Comments: Musicians, HTB, and the Church of St Sepulchre

Evangelicals turning out to be anti-intellectual philistines? Who would have guessed it?

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 27 August 2017 at 6:50pm BST

St Johns Waterloo comes to mind: open-minded, welcoming, and host to some great classical music:

http://stjohnswaterloo.org/concerts-and-recitals

and host to great festivals too:

https://www.waterloofestival.com/

...how to engage with your local and wider community...

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 27 August 2017 at 6:53pm BST

Those at St. Sepulchre do realize how much of classical music has a Christian religious basis, right?

And for any institution billing itself as the "National Musicians Church" to restrict its use as a concert venue is very odd, indeed.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 27 August 2017 at 9:16pm BST

I fear that a little perspective is needed here. As someone who attends concerts several times a week in central London, I sympathise with musicians aggrieved by some of the policy decisions being taken by the newish management of St Sepulchre, but it should be noted that certain choral services had frequently been attended by more performers than those in the congregation (at least in my experience). Also, I was told that the church had faded badly under a recent but unpopular minister (who may be known to some TA readers as a disagreeably dyspeptic and reactionary blogger and former Daily Telegraph columnist). When I last did a worship tour of all the City churches a couple of years ago only SS Anne and Agnes had a more uncertain future with its Lutheran congregation on the cusp of being moved to St Mary at Hill (All Hallows London Wall having recently being given over to the use of an independent church and St Nicholas Cole Abbey having finally been rehabilitated, as a Bishopsgate plant). No City church – not even St Katherine Cree, the forlorn St Peter Cornhill (another Bishopsgate plant), St Mary Woolnoth or St Clement Eastcheap – looked quite as sad and as shabby as St Sepulchre's.

So, HTB have – to their credit – rescued St Sepulchre’s, but they perhaps need to be more circumspect. Also, HTB need to take account of the need to differentiate themselves from Bishopsgate. Bishopsgate now control four City churches: St Helen’s itself, St Andrew Undershaft, St Peter Cornhill and St Nicholas Cole Abbey; other evangelical Anglican offerings are to be had at St Botolph without Aldersgate and (in a more middle of the road manner) at Jeremy Crossley’s St Margaret Lothbury and St Mary Woolnoth (with their satellite at St Edmund King and Martyr Lombard Street). That is quite a lot of evangelicalism within a relatively confined space, and there may be a risk of saturation. The preservation of a distinct musical tradition at St Sepulchre may therefore be a useful differentiator, even if that tradition does not necessarily conform to the stereotypical HTB model (which, it should be noted, is far more flexible than that of Bishopsgate).

It should also be noted that a number of City churches were lucky to have escaped the late Lord Templeman in 1994. The FCC has done great work, but their future cannot be assured. Be warned!

Posted by Froghole at Sunday, 27 August 2017 at 10:53pm BST

This would be the mission-shaped church in action...?

Posted by Victoriana at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 12:02am BST

I'm curious as to where HTB intends to draw the line.

Is a Bach invention religious or not? How about a Chopin nocturne?

Presumably Handel's Theodora qualifies? It is said that the ladies of London did not attend it, in the 1750s, because the story was too virtuous.

In which there may be a lesson.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 12:08am BST

'Evangelicals turning out to be anti-intellectual philistines? Who would have guessed it?'

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 27 August 2017 at 6:50pm BST

I for one, am totally flummoxed ! So anti-incarnational and anti-evangelistic.

A veritable own goal !

What of the servant church ?

Susannah Clark makes great points and helpful pointers. As does Pat O'Neil.

I have been reflecting only this week, how hard it is for Churches to pass on christianity / gospel in an effective and enduring way.


For example Nichiren Buddhism is a lay movement, whose members are encouraged to share a simple mantra - "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" - with the request to use it and so test it, for spiritual and other benefits.

The individual can then chant this mantra at home straightaway and test it out for themselves ! There are also regular home discussion groups, and other groups, which can support the practice.

The various forms of Christianity seem not to have a simple practice that works in quite this way, from the get go, and is simple and profound. Yet maybe new lay-based forms of spirituality might be visioned and tried out ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 12:21am BST

'Evangelicals turning out to be anti-intellectual philistines? Who would have guessed it?'

And this comment is helpful how???

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 1:50am BST

Tim, this blog is called Thinking Anglicans rather than Helping Anglicans.

I do wonder if it was necessary to cancel all bookings? Surely something like reducing the number of days per week when they were taken would have made more politic sense / fitted better with an established parish community church charism rather than simple propagation of a Protestant cult? Surely they're not going to be Alpha-worshipping 24/7?

The PCCs press release, however, is an absolute gem of vacuity. Ending with a plug for the choir's new album is beyond parody.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 8:02am BST

Interesting post Froghole...i wonder what Chapter Meetings are like..?? But is it really necessary to have so many eclectic mostly evangelical congregations in such a small geographical area? Here in east Kent the rural C of E will have more or less collapsed.So it looks as if the future will be congregations in towns.Icabod!

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 8:16am BST

Froghole, thank you for your comments. I've been following the story in the Times and was unaware of this perspective (London being a foreign country to us northerners). However, the new leaders at St. Sepulchre do seem to be making a massive mistake. Maybe it's time for HTB to try reviving a church within its existing tradition, rather than imposing their own model? Or using their experience and resources to 'target' a different demographic'?

By the way, what's FCC?

Posted by Janet Fife at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 8:52am BST

Are we allowed to rejoice here that a previously declining church is now needing time and space in its own building and facilities for worship, discipleship and mission? It makes for an welcome reversal from dead churches sold on for gyms, art galleries, bingo halls - or concert venues. I cannot comment on how the booking issue has been handled - nor can many of us here I suspect. But the reason for this is good news and something to celebrate.

Posted by David Runcorn at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 10:51am BST

I like Janet's suggestion of HTB reviving a church within its existing tradition. I'm not aware of that being done, but I believe if HTB did that, they would gain greatly from it, and would be respected a great deal more by those of us for whom their style of worship is a complete turn-off.

Posted by Shamus at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 11:36am BST

This is entirely consistent with a certain sort of evangelical agenda, cf Justin Welby refusing to be a President of the Royal College of Organists in 2013 because he wanted to "concentrate on more mission-focused initiatives." What was worse, was the failure of the RCO and organisations like the RSCM to publicly challenge him. Does Welby - and those who share this view - not realise that music-making in church is, statistically, one of the significant factors for attracting young people and non-church families to regular worship? In that sense, organists and choir trainers are, per capita, better enablers of mission than youth workers. They are often effective in fostering vocations, too. The impact of music in making English cathedrals primary places of mission (and 35% growth over the past decade) is hardly irrelevant here.

The situation at St Sepulchre's is not only indicative of the growing puritan rennaissance in the Church of England (art of itself cannot disclose the glory of God because its subtlety and multi-dimensional character means it cannot be controlled by scriptural literalists); it should make us very afraid for the future of our cathedrals. How many entrepreneurial HTB types are in the talent-pool and on the mini MBA course for future deans?

@Froghole's analysis of the emerging eccelsial landscpae of City churches in London is a timely reminder that increasing numbers of our landmark churches will continue to fall under the control of those who believe that they - and only they - have the answer, and have nothing to learn from the experience, wisdom and insights of those who see the challenges and opportunities of mission differently. Apart from that, they are invariably terribly nice people, of course.

Posted by Simon R at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 11:42am BST

Congratulations Froghole on your encyclopedic knowledge of London churches - I'm impressed. I too would like to know what FCC stands for?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 11:50am BST

Me, I'm saddened by the theology of hospitality and community implicit in this decision.

A servant Church doesn't say,'Our expanding (cultic) needs are of greater importance than our being available to our community.' It's not a theology of generosity but of,'You can have what we don't need, and only as long as we don't need it,' a 'crumbs from the table' service.

Joan Chittister OSB in her commentary on the Rule says that chapter 53, on hospitality, is an invitation to the visitor to come in and turn the heart of the monastery outwards, readying itself to be disturbed and blessed; for the community, the guest is the form Christ takes today. What's happening at St Sepulchre's seems a long way from the spirit of Benedict.

Posted by David Rowett at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 12:37pm BST

To allow "Shine Jesus Shine" and not the music of the great Mozart is enough to make God weep. As we all know when the angels play to entertain and distract the Almighty from His many and onerous duties, they play Bach. When the angels play to entertain themselves, they play Mozart. If it's good enough for heaven ....

Posted by Father David at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 1:16pm BST

They have obviously taken no account of Philip North's criticism of church planters only interested in Zones 1 and 2 of London Transport. Is the population of the entire City of London much bigger than that of a normal urban parish? Where are they coming from, these people?

Here in the North west are many struggling congregations who would welcome resources and encouragement from such as HTB. Many of them are evangelical by tradition and would not find the worship alien. But that would mean well-paid City solicitors having to take a pay cut and move to the dreaded North.

Posted by David Emmott at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 1:45pm BST

FCC = Friends of the City Churches (I think).

http://www.london-city-churches.org.uk/index.html

Posted by american piskie at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 2:08pm BST

HTB and Justin Welby are from the same egg, and if allowed their way will continue to narrow our beloved Church of England to a narrow minded, bigoted church with only room for those who believe as they do. THIS IS NOT THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND handed down to us from our ancestors.
The Church of England as we declare in our creeds is a ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH .
It is time the Bishops, clergy and members of the Church of England woke up to what is happening on Welby's tenure, and took back the church to its true meaning of being a caring, loving Gospel, Sacramental church for all the people of England who come through its doors, regardless of orientation, age or background.
As an Anglican retired in Scotland it breaks my heart to see what is happening south of the border.

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by Fr John E Harris-White at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 2:14pm BST

To be fair, I don't think we know the ins and outs of the situation at this church. The Church of England is diverse, and different church communities will address mission and service in different ways.

In directing people towards the musical works hosted by Giles Goddard's lovely Christian community in Waterloo, I was not trying to critique St Sepulchre's approach to mission. I know nothing about their church.

Also, as HTB was a part of my own Christian formation, I'm inclined to be cautious about assuming their lives, work and service are without worth in the eyes of God (though I probably have some different doctrinal views).

Music, Christian and non-Christian, is one of life's blessings. I love organ music. I love formal choirs and church anthems. I love spirit-led informal worship, hands raised. I love singing in tongues. I love the old hymns. Equally I love the blues, I love celtic folk music, I love musicals, I love Tchaikovsky, Delius, Vaughan Williams (who was agnostic), Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Beethoven.

I think different churches can have different approaches to community. One of the most important things is that Christian communities don't just serve themselves, but seek to live alongside and draw in others or (in the case of Carmelites) pray for others.

HTB can be portrayed as a predominantly upper middle class group (at least in its origins), but equally it has been successful in drawing people in. Anyone who heard Dick Lucas at Bishopsgate might say the same. Crowds would come in from their offices in their lunch-breaks. Same with David Watson up in York.

God seems to work through people in all kinds of ways and styles of worship. The great thing about music is it can bypass the controlling mind and reach direct to the heart, and touch and heal people. We need that touch so much, to help us open our hearts, more and more, to the presence and love of God.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 2:16pm BST

Janet Fife, I believe you will find that St Augustine's, Queens Gate is just that, an HTB church plant in a 'liberal catholic tradition'. In fact I remember reading some time ago in Trushare that HTB were to be congratulated on the great lengths they went to to ensure that celebrants understood the catholic tradition in the C of E. See
http://trushare.com/0206%20July%202012/06%20looking_to_the_future.htm
by Philiip North: "A few weeks ago I was invited to go and speak to the clergy team at Holy Trinity Brompton. They have taken over an Anglo-Catholic parish called St Augustine’s, Queens Gate and, having promised to be true to its tradition, some of their curates have learnt how to say Mass, how to wear the clothes, how to swing a thurible and so on. Now that they have done this they wanted me to go along and explain what it all meant. So I did and I expressed myself clearly.

I talked about Eucharistic sacrifice, about real presence, about priesthood, about anamnesis and the transforming power of Eucharistic encounter. I expected a storm and a torrid re-fighting of the battles of the Reformation. Not a bit of it. They were absolutely fascinated and kept me talking for hours. Some had some theological problems with what I was saying but many, I could tell, were greatly moved."

Posted by Anne at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 2:23pm BST

Am I imagining things, or does this seem very similar to what happened at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney, when the Jensen brothers took over around 15 years or so ago? Out went the choral foundation, the altar acquired a set of wheels so it could be pushed out of the way when not in use, and the whole operation took on an exclusive and sectarian character.

Because the HTB formula doesn't allow for mystery or the implicit, the possibility that God might speak through art, architecture and music is completely dismissed. When is the Faculty going in for the plasma screens, the carpets and the coffee lounge? This is how a one-dimensional understanding of mission alienates the Church from wider culture and becomes, in the end, totally counter-missionary. Have these so-called evangelicals actually read anything by Jeremy Begbie or Dillenberger's Theology of Artistic Sensibilities?

Posted by Michael Mulhern at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 3:26pm BST

A typical outside musical occasion at St Sepulchre's is the English Baroque Choir singing days. See http://www.ebc.org.uk/ --- on Saturday 3 Feb 2018 all day there's a day singing Bach's B Minor Mass, for example. Typically occasions of this sort attract a large group -- probably a couple of hundred -- of people whose main interest is choral singing. These are important communal activities for their own sake and are greatly enjoyed by their participants. The last time I went to one of these occasions at St Sepulchre's it was (I think) the Monteverdi Vespers. No doubt the church took a hire fee, and I do wonder whether there really are church events during the day on a Saturday that would clash. And anyway, the English choral tradition is very much linked with the Church of England in the public mind, and singing sacred music is for many people a crucial part of their own spiritual life and experience of the sacred.

A great pity that the church views its own outreach as so narrowly defined that it doesn't see itself as having a general ministry to those members of the public who go to these things. Either the church doesn't care about the wider public or it is so inept that it doesn't mind giving the impression it doesn't care. The bigger theological question for TA is whether it's still reasonable for the Church of England (of which St Sepulchre's is a part) to have all the privileges of establishment, seats in the House of Lords, etc.

If St Sepulchre's were a "private" organisation then they could do with their building as they wished, but as part of the Established Church, they are not. (Whatever the legal minutiae might say.)

Posted by Bernard Silverman at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 4:21pm BST

PS...my wife more recently went to a similar occasion in connection with the Proms. At the bus stop afterwards, a mild mannered elderly lady said "Have you heard about how St Sepulchre's has thrown us out?" --- she was clearly a bit upset about this.

Pat O'Neill says that to continue to describe St Sepulchre's as the National Musicians' Church is "very odd". That's a bit polite..."lying" would be more accurate.

There's a large memorial to Henry Wood (who grew up in the parish) at St Sepulchre's. Wikipedia says "Wood received little religious inspiration at St Sepulchre, but was deeply stirred by the playing of the resident organist, George Cooper, who allowed him into the organ loft and gave him his first lessons on the instrument."

Posted by Bernard Silverman at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 4:54pm BST

'Tim, this blog is called Thinking Anglicans rather than Helping Anglicans.'

Indeed. And I find the insinuation that evangelicals don't think to be insulting in the extreme.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 5:03pm BST

'Maybe it's time for HTB to try reviving a church within its existing tradition, rather than imposing their own model?'

I understand what's being suggested here, but for me, it prompts a bigger question: where are the growing, thriving, church-planting Anglo-Catholic and Liberal Catholic parishes who could export a hundred parishioners and revive churches of their own traditions? Instead of criticizing HTB for being true to its charismatic/evangelical traditions and beliefs, why not look to healthy churches of other traditions to do the same thing in their own dying parishes? After all, we're constantly being told that the evangelical/charismatic brand of Anglicanism is a huge turnoff to modern people. So by all means, let the healthy liberal catholic parishes step up to the plate.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 6:10pm BST

The last time I was at St Sepulchre's was for a stunning performance of the St John Passion before Easter earlier this year. It was a religious experience for me and reached a wider audience than regular attenders at any church. It was packed, big though the church is. But it was booked by the choir which performed it and the new policy would rule it out.

This is an inward-looking and exclusionary move, quite contrary to any rational interpretation of evangelicalism.

Posted by badman at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 6:28pm BST

I'll be charitable here, and assume there's no malign motive (as Anne rightly says, HTB's not necessarily bigoted about other traditions). Hanlon's razor is blunt, but often correct. In short, looks like someone screwed the pooch.

But regardless of what HTB did or didn't do, so long as they're making a success of it, the church will naturally turn to them. Say what you like about charismatic evangelicals, least they're getting results. We should be seeing liberal churches planting and networking with the same vigor as HTB and the rest. Why aren't they?

HTB are what they are. Liberals won't change that. Instead, look to ourselves, learn from their successes, and critically apply them, combining accessibility and organization with a liberal ethos. Then we won't need to complain, 'cause we'll be in a position to do it ourselves.

Posted by James Byron at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 6:36pm BST

'I find the insinuation that evangelicals don't think to be insulting in the extreme.' @Tim Chesterton

So would I Tim. Any such insinuation is entirely imagined and to read it in my post, to be honest, bizarre.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 7:09pm BST

Tim and I finally agree on something on TA! Rejoice!

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 7:11pm BST

"Pat O'Neill says that to continue to describe St Sepulchre's as the National Musicians' Church is "very odd". That's a bit polite..."lying" would be more accurate. "

I always try to be at least a bit polite....

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 7:20pm BST

Conversations are taking place with The incumbent and PCC. Not helped by being August and therefore (a) holidays and (b) slow news season, generating more heat than light. [I had hoped for a quiet August!] I'll leave at that for the moment...

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 9:30pm BST

There’s a bit of narkiness floating around, with people taking offence. But I must say that using labels weighed down with the writer’s assumptions is not helpful. I’m a cradle Wesleyan. I treasure Holy Scripture. I’m an evangelical, and not offended to be so called. I like dressing up and filling the church with incense to honour the altar, the Gospel book, the priest as representative of the people. I am deeply wedded to the sacraments and I value drama and ritual. I’m a catholic, and not offended to be so called. I suspect the St Sepulchre’s business arose from a mindset, prevalent in the church and in business, which doesn’t spend long enough considering possible consequences of decisions made in good faith—in order to get things done as quickly as possible so as to look efficient. It’s unfortunate, it’s regrettable, but we’ve all made mistakes like this—at least if we haven’t it can only be because we’ve never done anything. Hardline evangelicals can be exclusive and cultic and think that they alone are right. Heaven knows, Christian Union types repel me, and have done since I first encountered them in 1969. But Anglo-Catholics can be just as bad, if not worse, hiving themselves off into a corner of the playground sticking their thumbs in their mouths and saying “we wont play with you”. Come on, boys and girls, play nicely and enjoy a bit of cut and thrust.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 9:39pm BST

It is refreshing to know there is some theological diversity (or inconsistency) among HTB church planters.

We have an HTB plant in our diocese, that has been very aggressive in renting out the building: a concert series sponsored by the city, other concerts, and corporate events, including a staff meeting/training session by the local McDonald's franchisee. And this is not just in their parish hall; the church itself has been renovated for a multi-function space. Indeed, we seem to hear as much, if not more, about the rentals and community use of the building, as we do about their Alpha courses and evangelization.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 10:09pm BST

'So would I Tim. Any such insinuation is entirely imagined and to read it in my post, to be honest, bizarre.'

Fr. Andrew, the original comment I was replying to was ''Evangelicals turning out to be anti-intellectual philistines? Who would have guessed it?''

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 11:03pm BST

Well now. Tim & I, despite being at opposite ends of the theological spectrum, had exactly the same thought. Fascinating, Jim!

Fun as it is to snark at evangelical foibles (just as it's fun to snark at liberal, moderate, and Anglo-Catholic foibles), when that includes kit as rudimentary as plasma screens (probably OLED these days, unless they got spun a line down the hi-fi store) and decent coffee, it just may point to liberalism's blind spot: allowing traditional forms of service to rebuild a barrier knocked down by open-minded theology.

If good audio-visual and catering's now a party badge, then evangelicalism must be overjoyed to be on the right side of the line.

Posted by James Byron at Monday, 28 August 2017 at 11:30pm BST

@Perry Butler: I imagine that meetings of local clergy are quite interesting: the likes of St Magnus Martyr or St Alban Holborn are as unlike Bishopsgate as it is possible to imagine within a single denomination. I imagine you will have found the difference between your old church and, say, St George Queen Square illuminating.

I was also interested to read your remarks about east Kent, since I attended services at every available church in the county between 2009 and 2013. My feeling is that there were a few shafts of light, but that the situation was for the most part very gloomy. During that period I undertook a similar exercise in Surrey and Sussex, and have since expanded it to some 27 other counties, so it has enabled me to put my south-eastern experiences into some perspective. What struck me about the Canterbury diocese was the formation of monster benefices as a means of keeping the show on the road (a policy I have encountered elsewhere, and one with significant limitations). The two dioceses sloughed off a number of small parishes in the 1970s and 1980s (Canterbury under Anthony Tremlett and Richard Third taking a harder line than Rochester), but saving the unfortunate example of Swingfield, I cannot think of any ancient parish being liquidated since 2000. Fortunately, most of the closed churches were taken on by the CCT – sometimes controversially (as at Fordwich), or put into a special private trust (Otterden, Snave, etc.) or other denomination (St Pauls Cray). I can think of only Alington, Dunkirk, Ham and Hoo St Mary being turned into houses, and Milton-by-Canterbury into a store for the aggregates firm, Bretts. A few have had close shaves: Boughton Aluph, Chislet, Grain, Nettlested, Rodmersham, Sevington, Stockbury, Stalisfield, Thurnham, Tonge, etc. Sone are subsisting in a quasi-dormant state: Bicknor, Broomfield, Harty, Hucking, Little Chart, West Langdon, Wichling, etc. with just a few services a year. Obviously a question mark hangs over many more. Pastorally speaking, the one inexcusable loss was the demolition of Leysdown; I understand why it had to be taken down, but the failure to replace in a tough spot was deeply regrettable. Chatham has also been a focus of severe failure (St Mary's and St John's being lost with good grounds for their rehabilitation). The rationalisation of the City centre parish in Canterbury was also a little too extreme for my liking.

Posted by Froghole at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 12:33am BST

@Janet Fife and Fr. David. Yes - as has been noted, the FCC is the Friends of City Churches. It was established by Marcus Binney (of SAVE, and the saviour of Calke Abbey, Derbyshire) in response to the Templeman Report, which threatened to do to the remaining City churches what the Bridges Report had risked doing in Norwich. John Paul of St Andrew by the Wardrobe (also the home of the Friends of Friendless Churches) provided critical support, although the FCC is now at St Mary Abchurch, having also spent some time at St Magnus Martyr. I believe that Mr Binney and his allies considered it important to keep the City churches going as churches (so slightly different from the Norwich Historic Churches Trust); he felt that they needed to be viewed collectively (primarily the work of Wren, but also of Inigo Jones, Hawksmoor, Hooke, Dance, etc.), and was mindful of the painfully high rate of attrition since Charles Blomfield pushed for the rationalisation of City parishes as the area became depopulated. The other very positive influence in the wake of Templeman was Richard Chartres.

The FCC also keeps an eye on Bevis Marks, the RC church in Moorgate, etc. It has a useful website: http://www.london-city-churches.org.uk/ourhistory.html. The monthly 'City Events' page is extremely useful in providing details of service times, concerts, etc.

Posted by Froghole at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 12:47am BST

@Perry Butler: Sorry - I forgot the old church of St Michael Hawkinge; that was another one turned into a house, controversially in that case, because it was Grade I and therefore ought to have been within the sights of the CCT (who seem to have known nothing about it, at least when I asked).

Posted by Froghole at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 12:55am BST

Thank you Froghole - your knowledge of the Church of England and its church buildings and what goes on inside of them is staggering and most impressive.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 11:04am BST

Amid all the crossfire of this particular controversy, there is an important missiological dimension that needs to be kept in focus, regardless of whether you are liberal, evangelical or anglo-catholic. It is the apparent failure to fully understand the context. Just like those anglo-catholics who go in to parishes imposing the Roman Missal and the Roman calendar as the badge of 'kosher' identity; so evangelicals have a tendency to be naive and selective about what they see as 'context' in an associational understanding of the Church. 'Membership' is not the native vocabulary of The Church of England. It is here to serve many more than those who worship or have some kind of affiliation to a particular church. Church planting is, by its very nature, counter-parochial; and the parachuting-in of large numbers of people who don't know the area, the history, the sensitivities, the memories etc is bound to cause this kind of friction and alienation. It takes time - and often there is compulsion to 'fix it' in a short a time as possible - not least to demonstrate beyond all doubt that this was the solution waiting to happen.

I am just wondering what kind of preparation (inculturation, if you like) presaged this plant at St Sepulchre's? If the sole message was it's in decline and needs urgent renewal, no wonder things have turned out as they have. The St Augustine's, Queen's Gate model should be a pre-requisite for this kind of thing; and should form the basis on on-going mentoring for plants. Now we know +Pete is reading this, may be there are imaginative and sustaining ways of addressing it. Michael Mulhern has already talked about the theological insights of evangelical scholars like Jeremy Begbie and John Dillenburger. The St Sepulchre's plant might also benefit from some input by someone like Andrew Rumsey (on the church and its relationship to wider culture) and an experienced cathedral dean like David Ison - who is just around the corner - (on the opportunities of music and mission).

Whether it's plasma screens and coffee bars, or missals and monstrances, 'new' expressions need grounding in their context, and people need to feel they are stakeholders in the new terrain. Otherwise church plants will simply alienate those large numbers of people who still long to have what Martyn Percy calls a 'relating and mutating' relationship with the local church. This is as much about mission as any number of alpha courses and catechumenate initiatives for the 'committed.'

Posted by Jonathan Mitchell at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 12:02pm BST

You are a mine of info froghole! But St Albans Holborn is actually in the South Camden deanery of the Edmonton Area...

Posted by Perry Butler at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 1:35pm BST

Looking at my original post I meant to say the collapse would come in 10 yrs..but obviously it's creaking already.Friends in Devon and Oxfordshire say the same.I suppose church planting is foreign to liberal/ catholic and middle churches because they mostly see themselves functioning as parish churches.They accept a wide range of commitment like layers of an onion, their congregations come because it's the local church and the clergy priorities are occasional offices, the parish school, the residents association and so forth.I suspect the City churches don't do many funerals and I gather these are some parishes of a particular hue that only bury "members"..That was the C of E after all...but in the last 30 to 40 years it's changed.And the money has run out! I agree with froghole that multi parish benefices with services at all sorts of times can only aid decline...we are no longer in a meaningful sense a national/ folk church...but these days a is Nordic Churches it's no longer feasible without a church tax.

Posted by Perry Butler at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 1:52pm BST

'Instead of criticizing HTB for being true to its charismatic/evangelical traditions and beliefs, why not look to healthy churches of other traditions to do the same thing.'

I'm afraid I didn't make myself sufficiently clear. I did not intend to criticise HTB's charismatic/evangelical traditions and beliefs; I'm from that stable myself. Or was. When I spoke of reviving a church within its own tradition, I didn't mean just theology and churchmanship. Tradition encompasses a lot of other things, customs, and events that often mean more to the congregation and the church's wider network than its attitude to Bible interpretation, prayer, or worship. HTB could perhaps keep their charismatic evangelical theology and churchmanship but adhere to St. Sepulchre's existing tradition of hospitality to classical musicians and audiences. This takes creativity and flexibility but could be very fruitful if it works.

When I started my first incumbency the bishop told me, 'The church is 25 years behind. I want you to take what is good and build on it, while moving the church forward.' I thought that very good advice. It involved listening and watching, assessing what meant most to people. They accepted a new liturgy (transition to Common Worship) and a new hymnbook with barely a murmur, but there would have been a huge outcry if I had tampered with the Summer Fayre, Crib Service, or Easter egg-rolling competition, or failed to wear a chasuble.

I realise the situation at St. Sepulchre is more complex, involving as it does a timetable clash on church premises. Still, I think a cardinal principle of mission is St. Paul's 'when in Rome do as the Romans do'. Adapt to the existing culture on non-foundational issues, so that your message may be more clearly heard by those you are among.

Posted by Janet Fife at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 3:32pm BST

In January 2014 the Bishop of London attended a special service at St Sepulchre's celebrating the establishment of a successful partnership between the existing Sepulchral community and a team of people from HTB and St George's Holborn. https://www.london.anglican.org/articles/bishop-of-london-joins-celebration-of-new-working-partnership-at-st-sepulchres-without-newgate/

This partnership seems to have broken down. One factor may be the unrepresentative nature of the PCC. The electoral system, a single constituency in which everyone has as many votes as there are seats, works well in a fairly homogeneous parish. It does not work well in ensuring representation for heterogeneous groups, since the largest subgroup secures all the seats. Are the Tuesday evening congregation and choir (choral evensong) proportionately represented with the Sunday morning congregation (informal)? Are the wider musical community represented at all? Was the APM timing suited more to one group than the other? Some parishes, usually with good intentions, hold the meeting immediately after the main service, effectively disenfranchising those who attend other services only.

There needs to be some way of ensuring all constituencies have a voice on the PCC. In the case of churches with particular roles, e.g. as national musicians church, some representation of musicians nationally is needed.

If this is not resolved, then "successful partnership" will be seen as just another City of London euphemism for hostile takeover.

Posted by T Pott at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 3:48pm BST

Tim Chesterton: "Instead of criticizing HTB for being true to its charismatic/evangelical traditions and beliefs, why not look to healthy churches of other traditions to do the same thing in their own dying parishes? After all, we're constantly being told that the evangelical/charismatic brand of Anglicanism is a huge turnoff to modern people. So by all means, let the healthy liberal catholic parishes step up to the plate."
This is exactly what has happened with the St Augustine church plant in Queen's Gate, see my comment above. Just look at the church website and you will see that the liberal catholic service has quite literally taken off with hugely increased numbers of people attending it.
But I agree it would be good if we could hear of more churches in other traditions which are flourishing. Sadly, where I come from, that cannot be said to be the case. One FiF church I attended not that long ago had 25 people in the congregation - and it was a baptism so lots of the 25 were from outside the parish, supporters of the baby's parents. We hear a lot of about increased attendance in Cathedrals. Which is fantastic. But I would like to see transformed lives and people who are followers of Jesus Christ, not only followers of the English choral tradition. Though of course, they may be both. I hope and pray they are!

Posted by Anne at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 3:54pm BST

I wasn't going to comment as Pat O'Neill, badman and Bernard Silverman among others speak my mind. But as Bishop Pete above has hinted at a rethink, can the rethinkers please come to any professional-standard performance of the st john Passion or the Monteverdi Vespers (or indeed cathedral evensong) and understand what it is to be spiritually moved? It is true that there are lots of central London venues for these things but st Sepulchre's is acoustically special and very beautiful. (Full disclosure - i did a conducting course there).

Posted by Iain McLean at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 4:13pm BST

Bevis Marks is a Synagogue...

But yes, FCC do an excellent job, and work closely with the Diocese.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 7:41pm BST

'Say what you like about charismatic evangelicals, least they're getting results.'

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 28 August 2017.

May I respectfully ask what these results consist in ?

It interests and concerns me very much.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 10:22pm BST

People and cash, Laurie. Yes, there's often high turnover, yes, numbers aren't everything, and yes, their theology doubtless alienates plenty others, but evangelicals wield the power they do 'cause their model fills pews (or rather, flexible seating).

Where are England's liberal equivalents to the evangelical networks and festivals? There's Greenbelt, but plenty open evangelicals attend that. There's beacon churches like St. James, Piccadilly, which have the resources and talent to put on traditional services to the highest standards, and draw in those who like that kinda thing. What else?

There's no reason that churches from other traditions couldn't become accessible by combining their own churchmanship with contemporary music, audio-visual, and networking. Then there'd be no conflict at places like St. Sepulchre (-without-Newgate?), 'cause they'd be planted by churches in their own tradition. So long as the evangelicals are the only game in town, whatcha gonna do?

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 11:43pm BST

May I disrespectfully suggest that the "results" are "Bums on pews" - although quite often the pews have been removed in favour of more "flexible" chairs.
Both Froghole and Perry Butler hit the nail on the head by stating that multi-parish benefices are simply a recipe for decline, imposed by a hierarchy desperately trying to keep the Show on the Road but alas, it is plain for all to see that the wheels have fallen off.
I'd be interested to know if there are any examples of HTB style Church Plants in rural multi-parish benefices and if so, have they resulted in Church Growth? In the Lincoln diocese there has been a successful Church Plant at St. Swithin's in Lincoln ctiy but what about an experimental HTB Church Plant in the South Ormsby group of, is it, 16 rural parishes? What kind of results would be achieved there I wonder? What is the Bishop of Church Planting's take on rural plants for it seems to me that the enthusiastic Church Planters tend to cherry-pick the plots they wish to cultivate and that the "partnership" with the existing congregation tends to result not so much in partnership but more in marginalisation.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 5:34am BST

I very much appreciate the comments of Pete Broadbent and others. I am not connected to HTB but have worked in the City for 35 years and am appreciative of what HTb does. A mistake was obviously made here in how this was handled and sounds like the good Bishop is on the case. We all make mistakes that's why we need to be forgiven by God. in general, there is a broad range of churches in the City and despite the fact that few people live there (though more than you might think) many of them are full with City workers - thank God. If Jesus came for prostitutes and tax collectors 2000 years ago now he speaks to bankers - of which I am one! Dick Lucas still alive in his 90s is a wonderful man and teacher though I appreciate that St H Bishopsgate may not be everyone's cup of tea on this forum! Jeremy Crossley also I can't praise enough. Let's encourage each other to both reach our fellow human beings with the good news about Jesus Christ and think through what that means for a morally decaying financial system and society. Just to take one example, spurred on by the teaching of churches in the City, I have seen a real growth in generosity amongst Christians in the city in the last 10 years. (Incidentally the (strongly) evangelical Anglican church I am part of has a fine tradition of concerts long may that continue). Finally yes evangelicals do think - that's why we read Thinking Anglicans :)

Posted by Pilgrim at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 7:09am BST

"I would like to see transformed lives and people who are followers of Jesus Christ, not only followers of the English choral tradition" declares @Anne. Wow. So the two are mutually exclusive, are they? This is the kind myopic assumption that has given rise to the St Sepulchre's debacle in the first place. Discipleship takes many forms, and I venture to suggest that corporate prayer focused on the singing of Psalms and the listening to scripture (spoken and sung) has a rather longer track record as a model of Christian formation than the alpha course.

Posted by Will Richards at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 7:32am BST

'People and cash' ..... Could we please include the possibility here that 'results' includes people are coming to faith, becoming disciples of Christ, living changed lives and leading their friends to do the same. As Tim and Anne point out the same challenge faces every tradition and expression of the church so there is little point in wasting energy kicking those approaches we don't personally like and claiming the worst of motives behind their 'results'.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 9:48am BST

Will Richards, perhaps you missed the "not only" in the quotation you yourself used? It was a plea for it *not* to be binary surely? Which you've taken as a declaration that it *is* binary....

Posted by primroseleague at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 9:54am BST

"There's no reason that churches from other traditions couldn't become accessible by combining their own churchmanship There's no reason that churches from other traditions couldn't become accessible by combining their own churchmanship with contemporary music, audio-visual, and networking.."

I am trying to imagine a high Anglo-Catholic churchmanship combined "with contemporary music, audio-visual, and networking" and, quite frankly, failing in the attempt.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 11:31am BST

David, I wasn't denying the efficacy of evangelicalism, just the opposite. I know many evangelicals who've experienced life-transforming change for the better, and are nourished by evangelical and charismatic spirituality.

Pat: imagine harder! ;-) Or google video of a contemporary Catholic service, combining all the above with sacraments, robes, and liturgy.

Posted by James Byron at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 1:32pm BST

Thanks James misread you ....

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 3:22pm BST

'I am trying to imagine a high Anglo-Catholic churchmanship combined "with contemporary music, audio-visual, and networking" and, quite frankly, failing in the attempt.'

You've not been on the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage then. It can be done and done well.

On the 'only evangelicals are successful' thread, could I observe that the most successful churches are evangelical churches largely because it is evangelicals who are defining 'success', and everybody else in the C of E seems to be accepting their definition.

As ever, what is 'successful' in these terms is a Geneva model rather than a Canterbury one.

What if our hierarchy spent its resources / the church commissioners money trying to build up a vibrant national church rather that a thriving Puritan Sect? What if we imagined that? Who knows what could be achieved? We don't know because nobody's bothered, we've just lazily accepted the evangelical (non) 'solution'.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 3:55pm BST

I can't find any evidence that Jesus and his apostles ever imagined such an animal as a 'vibrant national church'.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 4:37pm BST

'I'd be interested to know if there are any examples of HTB style Church Plants in rural multi-parish benefices and if so, have they resulted in Church Growth?'

Father David, I suspect that the folks at HTB are wise enough to know that their model works very well in the suburban-type parish it was created in, and if that's the case, personally, I applaud them for sticking to it. I spent 21 years as a rural pastor in multi-point parishes (my last one in the Diocese of Athabasca had 50 miles between the two main points, and another 32 miles to the third point), and I got sick and tired of church growth folks from prosperous suburbia coming out and telling us how we could make our parishes grow. There are good research projects around rural church health and growth (Ron Crandall's work in the USA is a fine example of this). I think the HTB folks are well advised to work with situations that fit their model and leave the ones that don't.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 4:42pm BST

Quote: 'I can't find any evidence that Jesus and his apostles ever imagined such an animal as a 'vibrant national church'.'

Whilst there may not be that evidence for a 'national church' in the Gospels, there is just as little evidence for Jesus measuring his success by the number of people attending the synagogue or attending the worship of the Temple. Whilst both of these were an important part of his life, his ministry was spent out among people in society, revealing the presence of God wherever faith may have been found (and often sending them back to the lives from which they came transformed by the experience). It is the loss of this (which happens to form part of the model of a 'vibrant national church') rather than the idea of a national church, that worries me. The model that seems to be becoming more and more prevelant is that which looks at how many people are in the synagogue (of whatever tradition) or worship in the Temple than how many people are touched by God and respond to that with a personal faith.

Posted by NJW at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 8:47pm BST

The problem is, Tim, that we In the Church of England) have the bishop for Church Planting not understanding what you have articulated:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/13/church-of-england-evangelical-drive

Posted by Charles Read at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 9:02pm BST

'I can't find any evidence that Jesus and his apostles ever imagined such an animal as a 'vibrant national church'.


That point is arguable (I mean, what else was Israel but a national church?) but regardless there are lots of things Jesus and the Apostles didn't imagine, like plasma screens and printed Bibles and Protestants. However that whole ine of arguing is based on a logical fallacy - argumentum ad ignorantiam- so perhaps there's no value in that riposte.

The notion that the normative or indeed the 'best' form of the Church is that which pertained in the apostolic era has always struck me as odd and entirely baseless. The notion that a national church (C of E, Eastern othodox churches) is contrary to Jesus/Apostles thinking is even odder on an Anglican web site. I mean, why bother with the C of E? Why not be a Baptist?

Posted by Fr Andrew at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 9:27pm BST

I appreciate the response I received to my genuine question (on Tuesday, 29 August 2017 at 10:22pm BST). My thanks.

Yet, so far, my question and I have been largely ignored, for some reason.

I do not know if that is to do with religious authoritarianism, negative views of accountable ministry, or that my questions do not count with some people.

Turning to the Gospels I find something else....

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Wednesday, 30 August 2017 at 11:20pm BST

This is a valuable article about the S. Sepulchre's row.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/23/uks-leading-musicians-fight-church-ban-on-secular-bookings-aled-jones-judith-weir

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 31 August 2017 at 1:26am BST

Tim, thank you for your insights from across the pond in rural Canada. I agree with you that HTB type church plants are indeed highly selective. As others have pointed out on this thread, not least, Perry Butler, rural churches in England are on their knees (no pun intended) and multi-parish benefices, such as you had in bucolic Alberta, often lead to clergy burn out.
The greatest model for mission and ministry is, of course, Our Blessed Lord's and it seems to me from decades of reading the Gospels that He was far happier and far more successful in rural Galilee than ever he was in the big city of Jerusalem, which can be seen as a reversal of the highly successful HTB model of ministry.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 31 August 2017 at 4:59am BST

I was very young when I attended the "rock communion" held at my local parish church, but I'm reasonably certain it would be possible to use light and sound to enhance Anglo-Catholic worship. Illuminate the ceiling with the appropriate liturgical colour; following spot on the Gospel procession; spot on the altar during the consecration. I think the key would be to use technology to enrich and enhance the liturgy, not to replace or distract from it. In case anyone's wondering, yes, anything resembling a powerpoint presentation does detract.

Posted by Jo at Thursday, 31 August 2017 at 6:53am BST

The idea of a National Church is obviously foreign to North America but the Church in England stands somewhere between the Nordic Folk Churches and the free market of American denominationalism.It's where we are,for good or ill.This thread has touched on this dilemma at a time of falling congregations, fewer clergy and financial retrenchment.Many on here clearly hope the future C of E remains a parochial, liturgical "Church without walls " serving a local community (as do I). But others see the future in terms of a more associational/congregational model, largely unliturgical,with tighter doctrinal boundaries and catering mostly for the "committed". The current strategy it would seem, in so far as there can be one in such a devolved institution, is to try and work a "mixed economy" but there are inevitable tensions. How this will work out in the next 10 to 20 years is anyones guess. It will be a very different C of E from the Church I (and I imagine Father David) was baptised in 68 years ago, assuming it doesn't fragment further. But I'm afraid I feel a degree of both sadness and apprehension.

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 31 August 2017 at 8:42am BST

'The notion that a national church (C of E, Eastern othodox churches) is contrary to Jesus/Apostles thinking is even odder on an Anglican web site. I mean, why bother with the C of E? Why not be a Baptist?'

Fr. Andrew, I am an Anglican, not a Baptist, and I serve in the Anglican Church of Canada which is not a 'national church'. I don't think the makes me any less Anglican. Establishment is not a sacred cow that can never be questioned. After all, this website claims to be a liberal website, and I would like to think that 'liberal' includes being open to questioning old ideas in the light of both apostolic teaching and the changing situation we find ourselves in in the modern world.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 31 August 2017 at 8:45am BST

Tim Chesterton: there is a difference between an Established and a national church. Only the C of E has pretensions to be both. I think that a privileged church with bishops in the House of Lords is not only an anachronism but arguably unChristian. But a church which sees its mission as to all people, to serve them and understand them rather than see them simply as pew-fodder, is surely needed more than ever. In some parts of the country of course (such as inner-city Liverpool, where the Roman Catholics is effectively 'the' church - although hampered now by the shortage of priests) this ministry is offered by others. But in most places the C of E will continue to be the 'default' church in England (as I believe the disestablished Church in Wales is in Wales).

Posted by David Emmott at Thursday, 31 August 2017 at 7:58pm BST

I don't think you need to be either a 'national church' or an 'established church' to see yourself as being sent by Christ into the world to serve it. I suspect that one difference is that a church with no 'membership' basically sees the servants as the ordained clergy, whereas a church with a defined 'membership' sees its people as the Body of Christ working together to serve their neighbourhood. That's certainly how we see ourselves in my parish. Yes, we have a parish list and a defined membership, but everyone is welcome to attend and we do a lot of mission and outreach work to serve the world around us as well.

I believe it was Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder who made the comment that Christendom discarded the New Testament idea of a distinction between the church and the world and replaced it with the new idea of a distinction between clergy and laity!

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 31 August 2017 at 11:45pm BST

@David Emmott - Inner City Liverpool is home to many thousands of Orangemen who most certainly would not accept that the Roman Catholic Church is the default church. Sadly, though, many feel less and less at home in the C of E, although Orange Parades to and from Liverpool Cathedral still take place on the Sunday nearest St Georges Day (if not Easter).

Posted by T Post at Friday, 1 September 2017 at 12:35am BST

I liked your suggestions, Jo. I was away for Christmas one year and we attended the midnight service at a liberal catholic parish. The lighting around the sanctuary changed liturgical colour at midnight. It was very subtle, and I suspect only visitors interested in this sort of thing would even notice, but I found it very powerful.

Posted by Helen King at Friday, 1 September 2017 at 6:36am BST

@T Post: I was oversimplifying and thinking of areas like Vauxhall, 90+% RC. And I'm not sure that 'Orangemen' [sic] can be numbered in many thousands any more. The Cof E is certainly not their default church, thankfully: it's a very long time since that has been the case.

Posted by David Emmott at Friday, 1 September 2017 at 10:54am BST

' I don't think you need to be either a 'national church' or an 'established church' to see yourself as being sent by Christ into the world to serve it.'

Well of course not, though that doesn't preclude value in national churches either. In some circumstances this will undoubtedly *be* the best model for being Christ's people serving the world. From the 6th century this has been precisely the case with the Church of England. And yes, this is Anglo-specific rather than wider Anglican.

Of course one may argue that this is no longer the case but I'm not convinced that this has been argued convincingly, especially as the 'solution' is for Anglicans to become Calvinist sectaries. It didn't work in England in the Commonwealth, why should it work now? The car engine is sputtering and making ominous noises. Isn't it better to see what needs fixing first rather than just dump it and jump into one that seems to be still motoring?

I'm not sure why you want to bring anti-clericalism into a discussion of a national church: I really can't see the connexion. Think less establishment bishops poncing around with princes and more a highly localised spiritual wing of the welfare state. A numinous NHS if you will. That model is what motivates me, not a vision of the gathered elect or a clerical elite.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Friday, 1 September 2017 at 1:26pm BST

'Say what you like about charismatic evangelicals, least they're getting results.'

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 28 August 2017.

May I respectfully ask what these results consist in ?

It interests and concerns me very much. 29/8/17

'Yet, so far, my question and I have been largely ignored, for some reason.

I do not know if that is to do with religious authoritarianism, negative views of accountable ministry, or that my questions do not count with some people.' 30/8/17

Laurie, I think your question has indirectly been answered in the ongoing debate about the importance of numbers attending. An increase in numerical growth is what many in the Church regard as 'results'; quite a few on TA beg to differ. Myself, I think the letters to the churches in Rev. 1-3 gives a pretty good idea what kind of church God might like us to be. The only one which receives unqualified praise is the one which has 'but little power', but keeps God's word and does not deny his name. When I was vicar of a very tough estate I found that a great comfort.

Posted by Janet Fife at Friday, 1 September 2017 at 5:06pm BST

Janet... I see where you're coming from on numbers...but the gist of some criticism is that growing numbers are unimportant even wrong per se. Holiness is important but that's not in opposition to numbers us it?

I most if these comments as:
as struggling church grows.
Space requirements are proving difficult.
Leaders (may) have made an error of judgement.
Throw them to the dogs (because they are evangelicals/charismatics).

Posted by Ian h at Thursday, 7 September 2017 at 8:55pm BST

The leaders at St Sepulchre are completely wrong to ban music rehearsals from 2018, especially as it is the Musicians' Church. My own church has a new vicar who believes HTB-style "music" is the only type to be allowed. He has imported his own guitarists and drummers, they seem only to be able to play forte, sing new "songs" without teaching the congregation, consequently we do not sing. The organist has effectively been "sacked" - a faithful church member. No explanation has been given to the members. The result is that members are leaving, to worship elsewhere. What a sad reflection on the CofE.

Posted by worriedanglican at Wednesday, 25 October 2017 at 11:32pm BST
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