Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 3 June 2020

Alison Webster ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to not Caring about Care

Russell Dewhurst All Things Lawful And Honest Table for One
“The lawfulness of Holy Communion celebrated without a congregation”

Together for the Common Good The Plague and the Parish: An Invitation to the Churches

Church Times Lockdown could change the Church permanently
Richard Giles, John Sadler, and Robert Warren “call for a radical rethink of the work of a parish priest”

Janet Fife Surviving Church The Church of England Gentlemen’s Club

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
34 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Concerning Giles, Sadler, and Warren: “Froghole” and others have raised the issues of buildings, which the authors touch on, and money, which they don’t. Many clergy don’t like it, but the fact is that lots of people, churched and unchurched, are emotionally and atavistically attached to church buildings. Shrines to the past they may be, but many are also focal points of community cohesion in all sorts of ways. I see from Crockfords that none of the authors has worked in a rural parish. They might think differently had they done so. People in rural (and not just rural) areas… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
1 month ago

I sort of agree and disagree with Stanley. I would ask which pre covid church is finished? Is it the managerial, increasingly secular and monochrome, initiative and centralised post church? Or is it the local, community centred, church services by clergy and laity who know ( or should know) these communities. My hope is the first; my fear is the second. Not only that but I fear the poor areas rural or urban will suffer first and most, I might be wrong and too cynical but…

Graeme Buttery

Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago
Reply to  Graeme Buttery

I hope the former will die, Graeme. The latter – the local – could be the salvation of the church were it allowed to be. But I fear that it will be squeezed out. This is what I suspect will happen: Cottrell will be inundated and overwhelmed. small groups will be set up and recommendations made. people with money and loud voices will use their influence, thus con evo churches will survive, and will not allow their funds to subsidize “unsuccessful” churches – and nobody will stand up to them. meanwhile church people age and die, so funds fall even lower. Cottrell’s recommendations will be neutered.… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

’People in rural (and not just rural) areas will gladly stump up funds for churches and graveyards, but they don’t care about funding a resident parson, let alone “religion”.’ To use the language of Janet’s piece, I think there are two types of clergy: Communities are often happy to support those clergy who make the community their first allegiance, their club. While it isn’t talked about, I think communities are less willing to support those clergy who aren’t indelibly committed to the community: those who clearly see the parish as a stepping stone in their career, whose membership of the… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, if you want really depressing, then try sitting through a General Synod debate on stipend and pension differentials.

Graeme

Anon
Anon
1 month ago

Janet Fife’s article resonates. It seems that there are two tiers in the church. There are those in the pews and the ‘ordinary’ clergy. Then there’s an elite subculture that functions much like an exclusive members only dining society or gentleman’s club. The resistance to women and other ‘outsiders’ is that they may disrupt this cosy self-serving culture. Having quite accidentally stumbled across the latter a few years ago, and now unable to forget what I saw of it, I find it strange that many ordinary folk have no idea of this shadowy parallel world that exists in the Church.… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

The CT article uses the word “church” thirteen times but “God” only thrice, and one of those is the compound “God’s people” which arguably doesn’t count.

The authors really don’t get it. The problem is that “church” has become an idol, replacing God: the entire article is about doing “church” differently.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

Absolutely fascinated by Janet Fife’s piece. Thank you for saying what I have thought, but failed to articulate, for rather a long time. David Brown has written a remarkable book called ‘Leaven – The Hidden power of culture in the Church’. In speaking of what must change he writes this: “We must now reject rank in the Church, decisively; elevate relationship to our highest priority;…..Rank has no bearing on anyone’s worth or significance…. It is merely a crude measuring device for estimating someone’s suitability for specific responsibilities; nothing more. We need to deal in the language of role, not rank.… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Godsall

Like you, Andrew, I wanted to see women in the presbyterate and the episcopacy for the health of the Church. But to illustrate how long it takes for culture to change, when the first woman joined my then clergy chapter I asked her how she found it. “Oh, it’s just boys willy-measuring.” Returning to that chapter after a gap of many years I found little had changed. The women had either given up attending or become honorary men. The clubbish culture was fed by the clergy coming predominantly from one tradition with it’s own codes and grammar that were deaf… Read more »

peter kettle
peter kettle
1 month ago

Would any Bishop, Dean or Archdeacon who reads this care to comment on Janet’s piece where Freemasonry and Nobody’s Friends are concerned?
 
Thought not

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
1 month ago
Reply to  peter kettle

The Masons probably couldn’t comment unless they could figure out a way to do a virtual secret handshake.

Gilo
Gilo
1 month ago
Reply to  peter kettle

For more on Nobody’s Friends read these articles on Surviving Church blog. There are questions that need addressing – but the hierarchy remains silent to them.

http://survivingchurch.org/2019/08/20/gilo-writes-safeguarding-the-secrets-part-1-nobodys-friends/

http://survivingchurch.org/2020/05/15/elites-the-church-and-the-dynamics-of-social-power/

peter kettle
peter kettle
1 month ago
Reply to  Gilo

Gilo, thank you very much for those links – goodness, what a lot of forensic work you have undertaken! Both articles reference the implications of Nobody’s Friends very well, but understandably, perhaps, you won’t have got very far with Freemasonry ….

Gilo
Gilo
1 month ago
Reply to  peter kettle

Thanks Peter. I imagine freemasonry links would be harder to research given the inherent secrecy of masonic organisations. I was lucky in being given a crucial copy of the Nobody’s Friends book which charts its history up to the year 2000. Janet’s masonry insights were new and very interesting to me.   Perhaps if we’d been bringing Letters to a Broken Church together now – we’d include this material. At the time, I hadn’t begun to look at the Lambeth Palace dining club. Incidentally I am told that one time there was a Lambeth Place masonic lodge – but don’t… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
1 month ago

Yesterday priests and people were gassed and attacked with rubber bullets outside of St John’s Episcopal Church in Washington after they had used the outside patio to assist and support the protest against the murder of George Floyd by police. They were attacked and driven away by police in full riot gear so a presidential photo shoot could take place. The Bishop and other clergy have protested vigorously against what took place. This is faith in action and that is where the church is – standing with the oppressed and standing for justice. That is church.

Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Janet’s piece is, sadly, on the button. The CoE has for centuries been divided, as Anon says, into those who sit inside, and those like farmworkers of yore who sit outside with the window open. That’s one reason, surely, why Chapel flourished in days past–only the toffs and snobs went to Church–and still the case in rural Cumberland in the 1950s and 60s. One need look no further than the way that Ms Boddington’s office works in dredging the seas/sees for junior clergy who might be “episcopabile”, or the way in which some junior clergy are clearly identified as being… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

Many thanks for this, Stanley!   The great tragedy of the Church of England is that it has been enmeshed in the class system from the very outset (i.e., 597), and this tendency arguably worsened following the expropriations of the Reformation, which made the Church an economic client of the crown and the magnate class. Indeed, the Church has continuously provided various moral and theological justifications for that inequitable system. The reason why the Bash camps were established was because of the real concern that E. J. H. Nash had that the public schools were falling away from the Church… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

“That’s one reason, surely, why Chapel flourished in days past–only the toffs and snobs went to Church–and still the case in rural Cumberland in the 1950s and 60s. ”

Not just Cumberland. I went to school in a farming community in northern Lancashire and most of the farmers went to chapel rather than church. I had totally forgotten about the distinction until you mentioned it.
.

Thomas G. Reilly
Thomas G. Reilly
1 month ago

I hope that the time after coronavirus will be one where the church will begin to see itself as a sign of the presence of God in our community, loving, serving, blessing all in the community irrespective of age, sex, means. Ministry means service, being alongside, suffering with, not offering answers to questions people haven’t asked, but encouraging them to ask questions of themselves, their society, their church, and their God. Clergy are primarily disciples, deacons, servants, not functionaries or hierarchy. People are asking for respect, love, acceptance, a listening ear, real deep healing, and that is what we need… Read more »

William
William
1 month ago

The rending of the temple veil at the moment of Christ’s death opens up the way to God for all people, not just the Jewish people. There is now no need for the Temple sacrifices as the one true sacrifice has been accomplished. In the light of this I’m not entirely sure what you mean by Jesus alerting us to the right use of the Temple.

Thomas G. Reilly
Thomas G. Reilly
1 month ago
Reply to  William

The synagogues and the temple were, as our churches are, places where the people of God met, interacted, prayed, strengthened their fellowship and their identity as God’s people. They were and are holy places, that we need, and they should be places where God’s love is expressed, God’s generosity to his creation is celebrated, and where we model God’s love and generosity to the whole of creation. We are human beings, we need to meet together, but we must not become exclusive and excluding. God’s door is always open.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

Eucharists or prayer groups via Zoom? Techno hocus-pocus!  
 
The notion you can detach clergy from buildings is laughable. Our parish and diocesan boundaries were largely established pre-Conquest and haven’t altered much. Roman brickwork, Saxon churches, Norman fonts, Early English lancet windows, elaborately decorated Gothic tracery, Jacobean pulpits and Wren’s cupolas. All this heritage, as well as being spaces for prayer, worship and community – ekklesia, helps us understand how Christianity has evolved on these isles over the course of two millennium.
 
Please don’t throw it all away!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Andrew: On this we agree! I will be shot down for saying this, but some people here seem to have no appreciation of aesthetics and the spirituality of our churches – both ancient and modern. Of course there is the problem of money, and no easy answer to that, especially at present.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

There’s nothing more wondeful than to stumble upon an unlocked village church, sit for a while in the silence and admire its features, offer up a prayer in peaceful solitude, and ponder on the devotion of centuries of worship.

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

I didn’t come to God through listening to people preach or by reading the Bible. I came because I went into a church and He was there. I don’t know how common that is, but I do believe that the Church of England ought to know the answer to the question before it shuts churches.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

More common than a top-down theoretical approach might credit, I would imagine. The founders of the non-conformist churches broke away from traditional parish boundaries, established chapels which in turn created spaces for the types of experience you describe, Kate. All denominations are centred on congregations, whether in a cathedral, church or chapel. When you stepped over the threshold, you were sharing in the devotion of countless numbers of the faithful down the ages.

Mother Hubbard
Mother Hubbard
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

So ordained Naval chaplains, school chaplains, hospital chaplains, field chaplains, university professors, lecturers etc are “laughable” then. What utter tosh.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Mother Hubbard

That’s not quite what I meant. Of course, the notion of ekklesia extends to the settings you identify: ships, schools, hospitals, universities etc. But parish ministry locates the priest within the boundaries of a parish or benefice, centred on one or more churches. A bishop or archdeacon’s ministry is centred on a cathedral or portion of a diocese.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

In areas where I’ve worked there have been considerable changes in both parish and diocesan boundaries, and I suspect there will be more changes in the near future.   But I don’t accept that there’s an either/or choice between buildings and internet services, nor that valuing streamed services in our present circumstances means we don’t value all that church buildings mean to us.   When it’s safe for people to gather in consecrated buildings again – and we’re a long way off that in significant parts of the country, including mine – that will be lovely. But for those of… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

You are right to say that there have been many changes in diocesan and parish boundaries, especially in urban areas.   My point is that our institutional life has hitherto been configured around geography, rather than online networks, which I’m rather sceptical of as a medium of worship. I’m not denying the usefulness of technology to connect, especially for those who are stuck at home. These can be provided nationally, I suppose, by the more technically proficient. But many of those stuck at home do not have such online access and are excluded from participating in it, including many elderly… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
1 month ago

There is, surely, considerable irony in the fact that Richard Giles, who generated a mini publishing industry out of an obsession with tinkering with the interiors of churches (mainly by chucking all the historical landmarks into a skip) to create a contemporaneous, liturgically pure vacuum, is joining in a call for the mothballing of churches. Here is the somewhere/anywhere dialectic in (literally) concrete form. That none of the authors have served for a long time at the coal face of the Church of England’s parochial ministry in places where the physicality of churches is a visceral part of community identity,… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
29 days ago

Thank you for your book reference, Michael; I’ll see if I can get hold of a copy of Rumsey’s Parish.

Andrew
Andrew
29 days ago

The problem with a liberal sprinkling of pontifications, seen over the Barnard Castle row, is that little of substance endures when the storm has passed. The comparison with Rowan Williams’ lecture on sharia law more than a decade ago couldn’t be starker. There, the audience heard a thorough, albeit provocative exposition, as opposed to vituperative soundbites, a tendency of the Twitter age.  In the media firestorm following the talk, contrary arguments came from all quarters; one recalls Melanie Phillips’ angry, though reasoned, riposte in the Times. One recalls Faith in the City in the 1980s.   Giles, Sadler and Warren… Read more »

Thomas G. Reilly
Thomas G. Reilly
29 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

I agree with a lot you say, Andrew. I was involved in the putting together, and the aftermath of Faith in the City, and I feel that awful lot of what we learnt, about our society and its trends, and about our Church, has been allowed to drain away. I think that money, power, status, and rigidity of belief have returned with a vengeance, and the poor of the earth are once again being ignored. Look at the big successful churches, with their proliferation of staff and ministries, while churches in poor and country areas are left to die, unless… Read more »

34
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x