Comments: Pre-Synod comment and news

It is a pity that +Sheffield or whoever put the heading on the blog doesn't know where to put the apostrophe as the letter I read in the Church Times was from a number of principals.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Friday, 12 February 2016 at 4:50pm GMT

"a meal consisting of processed pre-packed secular-business fodder" - OUCH!

Posted by Father David at Friday, 12 February 2016 at 5:17pm GMT

It's worth adding William Nye's blog on Renewal & Reform to this list: http://cofecomms.tumblr.com/post/139116787437/renewal-and-reform-some-thoughts-from-a-new-boy

Posted by Mark Hart at Friday, 12 February 2016 at 7:49pm GMT

Welby wants more young adults in the cofE so that it is still around in 50 years time - he's going to listen to htb about how to reach British young adults. As with the TeC issue, numbers decide things in the Anglican world; Welby is clearly a numbers man. Time for liberals to form a new church which doesn't reject TeC because of its theology and follows what Percy wants in training etc - it could be called TeC(UK)

Posted by S Cooper at Friday, 12 February 2016 at 9:44pm GMT

The real issue with the 'Columba' agreement is not theological, although that could have been discussed if things had been done properly. The real issue is one of unashamed and to many of us incomprehensible 'border crossing' by the Church on England on the Scottish Episcopal Church's territory.

I have been perplexed as to how things could have come to this stage over what has been quite a long process. Sadly I've now come to the conclusion that it is paternalistic hubris on the part of a few who have driven the process forward to a stage when there could be no backing down without loss of face.

I am also surprised that the Church of Scotland didn't wake up to what was happening in the Anglican camp.

It will be fascinating to see how the General Synod receives the report on Tuesday. Surely someone will have the courage to stand up to the C of E establishment and stop this most un-ecumenical nonsense that can have no credibility whatsoever if it is passed?

Posted by Nicholas Henderson at Friday, 12 February 2016 at 9:50pm GMT

Fr.Kelvin Holdsworth's article is well worth the read. In the wake of distress within the Anglican Communion at the prospect of border-crossing by some of the GAFCON Primates, into the territory of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada; what has happened in this action of the hierarchy of the Church of England - in the home territory of its mission partner, the Scottish Episcopal Church - is nothing less that the very same 'Border-Crossing'.

Here again; there was no consultation with the local Anglican Church about what was contemplated. Surely the Church of England needs a stern wake-up call - especially in the light of its agreement to the Communion's punitive treatment of TEC.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 12 February 2016 at 11:09pm GMT

"..a church whose members are salt and light, living and working distinctively but fully within their communities and workplaces; a church at the heart of each community which offers something to every age group and every locality; a church which nobody can conceive being without."
- Mike Eastwood, Liverpool

Is not that what we all want? A Church without prejudice or bigorty, dealing with the world as it really is - not necessarily what we would like it to be! Service of a loving God to God's children!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 12 February 2016 at 11:22pm GMT

Just when you think that you've seen it all something else comes along to shew that surprises can still happen!
Currently the Diocese of Durham is advertising for what it describes as a "Priest/Entrepreneur"!
No wonder the Dean of Christ Church rails against the Business Model taking over the Church run by Managers in purple shirts.
One of the many titles of His Holiness the Pope is "Christ's Vicar on Earth". It would seem from the way things are going that in future we must refer to His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury as "God's management consultant" - the M.D of the C of E plc.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 13 February 2016 at 5:54am GMT

Can we please clarify whether Archbishop Welby's initiative should be referred to as "Reform and Renewal" or "Renewal and Reform"?
Let's stick to either one or the other as we all come to terms with the New Reformation currently gripping an increasingly panic stricken Church of England.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 13 February 2016 at 6:09am GMT

What one senses keenly is a desire by a member of the SEC to clarify that the CofS and the CofE don't hold the same understanding of the Eucharist.

But surely that is what such an effort between these two parties is about, and so the CofS can speak for itself.

Equally, there is a rather tortuous effort to clarify what the CofS is and isn't-- national or established--with Kirk members weighing in against the SEC's Holdsworth.

On my ear it sounds like an effort by a member of the SEC to say what the SEC is, and this in contrast to the CofS, but it may end up distinguishing the SEC from the CofE -- or one version of the former. There are good many evangelical parishes in the SEC one supposes are not bothered by the CofS and CofE having these discussions at all. P's and G's in Edinburgh or St Thomas, or St Silas in Glasgow are good examples.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 13 February 2016 at 8:25am GMT

I am very concerned by the proposals to increase the number of ordinands as projected by William Nye, especially if the increase is to be in stipendiary clergy. Yes, it is about numbers – not so much RME as the resources available to finance these new stipendiaries and their partners to the end of their lives:

(i) The dioceses are already sweating under the requirement to fund clergy pensions accruing after 1998: they entered into that undertaking when returns were frothy and interest rates were normal; this ceased to be the case about 18 months later.

(ii) Interest rates have been nugatory or negative in real terms since 2000, meaning that accruals are not compounding. Recent events have raised the spectre of negative rates being imposed by central banks.

(iii) The lack of compounding has been off-set, to a degree, by inflated stock market valuations, but it is clear that these valuations are now in doubt (this could be a secular problem if QE has finally lost its efficacy with respect to equities).

(iv) After nearly a decade of stagnation, it is becoming increasingly evident that the problems with the world economy are of a secular nature, raising the prospect of perpetual low rates, at least until resource constraints start to bite leading to a mixture of high inflation and low rates (rates might be held low in a desperate attempt to foster growth and/or liquidate gargantuan mortgage liabilities), which would destroy savers of all classes.

(v) These factors are – together – catastrophic for future pensioners of all classes (but especially DC pensioners). The burden on the dioceses funding a DB scheme with increased life expectancy will be profound. Parish shares may need to increase in parabolic fashion forcing many churches into closure: thus churches will die so that the clergy who have served them might live.

(vi) Few people can afford to take orders if stipends remain at their existing levels (unless they have well paid spouses), as they will need to be able to accumulate capital to purchase a housing unit on reaching retirement, but if rates remain flat house prices will continue to increase – leaving the Church with a greater housing burden.

(vii) Experience has taught me that the quality of stipendiaries is very variable; to increase the burden on parishes this way with little assurance of there being meaningful value added is reckless, if not also idiotic.

Posted by Froghole at Saturday, 13 February 2016 at 1:33pm GMT

Father David, I have asked a question at General Synod.
'Is the Reform and Renewal programme now definitely called the Renewal and Reform programme and if so what was the thinking behind this change?'
Question time is Monday evening and I'll tweet the answer!

Posted by Jane Charman at Sunday, 14 February 2016 at 9:04am GMT

Dear Froghole
Welcome to the real world. Stipendiary clergy are essential for the future, they represent the 'professional ministers', but they are not the sole answer. The church must nurture more vocations. It is a task for the whole church. Most dioceses, given the demographics, are facing 40% retirements within the decade, hence the need for a 50% increase in ordinations (based on the current level) by 2020. Some dioceses may bleat about the cost, but the reality is that Vote 1 (their current share of the cost of ordination training - the fees element) is only 3% or so of their overall diocesan budget. They may be bust, but it is not a consequence of the cost of supporting ordination training. The average level of giving in the CofE by parish is dire. Work is being done to correct this. Most parishioners have no idea what the church 'costs'. Why not tell them? In my parish, if the average level of giving was increased to £50 per month, across the planned giving cohort, we would receive an extra £10,000 per year. Renewal and Reform is about facing the front and grasping these nettles. It's not rocket science.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 14 February 2016 at 10:58pm GMT

Stipendiary clergy are not essential for the future. Have a look around the world and find out how many clergy, including many, many bishops, do not receive any stipend but have ordinary jobs. For example they till the fields in the village and exercise their apostolic calling for the love of the Gospel

What is essential for the future is good training, good theology, appropriate support in ministry, love of God, and love of people.

Posted by Mother Hubbard at Monday, 15 February 2016 at 8:12am GMT

Froghole,

Thank you for raising the spectre of the stipend. It's very odd - I always thought that as clergy (more or less) get paid the same thing, there wouldn't be a taboo about discussing it. But whenever I point out the quite painful realities of living under it, clergy faces turn pale as if I've commented on someone breaking wind. It's bizarre.

Posted by Tristan at Monday, 15 February 2016 at 12:10pm GMT

Mr Archer, Thank you for your comments. You suggest that ‘stipendiary clergy are essential for the future’. This assertion strikes me as contestable. Having attended services at some 2,500 or so churches over the last seven years (including Little Gaddesden), I have been struck by: (i) how many services are led by SSMs, readers or retirees; and (ii) the severity of the demographic problem amongst attendees, which (as I am sure you are well aware) is often well beyond recovery. I have encountered too many instances of SSMs doing as much or more than stipendiaries (and often to an equivalent or better standard) to be as sympathetic as you to the notion that stipendiary clergy are ‘essential’. History surely teaches us that the days of one parson per parish (or couple of parishes) did not halt decline; poor quality clergy may often have exacerbated it in some places. I am very well aware of the demographic ‘problem’ of the clergy; but, for me, it is the demographic problem of the laity who fund the clergy that is the real issue.

Under the new proposals candidates are to be persuaded into an increasingly unfunded profession where a measure of long-term security (pension/housing) is the quid pro quo for the receipt of low wages. This ‘security’ cannot be financed if congregations are already dead (or will be soon, as the demographic situation is so bad). It therefore seems the Church wants to lure in candidates, hoping that ‘something will turn up’ in order to make their recruitment viable; on current projections, it won’t.

There will be less of a threat to shrink the footprint (i.e., close churches) if SSMs are ordained and deployed in lieu of stipendiaries; effective mission could still take place but with far less overhead and worry.

I would welcome an increase in clergy numbers only if the great majority of new ordinands are self-supporting, so that we end up with a small cadre of high quality stipendiaries in each diocese (20 to 40), with the remainder serving on an SSM basis. I also think that Synod’s decision to pass the pension buck from the Commissioners to the dioceses must be reversed, in whole or in part, and without delay.

Ultimately, this is an issue of church buildings vs. stipendiaries. Most people within the orbit of the CofE would plump for the former over the latter.

Posted by Froghole at Monday, 15 February 2016 at 1:43pm GMT
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