TCA has had a Chaplain since the earliest days of the Association.
Having a Chaplain reflects the broad Christian tradition of the Royal Navy from its earliest times and the country at large. Although merchant sailors regarded having a parson aboard to be unlucky, King’s ships were recorded as having a Chaplain since Robert of Sandwich received a fee of 6d (old pence) per day for ministering to the 30 ships that had been assembled in 1299 to repulse incursions by the Scots.
Revd Bertram Mitford, who entered the Ministry after RN Service as Lt Cmdr, was appointed Honorary Chaplain to TCA in 1990. He remained a staunch supporter of TCA until his death in 2018. He was succeeded in 1995 by Rev John Williams, who was also Chaplain to Merseyside Division RNR and later became a Monsignor. He was followed in 1997 by the much loved Rev John Oliver OBE. His wife Margaret participated in his ministry and became very popular at Reunions and other TCA gatherings. John did his National Service as a Writer in HMS Black Swan in the Far East in 1946-49, was ordained in 1956 and re-joined the RN as a Chaplain in 1961. His first appointment was as Chaplain to 108 Minesweeper Squadron based in Malta. John understood Jack very well. He had a pithy line in sermons. He was very proud to wear the red cassock of Honorary Chaplain to Her Majesty.
Sadly John and Margaret Crossed the Bar within 12 days of each other in February 2015.
Rev Colin Noyes was our Chaplain from October 2015 – May 2017 and was succeeded in October 2019 by the current incumbent, Rev Trevor Filtness, another former Lt Cmdr, whose service included being XO of Walkerton, C.O of a Fast Patrol Craft in the Maritime Squadron of the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment and RN Liaison Officer to US CinC West Atlantic during the First Gulf War.
Trevor studied for ordination in 2003-2005 and was appointed Curate at Farlington, Hants in 2008, followed by Ordination as a Priest in 2009. During 2011-2018 he was Vicar at Rowlands Castle in Hampshire, retiring to Devon in 2018.
Rev Trevor Filtness is married to Rosemary. They have two children and three grandchildren, so something else in common with many TCA Members.
When meeting TCA members who attended the Reunion in 2019, Rev Trevor said “The world-wide spread of TCA members poses a challenge for the usual pastoral care of a Chaplain – just think of the air miles !!! but I would be pleased to have an informal discussion and offer whatever advice I can to any TCA member who may feel troubled arising from isolation or loss of a partner etc”. This kind offer may be even more pertinent during the Corona Crisis.
Christmas Sermon 2020
There is no doubt that this has been a very different year. We have had to face up to a reality which has meant not being able to do things as and when we like, for example: the pub, meet with family and friends, go on holiday, the cinema etc.
For our Association it meant missing the fun and fellowship of our Reunion weekend and holding our AGM on Zoom. On the other hand, we have a brand new website, updated Association Rules and vacancies have been filled on our Committee.
As I write, Lock-Down 2 is happening with an unescapable inevitability. It may have to go well into December or beyond. Not what any of us wanted. Being unable to share a family Christmas is already causing anxiety. Understandable as we love to be with our families and friends at Christmas. I remember being on patrol in the South Atlantic over Christmas and New Year. I think all of us felt that separation and the sense of sadness, perhaps loss, but we had to accept the constraints of the situation. But, of course, we were not alone, there was the rest of the Ship’s Company.
Rosemary and I would normally invite a couple of people who may be on their own to share Christmas. This year we will have to use other means of sharing, so I am grateful for our modern video communications. Not the same, but it’s more than would have been available even five years ago. Perhaps we know of someone who may like a chat over Christmas. Perhaps members of the TCA ?.
For Christians, Christmas is a time of hope as we celebrate the birth of the Messiah. Christ born into a dangerous world to show how we can be better and kinder people. In other words, to demonstrate God’s love to those in difficult situations. There will be many more in this position this Christmas. So please pray for all those who are anxious about Christmas this year because it will be so different. A kind word can make a huge difference.
Finally, perhaps over our Christmas dinners, we should raise our glasses, full of course, in whatever situation we find ourselves and remember those who we miss and all TCA members and their families and wish joy to them and to the world in a better 2021.
May we all be surrounded by the Love of God and the Peace of Christ this Christmas and in 2021.