Saturday, 15 November 2014

Oxford Faith Debates discuss People and Diversity

The Oxford Faith Debates are continuing every fortnight and there are two more to go. Full details of the programme are here.

Debate 3 titled People – how can Anglicans of all kinds be engaged in the Church of the future? included contributions from four panelists and another four “provocateurs” including one of the editors of this website. Recordings of the entire proceedings are available here. (My bit is close to the end at minute 41 of the discussion.)

Lorraine Cavanagh another of the Provocateurs last week has written this article: The Church of England must remain credible as well as viable also available over here.

Both she and I will be returning for Debate 4 this coming Thursday when the subject is Diversity - what kind of unity is appropriate nationally and internationally, how can diversity become a strength?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 3:12pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Regarding the 'Faith debate'reported above. If one of the issues regarding the future of the Church of England is its inability to identify and use the gifts and talents of the clergy, how much more does this apply to the laity? Many congregations have people with high level skills in management, promotion, teaching, project management, finance, human resources etc; all congregations have people who are skilful sensitive listeners, full of life's experiences who can offer welcome and companionship and who have gifts of contemplation and prayer. All too often the laity are reduced to the flower and coffee rota. A situation for which the laity as well as the clergy bear responsibility.

There can no longer be a culture that the clergy know best, nor should they be expected to hear burdens of finance, management and business for which the have no experience, no training and often no aptitude. Ways have to be found to unlock the potential of the whole people of God. And we should all take heed of this morning's Gospel, the parable of the talents and the responsibility that we have of ensuring that what is entrusted to us is used wisely and effectively.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 8:26pm GMT

I couldn't agree more with Richard. I know a parish which uses the talents of a former Director of Barclays Bank - to run the raffle at the Church Fete.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Monday, 17 November 2014 at 12:20pm GMT

I couldn't agree less with Richard about the parable of the talents - especially after what has happened to millions of people over the last few years through no fault of their own but very much the fault of irresponsible and sometimes downright criminal behaviour by bankers. Listening to the parable I could not help feeling very sorry for the poor sap who simply buried his talent and kept it safe (which in a time of zero interest rates seemed a sensible thing to do!) And look what happened to him. Personally I would not let a former banker anywhere near a church raffle!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Monday, 17 November 2014 at 3:37pm GMT

I wonder how the former Director of Barclays Bank feels about it though. Is he desperate to become treasurer (of the parish, the deanery or the diocese), or be used to lead that high profile fund-raising campaign? Or does he feel a profound sense of relief at only having to run the raffle, after a lifetime of having to be in charge of billions of pounds of other people's money? Perhaps running the raffle gives him a new sense of satisfaction as he gets alongside the people buying their tickets?
I minister in an area where there are quite a lot of people doing very high-powered day jobs, and I often find that their most urgent spiritual desire (and need)is to be able to cast those expectations off when they come to church. It can be frustrating, as a priest in need of skilled help, but I also understand the reluctance I often find among people like this to take up responsible roles in the church. I don't think we can assume that just because God is calling (or has called) them to that role in their day jobs he is also calling them to that role in the church. I am all for using the skills of lay people, but I think we have to be careful not to assume that the church is just another place for them to do what they are doing in the rest of their lives. They may need a rest, and a place to be fed, so they can do those "day jobs" more effectively.

Posted by: Anne on Monday, 17 November 2014 at 6:06pm GMT

I always remember the preacher at Mandela's funeral who had a different take on the parable.

Posted by: Kennedy on Monday, 17 November 2014 at 7:13pm GMT

I am sorry that those responding to my comments have largely focussed on the iniquities of the bankers rather than what I was trying to say about the church making the best use, in the context of its stewardship, of the gifts and talents of all its members. I agree that the most interesting of the three is the slave who burried his talent, just as the most interesting person in the parable of the prodigal son is the one who stayed at home. Both are disparaged because they'd stayed safe. But staying safe won't help the future of the church.

Might I also add that I didn't particularly have in mind those who are still working at high powered jobs. But it was those who have retired, perhaps retired early and want to use their skill in the service of their church I particularly had in mind.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 at 10:35am GMT
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