THINKING ANGLICANS

Simplification – the story so far

The Simplification Task Group of the Church of England’s Renewal & Reform programme has issued this account of where they got to: Simplification – the story so far, Update from the Bishop of Willesden, Chair of the Simplification Task Group.

This paper, which has been approved by the Archbishops’ Council updates the Church with a summary of where we have got to on the Simplification Task Group work stream under the Renewal Reform initiative. It outlines the issues we have tackled, those areas we have declined to consider, the pieces of work that are outstanding, and the choices for a possible Phase 3. The purpose is to share what has happened as widely as possible, both because it is perfectly possible to miss changes in church legislation and therefore not be aware of the possibilities for doing things more simply, and because the Simplification Group wishes to give an account of its stewardship of the time and resources that it has consumed…

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Nicholas Henderson
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Nicholas Henderson

Item 21 ‘Marriages qualifying connections’ – what a pity the Group thought it was too early to revisit this one. Out in the field, as it were, pastoral and mission opportunities are being lost by the hundreds. Despite nowadays a rather more flexible approach to qualifying connections, which has improved things a bit, many couples are still opting for secular venues where, of course, clergy may not venture even to bless let alone conduct a legal service. It’s time for a radical rethink here to enable the minister rather than the building to be licensed. This already happens in Scotland… Read more »

Clive
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Clive

“Work stream?” When a Church gets so far up its own managerial navel that it has “work streams” it may be time for some pretty radical simplification. 🙂

Father Ron Smith
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‘Tis a gift to be simple,
‘Tis a gift to be free,
‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.
And when you find yourself in a place just right,
You’ll be in the valley of love and delight.

Quaker Song.

aic
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aic

I’d love to see a simplification of all the outrageous titles that the church has proliferated and still seems to love, despite them surely being deeply unchristian and also bewildering for outsiders. Can we bin Preb. Canon, Ven, Rt Rev, Most Rev etc please?

Mary Clara
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Mary Clara

Father Ron, thanks for getting us back to basics with the ‘simple gifts’ lyrics. However, the song originated with the Shakers rather than the Quakers! And now of course it belongs to everyone.

Father David
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Father David

aic – How come Very Reverend Deans are exempt from your list of possible prohibited clerical titles?

David Exham
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David Exham

alc, reverend, venerable, etc are not titles but styles, effectively adjectives describing the person (accurately or not). Canon, Bishop are often job titles, and not to use them would be confusing and, therefore, silly. The usage, Rev Surname, is a clear solecism, and thus to be avoided. Whether the different styles, Most, Very etc, are needed is open to question but they add a certain colour to life, surely! There are better targets for simplification.

Peter S
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Peter S

Simplification is the wrong word. Clarification would be better. There’s nothing wrong with complexity or intricacy; a labyrinth can be an education, a thing of wonder, a source of inspiration.

But I do think the process itself is excellent because it is on the whole about clarification: what do we want to do, and how do we do it well?

Then of course, there’s Mark 10:21. Give it all away?

David Emmott
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David Emmott

I think we would be well shut of most titles. In a Christian community what is wrong with Christian names? If you want to describe a person’s role as well, Father or Mother for a priest, Bishop of course, maybe even Canon or Dean. But why should a priest be any more Reverend than any other human being? Let alone degrees of reverendness implied by Most Rev, Very Rev etc.

Kate
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Kate

But why not styles too? From Scripture it is generally accepted that we have deacon, minister and bishop so that should be our basic list for both titles and styles with a bishop addressed simply as Bishop etc? I can see the need for dean to be added to avoid confusion, and maybe vicar for a minister who holds a benefice because it is so widely, but a simple list would have greater integrity and make the church seem more accessible.

Father Ron Smith
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Thank you, Dear Mary Clare.
Shakers and Quakers – both capable of Moving with the Holy Spirit. The nett result? Loving concern for all Creation; including Humanity.

Father David
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Father David

I’m also pleased to see that aic does not wish to “bin” the title “Father”

Kate
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Kate

David, a number of Christians believe the use of Father as the form of address for a minister of religion is sacrilegious, and that those who style themselves Father are blasphemous. The church should prohibit its use. Vicar or Minister are the correct forms. (It is another issue which would prevent reunification with the Catholic Church.)

I appreciate Anglo-Catholics like to be styled Father but there’s no reason they need to, so harmony is best achieved by prohibiting its use entirely.

David Emmott
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David Emmott

I see Kate continues to maintain that the C of E doesn’t have priests! Surely deacons and bishops are also ministers.

Father David
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Father David

Isn’t TA being a bit slow in adding a thread to its Blog about the current fracas at York Minster with regard to the mass dismissal of 30 highly skilled and experienced campanologists?
The take over of the episcopate by those who have been dubbed episcopal “managers” is well documented and publicised (see the last Dean of Peterborough’s Farewell sermon)- now it would seem that the managerial virus is aversely affecting one of our great Northern cathedrals.

Froghole
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Froghole

I note that the bishop of Willesden touches upon the possibility of amending Canons B11 and B14. I am especially concerned that an amendment to Canon B14 should not be used as a ramp to discontinue worship in many places (especially on a festival basis, or in order to encourage redundancy) if there is no adequate funding in order to ensure that buildings selected for festival use are maintained in default of there being support from regular attendees. By all means amend these canons, but please do so as circumspectly as possible, and include appropriate safeguards in order to ensure… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

@the two Davids, if you prefer the term presbyter can be used. But I would be interested in why you believe the term priest should be used? Likewise father.

Terms like priest and Father can offend and drive some people away from worshipping in a church where they are used. So they should only be used if there is very strong justification. Personal preference, Anglo-Catholic tradition etc just doesn’t cut the mustard. But I can see no such justification – or am I missing something?

Father Ron Smith
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“Terms like priest and Father can offend and drive some people away from worshipping in a church where they are used.” – Kate –

With all due respect, Kate; on this matter you are ‘going against the grain’ of Church Tradition – even in the Church of England. If your suggestion were to gain credibility in the Church; where would that l;eave society at large? Are you against all titles that indicate one’s calling? Would you be content to discard the use of Papa and Mama for children?

Kate
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Kate

And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven – Matthew 23:9

David Emmott
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David Emmott

Kate: The statement about ‘calling no-one Father’ , does that apply to familiar abbreviations like Dad? If we can’t call another human being father we would need a new term to refer to our male parent. As for ‘Vicar’ being the correct term to refer to a priest/minister, that only applies to those clergy with that job description. Not to curates, rectors, priests-in-charge, deans etc etc. I know most people use it and most of us don’t quibble, but nor do we claim it is the ‘correct’ term. I’m all for keeping it simple and I don’t see the need… Read more »

David Runcorn
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Kate – so can we also assume you expect us all to pluck out our eyes and cut off our hands when they offend us – as they surely do?

NJW
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NJW

The historic formularies (to which all office-holders subscribe) include the Ordinal which outlines ‘the form and manner of making, ordaining and consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons according to the order of the Church of England’. In the preface it is stated that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed’. From that I can see no argument (within the CofE at least) for saying that priests are not priests (or bishops bishops/deacons deacons). Many priests are referred to by the offices they hold vicar, padre, dean, curate, chaplain, rector – but although all priests (or deacons or… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

David Emmott, it is clear that Matthew 23:9 should be read in conjunction with the Commandment to “honour thy father and mother” so I don’t see why you would think it meant you couldn’t call your father “Dad”? However there is NO possible way of reading it which doesn’t suggest it is disrespectful to God to call a human cleric “Father”, especially since what comes before ch 23 is aimed squarely at clerics. And David Runcorn is suggesting we abandon the whole Bible because he struggles with the verses which tell us to cut off a hand [or foot] if… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“And ‘presbyter’ is only a synonym for priest anyway. As was said (by whom?), ‘old priest writ large’.” That is not true. Presumably you are talking of etymology? If so, then firstly you are making an erroneous assumption that if two words have the same apparent etymology that they have an identical meaning. The second error is the assumption that the two words have the same etymology when they don’t. The etymology of presbyter is relatively straightforward, that of priest quite complex. But the better way to look at things is that the English word presbyter maps only into the… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

NJW No, there’s a sleight of hand going on. Usage has moved from presbyter to “presbyter or priest” to priest. If you can’t see the difference, try looking at it this way. There are various Hebrew words in the Old Testament which are translated to priest and never to presbyter because the two English words have different meanings and presbyter won’t stretch to cover kohanim for example. Put another way, the Old Testament describes a priesthood based on ancestry and sacrificial responsibility. The New Testament describes elders and apostles recognised by the laying on of hands who had no sacrificial… Read more »

NJW
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NJW

“No, there’s a sleight of hand going on. Usage has moved from presbyter to “presbyter or priest” to priest.” Any sleight of hand seems to go the other way – so far as CofE doctrine goes it was consistently priest in 1550 and 1662, becoming ‘priests, also called presbyters’ in 1980 and priest/presbyter used interchangably from 2000. The change in nomenclature is therefore in fact the opposite of that stated – with presbyter being the innovation (albeit) on the foundations of a particular convention of translating the old and new testaments. Whilst my own understanding of priesthood is shaped by… Read more »

David Runcorn
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Kate ‘David Runcorn is suggesting we abandon the whole Bible ….’. What?!! I am teasing you for your own over-literal use of texts.

Susannah Clark
Guest

The thing is, Kate, that the Church generally, and over 2000 years, has recognised the calling of some to be priests: in the Anglican Church, in the (Roman) Catholic Church, in the Orthodox Church. They all have priests. And vocation is discerned and tested by the Church as a whole. Over the best part of two millennia, the calling of certain individuals to fulfil priestly vocations has been embraced, explored, tested and lived out. Has the greater part of Christendom been living out a fantasy, an error? or, in practical and spiritual terms has it been found to be a… Read more »

Russell
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Russell

On the question of Canon B14, Canon B14A (2) already states “Where there is more than one parish church or place of worship in a benefice or where a minister holds benefices in plurality with more than one parish church or place of worship the minister and the parochial church council acting jointly shall make proposals to the bishop as to what services of Morning and Evening Prayer or the celebration of the Holy Communion (as the case may be) are to be held in each of the parish churches or places of worship and if the bishop is satisfied… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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If we have to have a title, I’m all for ‘sheepdog’ myself…

DBD
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Amen and amen aic. Such nonsense these styles and titles are, comrade.

Kate
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Kate

Even Christ needed to be baptised. That is why John the Baptist had to prepare the way. Jesus though underwent no rite of priesting before he celebrated the last supper and was crucified.

Kate
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Kate

I would add that Jesus’s followers called him Master, Teacher or Rabbi but never addressed him as a priest. Also, Rabbi in those days was simply a descriptor, not a title, since Rabbinic ordination had not yet been invented. The more I study, the more convinced I become that any title other than Minister, Presbyter or Teacher has no foundation in the Gospels.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Kate:

So you would render us without bishops, deans, deacons, sisters, along with priests?