Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 19 August 2017

Mark Woods Christian Today Does your church need a mission statement? Why you’re better off without one

Julian Francis Church Times Facing uncomfortable truths about race

Ruth Harley … because God is love “Jesus isn’t white” – 5 ways to make your children’s and youth ministry less racist

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of faith, speaking of inclusion

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Father David
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Father David

The great Hensley Henson used to say that a well run and decently ordered parish doesn’t need a Parish Mission – I suppose that also goes for Mission Statements as well? We might add to that – does a well run and decently ordered diocese need a Diocesan Strategy?

David Allen
Guest
David Allen

Can’t a well run & decently ordered parish be decently ordered & well run facing in and serving only itself? When all of the resources are for the benefit of its constituents, there doesn’t seem to be a mission at all.

David Runcorn
Guest

‘Great’? … hmm … and a model for parish ministry today is Henson at St Margaret’s Westminster in 1900?

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Marginalising LGBT people all day, every day” would be one option for the CofE, I suppose.

John-Julian, OJN
Guest
John-Julian, OJN

Well, the Episcopal Church ha s taken care of the mission statement business: “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (BCP page 855)

Father David
Guest
Father David

“and a model for parish ministry is Henson at St. Margaret’s Westminster in 1900?”

and a model for parish ministry is Jesus and the Twelve in Galilee and Jerusalem in 30 AD?

I reckon that more attended Westminster Abbey, Hereford cathedral and Durham cathedral in Henson’s day than they do today.

Maybe HHH might just be able to teach us in the sophisticated 21st century, something about mission?

David Runcorn
Guest

Father David Might he? – well no I doubt it. And of what relevance is speculation about numbers of people attending three cathedrals in 1900 to this discussion? And no, I do not find Jesus teaching models of parish ministry in AD 30. Your point being?

Father David
Guest
Father David

I rather think that as it lacks a cathedra Westminster Abbey is not a cathedral but a Royal Peculiar.I further think that so much emphasis has been placed upon growth in the contemporary Church because of the serious decline we have experience since HHH forcefully preached God’s Word in former times
They who forget the past and where they have come from haven’t much of an idea where they are going in the future. They who dismiss the ministry of Jesus and its relevance to the 21st century mission of the Church have completely lost the plot.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

In over 40 years in ministry I have seen many models of ministry come and go, and none has halted decline. I would echo my namesake’s plea for a return to the past, when the Church of England had stature and grandeur. Today it’s become a superficial entertainment played on guitars and drums.

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

Who is in , and who is out has been a preoccupation with Christians through the ages, in spite of the Gospel message of Jesus that we all belong. This morning I listened to a visiting preacher from Clapham, in St Mary’s episcopal cathedral Edinburgh. At one point he gave us a long list of the nationalities in his Clapham congregation, sounding like a United Nations. Then at the end added, oh some English as well. How hurtful to those English folk who have been coming to the church through the generations. Its rather like the welcome sometimes heard at… Read more »

Lavinia Nelder
Guest
Lavinia Nelder

I think it might go something like this – to make sure everyone in the parish/sector/circuit has heard the message of salvation, to love your neighbor as yourself and treat them accordingly and so on to living your lives as a Christian witness. If people wish to say no to the offer, that’s their decision, accept it and keep the door always open.

The rest is targets and goal setting.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

OF course Jesus is white..not Northern European, but southern Med variety. He is not negroid, mongoloid but caucasian.

AnotherFrDavid
Guest
AnotherFrDavid

Bp Henson was, by all accounts, a wonderful mass of contradictions who knew his own foibles and shortcomings. He got many things right, and some spectacularly wrong e.g. His contribution to the 1928 Prayerbook debate in the Lords was a disaster. He refused to have a telephone in the house, yet insisted his chaplain carry a bag of pennies ready to run to the phone box in the village. A man of his time, yet not with It insight – one of his published letters berates an incumbent for poor numbers at Confirmation, yet in another to a friend he… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I rather like this take on mission statements by evangelical small-church pastor Karl Vaters.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2016/april/why-no-one-cares-about-your-mission-statement-and-neither-s.html?paging=off

Father David
Guest
Father David

Can there be really two Father Davids who have a high regard for HHH, there surely can. I very much agree with Another Father David’s view of Henson. His autobiographical Retrospect of an Unimportant Life was a master class in self concealment. Owen Chadwick’s “Hensley Henson – A Study in the friction between Church and State” managed to a certain extent to remove the mask and shew us something of the real Henson – a man of many contradictions. I greatly admire the conclusion to Chadwick’s book which records a final meeting that Gervase Markham and his wife had with… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

FrDavid, AnotherFrDavid,FrDavidH … can’t resist adding my name to this growing list (Fr too incidentally). Surely this all means the first requirement for a ‘well run and decently ordered parish’ is to be a priest called David?

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Never mind, boys and girls. The Diocese of Derby clearly must have an admirable mission statement if its priorities on the website are anything to go by. Philip North, eat your heart out: http://www.derby.anglican.org/en/news/latest-news/news-archive/a-prayer-for-those-receiving-a-level-results.html

Father David
Guest
Father David

Thank you David Runcorn for your most perceptive comment that the prime requirement for a “well run and decently ordered parish” is to have a priest called David but does the same principle apply when it comes to dioceses? If so, I can only think of two current diocesans who are blessed with the Biblical and saintly name of David – Birmingham and Manchester. Suffragans do rather better – Basingstoke, Grimsby, Huntingdon and the Suffragan Bishop in Europe. Mercifully none seem to have gone down the path trodden by Mike, Nick, Tim and Pete – surely Bishop Dave would be… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I agree with Fr David that we Davids should provide seminars to lead the CofE towards glory. Personally I would prefer to be addressed as The Blessed.

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

Fr. John Emlyn mentions that the special welcome given to visitors discriminates against regulars. It can also alienate non-regulars. People from other parts of the world, or country, may appreciate being welcomed as visitors. Those who live locally but attend infrequently, or have just decided to start attending frequently, may be put off at the insinuation they are only visiting, when actually they have as much right to be there as anybody else. We are all guests in the House of God. Nobody belongs there more than anybody else,

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Stanley, thank you for highlighting that. It’s dreadful, and speaking as someone who deals with access to higher education, dreadful in a way that the church should be aware of. There is a huge class divide over higher education access, in large part because A Levels (and to a lesser extent, because it’s so rare, the IB) are seen as a gold standard and everything else is seen as tarnished. This is toxic, because working class children are channelled away from A Levels. Although what are in the trade called “selective universities” (ie, those with more qualified applicants than they… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Good to see that you are up for it FrDavidH – the fight back begins to restore Doxa to the C of E. “The Blessed” is indeed a good alternative and fits in well with The Beatitudes, which is the best Mission Statement that I have ever come across. Makarios – to be given the name David is to be supremely blessed, fortunate, well off and happy, even though the name David means “Beloved”. He was, of course, called Richard but the wife of the last Bishop of London often referred to her husband as “The Beloved”. The great prelate… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I don’t want to pierce the Fr Davids’s bubbles, but the best run and most successfully outward focused parish I’ve ever worshipped in was run by a Jane.

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

For myself I always began the mass/service with the simple words’ Welcome, In the Name of God; who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit’

Fr John Emlyn

Father David
Guest
Father David

Well done Jane – “Better Together” – we proclaim the Good News and extend the Lord’s Kingdom.
In the meantime I shall continue to sing – “I’m forever blowing bubbles”.

Alan Gadd
Guest
Alan Gadd

Lots of comments about mission statements.

I thought Julian Francis’s article was much more significant.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

IO: dreadful indeed. In Ireland (republic), where the equivalent of A levels is the Leaving Cert, it is much much worse among the prosperous luvvies of South Dublin (I lived there for 16 years so know). There is war in heaven. It is surely time for the C of E, and the C of I of course, to concoct a “liturgy of comfort and blessing” for student disappointments. Light a candle, hold a stone, ritual burning of notification, pin charred remains to a cross … it’s what Jesus died for, after all. See this wonderful spoof: http://waterfordwhispersnews.com/2017/08/16/local-girl-didnt-get-as-many-points-as-her-older-sister-mother-confirms/

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Stanley, you may cite a spoof, but the sentiment is being expressed by people who have an apparently straight face, too.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/aug/22/exam-boards-told-to-expect-surge-in-requests-for-gcse-re-marks

““If your sister got a string of A*s and you’ve been told you’re just as bright and you get 7s and 8s, you’re going to feel pretty miserable,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders”

This isn’t the blog to unpack and debate that proposition, but really, it’s pretty silly.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Was Jesus white? Robert says yes, Ruth’s article says of course not. In the earliest depictions, he seems rather Middle Eastern. Ancient frescos and whatnot vary, but tend to lean in complexion that is somewhere in the middle, between white and black. I’ve always liked that, He belongs to everybody. Culturally, claiming Him as white is problematic – and that is the understatement of the century. I’m going to ask some of my Byzantine art historian friends about the early mosaics. The artistic desire to create a magical “shimmer” may not be the best way to determine skin color. Some… Read more »

Vasantha
Guest
Vasantha

I encourage people to read what Julian Francis and Ruth Harley have to say and discuss the issues raised in your own churches.

Dion
Guest
Dion

For Cynthia, if you are in London (I now realise that maybe you are not) go look at the mosaic of Christ [probably] in the BM from Hinton St Mary, Dorset.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?parti

Simon Kershaw
Admin

The Hinton St Mary mosaic in the British Museum can be seen at https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/entity/m027k7yv (the previous link doesn’t work).

worker
Guest

As for colour, I suppose it partly depends on how broadly you define the term “white”. My closest work colleagues are an Iranian, a Greek and an Italian. All would pass without notice as “white”. Another is Indian — they would not. Where would Palestinian Jews of the First Century be likely to fall on that spectrum?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Where would Palestinian Jews of the First Century be likely to fall on that spectrum?”

Probably somewhere between the Greek and the Iranian. It’s worth remembering that, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people from the eastern Mediterranean were not treated as “white” by most in the United States…and that, during the Gulf Wars, once of the epithets used against Arabs was “sand nigger” (apologies for the use of that word).

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Thanks Dion, and Simon. The mosaic is amazing and I’ll look forward to seeing it on my next trip to the British Museum (we’re in England a lot, though on hiatus this year). My main point is that since race is kind of an artificial construct, the “dividing line” is fluid. “Of course He was white!” Is really problematic. In today’s world, maybe, maybe not. Depending on whose army is invading, I guess. Like the parables, it’s cause for reflection. If Jesus was Middle Eastern and his family were refugees, what does this say about loving our neighbors who are… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Jesus’s identifying feature was that he was human. That should be the same for us all. The colour of someone’s skin is so obviously not a measure of that person’s humanity, kindness, hatred, intelligence. Of course, life experience of people can be significant, as can historical backdrop and context. In Jesus’s case, I don’t think his skin colour was remotely significant, but perhaps the fact that he lived in an occupied country was. Of far greater significance was the way he could open to love and to God; could live alongside others with huge compassion; could share experience, and rejoice,… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Amen, Susannah.

What is at issue, on our side of things, is that elements of white society absolutely co-opted Jesus. While both of our cultures are rather supremacist, there are some brazenly attacking minorities in the name of Jesus. This is a blasphemy that the church needs to call out.

Hue isn’t the issue at all. But getting some people to truly understand the Jesus came for all people is quite a struggle. The Incarnation came to bring the Good News to all people everywhere. I don’t know why it’s so hard for some people to rejoice in that.