Sunday Services

8.00 Eucharist

10.00 The Parish Eucharist

10.00 Junior Church

18.30 Evening Prayer

19.00 Benediction

Weekday Eucharists

Tuesday 10.00

Wednesday 19.00

Thursday 10.00

Friday 12.30

Saturday 18.00

Contact Details
Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Street, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 3JG.
01823 354800
Facebook:  Holy Trinity Taunton

Fr Julian writes...

I’ve been on a LYCIG conference…  I expect that that means very little to you!  LYCIG stands for ‘leading your church into growth’, and it is a charity within the C of E which does what it says on the tin.  And it wasn’t just me; Geraint Jones (PCC Vice-Chair) and Jenni Llewellyn one of our Lay Pastoral Assistants) together with me formed a team that sat at the feet of Bishop Philip North (he of the Sheffield diocese furore a couple of years ago – remember?), Fr Damian Feeney, who like me is on the Ebbsfleet Bishop’s Council, but more importantly is a catholic missioner in Lichfield, and the Revd David Banbury.

One of the difficulties, bluntly, with many mission-focussed initiatives, is that they are very much based on an evangelical understanding.  It is a great shame that we in the catholic tradition don’t believe that we can do mission, and other parts of our church don’t we actually want to.  We have convinced ourselves that we are in terminal decline, and are just hanging on to the bitter end, with the unspoken thought that could the last person left please turn out the (sanctuary) lights!

When I arrived here all those years ago, I sensed a feeling that Holy Trinity’s ambition was no more than to survive.  There was a slightly depressed and really quite tired congregation whose greatest hope was HT would be around to ‘see them out.’  Since then, we have achieved an awful lot, and our community outreach has become far more significant.  Liturgies and buildings have been renewed, and congregations have grown.

But…   There can be no doubt that congregations have decreased, largely due to so many faithful and regular members dying or being unable to come to church.  There have been new church members but these have not kept pace with the decline we have faced.  We are proud practitioners of the Catholic tradition in the C of E, and we should not be brow-beaten into accepting that because we seem to be going ‘against the flow’ in a church which is becoming ever more evangelical, then our days are numbered.  They are not.  The only thing that will impede God’s purpose is our lack of conviction and our lack of faith.

Although LYCIG did suggest many, many ways in which parishes could grow through new initiatives, the focus in the first instance should be on basics, such as prayer and the sacraments.  The most practical and positive beginning is to do what we are already doing, and do it even better, and not expect an ‘instant fix’.  This was brought home to me in the entirely (?) coincidental set for the day – not chosen specially – from the prophet Isaiah  The Lord says, ‘This shall be the sign for you:  This year will be eaten the self-sown grain, next year what sprouts in the fallow, but in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  The surviving remnant of the House of Judah shall bring forth new roots from below and fruits from above.’

It is very easy to get disheartened.   It is very easy to say we’re too tired, too old, not clever or good enough – too ready to make and accept excuses.  Wasn’t Moses 120 years old when he was leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land?  And I can’t remember Jesus saying to any of his chosen disciples, ‘Actually, you may be too old’.  Nor have I read in scripture Jesus saying, don’t worry about following me, I can see you’re too busy’.  Can we see Jesus only going to ‘religious’ and learned people of his time to further the purpose of God’s new kingdom.  In every instance the answer is, ‘Of course not’.  So what’s different today?

Amongst the basics we should be concentrating on is the basic fact that every single one of us has been called by God to do something specific.  Every calling, or vocation, is tested, both by individuals like you and me, and as a church.  If it doesn’t work, it means we haven’t got it right.  But we mustn’t be haunted by the threat of ‘failure’ – there is no ‘failure’ in God’s eyes or in God’s world. 

So I ask you all to think, pray and be ever more faithful and together we will lead the church into growth.


Fr Julian writes...

‘Well, that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.’ Some of you will remember Oliver Hardy’s usual riposte to a scrape Stan Laurel managed to involve the pair in.  It could be said that we’re in a pretty fine mess, today, too.

Without doubt, we are in one of the most momentous periods of our nations’ life.  The Supreme Court has pronounced the Government’s proroguing of Parliament as unlawful, and the Prime Minister as having misled the Queen in seeking it.  As a nation, we are more divided and polarised than at any time since the time of the Commonwealth.  However, I don’t intend to suggest who makes up the  ‘you’ or ‘me’.

When did the divisions begin?  Some may argue it started with THE vote, but that itself was only the result of divisions within the political parties.  Some will argue that it is the result of the apparent widening of the divide between the have and have-nots, with various minority groups being scapegoated.  Or indeed, the words I quoted from Laurel and Hardy may have even been said in the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve were driven out (if they spoke American…).

It could be said that where two or three are gathered together, there will be three or four opinions…  Difference is an inescapable part of life.  Difference can lead to disagreement then to division; if not handled properly division will lead to hurt.  And hurt…  well, that’s not a good thing.

Sometimes we may come across a couple who are celebrating a special anniversary, and it’s not unusual to hear one of them say ‘and never a cross word.’  I have to say I find that a little surprising, as I wonder then what is the depth of the relationship.  It’s impossible to be in accord all the time, speaking as someone who has just clocked up 38 years of marriage!

Of course, it can be said that making up afterwards can be fun, but really things should never get to the stage when there’s division.  We are all different.  We all disagree.  But we do not need to get to the pain of division.  It saddens me when I sometimes hear when preparing a family for a funeral of a loved one that there has been an unreconciled family division.  There can be no earthly reconciliation after death and the division in this world will remain, with its hurt, until the healing of resurrection.

Although critical of the Church, the 18th century philosopher Voltaire is often quoted as saying, ‘I detest your views, but I would die for your right to express them.’  We cannot avoid difference merely by pretending it doesn’t exist.  We cannot disagree until we know the contrary view.  We cannot accept division as a justifiable consequence.  We cannot face pain without making an attempt to heal.

What then, can we do about this, individually, as a society, even as a church?  Perhaps we should look at the example that Jesus gives us in direct teaching and in his life, especially his Passion.  He did not condemn, even the woman caught in adultery.  He didn’t flounce off in a huff when he was ridiculed, threatened, ignored.  He listened to others, he accepted others, and he was willing to forgive others.  Yes, he had an advantage in being God’s Son, but he was still human, and because of that, he recognised that his disciples would find it harder to live just as he did.  He taught them to remove themselves from conflict, not to fight back, to seek peace at all costs, save denying the truth.

Should not this be the model by which we should live today?  Has human nature changed that much significantly throughout all the years of history?  Perhaps if we learnt how to live with difference more effectively, there would be less disagreement, less division, less pain.  Rather than treating the symptoms, should we not be dealing with the cause?  We should all be asking ourselves what we say, do or think could cause disagreement and its consequences.  And remember, above all, that where charity and love are, there is God.