'The Man for the Ministry'
News about St Faith's Ordinand - now Priest - Martin Jones

 Latest update: pictures from Fr Martin's First Mass at St Oswald's Winwick, June 8th, 2008

Fr Neil Kelley's sermon, focussing on Martin's imminent ordination, added June 30th, 2007 (linked below)



Ever since our church’s foundation over a century ago, members of Saint Faith’s congregation have regularly felt the call to train for the sacred ministry of the church. None other than the late Lord Runcie, former Archbishop of Canterbury, worshipped and served here before embarking on the path that led to ordination and the highest office of the Anglican Church. Our present Honorary Assistant Curate, Fr Dennis Smith, also worshipped here before training for the non-stipendiary ministry, and more recently, following a steady flow of male ordinands over the years, Mrs Denise McDougall left the pews of Saint Faith’s to become the first woman to train for the priesthood: she is currently serving as curate at the neighbouring United Benefice of Christ Church and St John’s, Waterloo.

It was wonderful to hear recently the great news that MARTIN JONES, until recently Sacristan at Saint Faith’s, has, on the second time of asking,  been accepted for training for the priesthood on the Northern Ordination Course, based in Manchester, and beginning  this autumn. All at Saint Faith’s share his happiness and send him and Miriam our congratulations and love. Martin will train for three years, during which time he will continue his full-time ‘day job’.

Below we reproduce Martin’s article in the September Parish Magazine, Newslink, in which Martin wrote about his good news. Following this you can read a fuller account of his background, and that of Miriam his wife. Our photo shows Martin and Miriam, suitably robed for sanctuary and choir, soon after the annnouncement of Martin’s acceptance. See below for regular bulletins from the front line when Martin finds the time from the rigours of his training.

'Great News'

‘Martin you’re a very nice chap but I’m afraid you do not meet our selection criteria.’

That was over three years ago, and such a statement focuses the mind, it makes you aware of who you thought you are, who you actually are, and what you need to do to make yourself into what you want to be. In other words a self-examination of identity, vocation and character.  It was time to address my developmental areas.
That has been my occupation over the last two years, going to college to develop spiritually and intellectually. The course has done exactly what it said on the tin, in preparing me educationally for my recent selection conference.

I went to this conference eager; I was looking forward to it, even though I knew what was ahead. At this conference, I was better, grown stronger in faith and understanding, maintained by the Spirit. The result, an unconditional recommendation for training.

St Faith’s, it’s said, is used to nurturing vocation, many candidates have gone before me and I'm sure others will follow, but it is your nurture of Miriam and me that has helped us thus far on our spiritual pilgrimage.  Thank you, and God bless.

Martin Jones

The Road to Ordination

Martin Jones is 46 years old, married for the second time, has two children from his first marriage and has 3 grand-daughters.

He served with the Royal Navy from the age of 16, until he had completed his service at the age of forty. He is now employed in the automotive industry, working with many people who have different needs.

Although baptised, he didn’t attend church regularly until he met his second wife, whom he met whilst serving on HMS Active. The ship was
in Liverpool for the Battle of the Atlantic celebrations in 1993, and the company of ‘the mess’ was invited to the Mersey Mission to Seafarers for a buffet lunch, where Miriam did voluntary work behind the bar. She was a life-long member of St Faith’s, and has been a member of the choir since the age of thirteen. Hence, having met Miriam, regular attendance at church began.

Following their marriage in 1994 and subsequent move to Plymouth, Martin was confirmed and had his first real affirmation of calling. He was appointed on board HMS Norfolk, by the padre, Fr Robert Coates, to lead Morning Worship each Sunday, and then had a week ‘shadowing’ the curate of St Peter’s, Plymouth to further his working knowledge of the life and work of a priest.

On his retirement from the Navy, he moved to Miriam’s native North West and returned to worship at St Faith’s. This encouraged his sense of vocation, and he attended the Archbishop’s selection conference for ordained ministry in March 2001, with the total support of the Parish Priest, PCC and congregation of the parish. Unfortunately, he was not selected for training at that time. Due to the strength of his calling, he overcame his obvious disappointment, and returned to another conference in July 2004, renewed in his sense of vocation and was this time recommended for training to ordained ministry.

N.O.C. UPDATES - Martin Jones sends news about his course
(the most recent bulletin is posted at the foot of this page)

Bulletin No.1: October 6th, 2004

Hello Everybody.

Well so far, I have one induction, one residential weekend and two evening sessions under my belt.  I have gained lots of handouts, a few prayer books (including the Methodist Worship Book) and plenty of deadlines for essays.

The first piece of work has already been submitted - a workbook that helps me identify my Christian ministry in my secular life.  And the next deadline is the 1st November, a short essay about St Faith’s as a church and its mission to the local community and beyond.  Reading has already commenced for that task.

The group of people I find myself with are diverse, which is good because I can learn a lot from them. To give you an idea of the group, here's a few 'factoids':

… 3/4 are female,
… we are distributed across the north from Southport to Wakefield,
… in churchmanship, the majority seem to be middle to high, the second largest group is the charismatics.
... St Faith’s registers on the highest notch of the candle!

As I share the next three years with these people, I intend to approach each new situation without pre-conception and with an eager open mindedness to experience as much as I can.  Prior to starting NOC the word on my mind was discernment, just what is God's plan for Martin Jones. Now (although the discernment process is still ongoing) the new word is formation: turning the person you know into something priestlike.


P.S. Thank you all very much for my book tokens; (a gift from the Church. Ed.) believe me, I need them, each new module comes with its book list.  It was particularly nice to be presented them on St Faith's day. Thanks again.

Bulletin No.2: December, 2004

On a sliding scale of 1-9 I’m on 2.  That is, the first term is behind me (subject to passing both of my assignments) and I’m now looking toward the next term, which starts in January.

I’ve decided, subject to the Editor’s review, to keep this sliding scale on each of my updates, to provide a visual indication of my progress - note the correctness of the liturgical colour for the first term!

My initial term has been quite an eye-opener, I have been challenged both mentally and spiritually, but I’m used to that.  I have been placed into a diverse group of people from very different educational and spiritual backgrounds.  The course has made me angry, made me marvellously elated and made me cry.

The transition into a course like this can be very difficult for some people; raw subjects, tensions from the time management balancing act of juggling family life, work commitments and now a new course are evident.  I have been luckier than most in that I am accustomed to close communities and being in proximity to other people in situations that do not occur in daily life - I refer to my military past.

So after the first term the dust is starting to settle and the business of term two is upon me.

Term two looks as if it will be a corker!  Putting aside the assignments and Easter school, one of the features will be my first official placement in a congregational setting.

I’m off to Ormskirk Parish Church in January to get some hands-on experience, in a parish that is very different from our own.  That is, informal services - overhead projectors and rock bands, low church with a Lancastrian flavour!  I do not know what that means but I expect to find out!
In my placement I will be preaching - for the first time, experiencing bereavement and hospital visiting, a trip to the crematorium, the occasional offices and taking part in various group activities.  I’ll be back at St Faith’s for Lent and Holy Week.

This next term will be tougher than the last in that it is academic and practical, but whatever form this experience takes I welcome it.  Next update post Easter school.

With best wishes, Martin.

Bulletin No.3: May, 2005

Hello everybody, welcome to my end of term report.  On a scale of 1-9 I’m on three!  The subject of this term has been liturgy and history. We have been lectured on the occasional offices (weddings and funerals etc) the liturgical church year, the Eucharist and the origins of daily prayer, which I chose as my subject for one of the terms assignments.  This second term has been demanding, diverse and formative. Looking back on it I can see three highlights.  Initially the term started with my placement at Ormskirk Parish Church, in March there was a weekend away in Mirfield on a silent  retreat, and the term concluded with my first Easter school.

It was necessary to complete a congregational placement in a church that was as far removed from St Faith’s in churchmanship as possible. Ormskirk Parish Church (OPC) worships in a low evangelical style and being only 20 minutes from home seemed the ideal choice.

I would be lying to you if I said I found the worship style easy to adjust to, it was a very different environment for me, and to my shame I found worship difficult. This left me at a low spiritual ebb, but this feeling was not unique to me, my fellow students were experiencing something similar as they too were submerged in the unfamiliar. This was only an initial reaction and as I became familiar with practices and began to get to know people, some of my inhibitions vanished and I found myself integrating into a worshipping community.

The time and support I was given by the clergy and people of OPC was considerable. I was able to share the ministry of the vicar, the curate and house group leaders. I observed school assemblies, took part in hospital visiting, mothers’ and toddler groups (being a granddad came in handy!) retirement home communion, funerals and bereavement visiting, leading worship and preaching for the first time.

The whole placement was such a privilege; I look back on it with warmth. I will keep in touch with a few folk and the vicar has invited me back to preach on Ascension Day.

The first weekend in March was a silent retreat at Mirfield, another first for me. As you may know I consider Mirfield as a bit of an oasis and it was exactly that. We were allowed to share the weekend with the brothers; we worshipped and ate with them.  As we ate our evening meal on Saturday, in silence of course, the Superior read to us from a book that the brothers were sharing.  It has been many years since I have been read to.  I found it strangely comforting.  For Sunday morning worship we joined with the full-time students from the College of the Resurrection.  The weekend was spent entirely on reflection and worship, save a meditation on the book of Tobit, and finished in achieving my personal intent, my Easter confession.

While some of you were getting ready for the Easter party I was back with my old friend the M62 and on my way to Wakefield for Easter school, from Easter Sunday to Low Sunday.

The staff of NOC have been extremely clever in the design of this week, each student will experience the week differently, it is hoped that all will be changed by it in some degree or other.

The theme of the week was Christian mission in a plural world, i.e. how we as Christians relate to the beliefs of other world faiths. During the week I visited a Hindu temple and a Mosque, both in Bradford, the encounter was formative and I am still reflecting on the experience.

We listened to the experiences of a Methodist minister who works with all the communities in his circuit, promoting respect, understanding and tolerance in a post riot and post nine eleven environment.

Also we heard about the life of a Roman Catholic Nun who lives with another sister on an estate in Bradford, which is predominately Muslim. One thing that sticks in my mind that she related to us was a question from (not for the first time) her neighbour who was trying to understand her and her faith, ‘tell me sister, about the resurrection.’

Back in Wakefield we were deliberately placed in stressful working conditions climaxing in an assessed assignment that could only be completed by collaboration and teamwork. I started the week with a particular view of salvation and as the week progressed through discussion, through listening and some confrontation, by mid-week I had no idea of what I believed.  Then through lectures and working groups we started to put each other back together again, only changed.  I now have a different view of salvation, I relate differently to Muslim, Jew and Hindu, the week forced me out of my Christian box and shook me about, before allowing me back into it.

It was a powerful week, well designed and executed, my views have changed but at least they were able to change and will do so again in the future.  That may sound that I have no foundation; not true. Easter school brought me closer to my fellow students and intensified my relationship with God.  Well done, NOC!

This next term is entitled, ‘The Interpretation and use of Scripture, part 1.  The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.’  I feel a few late nights coming on!

Take care and God bless,


Bulletin No.4: August, 2005

Hello everybody, on a scale of 1-9, I’m on 4!  The first academic year was completed in June and, as I write, things are starting to gear up to commence with the new term in September.

Although the term has finished, we have been left with plenty of assignments and tasks to keep us occupied over the summer months-I have made a mental note to book next year’s summer holiday after my assignments are completed and not before!  However, I have handed in my latest essay, ‘What is the ideology of Deuteronomy and what are its continuing effects on Judaism and Christianity.’ Yes, last term’s subject was the Old Testament and very interesting it was too.  I even managed to get Miriam and Mona sharing the experiences of Isaac and Rebecca by having them study my exegesis of Genesis 26:1-16, but I have spared them the Deuteronomy essay, although Miriam does proof-read all my work.

At the end of last term we witnessed the third year students being commended to their future parishes. This was an emotional experience for many, NOC life coming to an end, separation from fellow students and ordination only days away.  It was a simple service, with family and friends present but packed with a mixture of what lay ahead combined with what had been accomplished.

Looking back over the past year it has become clear that the process of formation has been and is taking place.  That in itself is quite incredible, I am not the person I was twelve months ago.  I think even reading my past end of term reports a difference can be perceived; I know that I can notice the change.  One such change - not so much a change but a development of something that was already present - is the flowering of my love for Christ.  It’s often said that when a human relationship ends, over a quarrel for instance, you didn’t realise what you had until it was no longer part of your life.  I had that same sort of feeling, not a loss of faith but a realisation of its intensity that had been previously unknown to me.  The feeling is difficult to describe, especially without appearing to be over sentimental, but I feel it, I carry it around with me and it makes me smile.

Looking ahead to next term, we will be studying alongside new members joining in September and also new members joining us as second year students who are only studying for two years instead of the standard three.  Along the way, some of our company are now following different paths, so things do change; in fact NOC is only the same for twelve months, as one year leaves, another joins.

We start at Wakefield Police College; the immediate tasks for me will be to take part in a group presentation on Franciscan spirituality and to lead worship over the weekend, both of which I am preparing for now. For the year group as a whole we will be looking at the New Testament.  We begin with the Book of Revelation, a study that I will be sharing with Mona - well I did let her off with Deuteronomy.

Cheerio for now and God bless, Martin.


On Monday, August 16th, Martin preached his first sermon at St Faith's (or amywhere else, actually!). On the previous day he had presided over the susages and burgers at the Parish Summer Barbecue, which was blessed by fine and hot weather. History does not record whether our ordinand sweated more sizzling sausages or preparing his sermon! Our photo shows Martin and his wife Miriam (Churchwarden and Chorister at Saint Faith's) posing by the pulpit after the service.

Bulletin No.5: January, 2006

End of Term Report-Autumn/Winter 2005

Hello everybody: on a scale of 1-9, I'm on 5!  What happened to term 4? It was the fastest yet; it flew by. When I last wrote to you I was looking forward to the term starting in September with the new intake of students.

All went smoothly, my lasting memory of that residential weekend in Wakefield was the sense of community that exists amongst the students and staff.  I felt the need to share conversation, to ease concerns and generally make the new students feel at home and welcome. But such sympathies were also directed at the students of my own year, with the added affection of the months spent together on this incredible journey, and to those ahead of me in the third year.  As a new student in
September 2004 I was unaware of any such community relationship and I wondered, as I looked at the drawn strained faces of some of the new intake if I had looked so worried. I probably did. This intimate community of very different people (I speak of my own year now) has provided the gel that has held us together during this fourth term.

It has been a difficult term for us as a community but for me an exceptional term academically - I refer not to my grades - they are not for publishing!  It has been difficult in that we haven't had the normal amount of time as a group together, that is when West side Manchester based students get together with East side Mirfield based students. Due to the size of our group our retreat in October and November had us split in two, the retreat was silent so we couldn't 'catch up' with everybody's
news, in addition we have also had a teaching day at Mirfield, a Saturday, so it was a 'hello, how are you and goodbye'.  There are some students whom I haven't seen since September and I will not be seeing again until January at the start of term 5.

Academically the term has been a corker!  With the exception of a few epistles and the Gospel of Luke, we have been studying the New Testament.  It has been marvellous to examine, compare and reflect upon the work of the different writers and witnesses who have contributed to the New Testament.  It has been fascinating to look at the ministry of Christ through the lens of the evangelists.  For example, comparing the desolation and mockery of Christ on the cross in St. Mark's Gospel with
the triumphant 'it is accomplished' from St. John's, one can easily fall into the trap of having a 'preferred' Gospel, of having what some writers refer to as 'a canon within a canon', a lesson learnt is that we need the balance of all four Gospels, a four-fold prism that both separates and unites.

Term 5, which as I write is in six days time, has its own challenges, my second placement.  This time it's not a congregational placement but one in a 'sector ministry', ie a chaplaincy.I have chosen to work in Whiston Hospital in Prescot alongside the
Chaplaincy team for the coming weeks.  In fact I have already started over the holiday period and have gained some valuable experience and precious insights to this form of ministry.  My next update will no doubt reflect my experiences there.

I will not be around much in January and February due to the placement and the course constraints, so please accept my very best wishes for a blessed and happy new year.


Bulletin No.6: April, 2006

Hello again, on a scale of 1 – 9 I’m on 6.  Since I last wrote to you I have completed a placement as a student Hospital Chaplain.  The placement was very demanding and I’m pleased to say that not only did I learn about this extremely rewarding ministry but I also learnt something about myself too. I thought that the best way to share my experiences of this time of learning was to share with you part of my journal of my time on the wards.
Date: Sunday 25/12/05.  What happened today, duration 4.5 hours.
Today’s task is to carry out bedside communions and distribute Christmas cards to all the patients on the wards. Time included having breakfast with the Chaplaincy team.  The Chaplaincy team divides in order to complete all the communions in two hospitals by midday.

My feelings and thoughts, what I tended to do.
It’s early, it’s Christmas morning and many of the Chaplains have been to midnight Mass and are tired.  Yet there is an atmosphere of quiet dedication coming from the multi-denominational team (C of E/RC/Free Church).  For myself I am achieving a personal goal of actually doing something for somebody in a less fortunate position than myself on Christmas day. My supervisor tells me that in the case of a patient who is either too confused or too ill to receive communion then bedside prayers are said. She (my supervisor) tells me about the miracle of the Lord’s Prayer.  Sometimes a patient even in what seems to be an unreachable condition will respond to the Lord’s Prayer and may even mouth the words.

I visit an old lady who is very frail, skin and bone and heavily bruised. She is confused and drifting in and out of a half sleep. I do not sit but stand by her bed and lightly touch her hand and say the Lord’s Prayer. She turns her head toward me, fixes her large blue eyes straight into mine, her toothless mouth contorts into that which is about to sob deeply, there is no sound. My eyes water and my throat tightens, I say a blessing and leave. I feel deeply touched and believe that I have experienced the miracle of the Lord’s Prayer.

I am beginning to discern the enormity of this type of ministry.  I feel the privilege of it, the importance of it and the sheer intimacy of being with people under such circumstances. 

I am unsettled by my experience with the old lady, she is forever in my mind; questions keep coming to me.  Did I do all I could?  Did I give her cause for concern?  Did she think she was dying and I was giving her final prayers?  Did I frighten her?  Did I witness what I thought I witnessed or what I wanted to witness?
I turn to my supervisor and share the step-by-step account of my behaviour during bedside communions and bedside prayers.

I’m doing just about everything wrong, but at last I know what I’m doing wrong and I know what I need to do both initially (which is easily corrected) and that which I need to develop.

I need to bring Martin to the visit, not a person with an order of service.

By standing over the old lady instead of sitting quietly beside her, I probably did frighten her, God forgive me.

My supervisor explains to me her tried and tested visiting technique.

Learning record

1. On approaching the ward assess its atmosphere and the conduct of the staff.  Are they rushed, tense, relaxed, am I going to make their situation worse.  Have there been any recent deaths on the ward?  This will have a significant effect on the state of mind of all on the ward; I need to be aware of any such condition so that I can minister, through relevant prayer, in that environment.
2. Assess the patient physically, emotionally and spiritually. Physically - are they in pain, is there a catheter that I could trip over? Emotionally - are they stable, upset, angry, worried? Spiritually - what degree of spirituality can be perceived, eg, are they likely to want time to confess during communion or rather be happy to proceed to the next part of the liturgy without pause?
3. Assess the patients’ surroundings. Is there any evidence of cards, flowers etc from past visits from family and friends. Is there a drink nearby for elderly patients who may struggle with a dry communion wafer?
4. How do I introduce myself initially - and where am I during that introduction-particularly important to be non-threatening to sleepy or confused patients - crouch down briefly before leaving to get a chair. LISTEN to what the patient is saying, take it in, remember names and situations that are relevant to the patient and can be used later in extemporary prayer.
Try to sit alongside and only slightly ahead of the patient, not facing them or over them.  This allows a non-threatening situation, a mutual vista and the ability to vary the amount of touch during the visit.
5.  Assess the visit as it progresses and adjust accordingly on emotional, physical and spiritual grounds.
6. Did I pray with the patient and include things that needed to be said, things that are relevant and helpful, things picked up upon during the introduction and throughout the visit?
7. How to end the visit, if the patient has been distressed during the visit I must brighten the mood before leaving.  Is a prolonged period of companionship required before leaving, is a follow up visit required in the week from another Chaplain?
8. After leaving the patient what is my assessment of them physically, emotionally and spiritually as compared with their pre-visit state?
9. How has the visit left me feeling?

Our local hospitals always need ward visitors and patient escorts. If you think you can learn from my experience and offer 1-2 hours per week, then give the Chaplaincy a ring. Escort training at Whiston Hospital: Part One  26/4/2006  7.30-9.00;  3/5/2006  7.30-9.00.  Part Two  17/520/6  7.30-9.00.   If these dates are incon-venient then please still contact the Spiritual Care Department on 0151 430 1657 as there will be further training over the summer.

My best wishes to you all.

Bulletin No. 8: August 2006

Hello again, on a scale of 1 – 9 I’m on 7. 

The highlight of term 6 has to be its final weekend, the commendation service for outgoing students.  The commendation service, at the end of June serves as a graduation day for the student (sometimes followed the next day by ordination).  It is a service during which the principle anoints each Ordinand on the palms and forehead with oil, and each is commended to their future parish.  It was especially poignant this year, as those students who started with me in September 2004, and who only train for two years, were now being commended, four in all.  It was a special moment for them of course, but it was also special for the rest of us as we laughed with them, and prayed for them.
I think that term 6 will also be remembered as one of routine, or am I just getting used to it?  Don’t get me wrong, the subject of the term, Church History from the Fathers to the Reformation was and still is fascinating. As some of you know my essay subject was St. Augustine’s understanding of the Trinity.  Somebody please tell me, why did I pick the Trinity?

All joking aside, the essay was a real challenge, trying the get to grips with the core of our faith, a concept that separates us from the other ‘people of the book,’ (or do our similarities unite us?) was something I needed to do.  And at the end of it all St. Augustine tells us to continually search for God’s face and when we cry ‘alleluia’ in joyous understanding, it might be apt to remind ourselves:

‘For if thou hast been able to comprehend what thou wouldest say, it is not God; if thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God…thou hast deceived thyself.’ (Augustine, Sermon 2 on the New Testament of the words of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Chap III. 13, ‘Then Jesus cometh from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.’ Concerning the Trinity. Paragraph 16. 6.10.05. Copyright 2005 K. Knight. 06.07.06. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160302.htm>)

I don’t think that the Church of England and NOC could have put any more into this ‘summer.’ The end of the second year is the time for Ordinands and DDO’s to get together and to discuss future training parishes.  Many things have to be taken into consideration, personalities of the Ordinand and the incumbent, the churchmanship of the parish, its location, will Miriam like it? Etc. etc.  Other Ordinands have to consider moving house and schools, even diocese, so it’s a stressful time and a time for making life–changing decisions.  Miriam and I are now undergoing this process and we are yet to come out of ‘the other side.’ I’ll keep you posted.

NOC has kept me busy with plenty of essays over the summer which has me resident in the spare bedroom (the study) over the last eight weeks and now, with the work completed, Miriam and I can look forward to our two weeks holiday before starting back in September.

As I write I am four weeks away from starting my final year with ordination only ten months away (scary, isn’t it) but all this talk of training parishes and ordination, although wanting to be at the forefront of my mind, cannot be just yet.  There are still three very different terms and an Easter school ahead, each with their own academic and formational challenges, term 7 is ‘Christian approaches to ethics in contemporary society.’

My best wishes to you all,


Bulletin No. 9: January 2007

Hello again, on a scale of 1 – 9 I’m on 8.  Term 7 was perhaps for some students, one of the most difficult and emotionally demanding.  The module for September to Christmas 2006 was ‘Christian Approaches to Ethics in Contemporary Society.’  The subjects which we considered and were given the opportunity to explore, dependant upon our personal experiences – which is why for some it was so difficult – were abortion, homosexuality, feminism, sexual ethics, marriage, divorce, euthanasia, ecology and animals, business ethics, war and peace.

With this diverse spectrum, it is obvious that all subjects cannot be covered in any depth; we did however, explore euthanasia and IVF during our residential weekend, which proved to be emotionally taxing for students with experience of IVF.  For the remainder of the subjects, as I have said, they are left to the individual to engage with.

For myself, I chose war and peace.  As many of you know I have a military background and as part of my vocational calling I was having difficulty in reconciling my growing faith with the nature of the role I was practicing daily in the Royal Navy. 
Instead of offering you differing viewpoints as to how Christians can engage with issues of warfare, whether as combatants or non-combatants, below is one of my assignments for the term.  It is presented as a newspaper article based on ‘just war principles’ as applied to the first Gulf War, it expresses fears for a third Gulf War and suggests an alternative approach for individuals when considering the ethics of war.

World Peace – Child’s Play

I was recently saddened, dismayed and filled with prayerful hope.  Saddened by a recent study of the ‘just war theory’ as applied to the first Gulf War, you remember that war, 1990-1991, the removal of Saddam’s forces from Kuwait.  Dismayed by the hidden agenda of the joint naval exercises in the Straits of Hormuz in October this year, and filled with prayerful hope that the innocence of our children might give us the inspiration we need to heal our broken world.

The first Gulf War was portrayed by George Bush ‘as a just cause.’  From the invasion of Kuwait to the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm on 3 March 1991 the war was ‘characterised by just war language.’  Politicians and world leaders immediately condemned the Iraqi aggression and UN sanctions quickly followed.

Intense diplomatic activity ensued, to try and bring the crisis to a peaceful conclusion.  Saddam, however, cared not a jot for sanctions or UN resolutions; all he wanted was Kuwaiti oil to raise Iraq out of its economic crisis.
With concepts of just cause, exhaustive diplomacy, the authority of the United Nations Security Council and right intention – to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait and not to continue to invade Iraq itself – the coalition forces went to war. So all the just war theorizing may have done is to ease a few consciences.  It certainly didn’t prevent the war. 

Anthony Harvey pessimistically wrote in his book, Demanding Peace Christian Responses to War and Violence. SCM 1999. ‘War…is endemic in the human race.’  That we will continue to fight each other until one is ‘victorious’ or a ‘more powerful force’ prevents us from doing so. That ‘more powerful force’ turned out to be public opinion, or more correctly the coalition’s fear of it.  Having engaged in battle and as so often happens in the chaos of war, control of the sanitized, surgical action was being lost in massive bombing operations by B-52s on Iraqi infrastructure.  This, combined with the huge imbalance of military casualties in favour of the coalition forces, led to a declaration of ceasefire after the bombing of the retreating Iraqi forces on the Basra road.
So it could be said that just war principles of discrimination – that you ensure that non-combatants are not targeted - and proportionality – that the good you intend to do by going to war is not obscured by the conduct of the war itself – were responsible for the ending of the war.
I was saddened that this war, although it achieved its objective and was seemingly fought under ‘just’ circumstances, left nothing but a legacy of misery. 

Following the end of Operation Desert Storm coalition air forces remained in action over Iraq for most of the 1990’s, making the ‘peace’ won, at the cost of thousands of mainly Iraqi lives, an elusive one.  Finally, the ‘Saddam issue’ resulted in the second Gulf war.  Expressions like ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘shock and awe’ were to become familiar.   And what of Iraq today?  As we hear daily, and are in danger of becoming desensitised to, Iraq is in a downward spiral of self-destructive sectarian violence that leads ever closer to civil war.   

Following my sadness I was dismayed to read Dilip Hiro’s article ‘Dire Straits’ in the Guardian 20th December.  In it Hiro reports on the ‘Pentagon led’ naval exercise ‘Leading Edge.’  The exercise apparently lasted for five days and involved combined elements from the navies of US, UK, France, Italy, Australia and others, as well as ‘observers’ from ‘19 other countries.’  Its aim was to ‘block the transport of weapons of mass destruction,’ this aim has been greeted with scepticism to say the least. 

Its hidden aim is to ensure that the Straits of Hormuz remain ‘open’ for the export of oil to the West, should any future air strikes on Iran’s, ‘known and suspected nuclear facilities’ occur. This is in stark contrast, Hiro informs us, to recommendations that the U.S presidency embraces diplomacy, especially in dialogue with nations like Iran and Syria. 

Is this the third Gulf War in waiting, is there no hope, are we to be condemned to perpetual warfare; are we to resign ourselves to Harvey’s comments about our nature?

Whilst submerged in this seemingly hopeless gloom of pessimistic reflection, I came across an anecdote from Bernard Tetlow, which not only gave me hope for our future, but also adds weight to Harvey’s suggestion that there is another way for the individual to engage with issues of national and international security. 

Traditionally there have been two approaches adopted by Christians and others, to the morality of their participation, or the participation of their armed forces, ‘in their name,’ in war.  That is the application of just war principles or of declarations of pacifism whilst working for ‘peace.’  Both were evident in the first Gulf War, the former by the coalition governments as explained above, and the latter, particularly by the Roman Catholic Church.

Harvey suggests in his chapter, ‘Non Violence and the Pacifist Alternative,’ that there is common ground to be found between just war theorists and pacifists.  That common area has become known as non-violent resistance.  Harvey suggests that we as individuals exercise our rights and use the ballot box to determine that personal opinions are reflected in national policies.  That we realise our social conscience and express it in public demonstration; interestingly, he calls for the training of ‘unarmed civilian peacekeepers,’ a civilian enterprise that would work toward reconciliation of conflicting issues, either between nations or within nations.  This is not about undermining the role of the United Nations, it is about educating ourselves and thereby our society in its continuing development toward world peace.  Imagine if we trained our children in peacekeeping; what fruits would we harvest?  A slump in the sale of plastic battleaxes might be a good social indicator.

Mr. Tetlow in writing to the Daily Mail 20th December, told the story of a vicar struggling to prepare his sermon because he was being continually distracted by his young son.

The stressed vicar leaves his desk and starts to search for something to occupy the child.  He comes across a magazine with a map of the world on it; he tears the page out, with the idea of turning the map into a jigsaw puzzle.  The vicar cuts the map into jigsaw shaped pieces and gives it to his son with instructions to piece the picture back together. Fully confident that he will be able to work without further distraction, the vicar returns to his study.

To his great surprise after only a few minutes his son returns, proudly displaying the completed picture.  Stunned, the vicar looks at the picture and says: ‘That’s amazing, son, how did you manage to put it back together so quickly?’  ‘It was easy, Dad,’ the son replies. ‘because on the other side was a picture of a man, and I thought that if I got the man right, then the world would be right!’

My best wishes for a peaceful 2007,


Bulletin No. 10: May 2007

Hello again, on a scale of 1-9, guess what? I’m on 9!  As I write I am seven weeks from ordination and you would not believe what needs to be done between then and now!  I could list half a dozen or more things for you but it’s best that I remain calm!

Last term was quite difficult, the academic level was higher and therefore required extra effort and concentration. The term was focussed on different ways of discipleship, as suggested by theologians down the years from Luther to Moltmann.  We were concentrating from the reformation to the present day; anything previous to the reformation had been covered in another module.

April also involved my third and final Easter school – yes I’m sorry I missed seeing Miriam as the Easter bunny at the Easter party but believe me I did help in the ‘design’ of the costume.

Easter school was excellent as usual, the planning and dedication of the staff certainly showed as the weeks programme unfolded. We were treated to lectures by professors and accomplished authors; the theme of the week was relationships.  That, I know covers a massive spectrum of relating and no stone was left undisturbed.

We considered same sex relationships, civil partnerships, age concern, sexual and physical abuse to children and adults, marriage and divorce, disability, single issues, in fact we discussed as many of the myriad of human interfaces as possible.

Naturally such discussions hit raw nerves, with over 90 students present there will always be somebody who has been or is affected by one or more of those relationships.  So more than one student needed some sensitive and compassionate pastoral care over the week.

Easter school wasn’t all work though, there was time enough to play – I do a smashing Frank Sinatra on the karaoke!  Seriously, we as a group are very much aware that we are nearing the end of our initial academic training (in reality I’m completing year three of seven in training terms) and we are doing the ‘last of’ things, and people are realising that this very intimate and supportive community is coming to an end.  I will continue my training with the other six Liverpool NOC ordinands but the community as we know it will only continue in small localised support groups, so there is a sense of loss, a sense of change and moving on amongst the students.

That’s it for this penultimate update; my next article will be post ordination!  See you there. 

With every best wish,


On the Sunday before the ordination (the Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist), Fr Neil Kelley's sermon focussed on Martin's forthcoming translation.
Click here  for the text of the sermon.

The final Bulletin - No. 10: May 2007

In and out of control – Martin Jones

This article may turn out to be a little strange!  I would like to try and share with you my state of mind (don’t laugh) from the beginning of the day to after the moment of ordination.

July 1st ‘O’ day!  After our pre-ordination retreat the day had finally arrived, the climax of the last three academic and formational years, together with the many years of spiritual searching and discernment, the ordination of eleven individuals into the diaconate.

To say that the atmosphere at breakfast was expectant would be an understatement; this day saw the beginnings of many ‘first of things.’ 

Our breakfast table, which comfortably seated our entire party, had been thoughtfully decorated with printed sheets of A4 that declared ‘O Happy Day’ by the catering staff of St. Deiniol’s library, the location of our retreat in Hawarden, North Wales.  This small gesture prompted a mental determination that nerves would not get the better of me and that today would be a celebration and affirmation of calling, a day that would change me forever and be forever remembered.

An outbreak of slight paranoia amongst the ordinands threatened to upset the calm confidence enjoyed at breakfast, ‘What if somebody breaks down [their car] we should all go in convoy,’ and ‘I don’t know the way to the Cathedral from the tunnel exit!’  We immediately formed a discussion group and an order of departure determined, the trumpet sounded and we departed in convoy Cathedral bound, arriving unsurprisingly early.

It’s funny isn’t it, how calm you can sometimes feel when travelling, because we have control, the motorway is empty, our speed unhurried, its only when we drive through the streets of Liverpool and the tower of the Cathedral is visible in the roads ahead, that you become aware that the journey is ending and that control is going to be given over to others.

I am thankful that we arrived in good time, the Cathedral was quiet with few people around, I had chance to walk around and collect my thoughts, a fellow ordinand and I walked purposely and quietly to the Lady Chapel for a few moments of prayer.

From then on time seemed to be meaningless, we went from one ‘happening’ to another, as we were robing Bishop James arrived and prayed with us and wished us well, before we knew it we were formed up ready to process in.

As I have commented to many of you, the next two hours passed without noticing the time.  The liturgy delivered on the expectations of the day, the service oozed celebration, awe and mystery.

Then came my big moment, all the years of server training came into play, I processed slowly and deliberately, almost but not quite a slow march (this is of course my perceptions of my behaviour you may have seen something completely different) hands held together in a gesture of prayer, taking the corners at right angles to bring me kneeling in front of the Bishop.  As hands were laid upon me I opened my arms in prayerful submission to the office about to be bestowed and my hands shook uncontrollably.  I did not close my arms I let them be.

The next few moments I was dominated by a changing awareness of being.  It seemed that my mind was dealing with sensations that my body was struggling to catch up with.  Hearing the rite of ordination, feeling the weight of hands, seeing my hands shake but not feeling them do so, all that I am and what I will be, given to this instant in time, abandoning control.  Then the moment had passed, control returns, no more words, I bow to the Bishop and look at a fixed point in space processing back to my place, I no longer shake, my body relaxes and my mind races with the enormity of the future, that things will never be same; everything has a new and different perspective not only for myself but also for my family.

Every person in the Cathedral that day experienced something different, they saw and felt something that their neighbour did not and vice-versa, I had experienced an alternating feeling of being controlled and being in control, experiencing those emotions in a mix of liturgical and relational situations.  It was indeed a happy and unforgettable day.

So why am I going on about being in and under control?  It’s the only way I can find to express to you what it felt like, in fact that is exactly the question Fr. Neil posed to me in the well of the Cathedral after the service, and explains the expression on my face, he asks, ‘What did it feel like?’

With love and best wishes to you all,


Martin's ordination on June 2nd was indeed a wonderful day, not just for him, but for the croiwd of witnesses from  our parishes who joined this latest in the long line of ordinands from our churches, in the Cathedral in the morning and then welcomed him back to  St Faith's Hall for a reception afterwards.

For lots of pictures, and some words, about this great event click here.

To end this saga of reports, we reproduce the two letters of thanks Martin and Mim wrote to the people of our parishes aftet the dust had settled. They mark an end and a beginning, (parting is such sweet sorrow, as someone said). We know we shall see them both again, we thank them for all they have con tributed here over so many years, and wish them both every blessing in their ministry and for the years ahead.


Its usual to turn to your family when you’re in trouble or crisis, how lovely to have your family turn to you with and in a shared celebration.

A lot has already been said about the 1st July 2007, I’m sure if any more articles about it are published we could incur Martin and Miriam fatigue!  The day would not have been the day it was without you.  By ‘you’ I mean a collective everybody: those from both of our churches who shared the day in the Cathedral, those who came from afar and those who stayed behind to prepare for our mini reception.

And what a reception you gave me, I am still moved when I think of it, as I said in my speech it wasn’t just about ‘O’ day, it was about all that had gone before to get me there, your encouragement, love and support in times good and bad.

Thank you so much for your generous gifts, I have a shoe box full of cards that I will keep always, we have spent a few vouchers at John Lewis for our home and I have brought a couple of books and that ‘must have’ stole – remember I am Kelley trained!  The remainder of my book vouchers will go on books I need as my training progresses.

Bye for now, with my prayers and best wishes,


Not to be outdone….a massive THANK YOU!

As you know, I usually have the last word! (Or in this case, several!) I just want to reiterate what Martin has said, but also to add my personal thanks for all the good wishes afforded to me upon our departure from regular worship at St Faith’s.

Many people have understood what a wrench it has been to leave my beloved home parish, but leave we must. St Faith’s, however, will never leave me. I don’t mean the building, I am talking about the family.  Recently, we have been fortunate that the family has been extended to include St Mary’s and they have also been a great support.

So, thank you for all your love, support and kindness over the years and we’ll see you soon…Patronal Festival, if not before!

With love,


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