Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 15 March 2017

Christina Beardsley OneBodyOneFaith On not throwing stones at the late Revd Carol Stone

Kimberly Bohan wonderful exchange theology & flourishing: Why do we send ordinands to theological college?

Martin Seeley ViaMedia.News A Tale of Two Shared Conversations

Sonya Doragh and Lizzie Lowrie Diocese of Liverpool ‘Mother’s Day Runaways’ will offer a safe space to find God’s presence on Mothering Sunday eve

Anonymous The Guardian What I’m really thinking: the gay Christian

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK The Stirrings in Sheffield: the next steps in the appointment of a bishop in the See of Sheffield.

John Davies looks at how to prevent clergy-PCC relationships’ becoming a tug of war Church Times A responsibility to co-operate

Stephen Cottrell Presidential Address to Chelmsford Diocesan Synod, 11 March 2017
[Harry Farley of Christian Today reports on this: Bishop Calls For ‘Thanksgiving’ Prayers For Gay Couples]

33
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
33 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
20 Comment authors
Father Ron SmithCynthiaJanetSimon DawsonBernard Randall Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Pam
Guest
Pam

John Davies examines the nitty-gritty of church committee meetings. I can say that I am not naturally drawn to being part of a committee, with all the politics involved. I want my own way – way too much. But I know I’d be more co-operative if I didn’t believe that others want their way – way too much. A case of suspending belief?

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Kimberly Bohan’s excellent piece has tempted me to mount a hobby-horse. Prior to the middle decades of the nineteenth century there were no seminaries (saving perhaps St Bees in Cumberland, established in 1816 and curios promoting theological education like Sion College, founded in 1630). The possession of a BA from the three Anglican universities – Oxford, Cambridge and TCD – was generally thought sufficient (Durham and KCL were founded almost contemporaneously with the foundation of seminaries). This was despite the fact that the theological content of the Schools or Senate House examinations was practically nil (at Cambridge it was a… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Contd. Seminaries were therefore not only necessary to protect certain ordinands from the corrupting influences of modern theology as to instil a more clerical ethos: in effect to bolster the self-confidence of the clergy even as their incomes and role in society diminished (especially with the gradual disappearance of clerical justices and the progressive secularisation of parish government, with the final divorce in 1888). This strategy was highly successful, but risked creating a clerical caste of the type that had done such damage to the standing of the Church of France. It is only quite recently that financial exigencies have… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E. Harris-White

Wise words from a wise bishop.
Thank you Bishop Stephen.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I think Bishop Stephen has given the most open and honest appraisal of the realities that I’ve read so far from any bishop. The realities are not everything I want, but I think it assesses very fairly where the realities probably lie at the present time. I’m really grateful to Stephen for this very open and detailed expression of views. I wish all our bishops were as open as this. I’ve had correspondence with about 25 bishops in the last few weeks, in response to my suggestions about ‘Unity in Diversity’, some of them very frank, but Stephen’s observations are… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Compare and contrast the Bishop of Chelmsford’s approach to ‘radical Christian inclusion’ with the letter in last week’s Church Times from the bishops of Birkenhead and Maidstone which seeks to slam the door shut.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Er, no, Bishop Stephen. Have you not learned anything from Sheffield? The days of the Church of England tolerating discrimination are over. There is neither male nor female in Christ. That applies to same sex marriage just as much as it does to the ordination of women. Suggesting prayers of thanksgiving (not even a blessing) and no change to doctrine is patronising and very much inadequate.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Froghole,
that’s a fascinating analysis, thank you. So could it be said that the problem is not the specialised theological training but how partisan it is? And that a better form of training would be a church-wide curriculum drawn from all forms of churchmanship, and seminaries/regional courses attended by all?

I wonder if your suggestion of home-study with a good local library wouldn’t compound the problem, which seems to be largely that students are insulated and protected from ever having to engage properly with others who believe slightly differently?

american piskie
Guest
american piskie

Froghole, yes – but! I agree that the partisan nature of the seminaries has had unfortunate consequences. Anecdotally, though, my experience has been that (the better) seminaries have provided their students with a wider experience than used to be the case. But what would worry me about your model would be the inevitable further reduction in the proportion of theologically competent clergy. Under the current model there is at least the opportunity for graduates to “do a second BA”, one in theology. Of course degrees can be won after part-time study, but that’s a hard road for many, especially those… Read more »

Lavinia Nelder
Guest
Lavinia Nelder

Froghole has got a sound point on the finances. It sesms seminaries are a luxury the Church can no longer afford. The home study can work well though. Here in Exeter Diocese we do the mixed mode approach to learning. Academic stuff is covered in evening classes with the nitty gritty covered in Parish. You get sent to several parishes to make sure you get a rounded grounding in churchmanship. Before you get near the Selection Conference we have to go to churches of different traditions to our own and attend services and make notes and ask questions. In the… Read more »

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

As someone who attended a ‘seminary’ (closely linked with a university) many years ago I’m not up to date with current patterns of ordination training. Academically there is no reason why the non-residential model should not be as effective. But in terms of priestly formation I don’t see what can replace living as a community with a corporate discipline of worship, and time for prayer and meditation. Not to mention the equally important role of informal chat at all levels from trivial gossip to theological speculation.

Anne
Guest
Anne

Froghole: Thank you very much indeed for your illuminating and thoughtful piece on theological education/training for ordination which I have found very helpful. Your analysis of the historical context was particularly useful. My experience is that clergy who were educated on ‘courses’ have a far greater understanding of life in the real world than those educated in residential seminaries, and they have often very largely benefitted from a much greater understanding of theological difference, which has not resulted in retreating into theological ghettos as in my experience often happens after residential training courses. I am in Oxford and have had… Read more »

Janet
Guest
Janet

Froghole, I’ve read your piece with interest. My experience of residential training, some 30 years ago, was not especially positive. This was partly the fault of the syllabus which gave too little time to practical and pastoral subjects, and partly to the ethos of the college. It was difficult for women in training and we were all treated rather like public schoolboys. It was actually a bit mixed as to churchmanship but heavily theoretical. I used to joke with other curates on POT that they knew how to do things, but I knew the names and rationale for them! My… Read more »

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

What is ‘radical Christian inclusion’? I have no idea what that means. Plain ordinary inclusion is all that’s needed.

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Many thanks for the various comments made about theological colleges (I used the word ‘seminary’ in order to help me keep under 400 words). I wasn’t necessarily suggesting that having people buried at home/in their home parishes was a good idea. Indeed, it could harden the partisanship of candidates from certain party parishes, who would only ever engage with people having a similar outlook – a danger liable to be magnified if their DDO were from the same tradition. However, that is also a risk if they attend partisan theological colleges. My view is that the likes of SEITE, Sarum… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

A lot of people think of radical inclusion in these examples by Jesus: 1. The Good Samaritan. Samaritans were hated by the Judeans. The people asking “who is my neighbor,” looking for exclusions, would not have wanted to hear about a good Samaritan. Substitute that with Musilm, or gay, or even woman in some circles today. 2. The Samaritan Woman and other interactions with women. In addition to the bit above, Jesus talking with, teaching, and touching women has been considered “radical inclusion” as it moved beyond cultural taboos of the time. Losing the argument with the woman who touched… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Re: Sonya Doragh and Lizzie Lowrie’s excellent and very moving piece on the Liverpool Diocesan website. I am so glad they have taken this initiative into the Cathedral. I too find Mothering Sunday very difficult, 3 miscarriages and a home where I was the only biological child of our parents, with 3 adopted siblings, where my own mother was unable to notice the sexual and physical abuse I suffered at the hands of one of my siblings, where I was constantly told that “You are the one who understands” and where I had to share any present I was given… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

Well said, Jane Charman. Thank you.

Laurence
Guest
Laurence

In the whole course v college-based training argument, I’m wary of the idea that a part time course is necessarily cheaper. Cheaper for the church, maybe: but someone still has to pay for the ordinands’ food, board, accommodation- and for their families as well. And for the majority of people on courses, that someone is the ordinand themselves or their spouse. To make this model work, the church needs three things: either a steady stream of early retirees with healthy pensions; or a flock of spouses with enough income and goodwill to support an ordinand; or people with flexible yet… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Laurence: Yes, I agree, with mustard. The clerical profession today is much as it has often been (outside Wales and some upland parishes): an overwhelmingly middle class vocation. I acknowledge this is a major problem: perhaps when we think of diversity on this site, we ought also to think of the relative lack of economic diversity in the Church, amongst both clergy and laity. However, I am not certain that residential courses make ordination that much more [im]plausible for single candidates lacking a supporting ‘competence’. Any ordinand who is single and lacks the prospect of a sufficient inheritance and/or an… Read more »

rjb
Guest
rjb

Looking at who the lepers and the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are in today’s society, I really wonder whether it is exactly correct to suggest that the Church needs to reach out especially to LGBT people or Muslims. Of course, it does – I don’t mean to deny for a moment that the Church’s mission must include these groups (and that it has often failed to engage with them in the past). But if inclusion is to be ‘radical’ it can’t focus merely on the darlings of secular identity politics. We need to go after the people who are really… Read more »

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Froghole and others: the pros and cons of residential vs non-residential clergy training have been well rehearsed above, though without a conclusive answer. What hasn’t been addressed however is the question of how well a priest can be encouraged to develop a spiritual life and a deep as well as practical understanding of liturgy, without day to day immersion in a prayerful community. Few parish churches, however devoted are its individual members, can offer such an experience and it is a lonely journey on one’s own. The residential college (of whatever churchpersonship) can be criticised as inappropriately monastic, but bearing… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Cynthia, on radical Christian inclusion, I’d say “yes, but” to your examples. In particular, on 2) and 3) although Jesus spent time with these people, he wasn’t expecting to leave them unchanged – he highlighted the sins of the woman at the well, and the “sinners” and unclean were those who need a doctor (Mark 2.17). So the discussion starts with these groups, but cannot end at “Jesus spent time with them, so they must be OK” which is often what’s implied (or at least that’s how it seems to me). It’s the old “come as you are, but don’t… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“Looking at who the lepers and the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are in today’s society, I really wonder whether it is exactly correct to suggest that the Church needs to reach out especially to LGBT people or Muslims” @rjb Surely it rather depends on how you might define ‘today’s society’. I’d suggest that in huge swathes of the world, LGBT people continue to be persecuted more than any other group. Even in the supposedly liberal U.K., outside of parts of the major urban centres, LGBT people are still ostracised, bullied, denied rights, etc. as, of course, are Muslims. I cannot… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Bernard, I was trying to be succinct and it might have made me incomprehensible. The story of the Syrophoenician woman, who touched Jesus’ garment, is frequently framed as the one time that Jesus lost an argument. Jesus said it wasn’t right to give meat to the dogs and she said that even dogs eat the crumbs, and so he healed her daughter. And it made it into the gospels. That was an interaction that can be described as radical inclusion because he was speaking with a woman, and a gentile at that. Clearly he was going beyond normal boundaries, he… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Following this interesting conversation, I was thinking along perhaps similar lines to David Emmott. With regard to residential colleges, the word ‘community’ came to me: community rooted in daily liturgy and prayer, and living in close proximity with others doing the same. That can be really searching of individuals, and a process of growing and being less able to hide. As someone who has explored monastic life, I do believe ‘regular’ parishes have so much to learn about community and prayer from the monastic tradition and some of our religious houses. On the other hand, as a nurse, the heart… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Perhaps the difference between inclusion and radical inclusion, is that inclusion welcomes the sinner, but radical welcome redefines the person’s acts or state of being as not sinful at all. For many years we LGBT have been offered inclusion based on “pastoral accommodation”, the idea that our loving acts are less than perfect, and sinful, but we are to be welcomed out of a sense of Christian forgiveness as long as we repent of such acts. But a radical inclusion says that LGBT love is not sinful or less than perfect, but a blessing and a gift from God. Similarly… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Cynthia, thank you for your clarification. You’re confusing the woman who touches Jesus (Mk 525-34) with the Syrophoenecian woman (Mk7.24-30), and I don’t see the latter as an argument (closer to banter) but the key point about his inclusion of her stands. Simon Dawson, I do think that John’s Gospel presents the Samaritan woman as a sinner. And yet there is a level of engagement with her which is remarkable. I’m not sure we can say that her sin is not sin, but Jesus doesn’t directly condemn her either (whether entirely her own fault or not, it’s her current situation… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Bernard, my understanding of the Samaritan woman is that she had been cast out, as opposed to promiscuous. Women couldn’t divorce men at that time, only men could do that. And there was a limit to 5 marriages. So the guy she was living with, but not married too, may well have been a good Samaritan, giving her a safe place to dwell. It’s the Syrophoenician woman who bests Jesus. It is an interpretation I’ve hear several times. “Radical” doesn’t mean a change from tradition. Radical describes the life, teaching, and commandments of Jesus. It is the Gospels that are… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Cynthia and Bernard, I agree that we often find different things to see in a bible text, but I certainly can’t find anything in the Samaritan woman text which says that the primary thing about her is that she is a sinner or cast out. That is one possibility, but not the only one. And it ignores many other interesting things about her. I found this commentary interesting, especially as it treats her as a fully rounded woman, not just a symbol for a state of being – sinner or outcast. It reminds me of that saying, in the Bible… Read more »

Janet
Guest
Janet

Froghole, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be enough to have a good university or cathedral library in each diocese – in a large rural diocese that could still be an hour or two away by car with no public transport. Not very practical for those already struggling with full-time work, a heavy study load, church placements, and possibly no car. People with families have commitments there, and single people have the burden of running the whole house, shopping, cooking, cleaning, accounts etc. without support. I like your suggestion for online access though, that could well be the future. And maybe each… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Simon, the exegesis in the link is excellent, thank you. I also heard a great sermon yesterday, from an Australian priest in Princeton, New Jersey. I’m not saying that “outcast” is primary in this very long and amazing conversation. But she is likely an outcast, going to the well alone, not at the time most women went. And she had been cast out of several male homes. Was she too uppity? Or really sinful? We don’t know. We only know that women were not allowed to initiate divorce. And that a women without the protection of a male household was… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Others have affirmed “ordinary inclusion.” I think it’s nice but naive. I could be wrong. History/herstory is filled with narratives where inclusion (the right to vote, racial equality under the law, etc.) was the result of struggle, struggle against a resisting status quo. But maybe the English are different and can just vote for inclusion and voila, inclusion.” Posted by: Cynthia on Friday I must agree here with Cynthia’s important differentiation between ‘Inclusion’ and ‘Radical Inclusion”. ‘Inclusion’ might mean the same sort of accommodation that has been professed by the Church in Wales, which – at the same time –… Read more »