by John Ripley
About twenty-five years ago a small group of clergy met to pray. It was a Tuesday.
Every Tuesday since then (except for Christmas and Clericus days) a small group of clergy continue to meet for prayer. That is a meeting with staying power. By and large clergy do not like meetings, but, those who gather at Tuesday prayer find the experience meaningful and enjoyable — some might even say fun.
It was Malcolm Evans, a former rector of St. Andrew’s (Grimsby), who proposed the idea in the early 90’s to the rectors of the former St. Philips (Grimsby) and St. Alban’s (Beamsville). The initial group consisted of five people — today, if everyone shows up there could be ten.
These ten priests (active and retired) and deacons join in community to say Morning Prayer and review the Lectionary Readings for the next Sunday.
Ostensibly we gather to read scripture and discuss potential sermon directions — and we do that, but the relaxed camaraderie affords an opportunity for much more. Those in “the business” know the many challenges of ministry. To honestly share a particular challenge requires a community of trust. Many a time one of our number leaves a lot lighter because of understanding ears and thoughtful advice.
Of course, coffee and healthy snacks (no Timbits) are a part of the sometimes raucous discussions. Theological perspectives are fairly broad, which means that theological understandings are strenuously debated. Current events are always a part of the dialogue. We search for ways to make the events out there relevant to our church communities. Sometimes it gets very interesting.
Over time the faces around the table have changed. A Baptist minister, a Roman Catholic priest and a Canadian Reform pastor have joined us at various times. With clergy deployment, new rectors of the respective parishes willingly become a part of the group. One priest has been a loyal participant for many years, driving in from St. Catharines every Tuesday. While the faces may change, the group continues to exist as a positive fellowship.
Meetings alternate between St. Andrew’s church and the residence of one of the clergy involved. We say we start at 9:00 a.m. but we seldom, if ever, do — 9:15 is more the norm. Most often the session ends about 10:30 a.m., however, an interesting discussion might see us still around the table at 11:30. I know that I for one always try to keep my calendar open for this special time of the week. Discussion and fellowship is extremely important. Gathering with friends is always valuable.
Yes, “Tuesday Morning Prayer” is a good thing and, God willing, it will continue.