Saturday, 6 October 2012

Beauty again

The old docklands in my home City of Bristol., U.K.

Photo' courtesy of my cousin Chris Finch

Thursday, 4 October 2012

It was a storm and a half.

I was at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL this afternoon to preside at a 4:00 p.m. funeral.

When I left St. B's at about 4:45 p.m. there were a few raindrops.

By the time I got to the north bridge off the Key I was in a major sub-tropical storm.

Such heavy rain.

Fabulously beautiful lightning, and instant thunderclaps.

Heavily flooded roads.

Visibility of approx 120 yards.

A slow and cautious drive.

Once on Circus Blvd. saw that the Bobby Jones Golf Course was entirely flooded.

Once at home saw that my Lanai was also flooded.

Does anyone have a spare $20,000 which I could use to replace my leaky Lanai windows?

The pond at the back of my home was at an "all time" high ( at least since 2006 when I retired here).

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Resurrection House Sarasota FL

"Res House" is a day shelter for homeless people here in Sarasota.

 I serve at  Res House as a Chaplain.

Here are some extracts from the 2011 annual report.

(More tomorrow)

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Priest, the Rabbi and the Minister...

In fact there was a Roman Catholic Priest, and a Roman Catholic Deacon

There were two Episcopal Priests

There were five Rabbis

There were eight or more Protestant Ministers

There were Muslim women

We were gathered under the biblical text from the prophet Amos: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an overflowing stream."

We met with many other supporters at St. Martha's Roman Catholic Church in Sarasota yesterday.

Our mission was threefold:

1.  To encourage each other as people of faiths in the struggle for justice.

2. To stand with the immigrant farm labourers who labour for our benefit in the tomato fields of Immokalee in South West Florida. ( see )

3.  To encourage the dominant supermarket chain in Florida (Publix)  to sign on to the agreements for a living wage for farm workers.

Before the march to the Publix branch at "The Promenade" in SRQ we gathered for "rally".  We heard from farm workers, from an African American Methodist Minister, from a Hispanic Quaker, from a local Rabbi, and from the host Pastor of the Roman Catholic Church.

I was there chiefly to support my colleague Presbyterian Minister Clay Thomas, who has been banned from Publix for a year  -   all because he went into a Publix store AFTER a CIW rally had ended to buy a sandwich at the deli counter. His "crime" was that he was wearing a shirt with a logo in favour of CIW - which the Publix honchos determined was a disruptive act.

My justice juices were flowing well yesterday - especially because we were an inter-faith group with a common mission for human rights.  Way to go.

Down below are some of the photo's I took, and also the story from today's Sarasota Herald Tribune. Before you get to them I reproduce what Fr. Faustino the Catholic Priest had to say:

"Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure* for the last days. Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you."

That's radical stuff from a Catholic Priest!  ( psst. it's from the bible!)

Rabbis and Ministers confer

Farm Workers at the Rally

Youth and age

Moving out

On the road

CIW staffer (l), the Revd Clay Thomas (r)

The other Episcopal Priest participant, the Revd Bob Thacker (r). Bob also hangs out at St. Boniface Church.

Fair Food indeed tastes better

Walking down  Cocoanut Ave in SRQ (1)

Walking down  Cocoanut Ave in SRQ (2)


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sermon for 30th September 2012.

Sermon for 30th September 2012.

The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. David’s Church, Englewood, FL.

James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50

Last Sunday I attended the Quaker Meeting in Sarasota. It’s not that I am thinking of becoming a Quaker.

But I sometimes find our Episcopal liturgies to be very wordy – with readings, psalms, sermons, prayers and hymns in abundance :-  and scarcely a moment to think or to reflect.

So I decided to worship with a group of people for whom silence is paramount.

Indeed, in one hour of shared prayerful silence there was but one speaker who talked for no more than three minutes.

The formal name for Quakers is “The Society of Friends”.  It is based on the words of Jesus to the disciples: - I no longer call you servants but I call you friends.

“Church as a society of friends”: that sounds about right doesn’t it?  Maybe you are thinking “that describes St. David’s, we are a very friendly bunch”.

You are not alone.  Just about every Church website I visit includes a statement like this: “We are a small and friendly congregation” or “we are a large but friendly congregation”.

‘Tis to be expected:  we would hardly expect a parish website to say “we are a quarrelsome bunch”, or “be careful when you worship with us, you may well tread on some super sized egos”.

And yet ...  even in the friendliest of congregations there are often silly quarrels, power struggles, and sensitive egos.

These parts of parish life are often hushed up or ignored.  It is as if Jesus’ final words to the disciples were “don’t rock the boat”.

Now I am not opposed to friendly congregations. But I believe a couple of things.  

First, that true friendship is very difficult.  It requires a great deal of patience, of honesty, and of forgiveness.  True friendship usually involves being very vulnerable to the other person: the willingness to share fears and doubts, to bear the others burdens, to give the benefit of the doubt, to avoid gossip, to listen to unpleasant truths.  Friendship is not easy, even in the friendliest of congregations.

Second, I believe that we make a mistake when we assert that the primary asset of any congregation is its friendliness.

 There are at least two prior values.  Christian friendship must be built on following and on  forgiveness.


Above all else we who claim to be Christians are followers of Jesus of Nazareth.  He speaks to us today in the Gospel, in very tough words.

We are not allowed to place a stumbling block before any one, however insignificant who believes in Jesus.  Put a stumbling block in front of them, and discover a millstone around your own neck.

And if we ourselves stumble because of our own weakness, pride, disobedience or sin then we must get rid of the hand (what we do), the foot (where we go), or the eye (where we cast our gaze).

Jesus says: "Cut off that hand. Cut off that foot. Pull out that eye."

Of course it is hyperbole, designed to shock us, designed to alarm us. Designed above all else to make us understand that following Jesus is not a Sunday morning hobby, but a lifelong commitment.

It is very much like the commitment to lifelong marriage. Within marriage we must either get rid of the things which hobble our relationship, or those things will destroy the marriage.

We must become serious followers of Jesus before we can develop healthy friendships in Christ.


The letter of James is a practical compendium for life in the Christian community. It addresses the question which has faced the Church down through the ages.  “Just how do we live together in the community of Jesus’ followers?”.

 For if “it ain’t easy” to be a disciple of Jesus, it is sometimes darned near impossible to hang out with other Christians!

James knows this, and so he writes “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed”.

Notice please that James did not say “point out other peoples’ sins”.  That would be all too easy.

No, he says, “confess your sins to one another”.  The healing which comes about is a healing in relationships, and a healing of those wounds which have been inflicted on the Body of Christ by our own faults, errors and sins.

Years ago in a piece of very clumsy and stupid pastoral ministry (the road to hell is paved with good intentions), I seriously offended three parishioners.

I said that I was sorry so many times.  But there was something missing, and the offended parishioners seemed to suspend their forgiveness.

Then a light turned on in my dark brain.  I telephoned each of the three.  In each case I said “I have often said that I was sorry, but there’s one thing I now need to say.  I was wrong.  That confession of my wrong-doing led to a renewed and joyful fellowship with those folks. What a blessing.

You see, forgiving one another leads to a renewed desire and strength to follow Jesus.

It is when we are people of forgiveness, who are determined to follow Jesus, that we can truly be described as friendly.