Our Chaplain

The Revd Darren McCallig has been our Chaplain since October 2017. Prior to joining us in Norway, he was Chaplain at Saint Alban's Church in Copenhagen (2015 - 2017) and Dean of Residence and Church of Ireland Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin (2007 - 2015).

Darren set out something of his vision for the Anglican Chaplaincy in Norway in a recent issue of TOGETHER, our church magazine. He wrote:

Our newsletter is called “Together” because we are called together – called together by God to be sisters and brothers in faith in this Anglican Chaplaincy in Norway.

It is a beautiful and a demanding calling. Our Archbishop Justin Welby put it in memorable terms in a recent sermon. The vocation of a Christian community, he said, is to give people an opportunity to recognise two things: (i) the complexity of each other; and (ii) the simplicity of seeking to put Christ at the centre of everything. I elaborated on the Archbishop’s statement at my first meeting of the Church Council in late October. I’d like to share with you a little of what I said:

“1. Recognising the complexity of each other.

This is the great challenge of any Christian community! Getting to know each other, really know each other. Getting to trust each other and respect each other; acknowledging that we are all different. We have different talents, different skills, and different aptitudes. And we also have different weaknesses, different little foibles, and different idiosyncratic imperfections.

Of course, in our context here in Norway, that complexity is further complexified (if I may put it like that) by the fact that we come from a myriad of different national backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds, linguistic backgrounds, denominational backgrounds, and educational backgrounds – I could go on!

And here in Norway, we also have the added challenge of distance. It’s a long way from Bergen to Trondheim for example. I put the journey into Google Maps and the route it suggested for the drive was over 1000 km and scheduled to take 13 hours! These distances give lots of opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstanding, and the situation is not always helped by technology. How often do we misinterpret an email message because we don’t have all the visual clues and signals which go with face-to-face conversation?

2. The simplicity of seeking to put Christ at the centre of everything.

This is, of course, absolutely key. And, what I really like about Archbishop Justin’s phrase is his use of the word “simplicity” – the simplicity of keeping Christ at the centre of everything. I’m no mind reader, so I don’t know why exactly he chose that word, but it seems to me to be very significant.

Because, in the context, I don’t think the Archbishop means “simplicity” as in “easy-peasy” or simplicity as “facile” or simplicity as “making no demands on us.” I think he means simplicity as directness, simplicity as in “Aha, now I get it. It’s obvious when you think about it.” I think he means simplicity as in the one thing needed, the one thing to focus on, the heart of it all.

In fact, I did a check in the Oxford English Dictionary, and in past centuries a “simple” – to use the noun version of the word – was a medicine made up of just one ingredient – a medicine made using just one herb or plant. Simple. One thing. The one thing that’s truly necessary.”

The beginning of a new ministry in a new place is always a time of change and apprehension – not only for the priest, but also for the congregations! I hope that, in the years ahead, we will be mindful of the glorious complexity of each other. And I also pray that we will recognise the profound simplicity of seeking to put Christ at the centre of everything. May the God who has called us together give us the grace to do just that.

 

 You can contact Darren at oslochaplain@osloanglicans.no

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