Sunday, October 10, 2010

An open letter to a Bishop-Elect

Dear Bishop-Elect Kevin

First of all, congratulations on your election as Bishop of Argyll and The Isles. (Perhaps this is a good moment to point out the capital "T" in "The" - you will never be allowed to forget it). I was away when the white smoke billowed from Cumbrae, staying, as it happened, with a member of your current flock; her reaction to the news was monosyllabic and entirely negative, which speaks volumes for the esteem in which she holds you. This is good, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, I'm already familiar with the wonderful services you conduct in St Michael's, to say nothing of the splendour of your weddings: the McIntosh family wedding was magnificent and was the talk of the steamie at the time. In fact, St Michael's has been my church on the many occasions when I've been in Edinburgh, and I feel it's going to be quite a change for you.

So - what might be of interest to a new bishop? Maybe you haven't realised yet that Argyll & The Isles is actually rather like Gaul - there are three parts to it. The area south of Inveraray, say, tends to look east, towards the Central Belt - after all, it's an hour to the centre of Glasgow for Dunoon folk, but a white-knuckle hour and three quarters to Oban. The Cathedral of The Isles is an important centre for Piskies down here, and we think it is exquisite. There are times when Oban feels very distant, especially in the winter; the folk from the islands, I assume, feel much the same.

There are pockets of Cursillistas in Argyll, but they tend not to meet with any regularity - in fact, most of them are so busy keeping their own churches going that they see a great deal of a limited group anyway. We wonder, in our quiet way, how you feel about Lay Ministry - there's a lot of it about. We feel we've grown as a result.

A few of us are very aware of the benefits of online communication, though much of the diocese is not as well served by this as it should be, and Oban itself - I have just realised - does not seem to have 3G networking. Failing that, you should soon be striking up a close relationship with Caledonian MacBrayne and honing your single-track road driving skills. Given that the road goes ever on when it comes to the diocese, we don't expect we shall see very much of you once you are ensconced in Oban - unless we can produce some confirmations for you. We try, we try.

I haven't mentioned the ethnic or cultural backgrounds of your impending flock (I like that image) - you will soon be in a much better position to judge. Just bear in mind that considerable variety exists. And despite local prejudice (we are still "The English Church") there are a good number of ethnic Scots in your flock-to-be.

You have taken on a challenging task, agreeing to become our Bishop. Please don't change. I hope you find yourself enjoying it all, and I look forward to welcoming you.


1 comment:

  1. There's 3G in Oban subject to network choice. (Yodafone are crap.)