Saturday, 16 November 2013


Giles Fraser explains in The Guardian Why the writing could be on the wall for the Church of England in the inner city.

Ian Paul writes on his blog about adverts for leaders in church organizations: Searching for Superman.

Paul Vallely asks in the Church Times: Is tweeting in church bad manners?

Richard Chartres writes for the Anglican Communion News Service that In the beginning was communication.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

I have two problems with the idea of tweeting in church and they have nothing to do with manners.
A church service is a moment of collective focusing on God. It is something we have to actively participate in for it to be meaningful. Tweeting removes us from actively worshipping and makes us an observer and reporter of the Service rather than a participant.

I'm also concerned that tweeting excerpts from a sermon while it is being delivered stops us from concentrating on what is being said or sung or prayed. I don't believe that many people can genuinely listen and write for an external audience at the same time.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 1:56pm GMT

I second your thoughts, Erika. As a preacher I know that I would not want people to tweet as I went along, since a sermon is (or should be) a sustained argument. The tweeter wouldn't know how the preacher was going to develop the thing they were tweeting about until the end. They might have had some strong reaction at the time which was entirely transformed by the things that were said later. It is perfectly fine to note privately your reaction to some point that is being made, but unwise and unfair to the preacher, it seems to me, to tweet it out as a disconnected snippet to a potentially worldwide audience before you have had a chance to see how it fits into the message of the sermon as a whole.

Posted by: Anne2 on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 5:21pm GMT

Used to work in a parish like the one described by Giles Fraser in a midlands city. The tiny group of people who made up the church were some of the most generous I have encountered, giving away 20% of their income in one church. There must be ways to refocus the collective mind of the church on the dilemma Giles outlines so well. We cannot abandon large swathes of the urban population.

Posted by: janet henderson on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 5:56pm GMT

Dr Fraser's piece is interesting - not least because of what he writes about finance. I have only been to a midweek evening service earlier this year at St Mary's Newington (Newington Butts), so cannot really vouch for the weakness of the parish to which he alludes. There were only five of us in the congregation, but that was hardly unexpected. Although I have no sense of smell, I did not notice any undue grubbiness by the tower. Perhaps I was there on a good day. The church did have a slightly tired air to it, but not more than, say, Christ Church Southwark, St John Walworth, St Anselm Kennington, etc.

Now there may be good sociological reasons for the supposed weakness of the Church south of the river: there is a belt of relative deprivation (quite extreme in certain places) in an arc from, say, Queenstown Road in the west to Slade Green in the east. The weakness of the Church (which is, in essence, the elderly and middle aged middle class at prayer) tends to increase the more deprived an area becomes. However, some churches in that belt really are flourishing - think of St James Bermondsey (evangelical) or St Nicholas Deptford (middle of the road), which are by no means exclusively middle class parishes. Of course, there are other places I have been to that were at the forefront of liturgical and pastoral innovation during the Stockwood and Bowlby years which have since declined very seriously.

Beyond the M25 the success of the Church is, at best, patchy right along the Thames down to North Foreland (i.e., Margate/Broadstairs).

Much of the area around the Elephant is being redeveloped. The relocation of the US embassy to the once-infamous Nine Elms, bringing many new plans in its wake, is likely to have a transformative impact on the area between the Elephant and Clapham. It is therefore entirely possible that, in ten years' time Dr Fraser or his successors will have a quite different congregation, and the finances of his church might even be in good health. The telling question his church can stay the course (I sincerely hope that it does) and where on earth the poor people are going to end up living.

Posted by: J Drever on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 8:24pm GMT

It is certainly disrespectful to tweet in church. In the Kingdom of Blog, however, perfectly ok - there's a disclaimer!

Posted by: Pam on Saturday, 16 November 2013 at 10:34pm GMT

How can the CofE just cease to exist in the inner city? I don't understand. IF establishment is worth a d@mn, it would seem to be to ENSURE it remains there.

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 1:57am GMT

*IF establishment is worth a d@mn, it would seem to be to ENSURE it remains there.*

Establishment doesn't provide any income, does it? For example, listed building orders on CofE premises have to be funded by the CofE, not the state.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 9:29am GMT
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