Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 15 December 2021

Martyn Percy Modern Church Rickety Religion (Part Two: The Advent of Structures)

Timothy Goode ViaMedia.News A Story of Transforming Love – and My Mother

Jeremy Marks ViaMedia.News The Thorny Question of Desire!

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Robin Ward
Robin Ward
6 months ago

I think Martyn Percy may have confused Archbishop Benson with R M Benson SSJE, founder of the Cowley Fathers, with whom I think the quotation about rickety religion originates.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Remarkably on the same day that you publish a further article by Martyn Percy we learn that he is to face yet another ‘hearing’ brought by the Ch Ch Governing Body to determine his medical condition and fitness to remain in office. There’s an article today about this on the ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ blog.

https://archbishopcranmer.com/martyn-percy-is-mad-and-unfit-to-govern-christ-church-oxford/

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Correction: I intended to say ‘mental condition’ although that is, of course, a medical matter.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

A spokesperson for the College added: “You will understand that we have a duty of care to the dean.”

What the actual f………..?

Priscilla White
Priscilla White
Reply to  Susannah Clark
6 months ago

When a duty of care becomes a highly aggressive statement

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Priscilla White
6 months ago

Where is the Church of England in this? Martyn gave up his life to be an ordained priest in the Church. The Church, too, has a duty of care for one of their own. It has pastoral responsibilities? Where are they? Is there *never* a time to intervene and say ‘This witch hunt has to end’? It’s like Martyn is being ‘ghosted’ by the Church he gave his life to serve. It feels like he is being hung out to dry, and left to swing. Pass the bowl so we can wash our hands… those who could say something seem… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Susannah Clark
Toby Forward
Toby Forward
6 months ago

No wonder that the powers of Christ Church hate Martyn Percy and want to get rid of him. Prophets are very uncomfortable people. On the other hand, the Church needs prophets now as much as it ever did and the powers of the Church of England should a prominent and appropriate place for his ministry.
A wonderful essay.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Toby Forward
6 months ago

Somehow, I don’t think that the “powers of Christ Church” who want rid of Martyn (at any rate, the malcontents on the Governing Body) are motivated by concern at his prophetic writing as a priest (even allowing for the fact that “no prophet is accepted in his hometown“: Luke 4.24 (NIV)”). But, perhaps, Martyn’s writing and preaching is discomforting to those in the diocese who have failed to show their care and support for him, even after the President of Tribunal’s decision of 28 May 2021 in respect of the CDM complaint brought by Canon Graham Ward (a priest, member… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  David Lamming
6 months ago

My comment was tongue in cheek. I’d like to see the people responsible for this persecution in court for workplace bullying.

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
6 months ago

Jeremy Marks’ column about gay men marrying straight women, and the effect that situation has on their wives, brought up painful memories of couples I have known in that situation. . When I was growing up in the 1970s in a small town in the American south, the organist at my TEC parish was a gregarious, well-liked lawyer in town. His wife was beautiful and charming and they had three adorable children. All of a sudden and as a great surprise to everyone, they got a divorce. He had met a man that he wanted to spend the rest of… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  dr.primrose
6 months ago

Like Jeremy Marks and Dr Primrose, many of us have friends and acquaintances who went through this same experience.

One of my friends actually confessed his homosexuality to his priest as a teenager. The priest’s response was to arrange for my friend to marry one of the young women in the church community, as that was the best way to “cure” his situation. The marriage fractured apart twenty years later, to the great distress of all concerned, including the two children of the marriage.

Richard Fisher
Richard Fisher
6 months ago

Thank you Jeremy Marks for sharing your story so openly

Froghole
Froghole
6 months ago

As far as the apportionment of diocesan funds is concerned, Dr Percy has reminded me of ‘Parkinson’s Law’, specifically of: “almost two axiomatic statements: (1) “An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.” and (2) “Officials make work for each other.”…”the student of political science will recognize that administrators are more or less bound to multiply.” Although bishops have long had officials of one kind or other they made do for a very long period of time with scarcely any assistance. For example, it was noted that when Robert Runcie became bishop of St Albans in 1970 he appointed a… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
6 months ago

What , in my opinion. is the most poignant and significant paragraph in the excellent piece by Dean Martyn Percy in his article (above) is this one: “Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1882 to 1896, once preached that the Church of England and all true faith should, supremely, be an expression of what he termed “rickety religion”. Ideally, it should not be so self-sufficient and able enough to support itself, and would to some extent be dependent on others. There was no other way to be, as our frailty, weakness and dependency would leave us open to the grace of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
6 months ago

While accepting the story of Jeremy (Marks) as the way in which he managed the reality of his own ‘gay’ identity, there are other ways of gay people managing their lives in a marriage – not of convenience but of loving commitment. This is not a judgement on those people, like Jeremy, who have managed to marry and even have children. This can be the direct result of the Church – or family – persuading a notionally gay person to marry someone of the opposite sex – believing that this is the only (proper?) way to engage in a marriage… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Father Ron Smith
αnδrεw
αnδrεw
6 months ago

Taking the ‘rickety religion’ idea further, isn’t a more radical approach needed?  Dr Percy’s claim that “for every one pound a parish raises, 75% goes directly to the diocese to meet central costs” is simply not true. The vast majority of parishes pay substantially less than this. In any case, most of the parish share/common fund payment goes towards meeting clergy costs, not central costs.  No, the fundamental problem is that parochial stipendiary ministry and associated pension and housing provisions are probably no longer affordable. We’ll need to rely more and more on tentmakers and the laity. A simple Measure… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  αnδrεw
6 months ago

Many thanks for these thoughts. Perhaps the reference to 75% is, broadly speaking, correct, in that I assume Dr Percy is referring to the money parishes are able to raise (recognising that some will not be able to do so), whilst the ‘central costs’ to which he refers are indeed the wage bill rather than the costs of officials. My understanding is that the parish share goes to the diocese who then transfer it to the payroll account which is managed centrally by the Church Commissioners on behalf of the dioceses. The Commissioners then disburse the stipends on behalf of… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Froghole
6 months ago

I agree with Dr Percy that diocesan bureaucratic structures are excessively costly: the diocese of Oxford, for example, employs something like a hundred staff (as once disclosed by Giles Fraser). Admittedly, the Church’s opaque and byzantine financial structures aren’t readily amenable to public scrutiny. But sweeping assertions need to be corroborated by accurate data. Dr Percy makes a distinction between, on the one hand, central HQ costs, and, on the other, ‘front-line mission’ – i.e., the parish clergy wage bill. It is quite misleading to claim that 75% of parish income goes on the former. The vast bulk of it… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  αnδrεw
6 months ago

Many thanks. In fairness to the diocese, they did sell their largely purpose-built offices off the A34 ring-road at North Hinksey for £2m in 2016, in order to move to the somewhat anonymous business park at Langford Locks in north Kidlington, which were presumably somewhat less expensive. I suspect that it was this somewhat nondescript new building (which could easily be a call centre or…paper merchants) which helped to inspire Dr Percy’s essay. I agree that the point could perhaps have been made a little more clearly.

For me it is the dioceses which are now adiaphora.

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Froghole
6 months ago

Yes, they are entirely superfluous. What is the point of having your HQ near Oxford if you are a PCC treasurer in Olney (Bucks) or Windsor (Berks)? It might as well be in Westminster. I once had the pleasure of staying in digs in Kidlington while teaching at Wadham. The bland suburbia seemed a world away from the buzz of the dreaming spires. Mind you, the diocese’s total income for 2019 was £27 million, of which £4 million was investment income. It’s the second wealthiest diocese in England (after London) as you well know. Given they sit on a substantial… Read more »

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