Sir,—My experience is somewhat similar to that of "In Orbit" (May 2I), sinue I also volunteered at the age of 52. after missing the boat earlier. I did not sacrifice a job, since things never progressed to the point where that was necessary, but I did spend a very unsettled year in the process.
I was persuaded to volunteer by a priest, who assured me that the bishop of the diocese where I was then living would be very pleased to have mc, although my own feeling at the time was that economically it was a poor proposition to spend four years training a man for perhaps 15 years' service.
This bishop replied by post that while he felt that his diocese had no need for late vocations, there were probably other bishops who might he glad to have me. The other bishops all replied in a similar strain. until finally one bishop sent me his official application form. and invited me to appear before his committee on the occasion when all his other applicants were appearing. I was rejected on that occasion and did not pursue the matter any further.
I might mention that one bishop's first reply was to ask me if I could pay my own fees. I sent him a statement of my resources, showing that I might be able to squeeze them out, but this was not found acceptable.
The real point I wish to make is that applications of this sort need to be dealt with at a much more personal level. Even if a bishop knows that be cannot accept such a person for his diocese. he could invite him to a personal interview and advise him whether he appears to have a vocation or not; and if necessary help to place him elsewhere. This personal interview could also be helpful before any formal application is made, since a bishop could then advise unsuitable persons not to proceed eith the formalities of obtaining references, sacramental and medical certificates.
"Returned to Earth"
Sir,—To judge from your report of the Methodist/Anglican Conversations, you would appear to have been sadly misled with regard to the voting of the Methodist Synods upon this matter.
You state, correctly, that only one English district wished a final decision should be delayed. For the sake of accuracy, however, the following points should also be noted: 1. Four other English districts. in addition to those in Scotland and Wales, threw out the proposals , completely. They were: Carlisle, Cornwall, Darlington, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
2. In a number of other cases, the voting was extremely close.
3. The majority of Synods, while agreeing to the proposals in broad outline, did so with so many reservations and amendments that if their wishes are heeded by the Methodist Conference, the present scheme will be altered out of all recognition. In other words, their "Yes, but . . ." could be equally well interpreted as "No, unless . . ."
There is one other observation I shouldlike to make. Rightly or wrhngly, we Methodists like to think we belong to a democratic Church, but the great majority of tis have not been consulted upon the issue. It should therefore be clearly understood that when "Methodist spokesmen" talk airily about "overwhelming and massive support" for the scheme, they may be possibly correct in ascribing this attitude to Methodist officialdom. but they by no means speak for the Methodist people as a whole.
I fear that this fact will become painfully apparent should the Methodist Conference be silly enough to attempt to bulldoze through the proposals on the rather shaky strength of Synod Vol ing.
A. H. Pafford, B.A.
Secretary, Voice of Methodism Assoc., Darlington District.
Sir,—Mr. Mulligan's letter (May 21) regarding his plans for getting rid of the corrupting TV set reminds me of a story which was once current — ridiculing a certain evangelical sect which shall be nameless.
A young woman preaching to her audience is supposed to have said: "I used to be fond of pretty dresses, and laces and ribbons, and all those vanities, but I found that they were dragging me down to perdition—SO I gave them all to my sister"!
Mr. Mulligan went one better (or worse) he sold the source of corruption—for gain. Shocking!
(Miss) Una Brannock
Sir,—Mr. James Mulligan has, perhaps unwittingly, expressed what is the general trend today— As long as I'm all right! To quote a Birmingham vicar—"He is a poor citizen or neighbour who. knowing that there is a leaking drain in the street, pouring out a deadly stench and disease, seals up his own doors and windows and leaves the rest to die of fever".
(Mrs.) I. D. Fry Orpington, Kent.
Sir,—Many of your readers will be interested m know of a stained glass window in honour of the Roman Anglican martyrs of Uganda in the church of St. Mark, Mansfield. The window is one of a series including such people as Thomas More, John Fisher. Lancelot Andrewes and Bishop King of Lincoln.
By way of interest may I ask if the window of the Uganda Martyrs is unique?
Assistant Curate, St. Mark's, Mansfield.