Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 10 October 2020

Sam Dennis All Things Lawful And Honest Mass Education
“As many churches are forced by the pandemic to reconsider their Sunday School or Children’s Church, Sam Dennis asks whether the Mass is the best place for teaching the faith.”

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Resignations, Dysfunctionality and the House of Bishops

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Cultural Change and the Church

We have added several Church Times opinion pieces to our post: More about the IICSA report.

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Fr John Harris-White
Fr John Harris-White
11 days ago

Jayne,

Thank you for news. I admire your courage, and truthfulness. More honest and open ness in the councils of the church is what is required. For too long it has been an unholy huddle, padding each others backs. Good on you!

Fr John Emlyn

Michael
Michael
11 days ago

As a vocal critic of the House of Bishops’ disastrous response to covid-19, including refusal to make a decision on restoring communion in both kinds to the laity, I agree with Jayne Ozanne’s piece. It is very hard to walk away after so much commitment. I think of it in terms of finally finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship. Until there is reform, ‘dysfunctionality’ and ‘House of Bishops’ should always appear in the same sentence. 42 men and women have reached the top of their profession and promptly forgotten the everyday realities of those in the trenches.

Harriet Stone
Harriet Stone
11 days ago

Jayne Ozanne’s determined action is to be loudly applauded – except that I wonder who will now keep reminding this particular Bishop’s Council that the poor are a priority when everyone else mirrors the prevailing demographic she has described. I can’t help thinking they’ll just go back to prioritizing institutional survival and formulating yet more strategies for ‘people like us.’ I live in a Diocese in which every incumbent has just been lampooned with yet another top-down ‘transforming’ initiative from the Bishop’s Council. It is, basically, a hopelessly out of touch act of desperation by out of touch people to… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
11 days ago
Reply to  Harriet Stone

Which is your diocese, Harriet?

Froghole
Froghole
11 days ago
Reply to  Harriet Stone

“It is, basically, a hopelessly out of touch act of desperation by out of touch people to try and mitigate for the on-going financial meltdown.” Thank you for your powerful remarks. Prior to lockdown it could be said that the Church was in the business of ‘the orderly management of decline’ (to use the phrase of Edward Heath’s de facto ‘deputy PM’, the civil servant William Armstrong). Since Justin Welby’s fateful decision to close down much of the Church in March, retreat has turned into rout. It need not have happened this way. A psychological connection could have been maintained… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
10 days ago
Reply to  Harriet Stone

A characteristically dignified and principled response from Jayne Ozanne. Sometimes the only thing to do is to kick the dust off your feet and to move on. Although not a member of Bishop’s Council my experience in your neighbouring diocese of St Albans was almost word for word the same. No debate allowed at diocesan synod only presentations from diocesan officials. The diocesan property committee wanted to spend tens of thousands to provide a couple of extra parking spaces at diocesan house. When I asked why office based staff couldn’t be encouraged to use public transport in line with the… Read more »

Kate
Kate
11 days ago

“Since returning to public worship, our Masses have been shorter and all age, without being ‘all age’, and our young church has gone off lectionary and online.” . If COVID-19 finally kills off Sunday School set up to divert the children out of mass, I will cheer. Children belong in the Eucharist service. If adults object to the disturbance, they haven’t understood the Gospel. If children find the Eucharist too long or boring, chances are many adults do too but are too polite to say; they just, gradually, stop coming. I think Sam Dennis is very much heading in the… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
11 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Sam Dennis’ piece deserves a wider readership. Despite the current fixation with themed masses, the Eucharist is not primarily a vehicle for making better educated Christians; we are there to celebrate the resurrection and glorify God. It is formational, not educational (though people may of course learn from it); it inspires rather than explains. But, as Robert Hovda wrote (in 1976!), “Even clergy who should know better are busy eliminating much of our symbol and body language in favour of more chatter, endless and infuriating pedagogy or commentary. Even if their words were carefully and poetically prepared it would be… Read more »

Kate
Kate
11 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

“Much better to have them in at the beginning and for Communion.”

If there is a bit they don’t need to be in for, drop it. Then replace “coffee” with a teaching session for those who want to stay longer.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
10 days ago
Reply to  Kate

But Kate, that would mean dropping the entire Liturgy of the Word. Or, more realistically, replacing it with something that patronises the adults. The days when young children were expected to keep quiet are, thankfully, long gone. The downside is that noisy children kill any sense of the numinous. In one parish where this was the case, most of the faithful (not least the parents!) were mightily relieved when the PCC backed sending the children out for the Liturgy of the Word. The one person who was opposed cited body of Christ theology. But I resisted both the theology and… Read more »

Kate
Kate
10 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

Numinous is the children playing. Numinous is the crying of babies. Numinous is the innocents.

Numinous, is never genuine if it is a result of exclusion.

As to the Liturgy of the Word, that is a perfect example of what should be removed to an optional post-communion teaching session. In fact, it should be the bedrock of one replacing Bible Study groups.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
10 days ago
Reply to  Kate

As a parent and grandparent I have to ask, numinous or sentimentality? Often when people talk about children it is the latter I hear. If we were serious about children in the Church we wouldn’t baptize and then excommunicate them.

Kate
Kate
10 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

I believe that numinous is found in love, not silence. It took me a very, very long time to realise it though.

I think finally it was Southwark Cathedral which sits in Borough Market. The churchyard is full of people eating lunch. Everyone crosses the back of the nave to reach the toilets.

It is the opposite of peaceful but it is utterly wonderful because church and market and tourism are all intertwined. And God is there, very much part of it, and very obviously so.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
9 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I fondly remember the time when our rector was delivering a sermon and a small child in the front pews looked up and said, “Hi!” He stopped, looked down and responded in kind. When the parent tried to hush her child, the rector said, “Don’t ever do that…the sound of children is the sound of a living church.”

Gordon Woods
Gordon Woods
9 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

Even in non-Eucharistic services, I am unconvinced that preaching is the medium for teaching – churches need to think about how they build theological and biblical literacy in congregations without assuming that the sermon will imprint in brains! Rather, sermons can bring insight and inspiration.

Anon
Anon
10 days ago
Reply to  Kate

We should go back to what Sunday school was when I was growing up, a way to follow the lectionary in an accessible way for children. We were always in church at the start of the service and back again for the eucharistic prayer. Sadly, many Sunday schools morphed into “junior church” providing an often entirely dislocated alternative worship where children and families would only be seen in the main church filing in during the post-communion hymn or later. In an attempt to encourage more children and young people into church we have just ended up segregating them. The wholesale… Read more »

Ann Reddecliffe
11 days ago

I love Jayne Ozanne’s suggestion that the House of Bishops had an OFSTED inspection. Something like that would be a real shock to the system. In a way IICSA should have been that, but didn’t go far enough in looking at some of the fundamental underlying questions.

Kate
Kate
11 days ago

I join others in applauding Jayne. But I don’t think she goes far enough in her criticism of Living in Love and Faith which is an abject failure of leadership. The House of Bishops could have said: “There are those who see the Bible praising love without reference to race, beauty or the sex of the other person; there are others who see marriage as an exception to this. Both views are sufficiently prevalent that both have to be accommodated which means allowing same sex marriage while teaching that there is an alternative view.” It’s Inevitably where we have to… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
11 days ago

The Anglo-Catholic church which I attended – all of 65 years ago – had a specific 9.30 am Mass for children, sung usually to Merbecke with hymns from the original English Hymnal. The Celebrant was usually the Vicar alternating with the Assistant Priest, the other providing a narrative from the back of the church explaining everything. Occasionally the narrative was by a layperson, sometimes the Parish scout master. Of course some parents and other adults were also present, although in those far-off times some children – I was one – travelled to church and attended alone. This, sadly, ended years… Read more »

Kate
Kate
11 days ago

That sounds brilliant, Rowland. So sad it is no more.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
11 days ago

In my own parish here in the US, we hold Sunday School before the service, and all children are welcome for the first part of the liturgy, up through the Old Testament and Epistle lessons. Before the Gospel, the celebrant invites the younger children (say, under the age of eight) to come up front and she does a brief “Children’s Sermon”. Then they may, if their parents wish, retreat to the Sunday School room for additional learning–but there is nothing done to force this and if the parents prefer for their offspring to be present for the Gospel and the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Yes, that is exactly what happens at one of the churches with which I am now associated.

Kate
Kate
10 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

“but there is nothing done to force this and if the parents prefer for their offspring to be present for the Gospel and the Eucharist it is not only permitted, but welcomed. I see no reason why this should not be the usual practice in any parish, so long as there are adults willing to be the teachers.”

Exactly. Everyone should be invited. Personally I no longer believe in Confirmation being necessary for Communion: I think everyone baptised should be welcome.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
9 days ago
Reply to  Kate

In our parish, and in any parish I have ever been in the US, that is exactly the practice…any baptized person of any denomination is welcome to communion.

Charles Read
Charles Read
9 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

This is de facto the Church of England’s practice and certainly many parishes exercise their option to admit baptised children to the Eucharist. Liturgical scholarship has long since ceased to see confirmation as necessary before receiving communion – not least as it did not exist before the Middle Ages.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
8 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

Charles, does anyone have the figures on how many parishes admit baptized children to Communion? My feeling is that in my largely rural diocese, and despite the Cathedral having led the way, progress is painfully slow. Indeed, I know of one benefice where the policy was allowed to lapse by a new team rector. The situation is not helped when bishops – perhaps fearing confirmations falling completely off a cliff – stay studiously neutral on the subject.  + David Stancliffe, chair of the Lit Comm at the time, is on record as saying that the post-baptismal prayer (“May God…pour upon… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
8 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

If that is the case then surely it should be made explicit and be more universal. But we are so divided I suspect many wouldn’t go along with it and confirmation outside public schools and churches served by +Fulham and the “flying bishops” has declined enormously. Actual figures would be helpful suitably broken down.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
8 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Perry, I suspect you’re right. In this diocese alone we have “re-baptism” of those baptised as babies, adults being baptised with no reference to the bishop, and priests refusing to baptize those too young to answer for themselves.

ACI
ACI
10 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Same procedure when I was chaplain at the CofE parish in Fontainebleau.

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
10 days ago

Roland Wateridge’s description reflects the norms of the post-war years when churches in suburban areas could reasonable expect congregations in the hundreds every Sunday, with strongly supported parish organisations and healthy finances. There was also a cultural assumption that people needed to ‘understand’ the liturgy, so everything had a strongly pedagogical emphasis – not least because the Parish Eucharist was a relatively new development for many ordinary parishes in the fifties that had known only Matins with a ‘staying behind’ shortened Eucharist afterwards. By now, we have discovered that endless explanation (of which there is still far too much) is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago

This wasn’t a Parish Eucharist, a term unknown then, at least to me. It was specifically a children’s service with instruction and, as far as I am concerned, that instruction was utterly invaluable. I think your views must be the result of a different, and clearly, for you, an unfortunate experience. I was careful to explain that this narrative was not by the Celebrant (obviously it was done without interrupting him). There were no introductions by him except on one occasion I recall a description of the meaning and symbolism of all of the Eucharistic vestments – a valuable lesson… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
10 days ago

Sadly, many of us have had to endure the kind of “unfortunate experience” that Michael Mulhern describes. This is not to rule out preaching on the Eucharist. The bread of life discourse in John’s Gospel in Year B offer an opportunity to do this over, say, four Sundays (Gathering, Word, Sacrament, Sending).

Last edited 10 days ago by Allan Sheath
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

I suspect that you, Michael Mulhern and I are describing different experiences and possibly even different eras. For the life of me, I cannot understand why my description of a children’s service, a wholly good and valuable experience in the early 1950s, should lead to contentious comment.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
10 days ago

Children’s mass with BCP, Merbecke and the original English Hymnal. Very much a different era, Rowland.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago

May I add a postscript. The service I have described was not part of any post-war trend elsewhere in the C of E. My father had been a sidesman at that church in the 1920s and the tradition existed then. The Vicar in his time never used the pulpit and preached from the chancel steps at all services and that was also my experience at the children’s Mass. His successor, however, preached from the pulpit at the main 11 am Mass, but always removed his chasuble before the sermon and replaced it afterwards – I have not yet discovered the… Read more »

Richard
Richard
10 days ago

In churches I have attended the chasuble is not worn when preaching. It is either removed before and put back on after the sermon, or not put on at all until the offertory. If the latter is the case, either a cope is worn until after the Gospel, or alb and stole suffice. I’ve seen RC masses where the celebrant removes the chasuble with great attention to untying the strings around the waist of a traditional Roman style chasuble. He puts the biretta on to preach, but not for announcements. I’ve never seen any solid theological explanation for this. The… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
9 days ago
Reply to  Richard

Not sure there is one Richard. Seems over fussy to me. I was trained liturgically that less means more….

Kieran
Kieran
9 days ago

Anglo-Catholics used to remove the maniple and/or the chasuble for preaching at mass as a way of signifying that the sermon was not strictly part of the rite. Practice among Anglo-Catholics was highly diverse. Removing vestments for preaching probably had to do with a desire to imitate the Roman rite.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
9 days ago
Reply to  Kieran

This is fascinating; growing up as a Roman Catholic, there was none of this putting on and taking off clothes. The priest came in fully robed–alb, stole, chasuble, the works–and wore it all for the duration of the service, including the Gospel and the sermon.

The current rector of our Episcopal parish doesn’t don the chasuble until she begins the Eucharistic Prayer (after the Offertory), but this is mostly a matter of convenience: She finds the chasuble too warm because the A/C doesn’t reach well to the altar!

Paul
Paul
9 days ago
Reply to  Kieran

This is correct. The sermon is not strictly part of the Mass, so maniple or maniple and chasuble are removed. It is also the reason why the pulpit is outside the sanctuary. If you want to see Mass offered correctly. visit a church of the Institute of Christ the King at Preston or New Brighton.

David Emmott
David Emmott
8 days ago
Reply to  Paul

That’s bad theology IMHO. The sermon/homily is or should be an integral part of the liturgy, so to signal that it isn’t by changing vesture is misleading. Pre-Vatican 2 RC practice was of course different and there wasn’t the same expectation that the sermon would be an exposition of the day’s gospel. It always amuses me that the sort of Anglicans who would unquestioningly follow Tridentine Roman practice are among the first to decry ‘aping Rome’ when it is a matter of following more ecumenically acceptable traditions.

Kate
Kate
8 days ago
Reply to  David Emmott

“The sermon/homily is or should be an integral part of the liturgy,…”

If it isn’t part of the liturgy then we shouldn’t permit such a major interruption to the flow of the liturgy.

I think that the underlying problem, however, is that the liturgy of that type is trying to do too many different things: worship, intercession, teaching,
community (offering the peace), penitence and communion. Maybe more in some cases. It’s a multivitamin liturgy.

Last edited 8 days ago by Kate
Tom James
Tom James
10 days ago

Picking up on Stephen Parson’s piece (and in the light of the interview on Radio 4 with Stephen Cottrell this morning): is it possible for someone – or several people – who are members of the General Synod to ask a very simple question? How much money has been spent on reputational management consultants by the Church of England; and how much has been paid to victims and survivors of child abuse, over the past decade?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
10 days ago
Reply to  Tom James

I believe General Synod members David Lamming and Martin Sewell have attempted to ask such simple questions.

Tom James
Tom James
10 days ago

It sounds as if there is a fundamental unwillingness to answer a simple question which, surely, members of the General Synod should not be prepared to put up with. Bishops lead – but Synod governs. Bishops can repeat the mantra of ‘we’re setting the narrative now’ till they’re blue in the face.It doesn’t stop questions being asked repeatedly and persistently. If the bishops – and archbishops – are not willing to be held to account, what next? Do we wait until a jaded member of the House of Bishops leaks another ridiculous flow chart showing us how much money is… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
10 days ago
Reply to  Tom James

I was so astounded that Stephen Cottrell was suggesting that ‘reputational management’ would continue and continue to be financed when he had no idea whether and how those who have grievously suffered at the lying, obfuscation and obstruction would be given at least some measure of redress, that I was wide awake and had to get out of bed. As a result I went to the first Eucharist at the Cathedral where there was not one mention anywhere of IICSA. Jesus wept.

Dave
Dave
8 days ago

I applaud Jayne Ozanne. I am inspired by her courage and honest witness. I encourage her and all those like her to keep vocal in other ways about the issues she raises. Indeed we need more voices to speak out and challenge. Boards and Councils and indeed the House of Bishops are populated by an elite who often hold a patronising view to others but seem incapable of recognising this. Racism, sexism and homophobia despite what is said are very much present in the church. We don’t need reports to tell us this. Sadly the bishops do not speak clearly… Read more »

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