I've been thinking for a few days now about what exactly to say, having spent another few days away in Bergerac, SW France I found myself overwhelmed by the hospitality, the welcome and the generally positive attitude of the people I met and spent time with. Above all it was great fun, my friend Nick and I got some work done (he did the difficult stuff, I held the hoover and cooked the meals!) and we spent some evenings in local bars chatting with the locals and had some meals at friends houses.
But what amazed me is the limited experience of many French people of the Church. For the majority of them 'the Church' is the Roman Catholic Church, and they don't have many good opinions of that. The fact that a Priest (me) would sit and eat and chat with them was a real novelty and they were warm and friendly towards me as we discussed (in faltering French and varied English) what I believed and how the Church of England was different to their own expression of Church.
Now I personally have had very good experience of our RC cousins and the priests I have known in the UK are funny, intelligent, wise and friendly men. It's shame that for many the only impression many French folk have of the Church is of an archaic institution detached from the people and filled with men of dubious sexual intention. It shows how the media has affected their perception and how lack of contact with Christians in the everyday has impoverished their understanding.
So I am wondering if I might be able to exercise some kind of ministry in France. Every now and then positions do come up for Anglican ministers in French Anglican Chaplaincies, and the prospect of this seems very attractive at the moment. Of course it would be a massive change for the family (this is not just a random thought, I have discussed with lovely wife and some trusted friends) but now might be the time that our little ones could make that change and we could start a new life with me exercising a new ministry elsewhere. Pray for me, folks, and watch this space.