Comments: under cover of darkness

Well, well it's come to the CofE now - shades of Truro & Falls Church.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 5:20pm BST

Hmm. Maybe realignment = poaching. Simple. No need to treat sinners or heretics fairly then in a larger public square or marketplace where we are all entitled and welcome. Simple.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 6:25pm BST

Read Ndungane's speech - it refers to CESA's formation in South Africa. We are not dealing with new patterns, just more overt forms of existing patterns.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 12:12am BST

I would not be too worried. After all, people church shop now, and an extra supplier does not mean extra demand. And it could be that if such new plants attract, that they, with their definition, leave others with a greater definition (and definition can include definition of breadth).

In other words, more and more Chinese restaurants do not threaten an Indian restaurant, so long as the Indian grub is good.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 1:42am BST

Well said, Pluralist. I love a good vindaloo or paneer.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 11:21am BST

"In other words, more and more Chinese restaurants do not threaten an Indian restaurant, so long as the Indian grub is good."

But people only have a finite number of meals in a week.

We recently instituted a new rector at my church up here in Scotland. A lot of the Licence read out sounded like "no-one else is allowed to practise on your turf". Don't they say the same kind of thing down south too?

Posted by Tim at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 1:30pm BST

_But people only have a finite number of meals in a week._

That's my point: too many chinese restaurants and they, some or all, go bust. The one Indian can do nicely. (This analogy does not stretch too far.)

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 2:21pm BST

I offer the following cut-out-and-keep instant justifications for unauthorised church planting:

1) "We are justified in planting a new Church here. The parish into which we are going is growing by accommodating the Gospel to the values of the World, and we need to offer an uncompromising message. 'Narrow is the way that leads to life and few are they who find it'"

2) "We are justified in planting a new Church here. The parish into which we are going is in numerical decline through its faithlessness, whereas we preach the true Gospel, proved by our rapid growth in numbers."

Simple, isn't it?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 5:22pm BST

Pluralist: in case you hadn't noticed, they're opening another Indian in Fleetgate (for readers of the 'Dandy' the street where the 'Desperate Dan' artist lives. The smith's forge in DD's cartoon is based on that run by a guy across the green.). What ecclesiological implications are there in this?:-)

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 7:28pm BST

the important part here, it seems to me, is the bit about "bearing a C of E logo"

people can start churches wherever and whenever they want. I'm sure that Fulham has seen Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists and Mormon missionaries hard at work beating their own drums before without any problem.

But false advertising is the real problem here.

The so-called "traditionalists" and "orthodox" are active in American, and now it seems in England, to steal away portions of the church through deceit. Claiming to be the "real" Anglicans. I am sure that they feel justified in their lies because they believe that they are fighting for the truth, but this follows a pattern.

I think it says a lot that the conservatives feel that they must resort to deceit to build their movement. It speaks volumes, really.

Posted by Dennis at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 9:20pm BST

The one Indian restaurant only does fine if there is a significant population that specifically demands Indian Food. If it is more accurate to describe the population served by restaurants in that area as only demanding A Meal Out, then any increase in restaurants in the area will wind up hurting the Indian restaurant becuase, as Tim said, people only have a finite number of meals in a week. That's one of the challenges of running a parish in the US, the sorts of people who are most likely to show up in an episcopal church are more likely to be looking for a Christian Worship Service rather than specifically an Anglican Worship Service.

Jon

Posted by Jon at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 9:28pm BST

I attend one of the Co Mission churches that led the plant (The Bible Talks at Christ Church Mayfair).

The church plant is with the full backing of the Bishop of London, Bishop of Kensington, the parish vicar and the PCC. Consultation has been taking place for the last 18 months.

So thankfully it is neither unauthorised nor covert, nor indulging in false advertising. Does that allay fears?

Posted by Stephen H Smith at Sunday, 13 May 2007 at 10:25pm BST

We are dealing in minorities, here. Most people eat at home and rarely venture out. When they do so, they look for something compatible with taste. It may be that Chinese food is more popular than Indian, but on the supply side there is (in my analogy) planting of more Chinese restaurants.

Back in the real world I keep discovering just how complex people are. This person I chatted to Sunday morning has had involvement in Alpha, does not like happy-clappy services, goes to the Forest Sangha when down south, and names his house using the Pali for Loving Kindness.

And I thought my previous involvement with the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order as well as Unitarians made me unusual.

Are so many looking for Christian services, or expressions of spirituality? The more that Christianity is marginal to society, the more I think people want to express spirituality, and do so via an available "vehicle". (How is that for a Buddhist way to see things).

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 2:27am BST

Stephen

"So thankfully it is neither unauthorised nor covert, nor indulging in false advertising. Does that allay fears?"

It doesn't answer the question why the local vicar and the area dean didn't know about it. I would expect extensive consultation to include these people.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 9:41am BST

for all the whingeing.....does the fact that the plant is in total compliance with the rules make any difference?

(of course, it won't - because some love a good moan and to create straw men to knock down)

Posted by NP at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 11:48am BST

Who is right here? - Stephen Smith, Giles Fraser, or a bit of both?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 11:58am BST

It's perfectly simple. This is an initiative that the Bishops of London & Kensington have backed and brokered with the full co-operation of the parish. Fraser is just doing his usual moaning on behalf of the disaffected liberals.

It's offical, it has episcopal backing, the leadership is duly licensed. Get over it.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 1:37pm BST

Erika: the local (i.e. parish) vicar did know about it. The vicar in Fraser's story is in a neighbouring parish.

And I'm not sure what an area dean is, but if the two local bishops are involved, it sounds like the planters have been above board.

Posted by Phil Craig at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 4:36pm BST

Just to clarify. There may have been backing from the Bishops in London but no one consulted Central Fulham clergy in advance, and that's not just a whinge: what we're about in Fulham is trying to work collaboratively, break down barriers, build up the church locally. A co-Mission initiative coming into Fulham with an agenda that has very conservative boundaries about who's in and who's out in the Kingdom continues to concern us deeply. What is disappointing is how the infrastructure of the local church, carefully built up over the past few years is being disregarded. The initiative has been agreed for a finite time. I hope that what replaces it will be mission and service that respects existing local structures.

Posted by Rev'd Joe Hawes at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 4:54pm BST

Phil,
If I understood the article correctly, The "vicar in Fraser's story" discovered that half of his own parish boundaries were included in the church plant's territory.

And if "no-one has consulted Central Fulham clergy in advance" (the vicar in Fraser's story, I believe), then there has been no full consultation. Not to mention an astonishing lack of courtesy, to say the least.

Because, Pete, just because some are liberal doesn't mean they can rightfully be brushed out of the picture. Or do you think they can?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 14 May 2007 at 11:14pm BST

Nobody's brushing anyone out of the way. Notice how carefully Giles Fraser's stuff is worded. The map showed the neighbouring parish. He doesn't say that the map claimed that All Saints was part of the deal. It's quite hard to draw a map of an existing parish and not show the next door parish as well - parish boundaries aren't square.

But I don't think that the biggest church in the deanery, with an electoral roll of 600 plus and a superb parish school has anything to fear from a conevo outfit planted next door. I'm more interested in bringing the 90% of the population who aren't in church into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and I rejoice whether they find their way in through All Saints or St Eth's. The Mission of God is more important than that.

And don't swallow the tosh about nobody knowing that there were intentions to revitalise these churches. There's been discussion about how to sort out the overprovision of parishes in Fulham for years now, and how to revivify some of the parishes that weren't delivering. The Area Council has discussed the generalities in great detail. I have no idea what was communicated about this specific initiative - it's not in my episcopal area. But I don't think I'd necessarily expect to tell neighbouring parishes about the detail of what was happening in one parish, with the consent of incumbent and PCC. If Giles Fraser decided to do a mission or start a cafe church in Putney parish, I'm sure he'd inform his bishop. I'm not sure he'd necessarily feel duty bound to inform the Vicar of Roehampton what he was doing.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 12:16am BST

Pete:
just to clarify, which parish has offered 'full co-operation'? Fraser seems to make it clear that the originating parish was in favour. Did Hawes' parish have any say in being included in the plant area? To me, THAT seems the core issue. Could you expand, please?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 8:55am BST

Hmm. Has a raw episcopal nerve been touched?

The problem is that some consevoes will do what they want to anyway. The track record of the Co-Mission lot (irregular ordinations, rumours of lay presidency) suggests that this is part of their mindset.

Posted by cryptogram at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 10:35am BST

Pete: with respect, that is a little evasive.

For starters, if I were intending a maildrop in the next parish, I'd feel honour bound to inform the incumbent, and, for that matter, the local council of churches.

And it's not quite answering the concerns by saying 'everyone knew there were plans afoot' - there was a similar case in Lincoln where a Reform church suddenly started a programme of aggressive evangelism in the partnership of parishes in which it was involved. Everyone knew that there were plans to tackle mission in parish x. No-one knew it involved an unagreed cross-border initiative. There's a certain arrogance at work, don't you feel?

Then again, I suppose 'mission' is a figleaf which can justify almost anything we want.

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 11:23am BST

Will the Bishops of London and Kensington be offering a public apology to the Parish of All Saints, Fulham? Will the Co-Mission initiative also offer an apology and ensure that they are careful in future to recognise the boundaries within which prior consultation gives them permission to act? Will they leaflet the area to clarify the situation?

I have a fear that the answer to all my questions will be 'No'.

Posted by Anglicanus at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 11:43am BST

I may be wrong, but my understanding is that this is a plant internal to one parish. All Saints is the next door parish, and is not included. Hence no need to consult them.

There's a diversity of approaches needed to revitalise churches. One matter of regret to me is that we have very few catholic parishes who are willing to be planters, which tends to mean that planting is a very one-sided business. It doesn't have to be.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 1:34pm BST

Whatever happened to "New ways of being Church"? General Synod has already decided that the parochial system no longer meets the needs of the age, so Fr Hawes is just going to have to put up with it. I'm sure his large parish and congregation keep him busy, why does he have to worry about other labourers in the vineyard?

Posted by flabellum at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 4:26pm BST

I am dismayed by the hostility conveyed here towards the 'Co-Mission lot'. I have been brought back to the gospel by the Balham Co-Mission plant and thank God for that. During the year since, great preaching and small groups have hugely increased my love and understanding of God's word - in fact my first ever study Bible arrived in the mail today and I can't wait to go get stuck into it.
I have heard nothing sinister or conspiratorial in my time at Balham, but only a sincere desire to save more people in South West London - surely a goal no Christian can disagree with? I struggle to comprehend that anyone would rather I had remained in the dark for the sake of the territorial integrity of the local parish church (somehere I was never going to voluntarily attend!).

Posted by Andy Woodward at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 6:37pm BST

Andy
I'm amazed how often people's loyalties become so entrenched that they no longer seem to be able to see what "their own side" might be doing wrong.

Of course there can be many wonderful things about Co-Mission. But why should that stop anyone asking whether they have behaved appropriately in this particular case?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 9:14pm BST

The problem about the 'backing' of Bishops Chartres and Colclough re Co-Mission is that all other parish priests are in fact sharing the cure of souls with them. Who exactly is Richard Coekin sharing the cure of souls with - whose man is he? Bt his actions he seems to be accountable only to himself (presumably saying that anything Co-Mission does is justified by the Gospel imperative). And if he truly is the Bishop of London's man, then the other dimension missing is working in partnership with his fellow priests in the deanery.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 7:46am BST

This isn't being led by Coekin.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 9:54am BST

Erika - what do you want Co-Mission to do???

They have got the permission of 2 bishops and the parish in question.....so it seems they have done all that could reasonably be expected of them and Fraser is trying to make something out of nothing

What more does Co-Mission have to do? Be reasonable, please! Coekin will not do a tango with VGR....

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 12:19pm BST

There are several reasons why this is a non-issue:

(1) Most non-contrary Christians would (one imagines) warm to a vision such as that of the Redeemed Church of God, ie to have a group of Christians on (the equivalent of) every street corner. In other words, the more congregations the better.

(2) The Church originally met in homes, and of course still does.

(3) It is contrary to direct one's fire at precisely the initiative which is reaching people and growing.

(4) There are going to be some areas where the existing leadership[s] or assembly/-ies are ineffective. I have no reason to suppose that this is so in the present case. But the fact that it will be so in many cases means that one has to approve the principle of free church planting.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 1:17pm BST

Pete, I think you will find that Co Mission is indeed led by Richard Coekin, even though the priest nominally leading this plant is somebody else. They have regular elders/leaders meetings and ultimately he both directs and is in charge of the various outfits. The point still stands - with which Bishop is Rupert Standring sharing the cure of souls?

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 2:38pm BST

Erika - I have no problem with this issue being discussed but more with cryptogram (above) slating the 'Co-Mission lot' per se. They are not an enemy of anyone seeking souls for Christ.

Regarding this particular issue, I'm not in possession of all the facts. I do, however, believe our pastor when he states that all due consultation took place and the full backing of the relevant bishop was received. And if anyone in Fulham is saved as a result of this plant then hooray for that all round!
Anyone who currently enjoys worshipping in a large congregation and splendid bulding is unlikely to defect to a small group in a school hall anyway - almost never happens here!

Posted by Andy Woodward at Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 6:18pm BST

Andy
I accept your point.
The crux is that no-one appears to be in possession of all the facts, and yet we seem to be judging this issue along well known lines of theological affiliation.

You believe your pastor, others believe there would have been no surprise if true consultation had happened. Before I judge, I would just like to know a few more facts and hear a little less of predictable defences on both sides.

My questions in that respect had not been rethorical.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 9:54pm BST

The cure of souls is that of the Bishop of Kensington. That's why we license people. That's why the leadership of the plant is official and Anglican. A priest from Co-Mission is trusted with the leadership of this initiative within the parish. No doubt the Bishop of Kensington will in due course evaluate whether the initiative has been successful. This is London, not Southwark.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 6:24pm BST

Ah, yes. There is always the track record to consider...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 18 May 2007 at 9:29am BST

Tragic how disappointed some are not find any error or rules broken by Co-Mission!


Posted by NP at Friday, 18 May 2007 at 11:58am BST

Letter in the Church Times today from the vicar of the parish in which this new church is meeting. Worth reading. Very much in favour of the new church meeting.

Posted by Phil Craig at Friday, 18 May 2007 at 4:00pm BST

NP wrote: "Tragic how disappointed some are not find any error or rules broken by Co-Mission!"

Ah, but we didn't get to know that one, did we?

All we got was "pedantic smokescreens" ;=)

Evasion...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 4:49pm BST

I take Pete Broadbent's point about parishes other than evangelical not being good at 'planting': it just depends of what model of planting one uses. All Saints is preparing to start working with another local parish, offering support, learning from, building up networks, doing mission, but very much under the direction of the parish priest and in accordance with how she wants to build up the life of her church and parish, so yes, Liberal/Catholic, whatever, we need to do more of this, which is exactly why I was surprised and disappointed to find that 'St Ethels at 4' was starting in 7 days time! All Saints has, at the invitation of the bishop being trying to build up links towards a united benefice with St Etheldreda's for the past three years. The problem from their point of view is that we have women on our clergy staff team, and the Vicar is not in favour of women priests, so while it remains an aspiration, it hasn't gone that far yet, but am I out of order in that I would quite like to have been told about 'St Ethels at 4' before it happened? After all, if a formal link is on the cards, even if some way off, then isn't it up to all of us at least to keep one another informed?
All of that having said, now that 'St Ethels at 4' are in, it is up to me and other local clergy to try to work with them, build up links, see what common ground we can find etc. I live in hope.

Posted by Joe Hawes at Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 6:23pm BST

"All of that having said, now that 'St Ethels at 4' are in, it is up to me and other local clergy to try to work with them, build up links, see what common ground we can find etc. I live in hope."

What an inspiring and most gracious comment! I only hope they will return the sentiment!

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 19 May 2007 at 9:29pm BST

Looks more like "preemtive war" to me...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 20 May 2007 at 6:59am BST

Goran - I always have my doubts about your grasp on reality but you are surpassing your normal standards here.......you do realise that this plant has the permission of the parish and 2 bishops concerned???

Posted by NP at Monday, 21 May 2007 at 1:00pm BST

Quite so NP. Admittedly what has been said here is a little thin around the edges, but that’s the impression I get, both from the original Church Times article

“The back of the glossy flyer had a map showing half of his parish. It was the first he had heard of this new church.“

and in the comments to this tread

“It's perfectly simple. This is an initiative that the Bishops of London & Kensington have backed and brokered with the full co-operation of the parish. Fraser is just doing his usual moaning on behalf of the disaffected liberals. It's official, it has Episcopal backing, the leadership is duly licensed. Get over it.” (Peter Broadbent)

So summarize: 2 Bishops and 1 Parish set about to poach on an unsuspecting Parish without telling them what they were planning.

Au contraire; one of the Bishops seems to have been actively promoting this shameful scheme under the guise of a Diocese-supported joint project between friendly parishes in good faith to the poor suckers the predators were planning to prey on.

All this reminds me of the Surbiton incident a couple of years ago. If this is the current State of the Church of England…

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 21 May 2007 at 3:30pm BST

Goran - you seem to have an amazing gift to misunderstand what is being said. See Joe Hawes' very gracious and helpful post a few places up this thread. This initiative does not involve All Saints parish (i.e. Fr Hawes' parish). He would have liked to have been consulted, but it doesn't directly affect him. The initiative (not really a plant, I'm told) is in St Eth's, and has the backing of the Vicar, the PCC, and the Bishop. Now which bit of that don't you get? It has nothing to do with Surbiton or anything like it.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Monday, 21 May 2007 at 5:37pm BST

So, Mr Broadbent,

This “initiative” is “not really a plant”, you have been told, and “this is London not Southwark” – nor is it “Surbiton or anything like it”…

It seems to me that something is missing here. Please fill me in!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 21 May 2007 at 9:27pm BST

1. It's not really a plant because it's an additional service within an existing parish structure, and the vicar would not consider it technically to be a plant.

2. It's London not Southwark because these are two different dioceses within the Church of England, with very different cultures.

3. It's not Surbiton because it involves no incursion into the Diocese by other churches with whom we are not in communion, but is entirely legally authorised by Bishop, Vicar and PCC. It therefore bears no resemblance to the Surbiton ordination, which was uncanonical.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Tuesday, 22 May 2007 at 12:28am BST

Goran - the only thing missing is your basic comprehension.

Sorry to disappoint you but the facts of the matter are that no CofE rules have been broken and also all CofE rules have been kept......I am sure you would prefer to be some strife and wrongdoing in the situation but, sorry, there is none.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 22 May 2007 at 7:22am BST

Thank you for that explanation. Then there remains only one question that I can see:

Why would 2 Bishops and 1 Church of England Parish w a n t to have anything to do with a separate organization into "plants" and irregular ordinations by not-in-communion churches on English soil, in Ch of E dioceses?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 22 May 2007 at 7:28am BST

Because we're most interested in finding ways of bringing people into relationship with God through innovative evangelism; because the way that Co-Mission relates to the Diocese of London is different from the way that it relates to the Diocese of Southwark; because they and we know that they only operate here within a properly ordered CofE framework; because we're prepared to work with them and they with us. The argument with Co-Mission is a Southwark thing, as I keep on pointing out.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Tuesday, 22 May 2007 at 8:55am BST

..and, Goran, also because Co-Mission has a very blessed ministry....many of its plants are planting....hundreds of new Christians in these authentic Anglican churches!

(again, sorry to disappoint you, Goran, but it is possible to fill churches in England with Brits in their 20s and 30s .....if you have something true and powerful to say i.e. the gospel without fear, distortion and apology)

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 22 May 2007 at 12:25pm BST

RE "plants", I thought I'd throw in this short answer/observation I wrote the other day on an other place, on the resulting Fruits - from last time "plants" were à la mode:

Actually, I also think “plants” damages not only many souls, but all of the mission of the Church over Time.

Parishes where the clergy was sympathetic, or even actively promoting forms of Calvinist/Pietist Penal Substitution "mission" 150 to 50 years ago, today are Parishes where the "Missionhouse" is perhaps only open once each year in high summer, and very few go to church regularly.

There are maybe a couple of very small, very separatist, free congregations - quickly dwindling.

At this church I had 1 "visitor" for Ascension... and I have seen this before, in other places.

And the thing is: it is v e r y difficult to make anyone gather for a n y kind of activity – secular or church – in such a parish.

Such are the long-time Fruits of the "numbers game", of feeling manipulated, of having been taken for a ride.

Of substituting Imitatio Imperii for Imitatio Christi.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 23 May 2007 at 7:40pm BST

I go to All Saints primarily so that my daughter is able to go to the school. Cynical, yes, but quite frankly there's nothing from the pulpit that would make me show up otherwise. I would like to believe but the message lacks conviction.

And the debate on this board is a big part of the reason the vast majority of people in Fulham don't go near any church.

"Who has the cure of souls?" Listen to yourselves. Do you think that was the kind of question Jesus was asking?

So a bunch of evangelicals/ conservatives/ mavericks/ whatever they are start a service up the road - so what? Maybe I'll check them out after I wake up from my snooze in All Saints and actually get something edifying for my hardened soul.

If our church is as great as its leadership thinks it is, then why should we be frightened of a small bunch of mavericks? It's not a zero sum game - if the church is about saving souls (I assume it is, although I haven't heard that much at All Saints recently) then we should be pleased another group are trying to do the same.

Posted by Nominal C (small c) at Monday, 4 June 2007 at 2:46pm BST

I have read all of the above comments, and I think that someone who has been to a St. Ethel's @ Four service should contribute. Some points to note:

1. This discussion of poaching members horrifies me. Does it actually matter which church a person attends? Surely as long as they know God and hear the Gospel as it is accurately portrayed in the Bible then it does not matter? St. Ethel's preaches directly from the Bible and actively encourages its members to read further. Is this a bad thing?

2. Again, stealing members? Have any of you been to a service and had discussions with the congregation? I believe all the members are in fact either people who attended other Co-Mission churches, and now find it easier to travel to St. Ethel's, or are new Christians. They go to St. Ethel's @ Four to find out for the first time what Christians actually believe, they hear and read and discuss the word of the Bible, and find their way to God. Surely this is something we as Christians should all be celebrating. My faith in God has been strengthened and I have seen my own friends, who before declared themselves to be "stout atheists" hear the Word and become followers of Christ. They would never have been convinced to attend other churches, because they find socialising difficult and needed a small congregation (I emphasise small - I don't think this low number could have really affected other churches). To say that St. Ethel's @ Four is a mistake is to suggest that all of its hard work and new Christians was in error, and I cannot believe that this is what God thinks.

3. I suggest 1 Corinthians 3:3-9 would be a good read. I am sure the Apostle Paul would tell us still that it does not matter who the priest is, or exactly which part of the Church of England they associate themselves with, what matters is that it is God's work. If you believe that what the group is doing or preaching is not the work of God, then you must speak out and tell us so. Personally, I can see no evidence that this is the case, and should it not be judged by the fruits of its labours - which as I pointed out above, have been fantastic.

4. I agree that partnership and working together are essential to church work, but has St. Ethel's @ Four been approached to join in activities? If so, have these suggestions been rejected? If this is the case then I am truly sorry, and I hope that in the future all of our congregations can work together as one body.

The politics and bickering within the Church of England make me ashamed, and frankly, I don't think God approves of such arguments. What happened to love thy neighbour? Instead of arguing all the time we should be celebrating and rejoicing in the Gospel, and using our energy to spread the Word. Why do you think so many people are rejecting Church? It's because they associate it with discontent and arguments, and no longer believe that the Church's main aim is to actually praise God and tell others about Him and His huge love for us.

Posted by Ann Winning at Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 7:27pm BST
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