Triers!

Rector's Letter - January 2001

 Do you remember Rector Moxon?  I suspect not.  He left Astbury in the 17th Century!  In his 9 years between 1653 and 1662, the powers-that-be must have smiled on George Moxon.  Thomas Cromwell appointed him Assistant Commissioner to the board of "Triers".  Their job was to test "the learning and general sufficiency" of clergy seeking an appointment.  I had to smile to myself when I read this from John Cartlidge's article on Moxon in last July's Chronicle.  You see, I got a phone call towards the end of the year asking if I would join the modern-day "Triers", the C of E's national body who select candidates for the ordained ministry.

 In the years since Moxon, the selection criteria concerning what makes a suitable Vicar appear to have changed considerably.  No longer am I allowed to reject a candidate if they are "guilty of encouraging dancing", though I would still take a dim view if they were caught "speaking ill of Puritans"!

 A picture of Moxon hangs by the mirror in the Vestry.  He looks back at me as I check myself for the remains of Sunday's breakfast before following the choir out for Mattins.  It was Moxon's own fate to be judged.  He was ejected from Astbury in 1662 in a similar manner to many other "dissenting" clergy.  The powers-that-be had changed, and he was found wanting.  His main crime was a disinclination to use the Prayer Book (still a capital offence in Astbury I believe?)

 Moxon sought the religious freedom of the New World.  He founded a congregation in Springfield Massachusetts before returning to Dane Bridge, Congleton, where he pastored and preached until his death 25 years after his expulsion from Astbury.  He is still remembered by a memorial in Congleton United Reformed Church.

 I don't know what 2001 holds for you and me?  A few twists and turns perhaps?  Some of us will find favour, some will not.  We may get a job, we may lose a job.  We may find one door opens, another shuts firmly in our face.  From time to time, people we hardly know will decide our fate.  But life goes on.  God's plan goes on.

"I know the plans I have for you.

Plans for good and not for ill.

Plans to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11

 Whatever the future holds, may I wish you a very happy New Year.  If it doesn't exactly work out quite as you'd planned, maybe just maybe, it's because God has a bigger plan in mind?

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