Wednesday, September 10, 2008

larger than life a blog eulogy for Tom Allen

One of the blogs I read regularly is Tom Allen aka big bulky anglican. The link came via Nigel Wright, who was with us at Opawa as part of his Anglican ordinand training in 2006. It is one of the mysteries of contemporary church life that a UK Anglican can be partially formed by a NZ Baptist church, but it was certainly rich for us at Opawa. I think (I might have this wrong) that it was Tom who suggested to Nigel he make contact, for Tom was Nigel’s Vicar at that time.

Following Nigel’s visit, I grew to really value Tom’s via the blog – doing ministry in an established church context, creative, intelligently critical of systems for clergy care and survival, anglo-catholic in his approach to mission – it all made for a very rich blend that nourished me lots. In those moments when I felt alone and stupid and like I was wasting my time in ministry (which is quite often :)), Tom’s blog reminded me that I was not alone, that there were other creative, thoughtful people in established church contexts.

People often ask me if I belong to minister’s groupings. For a while I have struggled to answer, but increasingly in the last few months I have said yes, and it’s on-line – that I have a group of ministers that via their blogs, nourish me, inspire me, sustain me.

Can that be done on-line they ask?

I don’t know, I reply but it works for me.

So I clicked on Tom’s blog last nite to find news of his sudden death. And I grieved. It feels strange to grieve someone you have never met. It feels strange to have no more news about someone’s death than a simple message online.

I will light a candle tonight, for a man I never met, for his family and for those whom he influenced. I will ponder the seeming futility of life. I will give thanks for blogs, and the way they have connected me to people who have enriched my life.

Posted by steve at 02:43 PM


  1. Thanks Steve – yes it was Tom that made the connection to you and Opawa (which was a life changing event for me and my family) and supported me pre, during and post ordination training. The blogging world is a powerful one as I came to realise as I shared e-mails with a number of people yesterday evening in their grief over Tom – and again the contact with him was via his blog. blessings Nigel

    Comment by Nigel — September 11, 2008 @ 12:35 am

  2. Stunned. Just can’t believe the news. Tom was a lovely gentle giant. He married us 5 years ago and christened our daughter, OJ, 2 1/2 years ago. Megan and OJ grew to enjoy seeing Tom around the village and loved nothing more than to have a chat with him. We were all sad to see him leave Oakworth but always thought that we would see him visiting the village now and again. How wrong we were. Thinking of you all, god bless.
    Andrea, Graham, Megan and OJ Watts.

    Comment by andrea & graham watts — September 11, 2008 @ 9:45 am

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