Tiller Lives and is soon to reside on the other side of Offa's Dyke.
I was ordained in the Church in Wales 30 years ago, and served in that province until a few months ago. During that time the CinW held many working groups and produced many reports, some of them offering radical solutions to the church's situation. The key question is not about what the report contains, but about whether the church has the courage to act on the report.
Not only the Church in Wales but also in many other places of the Church there has had to be some re-assessment of resources - not only for Mission, but often for Maintenance of what has gone before.
In Christchurch, New Zealand - like other places that have suffered natural disasters, the Church is having to radically re-think the local situation. With churches built in the late 1800s, when each community had its local church, its was different.
Now that congregations are able to commute, there could be radical re-distribution of both person-power and material resources. In our case, there is no question that this now needs to happen. We are having to re-think Mission in terms of what we have, and what we hope to build for the future.
Courage to act is what the Church of England did not have when Tiller wrote his Strategy. However, there are ecclesiological problems to this approach - anybody interested might like to read my doctoral thesis on the subject. So might the review group!
Surely, what is needed is not another Report on the Church in Wales but another Welsh Revival. Think of the great times in the past when scores of chapels were built and thousands won for Christ. When men without titles, money or learning preached God's Word with irresistible power. John Elias, would that thou were with us at this hour.
Mark - "Courage to act is what the Church of England did not have when Tiller wrote his Strategy" - nor indeed when Leslie Paul wrote his Deployment and Payment of the Clergy - years before the advent of Tiller. But now Tiller's hens are coming home to roost not only in Wales but also in England. But I cannot for the life of me think that ever larger "ministry areas" is the solution to all or problems on either side of the border! I'd be most interested to read your doctoral thesis - is it available on line?
One glaring omission is any mention of theological renewal.
It seems that the old theological assumptions, language and world view diagnosed by Bishop John AT Robinson in 1963, will remain untreated, while the patient (/ Church) suffers organ collapse.
What radical change and reform is really feasible, without a radical reappraisal of ideas ?
The once thoughtful and radical Doctrine Commission (in England) seems to have lost its way and its grip under & post-Carey.
The Churches' vision is blurred by superstition and obscurantism; and their energies sapped by sexism, heterosexism; and disorientated by triumphalist christologies; and losing the will to live in the real, secular world, as is.
The Church in Wales may well be suffering from terminal decline since it was Disestablished in the 1920s. However, the Church of England and the Anglican Communion must be grateful to the Church in Wales for one of its greatest gifts - Archbishop Rowan Williams; although, reading the T A blog - I fear that some may disagree. If so - this reminds me of nothing more than some words of Mrs. Cadwallader in Middlemarch (the greatest novel in the English language) where she says of her husband - the Reverend Mr. Humphrey Cadwallader:- "He will even speak well of the bishop, though I tell him it is unnatural in a beneficed clergyman; what can one do with a husband who attends so little to the decencies? I hide it as well as I can by abusing everybody myself."
'Surely, what is needed is not another Report on the Church in Wales but another Welsh Revival'
Wishful thinking isn't going to get us anywhere. There won't be a 'Welsh revival' any time soon. As the 'decade of evangelism' proved neither the sociological conditions nor the theological teaching are right to counter the prevailing culture. Non conformity is dead in Wales, as testified by the thousands of decaying Bethels scattered across the landscape, the conditions which allowed them to flourish, gone and the social control they exercised, evaporated into thin air. (And the same goes for England too)
Let's deal with the situation as it is. There are too many churches, the message cannot be heard (re-packaging it in 'new and exciting ways' isn't going to work either) and most people are indifferent. I agree with Laurence, there needs to be an accomapnying revolution in theological ideas too. But will it happen?, I doubt it. There are too many entrenched positions and sincerely held convictions to make a root and branch re-think possible. Perhaps the church as we know it has to die before it can live again.
Richard, I agree with Lawrence too with regard to "theological renewal" - perhaps it could start with a greater understanding and reliance upon the work of the Holy Spirit - then there just might be a Welsh Revival. I also partly agree with your last sentence - "Perhaps the church as we know it has to die before it can live again". Indeed "death and resurrection" is the central message of the Christian Church but, as far as I am aware, the Holy Spirit first given at Pentecost has never left the Church - so therefore - instead of a complete demise there may well have to be a period in intensive care prior to renewal, revival and resurrection.
Mark Beach - I too would be most interested in reading your thesis. Is there any way in which it can be made available?
I too would like to read Mark's thesis. I agree with so much that he has said-- sometimes I feel quite alienated from the church, which in its turn appears to be alienated from the world in which we are called upon to serve. The church should be inclusive, not exclusive, and unless it adheres to the essence of the Gospel it will continue to die. Bishop John Robinsons books "Honest To God" and "The New Reformation"were instrumental in keeping me (as a Teenager in the 1960's) in the church. Latterly, the thoughts and writings of Richard Holloway (former Bishop) has caused much soul searching, but I am more comfortable in my uncertainty than in the blinkered views/ position that many fellow Christians expect me, as a lay person, to accept hook. line and sinker. So, the church requires to consider every aspect of reform, including theology/doctrine.
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