Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 2 December 2020

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Those Videos and LLF : When Managers Don’t Manage

Jay Greene ViaMedia.News LLF: Bishops – The Time Is Now!

Matthew Chinery All Things Lawful And Honest Dispense with the PCC

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Gracious Disagreement. How do we move forward with divided Anglicanism?

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Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Trevor, thank you. As someone who, like you, has worked in the real world, I find it impossible not to compare experiences of those worlds. My real world was that of third level educational institutions, and though some would say that is hardly real (look at Christ Church Oxford), it’s much more real than the la-la land of church. At the institution where I served longest, it was so real that student fee income paid our salaries direct – there was no government subsidy. As a result, I was always conscious of how my decisions and actions might impinge on… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago

Stanley, Many thanks (as ever)! I think that some of them sense, albeit in a dissipated manner, that even if their pay and rations are coming from the Commissioners, the Commissioners’ assets can only keep growing if the dioceses have the means to absorb by far the greater running costs of the Church. No doubt, bishops have diocesan secretaries and other ‘advisers’ at their elbows, constantly reminding them of the difficulties the institution faces. However, I am sure that “I’m alright, Jack” often applies. This, I assume is why certain dioceses are keen to articulate a ‘vision’ in which certain… Read more »

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
4 months ago

I have thought for some time that the very way we describe or think about the structure of the C of E needs turning on its head or side. It colours how we think about the relationships it describes, unconsciously or not. Archbishops (national) and bishops (diocese) – and vicar/rector/PIC would not be here or needed if there are no functioning parishes, no worshipping communities embedded in the communities where they live or work. People should be at the top, supported below by all the layers currently above them. Or, better still, devise a non-hierarchical way of looking and thinking… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

Matthew Chinery makes an excellent point about the decision of the Bishop of Eds & Ips. His grand announcement chimes with the overall centralisation of the CofE. Parishes are increasingly seen as fund raising units and their legal autonomy ignored. Rural deans are being promoted as an additional tier of middle management between the parish and the diocese, so instead of the RD or AD being a first among equals they’re expected to rouse the chapter and parishes to the diocesan party line. Parishes who disagree, or just have the temerity to ask pertinent questions, are deemed ‘troublesome’. Synods have… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago

Many thanks for these very perceptive remarks. 2021 marks the centenary of the PCC, as the successor of the rump vestry which had been shorn of all its secular functions in 1894. My experience of life as a PCC member was that anything not relating to the fabric was regarded by the clergyman who chaired it as his sphere of influence on which the other PCC members were forbidden to intrude. Woe betide the rest of us if anything touching upon anything but the fabric was raised. PCC meetings were therefore unutterably dull and mostly futile. Much of the current… Read more »

John Wallace
John Wallace
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

A fomer archdeacon once said to me, after a particularly difficult diocesan pastoral committee meeting about small rural churches that were struggling even to keep the roof leakproof: ‘ I’m longing for the day when a PCC locks the door and walks away and then resigns en masse.’ But we hang on………..! Then the legislation kicks in. I was on the ‘Closed Churches Uses Committee’ in my diocese for years. We managed to dispose of some closed churches for a good purpose (I remember a reception by the developers of one site, that overflowed with good wine!), but we were… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  John Wallace

Very many thanks indeed for that, Mr Wallace! I am no representative of the heritage lobby, but I do have strong views about the preservation of church buildings for public benefit. I agree with you that there is a certain, if not considerable, hypocrisy about those who protest the closure and divestment of buildings for which they will not pay. The problem is that as long as parochial finance is based upon an ‘own resources’ system it is impossible to achieve meaningful economies of scale in the procurement of materials and labour: most parochial assets (glebe, parsonages, etc.) have been… Read more »

Sarumite
Sarumite
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Yesterday a village church very close to me went up in flames: cause as yet unknown. One does wonder if it will ever be rebuilt, given its small and elderly congregation in an area that is very well provided with church buildings. I suspect historic buildings and small congregations count for little in what is becoming an increasingly evangelical diocese, or am I being cynical?

Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago
Reply to  Sarumite

If you, Sarumite, mean Markeaton All Saints, the area is indeed over-churched. All Saints is effectively in s field with few dwellings nearby. The populous Markeaton estate on the other side of the A52, is served by St Francis, and within almost spitting distance are churches of Derby suburbs. I hope money is not wasted in rebuilding – there are plenty churches of its ilk in Derbyshire, but I expect the baleful heritage lobby will win the day. As to the diocese being increasingly evangelical, that seems to have been policy exemplified in the aforementioned St Francis, formerly a Society… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Sorry, Sarumite and everyone, I mean Mackworth not Markeaton. All Saints, the estate and St Francis are next door to Markeaton Park. Silly me. I fear money will be wasted on rebuilding, largely due to the huffing of local gentry. If only they’d pay for it in perpetuity. Still, where there’s death there’s hope.

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Sarumite

Very many thanks, Sarumite. I imagine you are referring to All Saints Mackworth. I suppose it is vulnerable, standing more or less on its own, on the outskirts of Derby. However, when I went there three years ago there was a substantial congregation (the benefice seems well run), and I would hope it could be rehabilitated. Past examples are no reliable guide to future restoration. For example, Bixley (immediately to the south of Norwich) was a thatch building gutted by fire in 2004; when I last visited in 2017 the charred remains of the roof were still in the nave,… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Froghole
Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

I should have added that arguably the saddest loss to fire in recent times was Brancepeth (Co. Durham), which was gutted completely in 1998 and restored in 2005 at a cost of about £3m: https://www.dur.ac.uk/palace.green/whatshere/iotm/archive/2017/09/#:~:text=Nineteen%20years%20ago%2C%20on%2016,destroying%20its%20interior%20fittings%20completely.&text=These%20elaborate%20Jacobean%20and%20revived,Brancepeth%2C%20which%20began%20in%201626. Whilst the restored church is not unattractive and hits all the contemporary ecclesiological buttons (https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-interior-of-st-brandons-church-brancepeth-county-durham-10700272.html) it in no way compensates for the loss of this, which was installed when John Cosin was rector: http://www.stbrandon.org.uk/pre-1998-fire/. See also this: https://www.dur.ac.uk/history/people/?mode=pdetail&pdetail=103976. Cosin went on to be master of Peterhouse in succession to Matthew Wren; Brancepeth was arguably second only to the chapel at Peterhouse, and on a par… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Froghole, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience of a PCC. I’d have been glad to have you on one of mine. I encouraged input from all the members and especially welcomed informed contributions. Where there was disagreement I would argue my own point of view but was prepared to be outvoted – as I sometimes was.

And yes, we sometimes had a good laugh. One of my PCCs was a cross between Cold Comfort Farm and Dibley Parish Council!

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Many thanks, Janet! I would have been honoured to serve you. However, a propos Cold Comfort Farm, I fear I would have been fretting constantly about having seen something nasty in the woodshed.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

You’d have worked with me, not served me!

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