The Church Times reports: Dean delivers harsh rebuke to C of E’s ‘blandness’ in final sermon
THE Dean of Peterborough, the Very Revd Charles Taylor, has bowed out of office with a stinging attack on envious people at the centre of the Church of England who resent “uppity” cathedrals and who wish to impose a “monochrome blandness” on the Church.
In late July, it was revealed that a cashflow crisis at Peterborough Cathedral meant that staff were in danger of not being paid. A loan was secured from the Church Commissioners. At the same time, it was announced that Dean Taylor was planning to retire.
In his farewell sermon on Saturday, Dean Taylor, who is 63, dropped a strong hint that the decision to leave had been forced upon him. Despite hundreds of letters of support, he said, he had not made any public remark about “the circumstances surrounding my ‘retirement’ — although some have alleged that the manner in which it was effected was legally dubious, morally reprehensible, and pastorally disgraceful. Well, they might care to think that. I could not possibly comment.”
And the article continues:
He detected a wider agenda: “Such an inclusive theology of mission as motivates this and other cathedrals . . . is not always welcome to those who resent the independence of cathedrals, who envy their freedom — indeed, their obligation — to take the risks that accompany that independence, and perceived that they’re getting a bit uppity.
“It certainly does not conform to the ecclesiology, if one can call it that, of those who would like to see power concentrated at the centre, in order to impose a bland, uniform theology, if one can call it that, which runs counter to the very essence of Anglican diversity.”
The recent death of Bishop David Jenkins had led him to wonder where, today, were the Anglican leaders who excite the public imagination? “Where among the leaders of today are the colourful clerics and turbulent priests, the prickly prophets, the rebels and reformers?” All he saw was “monochrome blandness”.
”It is surely of salutary significance that newly appointed deans and bishops these days are sent on an induction course — not as you might think, to hone their skills in theology, or liturgy, community outreach, or pastoral care, but to take a mini-MBA.
“The pattern of the Good Shepherd has been hijacked by the model of the Chief Executive Officer.”
This was fair enough to some extent, Dean Taylor said. “Sustaining the increasingly diverse and complex operations of an active cathedral or diocese is a costly exercise, which does need to be managed carefully and corporately. . .
“But I suggest it’s also true, that the cathedral, or the church, or the parish which sits comfortably without financial risk or worry, probably is not following the vocation of disciples to spend and be spent in the service of the gospel and for the love of God.
“Besides, if the ultimate purpose and success of mission is to be measured by the bottom line, by prosperous posteriors on pews and money in the bank, with every member and minster toeing the party line, then one can’t help wondering how the earthly mission and ministry of Jesus would be judged, dying as he did alone and in disgrace — no congregation, no cash in the bank, but betrayed, forsaken and denied, even by his chosen disciples.”
The cathedral website has this: Tributes paid to Dean at farewell service.
There is a complete audio recording of the sermon available here. Alas no transcript is provided but it is well worth the time to listen to in full.