on Wednesday, 3 May 2023 at 11.21 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Emma John The Guardian The church has at last welcomed us singletons into the fold. Hallelujah!
Anonymous Surviving Church New Dictionary Definitions for the Church of England. No 1: ‘Independent’
Is Megg Munn any less independent than most auditors?
Yes, a lot less so. Nobody would consider appointing an auditor who was chair of the board of a company she was supposed to be auditing. But the point is that this is not a matter of opinion as to whether she is independent enough: it is a plain matter of fact that the members of the ISB are required by the Terms of Reference to be “independent of all Church bodies”. Meg Munn, as chair of the National Safeguarding Panel is a senior member of a Church body and cannot be said to be independent of it — that… Read more »
The CofE has long valued single people in its congregations, as long as they remain chaste and don’t touch anyone. Having discussed the sex lives of gay people for decades, it’s good to see recognition for those who are allowed no sex at all.
In some parishes everything seems to revolve around families – with the highlight of the week even being called a ‘family service’ just in case any single person had any illusions that they matter less than those who have procreated.
This sounds all too familiar. I remember, back in the 80’s when a positive attitude to singles in church was ‘flavour of the month’. The idea was that we should have adequate provision for us singles…..Being one of very few singles in a rural market town church I raised this need with the leadership, only to be told (after due reflection) that the only people likely to lead such a provision were already much too busy to be spared for it! Don’t hold your breath, anyone. Things won’t change in that much of a hurry, I’m afraid.
I wonder if this is especially true of parishes which have a linked church school?
No, not just those with a church school.
Possibly because the examples I am thinking of did.
The most family-oriented church I’ve ever been part of had no church school. Thinking back over the churches I’ve been associated with or served, there doesn’t seem to have been much relationship between how family-oriented they are, and whether they have a church school. Some with a church school haven’t done much for families either. I wonder if the churchmanship is a factor? Are evangelical churches likely to focus more on families? This might be a good subject for research.
Parishes that have a Sunday family service problem have a lot of families with children. I personally dislike masses with a children’s sermon and a lot of undisciplined children. Seeing “family service” helps me choose another service. Do you think there should be a weekly service specifically for single adults?
And that means you are one of the reasons there are so few people under 50 in the pews. You are discouraging churches from welcoming young families and, in my experience, if children are not introduced to church-going at a young age, they never “get the habit,” as it were.
As for “undisciplined children,” well, heaven forbid a three-year-old act like a three-year-old naturally does! He or she will never learn discipline if he or she is banned from church.
No I don’t think there should be a separate service for single adults. That’s the same problem in a different direction.
I also like the children in. I don’t think they should be sent out. I don’t see the children as the problem – it’s the emphasis from the minister on ‘family’ which is alienating.
“The church has at last welcomed us singletons into the fold.”As a lifelong singleton I’m not so sure. England is one of the most hierarchical countries I know, it is obsessed with status but this obsession is often not openly expressed. The Church of England reflects this: you can be “welcomed” without being respected or valued. How many parishes do we know where a Refuse Collector is really valued as much as a Professor ? Jesus very clearly wants us to be Inclusive but real inclusivity is very hard work. I am a regional ambassador for “Inclusive Church”. Membership could… Read more »
If you read St Paul he is very encouraging about the single life.
That’s all right so long as it isn’t imposed on you, either by circumstances ‘beyond your control’ or individual church leaders. I had that in an Anglican parish church (evangelical) and then found the opposite lack of understanding in a charismatic Baptist church! Heads you win, tails I lose.
David, as an ordinand on a placement I remember giggling with a lady after a service who’d said to me “I’m the only common woman who comes to this church”.
It’s not just the CofE. I used to belong to a Baptist church which was under the influence of Arthur Wallace and his Restoration movement. As an unmarried man in my mid thirties I didn’t fit their concept of male headship – depriving some poor, inadequate girl of the God given leadership she needed. The small, but unfortunate fact that I didn’t know any single Christian girls who felt that need – or indeed realised they weren’t in the will of God by being happily single – apparently didn’t enter into the doctrinal equation!
‘By their fruits ye shall know them’ – to my mind coffee after church can be one of the loneliest experiences in Christendom.
This is why the Ship of Fools Mystery Worshiper question “What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?” is the most important. I’ve had some dire experiences, and the holy huddles concerned were completely oblivious.
I have my mother’s ‘disease’ of talking with complete strangers quite happily. But some years ago I carried out an experiment at coffee after the main Sunday service in a cathedral (not in my diocese) and waited for someone to open a conversation with me. I waited in vain. No one even asked if I’d like a biscuit.
Mary your mother had a ‘gift’ for talking with strangers for which you should rightly give thanks that it was passed on to you. A surprising number of clergy are painfully shy and avoid new people, which ought to disqualify them for ordination but sadly no as I’ve discovered since I moved to the East Riding of Yorkshire. However I am shocked that you expected a biscuit, perhaps you’d forgotten that Jesus was very mean when it came to hospitality for strangers.
Just to reassure you, Fr Dean, I give thanks every day for my mother’s gift(s)! To be more serious for a moment, as the majority of clergy are, it seems, introverts (as I am too), it’s not surprising we are not all sparkling conversationists. We can do it but it takes emotional energy. I need my space to recharge in. And my own good coffee and biscuits.
Not only lonely but also disgusting – every church I’ve known has used warm milk. Ugh. The cup that cheers but does not inebriate is safer except that they will insist on milk in first, Ugh again.
Those ubiquitous green or pink church hall cups would probably crack if the hot coffee or tea were poured in first. I help out on Sundays in a Benefice of six churches, two of which serve sherry post Communion which I find is a marvellous way of promoting fellowship and community spirit among the members of the congregation. I recall an episode of All Gas and Gaiters when Archdeacon Henry Blunt was offered a small half full glass of sherry which elicited the Archideaconal comment “I hadn’t realised that it was still Lent, bishop!” This coming Sunday one of the… Read more »
You won’t do that in most Free Churches I’ve been in. Indeed, their constitutions etc usually had a clause explicitly banning alcohol from the premises! (Even for communion.)
Is this really true, outside Methodism? I’m a Baptist minister of many years’ standing and have been a member of a committee which redrew the denomination’s “model constitution” some years ago. And, although non-alcoholic Communion wine is ubiquitous, I’ve never come across such a clause in church constitutions.(As a student, back in the 70s, I attended a Brethren assembly for a while; their Communion wine was port!)
One of my former churches in Buckinghamshire always used Port every Sunday for Holy Communion. I have heard of a church in Kent that puts champagne in the chalice on Easter Day.. it would be interesting to know how many churches have returned to using the common cup post pandemic?
In my USA parish, we use individual glasses (each holding about a teaspoon) that the priest pours into from the common cup. The glasses are deposited in a container as the communicant leaves the altar rail and then washed later.
Port has a longer shelf life than regular wine, as long as a couple months.
The Brethren Assembly in which I was brought up used Vino Sacro – as does my current liberal Catholic parish – a new take on ecumenical links!
It was actually true of a Baptist church I belonged to in central England. And I have known it in other places too – indeed, a former temperance hall turned Chistian guesthouse in Freshwater, I.o.W which I knew made national headlines when it was sold on, because there was a specific condition in the deeds forbidding alcohol from entering the premises.
Thanks, interesting. But I doubt if it’s all that common.
That’s a good idea, but I hope you’ve made provision for alcoholics who will find it difficult? And for drivers?
We quite often hold folk music singarounds in the basement of our house. Two or three people who come are recovering alcoholics, and at one time or another, each of them has expressed gratitude that we don’t serve alcohol. Not that I’m an abstainer – far from it – but I’m very aware of the number of people out there who struggle with addictions.
Sounds like fun. Wish I could join you!
Perceptive and interesting comment.
It’s interesting because of course Jesus didn’t have to worry about either of those things at Cana or for His Last Supper but now we should. It encapsulates neatly that just taking the Bible at face value is deficient because of how society has changed matters. Because part of Jesus’s message was social it can only faithfully be followed if adapted to society today.
Why do you assume there were no alcoholics at Cana?
‘Why do you assume there were no alcoholics at Cana?’ I can’t speak for Kate, but I certainly don’t assume that – any more than I assume there were no people with gluten allergies at the feeding of the five thousand. It’s a struggle, though, isn’t it? Personally, I’ve had a lot to do with AA over the years and I know how hard it is for some alcoholics when they’re at events where alcohol is served. I would like the church to be a safe place for them. FrDavid, you’ve often remarked that we have more scientific knowledge about… Read more »
A sip from the chalice doesn’t cause a problem – consumption of a large consecrated but unconsumed chalice at the ablutions, might do, but I walk to church. As for alcoholics, intinction or communion in one kind (as many people in my church now do post Covid) is another option and not discriminatory.
I might be wrong here (I frequently am) but a former friend of mine, a recovered alchoholic, couldn’t take communion because, in their specific case, even a sip could send them back into addiction. She was very annoyed by the parish vicar, who refused to serve non-alchoholic wine because the rule book said it had to be the ‘real McCoy’. My own church actually serve both, according to choice, which is probably the best solution..
That vicar was correct. Canon B17 reads The bread, whether leavened or unleavened, shall be of the best and purest wheat flour that conveniently may be gotten, and the wine the fermented juice of the grape, good and wholesome. The Legal Advisory Commission has given the opinion that wine is essentially alcoholic, and that wine with alcohol removed is no longer wine. (Wheat with gluten removed remains essentially wheat, it seems.) Of course there are good reasons why some people would not wish to consume alcohol, but is it really best for the Church to start deliberately disobeying its own… Read more »
Intinction would not be a suitable option for an alcoholic in recovery as it would still involve the consumption of alcohol, albeit a tiny amount. Having said that, AA members, in general, would not expect special arrangements to be made for them – it would be up to the individual either to abstain or to request an alternative in advance, if practicable.
The relevant question is whether there was Alcoholics Anonymous and associated recovery programs. I am pretty certain there weren’t. As Tim says below, societal awareness of the problem is why now we need to accommodate.
Seneca’s Letter LXXXIII “On Drunkenness” describes alcoholism as an addiction in remarkably modern terms: a condition of insanity purposefully assumed.
I’m not sure I agree.
As I understand it, some Romans saw drunkenness as a problem (how widely the sentiment was held is less certain) but I don’t see anything in Seneca’s letter recognising that alcohol can become an addiction. There’s certainly nothing to suggest they appreciated offering even a small sherry can cause problems which is what we are discussing.
I agree that there is no evidence of anything resembling AA in the ancient world. But it’s odd how keen moderns are to assume that the ancients were ignorant of things they saw around themselves everyday. I suppose it’s a sort of transferred vanity: modern people priding themselves on things (science!) they have contributed nothing to.
On the contrary, if you take the ancient Egyptians as an example, the granite boxes in the Serapeum at Saqqara have sharper interior corners than we can manage; famously we still don’t know the recipe for Greek Fire; and Roman concrete has lasted millennia whereas many modern concrete structures have failed. If you mean solely in terms of social observation, Plato recognised three genders – male, female and androgynous which we could see as corresponding to the modern male, female and bi-gendered. That’s something many people even today struggle to understand. If you look at the dam removal movement in… Read more »
You want to come to our church, as I think you’d be pleasantly surprised that we have successfully broken your mold – not only cold milk, but we leave it to the individual participant to add it to their personal taste.