Comments: First meeting of Women Bishops steering committee

The stakes are high for everybody.

Here is what I consider to be a very sad piece of news:

http://www.saintannederby.org.uk/

St Anne's was and is a beautiful church. Its priests conducted wonderful services, especially Easter Vigils and Midnight Masses, the former attended by the local Orthodox priest and his family (who did not receive Communion but went up for a blessing). St Anne's was partnered with St John's, a much more middle-of-the road church, though the organist is married to Father Michael's daughter and there are of course many friendships between the two churches. St John's now has a woman priest. An unsympathetic bishop did little to keep St Anne's going. Father Michael is in his 80s. Father Peterkin 'poped'. The vicar of St Luke's, who had some sort of supervisory role but who has suffered ill health recently, could not do much, though he is on record as saying: 'I was born an Anglican; I will die an Anglican'. Father Michael is a most humane man and certainly 'liberal' in his toleration of 'irregular' relationships (as I have personally experienced). Any suggestion that he or his fellow priests are bigots would be offensive and absurd.

Posted by John at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 4:10pm BST

It is sad when churches close. I'm not seeing what a woman priest at a nearby parish has to do with it? Surely if St. Anne's had a robust congregation, it wouldn't be closing, right?

I'm Anglo-Catholic and it is sad whenever that liturgy is lost. But don't blame the women, we have women priests who do beautiful, deeply nourishing AC liturgy.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 9:53pm BST

John
Yes it is sad when a church of any tradition 'dies'. But I am not sure what point you are making here John. The story can be repeated in many dioceses and in all traditions. St Anne's was one of four FinF churches in the city and all have been struggling for some time for various reasons - not least being situated in socially challenging neighbourhoods.
Whenever there is a vacancy in a church the church council must be asked if they wish to vote on the resolutions. St Luke's said yes and voted to rescind. To then support the appointment of a first woman priest is a remarkably fast journey and shift in theology and it impacts on the remaining, struggling FinF churches with whom they were clustered as a non-geographical 'Mission and Ministry area'. So the reference to the new priest at St Luke's is a relevant part of the overall story. But I hear no judgment on the priest herself. And who, anywhere, is calling Fr Michael a bigot? Finally I note on the St Anne's website that +Ebbsfleet is held responsible alongside +Derby with the decision to close.

Posted by David at Monday, 9 September 2013 at 8:24am BST

David,

There are people here (and elsewhere) who regard people such as Father Michael as by definition bigots.

The church was full. Not all present were FiF (I know some of them).

Posted by John at Monday, 9 September 2013 at 9:30am BST

Cynthia,

Nothing I said implied 'blaming the women'. As you know (or should do), I am 100% in favour of women priests and bishops.

Posted by John at Monday, 9 September 2013 at 10:51am BST

When some one answering to 'John' writes that we should know' he believes this and that - surely no one could be expected to know anything of the sort ! John is hardly an uncommon name !

I certainly findit hard to keep with who is who, and who thinks what - even with full names t'is a struggle for some of us / many ?

What a very sad story, but churches do die out , and not always due to a failure to move with the times over decades.

I loved S. Stephen's, Grove Street, Liverpool, but eventually it closed and was even demolished. It was wonderful in so many ways, and it was beloved to me because I first started attending in teens. It was proud to have 'been under the Ban' for decades ! But Stuart Blanch maybe brought some disappointment - as he was n't much of a one for banning stuff !

I also greatly regret the closure and demolition of Bellevale Chapel, Liverpool 25.

Posted by Rev'd Laurence Roberts at Monday, 9 September 2013 at 3:04pm BST

'St John's now has a woman priest.'

This sentence must mean something ! If not blame, then at least- it seems to me - a sad, resigned shaking of the head, with unspoken 'What's the world coming to ?'implied.

If not blame then what ?

Presumably the church which has now held its 'final Service' was offered and declined her services.

I find the sentiment "We would rather our beloved church closed, than accept the Ministry available"
self-defeating to say the least.

Future generations may have welcomed such an arrangement safeguarding the distinguished Ministry of that church.

A wonderful venue for marriage-equality on a splendid scale and doubtless plenty of loving couples to receive it.

Posted by Rev'd Laurence Roberts at Monday, 9 September 2013 at 3:12pm BST

No, it doesn't mean that, Laurence. It means that any possibility of further partnership between the two churches was removed because St Anne's is (now was) FiF. In fact, St John's suffered for a long time with stop-gap clergy because of its association with St Anne's, which meant that the 'unsympathetic bishop' (a man, not a woman) was reluctant to supply a joint priest (so I am told by Derby people whom I know rather well and who include both pro- and anti- WO people). As you know - or you certainly should know - I personally am 100% in favour of women priests (and gay priests), but still think it right that those who do not accept this should have proper provision. Presumably, you find this incomprehensible. But it's easy to snipe from outside the Church. You now go to the Quakers. That's fine. But it's different inside.

Posted by John at Monday, 9 September 2013 at 9:01pm BST

I'm not sure I understand the argument here, not knowing any of the churches involved.

Is it right that there are 4 FiF churches in this town, that one closed because a church they have had close links with now has a woman priest, and that the whole congregation suddenly has nowhere to go and has been left out in the cold by an insensitive bishop?

That's a very strange train of thought.
Should the neighbouring church not had a woman priest to placate St Anne's? Should they have had a complicated arrangement of two priests instead of one to placate St Anne's? Is it unreasonable to expect members of FiF to attend one of the 3 other churches that cater to their theology?

What am I missing?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 10:19am BST

You're missing the general principles, Erika. The last thing required here is dessicated forensic analysis.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 7:21pm BST

John, what are the general principles?
I thought they were that we must make sure that everyone can remain in the CoE?
And if there are 3 other FiF churches in this town (I suppose you are referring to Durham, not one of the larger cities where travelling to another church can be prohibitively time consuming), then presumably, this general principle has been upheld.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 10:10pm BST

Sorry I was a bit shirty, Erika, though if you don't mind I still don't want to pursue it as I've a lot on at the moment.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 8:33am BST

Erika,

I think we're talking about Derby (but again, not a massive city).

Posted by Hannah at Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 9:44am BST

Thank you John and Hannah.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 4:12pm BST

I think most of us understand the 'general principles' of 'Forward in Faith' only too well.

Also, I have seen them applied on the ground in parishes.

The closeted atmosphere of F in F generally, is hard for me to take, as it involves a good deal of double-talk, and I am afraid to say, dishonesty.

And I haven't even treated of its sense of muted Misogyny.

Posted by Rev'd Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 5:54pm BST
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