Sunday, January 06, 2008


In September 2006 I wrote a spoof piece about a priest going over to the dark side. Read it here.

I feel, once again, the need to offer my resignation as a satirist due to unfair competition from real life.

The Rev Chris Horseman, so it is reported in the Nailsea and Clevedon Mercury (so it must be true), is training as a witch. A white one, before you get too worried. There is a picture of him looking over his spectacles, long white hair flowing behind him whilst reading a book on spells. He is a non-stipendiary minister (not paid by the church) who is a full-time carer for a wife with MS and earns his living as a rent-a-rev (weddings and funerals) but is branching out.

I predict cosy fire-side chats with a bishop.


Anonymous said...

A chat with the bishop seems like a great idea.

I wonder why so many CofE pews are empty these days.

What is the church coming too?

Anonymous said...

Suggest you talk to the Rural Dean about this one..............

Mr Gnome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Peatman said...

Was going to say "you couldn't make this up" but you, er, did. However, reality is keeping up nicely with fiction.

What's his explanation? Inter-faith dialogue? Getting alongside people?

Mike Peatman said...

Found it. Love the comment about diversification. Reminds me of the Not the None O'clock News vicar played by Mel Smith:

"Less of the get behind me, Satan, and more of the come on in Nick and have a cup of tea"

Anonymous said...

more a case of back to his (christianity's) roots?

Anonymous said...

Of course you know lots and lots and lots about it, don't you - hiding behind the cosy pews, redolent of mildew and cough drops, seeking the age of John Betjeman. Welcome to the real world, where people are no longer told what to believe. Ummm - wake up and smell the coffee........

St said...

I simply adore the way an anonymous visitor tells me I am hiding behind the cosy pews. Priceless. Must do it. Now where can I buy some pews for my church to hide behind?

Mike Peatman said...

Yep, that was excellent. can only conclude the
a) Anonymous is someone who knows you and is sending you up or

b) They have no idea of what the real 'you' is like

dmk said...

Press release today from the jelly-baby eating Bishop of Bath and Wells:

The Revd Chris Horseman today (Wednesday) agreed to resign his licence to officiate at Church services as a Church of England Priest.

He took the decision after an interview with the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Price.

Mr Horseman, who lives in Claverham near Bristol, agreed his activities as a ceremonialist were incompatible with his Anglican Orders.

He offered his resignation which the Bishop is minded to accept though the Bishop has offered him a period of grace to consider the matter.

Mr Horseman has agreed to cease acting as an Anglican Priest immediately.

'Ceremonialist'? Didn't realise the pagans had denominations too.

Well done bish.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Steve - nice to know who your friends are.

NEXT time we meet at the crem, and you give me one of your sickly, oh so sincere smiles, perhaps you would like to talk face to face, instead of simply taking the piss publicly?

In love and light and laughter


Anonymous said...

And, PS,

I have and will never do anything to hurt. I was hurt, in spite of the thick skin I have had to develop, by this. Well done - you penetrated. Perhaps you would like to consider that in connection to YOUR priesthood?


St said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for dropping by. Which bit of what I said was untrue or unfair? I was, as you can see, slightly sarcastically quoting a newspaper.

The earleir piece was pure fiction.

Anonymous said...

What hurts, I guess, is that we have undoubtedly crossed paths. You could have asked me what it was all about. But you did not. You could have tried other sources of information - Ship of Fools, for example. But you did not. Sins, as they say, of omission.

I understand that blogging desires to make a splash just to attract attention (I love the fact that SoF draws attention to this, by saying "look at me, mummy" at the head of the contributor list), BUT - what about a little balance. My story is pretty well known locally. Even if YOU didn't know, you could have asked.

So, to make it clear - here is a reply on another blog :-


Thanks for such a sweet, reasoned, balanced, charitable commentary. Wonderful journalism! NOT. A little digging around in not very obscure places would supply you with a little of the true story.

I am the man. I'll begin seven years ago, with the Bishop of Taunton, who had the wonderful reputation of bringing all his priests to tears. In an interview I was told that caring for my MS disabled wife was not compatible with my full time Anglican Ministry.

Okay. A soul destroying moment. Have you been there? So, partly to make ends meet, and partly because it IS my vocation, I began an independant Ceremonialist practice. YES CEREMONIALIST. It really IS a word. I began working with people of all denominations, all faiths, no faith, fitting Rites and Ceremonies around their own life journey, rather than fitting them to a "one-size fits all" solution. This led me into some unusal places.

During the last seven years I have also led Sunday worship in many parishes around the Diocese, at cost to myself, taking several long interegna, as well as holiday cover. A ministry, I will say, that has been greatly appreciated. I have made many, many friends.

Desiring to know more about some of those unusual places, I began to study. I discovered (oh dear this may come as a shock to you) that Pagans do NOT have horns and a twisty tail. In fact a more open, loving community it would be hard to find. I have recieved NO condemnation from them for being a Christian priest. Look and learn.

On my recent dealings with the church, I was told, not that I was worshipping the devil, but that I had, by leading ceremonials other than those allowed for in Canon Law, breached my oaths. I can understand the point.

I must say, had the roles been reversed, I think I would have "charged" to be a Christian ambassador in these unusual and unknown places, and given my blessings.

But, sadly, it wasn't to be. Indeed, the Bishop,on being asked what direction I should have taken 7 years ago, replied, "Ummmm, become a bus-driver". I remain a priest, both in the Anglican order sense, but also, and perhaps more importantly in what I AM and do.

My company, "Rent-a-Rev-uk", not only has a high reputation, but will soon be expanding.

Please try to refrain from sensationalism. One of these days the "witch hunt" may be against you. Charity at all times.

In love and light and laughter

Chris Horseman"

Matthew McMurray said...

As somebody about to start Ordination Training, or ministerial formation, or whatever the new buzz-word is, I can relate to and understand the idea of priesthood being not just to those in any given Church building on any given Sunday morning and think that it would probably be more rewarding sometimes to look outside of the Church doors. I do believe that we are priests to everybody and I suppose that being the established Church in England gives us the unique privilege and access. The thing that confuses me is the line between being a Christian priest to other faiths, and leading their practices. I could never, with a clear conscience, do that.

Whilst working with Mike at St Martin's, I found it interesting to talk to Muslim students who came to use our small, but appreciated, prayer room. It started in me a desire to understand more through dialogue what Muslims believe but at the same time, the conversation might only make sense if I, and they, converse with integrity, without trying to change what we believe, or water it down.

Yes, I believe that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life" but that doesn't equate to believing that everybody else is going to hell.

I suppose that all I am saying is that I couldn't lead other practices as a Christian and as somebody who is likely to be a priest one day.

Chris, how did you handle that line? And how did you manage to take the step over to doing other practices?

dmk said...

Thanks for the full story, your experience with the Bishop unfortunately rings true. Most of us have breached Canon law at some stage or another. I'm now unclear about whether the authorities had more of a problem with you taking unauthorised ceremonies, or with your spiritual path towards paganism (if that bit of the reporting is accurate!)

Like Matthew I would be unable to 'cross the line' and lead practices belonging to people of other faiths. There clearly are Christians who embrace paganism (e.g. Matthew Fox), but though there are some elements in common, I can't see how, at the root, the two faiths are compatible.

david said...

There is much more discussion / questioning of Chris, and his responses, on the Ship of Fools site. Someone more clever than me will need to provide the link . . .

Matthew McMurray said...

I wonder in what way caring for your wife and full-time ministry were "incompatible". It seems an odd choice of words. I can only imagine that the strain on ministry would be immense, which may have been what the Bishop meant.

It is always important to face these things with love and openness but I am still unsure how Chris could cross the line into doing these practices and studying Wiccan.

Matthew McMurray said...

Ship of fools discussion here.

Mike Peatman said...

Chris, if anything I have said previously has been offensive, then I must apologise. However, looking at your comments, I think you ought to understand that Steve Tilley is a satirist, not a theological fascist. This blog often picks up and emphasises the humour that is out there in all kinds of stories from many different places.

If I know Steve at all, I think it's fair to say that he sought to send up a number of things, including the local paper, C of E HR practise (or its frequent lack of it) and other issues too. Given you describe yourself as rent-a-rev, and trained in the pagan tradition whilst a priest, I hope you can see that opened the possibility for a little humour.

It sounds to me like you have been ill-treated and hurt by the Church, and have found kindness elsewhere. However, I just want to say that I don't believe Steve's blog intended any malice towards you.

Mischievous, yes, malicious, no.

Simon said...

Thou shalt not bend or otherwise disturb the rules. Unless you're a god-bothering big wig. Then you can twist them to fit your purposes as much as you like.

St said...

Thanks for all the contributions, especially Chris. Absolutely fascinating.

Anonymous said...

People can feel very precious about there purpose in life and the direction that one feels compelled to lead.
There is a great deal of
ignorance in the world with limited time and arguably intellect to understand and explore both ourselves and purpose in life.
There is a great temptation to be defensive at what is being said particularly if we know a person personally.
Whilst what is said may be hurtful and challenges our integrity it may be wrongly misconceived or possibly intended.
If so such people are really not worth knowing or wasting emotional energy on. Most importantly at the end of the day does it really matter.
Respect and love people may feel or express to us are given unconditionally dereived from our own unconditional actions we show to others.
There may be a danger of having acquired secondary gain from the very establishment we serve or being restricted by it in terms of widening our spiritual development and understanding. We may also feel increasingly more detached and isolated in ones beliefs. In such cases who do we turn to and open up to. God? possibly, other peers probably not.
Philosophizing, intellectualising, moralizing and spiritualising are not as important as concrete positive actions.
I am not seeking a response and am not intending to be critical. but I would suggest that people ask this finally question which is.
AM I REALLY HAPPY WITH WHO I REALLY AM AND WHAT I AM TRYING TO ACHIEVE? I suspect the answer is no and if so I believe the former effects the latter and visa versa.
It is very hard to confide in people in a position of trust for a variety of reasons and isolation is very damaging.