearly event, at Swanwick. I could only attend for part of the first day but it was well worth doing so. For one thing, this was a gathering of representatives from a very broad spectrum of denominations and Christian organisations – the broadest ever in England, we were told. But the highlight of the day for me was the General Secretary’s report, ‘The Ecumenical Journey and CTE review’. This was given by Revd Dr David Cornick, the General Secretary of CTE. What sounded potentially formal was a most lively, enlightening and encouraging presentation – starting way back in the brickyards of Egypt in the Exodus story and coming right up to the current situation in the 21st century and the possibilities and hopes for the future.

Rob Jones and I standing at the stern of ‘Daring’, with ‘Illustrious’ in the background

On Tuesday 8th I went with Revd Rob Jones to Portsmouth, for two days with members of the naval chaplaincy service. The weather favoured us so we had some amazing views. In a pretty full and always interesting programme, we
  • met a wide variety of naval personnel and enjoyed the hospitality and food of the ward room
  • had the privilege of meeting and listening to members of the Royal Marines Music School;
    were shown round the Navy’s newest destroyer, ‘Daring’
  • met the Navy’s three principal chaplain and discussed the issues currently facing them;
    visited HMS Collingwood, the major training establishment, and met some of the young sailors in training
  • went in a ‘bridge simulator’ and experienced what it’s like on the bridge of a ship going through every possible weather and sea condition in the course of about 10 minutes;
    had a chance to see and discuss the work of chaplains.


Along with memories of great hospitality, I came away impressed with how highly appreciated the work of chaplains is, and with the wide variety of people with whom they deal on a daily basis. The level of ecumenical co-operation that is taken for granted is very impressive (particularly having heard on Monday of some of the ongoing difficulties of the continuing ecumenical scene). The rest of the Church could learn much from both what they do, and the way in which they do it

Rob Jones and I, with chaplain Tim Wilkinson, outside the chaplaincy building on HMS Collingwood

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