Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 17 July 2021

Andrew Gimson The Conservative Woman Profile: The Church of England, afflicted by a central bureaucracy which is mounting a takeover bid

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love What the campaign for radical new LGBTIQ+ Christian inclusion requires of us and the Church

Jane Shaw Church Times Cathedrals: a forgotten model for church growth
“Why are church-plants seen as the only game in town when it comes to reversing decline”

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Father David
3 months ago

With regard to the current debate concerning parish church ministry and lay led house church plants. At St. Peter’s Bexhill we offered what might be regarded as a model solution. In the parish church we had a traditional Eucharist occasionally with incense and always accompanied by a fine choral tradition. While at the same time in the St. Peter’s Centre we offered what was called TFG (Time for God) – an informal service which attracted many families and children. There was much debate as to whether TFG should take place at different time to the Parish Eucharist but on the… Read more »

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Father David
3 months ago

Unfortunately that arrangement gives the impression that the Eucharist is little more than one of a range of options, and that it is not in itself particularly important. I think that kind of pick and mix approach is damaging in the long term. The essence of the Christian life is participation in Christ’s sacrifice in order that we might also have a share in his resurrection. He gave us the Eucharist for that purpose.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Barrie McKenzie
3 months ago

I entirely agree, Barrie. Unfortunately the present fashion is for happy clappy parishes to have a token 8am Communion as a nod to Anglicanism, whilst suggesting singing trite songs at a11.00 am non-denominational ‘meeting’ guarantees salvation. I never thought I’d live to see the day when the CofE decided to abolish itself.

Father David
Reply to  Barrie McKenzie
3 months ago

So, are you saying that Choral Evensong, Mattins, Family Services, Messy Church, Cafe Church etc are all irrelevant because they are not Eucharistic?

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Father David
3 months ago

No, not at all, but I wouldn’t have them at the same time at the Eucharist as if to say they were on some sort of par. It sends the wrong message.

Father David
Reply to  Barrie McKenzie
3 months ago

I’m pleased to hear it Barrie but as we all know not everyone is yet ready to embrace full Eucharistic fellowship and so need gateways such as “Time for God” offers. At certain times of the year (Mothering Sunday, Easter, Patronal Festival, Harvest and Christmas) we did have Combined Eucharists. By having both services at the same time this made things easier when we did come together. As I stated earlier there was much discussion about timing. Archdeacon Bob Jackson in his books on Church Growth seemed to think that four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon was a good time… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father David
2 months ago

Fr. David: I think that Archdeacon Jackson was correct about the timing, granted that your family offering was a success at Bexhill. Although I only ever saw you in action at evensong at St Peter’s, in Chichester diocese the best turnouts of young people I encountered in non-HTB churches (like the revived St Peter’s Brighton) was at Southwick and Westhampnett, where there were all age services at 4 PM monthly, with plenty of cake at Southwick. 4 PM is when the supermarkets close, and the time when people are returning from seeing relations or pub lunches. There is therefore ‘dead… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Froghole
Father David
Reply to  Froghole
2 months ago

Dear Froghole, You kindly make some good points in favour of a 4 o’clock service. I initiated a 4 o’clock Christmas Eve service at St. Peter’s, Bexhill. The first one attracted a congregation of 40, the following year 80, the year after that 100 and the final one in my time 200 +. So, 4.00 pm is definitely a good time to have an All Age, Family Friendly service. Messy Church also worked well at 4 o’clock in the United Benefice of Kelvedon and Feering and attracted a good many families and children. One really good thing was that the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Father David
3 months ago

Father David, that sounds like an excellent solution to meet the varying needs of people in the parish – particularly, perhaps, those who are not confirmed. It does require a separate building (or reasonably soundproof separate room) and a fair amount of resourcing in human and (I suspect) financial terms. Can you tell us a little about the location and social mix you have? e.g. city, suburban, rural?

Father David
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

South coast town parish. St. Peter’s Community Centre is a seperate building just across the road from the ancient parish church (founded 772; next year will be the 1,250th anniversary of the founding of the church by King Offa). We were blessed to have such excellent facilities and both congregations thrived. I retired last October after 44 years of ordained ministry. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Janet.

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

So some Christians don’t need the Eucharist? I think it’s pandering to particular tastes rather than meeting different ‘needs’.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Barrie McKenzie
3 months ago

I can’t reply for Janet, but I don’t think she said that. What Father David and I regret is the largely passing of the daily Offices at parish church level. There are many churches where they don’t happen at all. Sung Matins, in particular, seems to be unknown to a whole generation of churchgoers except in a very few favoured places. Once congregations get out of the habit of singing the psalms(s) and morning canticles the tradition has been lost – probably for ever – I say this from personal experience. In a small country church on occasions like Christmas… Read more »

Father David
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
2 months ago

I totally agree that to omit the Psalter from public worship is a great loss. You simply cannot beat the beautiful cadences of the Coverdale version. Fortunately at St. Peter’s Bexhill we had Choral Evensong and a psalm following the O T reading at the Eucharist. The same can be said of the Psalms as was once said of the now defunct News of the World – “the whole of life is there”.

Alan Jeffries
Alan Jeffries
Reply to  Father David
3 months ago

I have family living in Bexhill and, when I have worshipped at St Peter’s, I have always thought the separation of the two congregations is based on flawed ecclesiological (and missiological) assumptions. If I’m honest, it has always struck me as completely un-Catholic. Do I also infer correctly that attendance at Time For God is an implicit ‘condition’ for infant baptism? I understand it was set up with the enthusiastic support of Bishop Wallace Benn when he was Bishop of Lewes. It always struck me as playing into the hands of two camps: first, those who bang the drum about… Read more »

Ann Reddecliffe
3 months ago

I was very impressed with Colin Coward’s piece, especially with what he had to say about identity in Christ. Nobody should be able to define that for someone else. Too often that phrase is used to pressurise others into an artificial conformity. That expectation of conformity (to sometimes second rate theology or leadership) leads to an unhealthy church culture.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Ann Reddecliffe
2 months ago

Appreciated this comment. It prompted me to read the Colin Coward piece. A bold stance. The relationship between personal identity and corporate religion can be a difficult one. I’ve attached a link to Eloise Blondiau’s review of Kenneth L. Woodward’s, Getting Religion. I have to fess up, I have not read the book: but I love the reviewer’s question i.e. can religion ever be considered in isolation? She quotes Woodward, ” All of us come from a place we mistake for universal.” More interesting still is Blondiau’s comparative experience with the use of autobiography in graduate studies, America v. UK.… Read more »

Ann Reddecliffe
3 months ago

Jane Shaw’s article is a direct challenge to the current mantra of ‘we must plant churches for growth’ as the only strategy. Cathedral congregations are growing, but so is their engagement with visitors. The Cathedral model could certainly be replicated more widely if the resources are made available. Currently resource churches take a great deal of money and use it in only one way. If a different model of mission was funded, as Shaw suggests, it could not only help to grow existing churches it would help churches to engage with their communities more extensively. Putting the church back at… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
Reply to  Ann Reddecliffe
2 months ago

Agreed, Ann. From where I’m sitting, all church plants seem to do is draw more people from other churches, and then draw them even further into the internal preoccupations of the church. There was a time when Catholic candidates for ordination were often derided for being ‘too churchy.’ In my humble opinion, that mantle has now passed to a lot of Evangelicals who demonstrate scant engagement with the wider life of their parishes. Meanwhile, the seemingly ‘churchy’ nature of cathedral and choral worship is not only offering transformative worship that is meeting a real need in people, but is a… Read more »

Ben Whitney
2 months ago

It’s the definition of ‘Christianity’ more than just the strategy that worries me. John McGinley in ‘Mission Shaped Grace’ openly states that his definition of ‘salvation’ is solely about avoiding hell. That is his driving ‘compassion’, a very strange use of the word. So that’s 99.9% of the world’s population doomed according to his definition. It’s the arrogance that frightens me and it will frighten away millions. Please see sense CofE and kick this whole campaign as far away as you can.

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