Comments: opinion

To pick up on the points made by Ian Paul about clergy age and Gillan Scott on young people, when I was an adolescent it was common to have young curates around, the age of an older sibling rather than a parent or grandparent. So as well as youth leaders, we had young role-models with a key role in ministry overall (just as it makes a difference to girls to now have women priests), which could encourage us in playing a part in the priesthood of all believers. Opening the door to older ordinands is great but actively discouraging those who are younger should be reconsidered, if this is indeed the policy.

A different question: is there a way of reducing the burden on both clergy and laypeople (especially churchwardens) linked to maintaining and administering church buildings by carrying out at deanery or area level some of the tasks now done in parishes? This might free up more time for mission.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Saturday, 25 October 2014 at 1:09pm BST

Re the articles by Ian Paul and Gillian Scott, demographics and reinvention:

The two largest non-R.C. churches here are the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada, in that order. United Church infrastructure is collapsing across the country with amalgamations and closures. Likewise in the Anglican Church where the average age for stipendiary clergy across the country is over 50. In my diocese the majority of newly ordained folks are in their 50s and 60s. We have about 90 parishes with 25% of those on life support in a region of declining population. Some parishes will run out of people before they run out of endowment funds. We have a large number of non-stipendiary clergy (an aging group as well). Despite being premised on the theology of all the baptized, it has simply made ministry more, not less, clerical. An additional feature is a cohort clergy who approach parish ministry as if it were a kind of hobby farm, perhaps an age related issue?

However, these things are more symptom than cause. I suspect the issue is not about either liturgies or evangelism.

Reinvention must come to grips with the theological framework used by churches. Our cosmology, redeemer myth and moral theology, have major intellectual credibility problems. But its a tricky business. The United Church has been dabbling in the "post-theistic" market niche, but post theistic churches are just as empty as conventional ones. Both Canadian denominations buzz about the need for a "new way of being church", but apparently, whatever that is, it must not impact the central bureaucracy.

There is an old saying, diagnosis is one thing but treatment is quite another. The difficulty for the churches may be that we haven't even got the correct diagnosis yet. And the clocks, both biological and cultural, are ticking down.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 25 October 2014 at 8:25pm BST

Don't let name of the "queer calling" blog mislead you unless you think mandatory celibacy for LGBT people is your idea of progress in the Church. That blog is one of several "Side B"/Celibacy blogs that endorse the "traditional" evangelical and/or Roman Catholic pathological theology of disordered "same sex attraction" and rejects any intimacy, sexual or otherwise, between members of the same sex. By invoking post-structural/queer theory (disingenuously in my opinion) they claim that celibacy is just another equal variant of non-normative sexuality and thus it actually subverts compulsory heterosexuality and homophobia. Of course, the type of mandatory celibacy they advocate is grounded in and cannot be separated from the very heterosexist, homophobic theology that is incompatible with the very radical anti-essentialist, anti-normative, and anti-foundationalist of Queer Theory. This cute trick of trying to co-opt or appropriate selective parts of lefty academic critical theory but use it only to "deconstruct" homosexuality whilst leaving heterosexuality, the actual normative social construct, intact is not new.

Posted by etseq at Saturday, 25 October 2014 at 11:12pm BST

Re, when the church's "welcome" hurts: On this issue it is interesting to compare similarities and differences in the flight of the bumble bee as it meanders through the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

Sometimes differences can over-shadow similarities. Ross Douthat, writing in today's New York Times, describes decision making starting points that are not un-familiar to Anglicans, even when conclusions reached by Rome are more definitive, as he describes here,

"The church’s attitude toward gay Catholics, for instance, has often been far more punitive and hostile than the pastoral approach to heterosexuals living in what the church considers sinful situations ... The Catholic Church was willing to lose the kingdom of England, and by extension the entire English-speaking world, over the principle that when a first marriage is valid a second is adulterous, a position rooted in the specific words of Jesus of Nazareth."

His entire article may be found here:®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 26 October 2014 at 3:37pm GMT

One of the canards thrown at gay people is that they are all about sex. Try to talk about relationships and community, and opponents will reply with shouts of "Sodomy!" "Anal intercourse!" The response is, You don't ask what straight couples do in bed; what gay couples do isn't any of your business, either."

This goes for willfully celibate couples, too. I don't want to know what they don't do. None of my business. (The chip on the above couple's shoulder is so off-putting here, that I don't wonder they have trouble feeling comfortable in more general gatherings.)

Posted by Murdoch at Tuesday, 28 October 2014 at 8:06pm GMT
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