So, back in January, I wrote this. Let’s see how I’m doing, shall we?
I did indeed sign up for yoga classes at the rather wonderful Meadowlark Yoga Studio. I highly recommend the lovely Elle. I need to sign up for more classes, but have been practicing at home more often and feel so much better for it.
I joined a political party. Yay! Though am still very disgruntled at the state of politics in this country.
3., 4., 5. palestine, ministry, and mystery
I said to some of the staff of the Scots Hotel as I left Tiberias in November, I will bring my husband back here for our 10th Anniversary in 2015. It would be a great place to celebrate.
Little did I know….
It turns out that, God willing, we will be back there for our 10th Anniversary. Not just to visit. But to live.
The Church of Scotland has offered me the position of Associate Minister of St Andrew’s Memorial Church, Jerusalem and St Andrew’s, Tiberias. At some point in the autumn we (with Judy and Coleridge) will move to Israel.
Now, I need to make it clear that at this stage I have not yet been formally appointed. There is still paperwork to do, a contract to sign, a medical and psychological assessment to undergo (Justin too) to make sure we’re fit for work and life in a stressful situation. But no grapevine is more efficient than the church’s, and given that our medical appointments aren’t until July and I needed to hand in my three month notice at Old Saint Paul’s, and I needed to start saying some goodbyes, we have decided to let people know even though it’s not yet completely finalised.
(I kind of feel like I did when I was preparing for ordination: every other phrase when I talk about this next step is ‘God willing’….)
Since telling friends and family, I’ve been (quite fairly) inundated with questions. So to make it easy for myself, I’ve decided to compile a list of FAQs. Here you go, my dear curious ones.
Q: Whoa. But you’re an Episcopal priest! How can you work for the Church of Scotland?
A: Well, the job was open to anyone ordained in a recognised Protestant denomination. And as people at Old Saint Paul’s have begun to put it, I’ll be ‘on loan’ to the CofS for the next few years.
The Presbyterian members of my family find this all rather hilarious given my intense love for and defence of Anglican ways.
Q: You, leading worship in the Reformed tradition??? But you were trained at OSP. However will you survive?
A: Yes. I know. But God isn’t only present when there are incense and candles and monstrances, right?
I may have grown up Episcopalian, but my extended family is Methodist and Presbyterian, and I went to Southern Baptist Vacation Bible Schools. I am the embodiment of ecumenism.
(Confession: I will miss wearing a cope. All the more reason to build ecumenical relationships out in Israel/OPT*!)
Q: But I thought you were called to be a parish priest? Why are you giving up on ministry so soon?
A: I am called to be a priest. And I’m certainly not giving up on ministry.
But more and more, my priesthood has become about something more than parish ministry in Scotland. Friends and family started noticing that I wouldn’t shut up about my trip to Israel/OPT. They heard me talk about the possibility of working out there and could see in my eyes that if I got the chance, there’d be no stopping me. I can’t explain it. It’s the kind of opportunity that, if I weren’t called to it, I’d run away from it as fast as possible.
It’s scary. It’s a little dangerous. It’s very uncertain. It’s a huge upheaval. It’s mad. And the very thought of it makes my heart soar. Sounds to me like God might be behind this somehow….
Q: Are you sad to be leaving the SEC?
A: I’m not sure that ‘leaving’ is the right word (see above about being ‘on loan’). I hope to use my links with the SEC to increase cooperation between the CofS and the SEC (and other Scottish Churches) in raising awareness about the effects of the Israeli occupation on all people in Israel/OPT, and particularly the situations faced by our Christian brothers and sisters in the land.
Q: But Judy? And Coleridge? What about them?
A: Oh my goodness. Do you really think we’d leave them behind? From what I can see, it’s fairly straightforward to bring them into Israel as long as they have the right vaccinations and are microchipped. Besides, I’ll just have to teach Judy to do this in the Sea of Galilee, right?
Q: What about your house in Stow/your car/your furniture/your BOOKS (delete as appropriate or insert alternatives)?
A: Short answer: We haven’t decided yet. But it’s all under discussion.
Q: Will you have to learn Hebrew?
A: I’m going to be trying to learn Arabic. Justin is already attempting Hebrew.
Q: Oh yeah, Justin. What does he think?
A: He is thrilled. And there’s a sense of calling in it for him too, I think. It makes me have a little cry every time I think about how amazing it is that he is willing — and eager — to embark on this adventure with me.
Q: Will you still blog?
A: Yes. Absolutely. Though in role and likely through the CofS site. And I hope to start a Blipfoto journal.
Q: Where will you be based?
A: We’ll be living in Tiberias. But the work will involve a lot of traveling throughout Israel, the West Bank, and (when possible) Gaza.
Q: What exactly is it you’re going to be doing?
A: All kinds of things. I’ll serve the congregation at St Andrew’s Tiberias. I’ll be acting in a kind of chaplaincy role to staff and visitors at the Scots Hotel in Tiberias and to staff and students at Tabeetha School in Jaffa.
I’d love to build some links between school children at Tabeetha and kids here in Scotland, and I have already had a couple of teachers here ask if that might be possible.
I’ll also be building on the ecumenical ties the CofS already has and I’ll continue to work with their partners in the West Bank and Gaza. There’s talk of organising a conference, or helping with pilgrimages, or doing all kinds of interesting justice, peace and reconciliation things.
The work will be varied, and I don’t know quite what to expect, except that I’ll get a chance to meet lots of fascinating people, hear some amazing and heartbreaking stories, and exercise the kind of ministry of presence that I’ve been feeling increasingly called to over the past few months.
Q: Can I come visit?
A: Why yes, of course!
Q: Won’t you miss the Scottish weather?**
A: Ha! It’s June and 50 degrees below baltic here in Edinburgh.
* Occupied Palestinian Territories
** Just kidding. No one has actually asked this question.
Greyhound photo from BarkBox.