Today’s Episcopal story

From today’s Church Times comes this story about the Bishop of St. Albans, here in England.

HE LISTS gardening as one of his hobbies, but the green-fingered prowess of the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, so impressed on­lookers recently that he was given the chance to turn it into a full-time job.

Dr Smith told his diocesan synod last weekend that, while visiting an aunt’s house, he decided to sort out her somewhat messy garden. He spent the morning gardening, and, while he was working, noticed a woman walking past a couple of times and watching his progress. Then, he said, the same woman’s head popped up over the wall and said: “Excuse me, but I’m looking for a gardener.”

He said: “So I suddenly feel my prospects are looking up, but I said to her: ‘Thank you, it’s very kind of you, but actually this isn’t my full-time job. I have a full-time job.’

“She says: ‘Are you sure you can’t fit it in?’

“I said: ‘No, no, I’m sorry.’

“And she said: ‘What do you do?’

“I looked up, and said: ‘Well, I’m the Bishop of St Albans.’

“And she looked at me in total disbelief, and said: ‘Huh, well, I’m the Queen of Sheba.’”

The anecdote was greeted with laughter by synod members.

Dr Smith said: “You just can’t make it up, can you? Well, you don’t need to, when things like that happen.”

A diocesan spokesman said that Dr Smith was a keen and ac­complished gardener, and had trans­formed part of the garden at his home since he arrived in St Albans in 2009. “He does say that you can tell a lot about someone’s ministry by the state of their garden.”

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