Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 31 October 2020

Timothy Goode ViaMedia.News Covid, LLF and the Power of “Lived Experience”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The John Smyth affair: further reflections

Modern Church has an insert in yesterday’s Church Times. It includes these two articles from their blog.
Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Communion, Tangible and Virtual
Augustine Tanner-Ihm How Long O Lord?

Peter Crumpler Church Times The pandemic has changed how churches use media
“From YouTube services to the traditional magazine, parishes have been innovating”

Martyn Snow Church Times Dare to think differently about lay ministry
“It is about much more than filling the gaps left by stipendiary clergy, argues Martyn Snow. A whole new vision is needed”

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
23 days ago

Stephen Parsons writes “The John Smyth affair: further reflections”:

“The key person who seems missing in action is of course Justin Welby”

Three months ago, Paul Handley – Church Times Editor – wrote an article “”NST considers safeguarding complaint against Welby [CT, July 28].

Any progress in that regard?

David Lamming
David Lamming
23 days ago

Richard is right to draw attention to the report in the Church Times by its editor, Paul Handley, on 31 July 2020 (page 2) about the formal complaint by ‘Graham’ against the Archbishop of Canterbury, made over 4 months ago on 12 June 2020. The report quoted the National Safeguarding Team (NST) as saying that “Since a formal complaint has now been received by the NST, it is reviewing the information and will obviously respond on this to the person who brought the complaint and take any further action if needed.” The report added that a core group had “now… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
23 days ago

I think we may hear something soon.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
22 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Let me be very specific about Archbishop Welby’s safeguarding failure regarding Smyth – which needs to be addressed now [not by the Makin Review next year]: It was for the Archbishop of Canterbury to contact the Archbishop of Cape Town, after the Bishop of Ely had brought the matter to Lambeth’s attention. “The Bishop of Ely wrote to the Archbishop of Cape Town to tell him, in some detail, the issues around Smyth [2013? – Ed]. The letter I have seen made it easy to find him by enclosing his current South African address. The idea that Smyth was uncontactable was… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
22 days ago

Yes, I had read that. I was responding to your question whether there had been any progress re the safeguarding complaint against Welby. I understand we may hear something soon.

I echo David Lamming’s point that, unlike Archbishop Carey and Bishop Lowson, Welby has not been suspended while the complaint was considered. Our leaders seem to have a very strange idea of justice and righteousness.

Gilo
Gilo
22 days ago

In February 2017, as the story broke, Archbishop Welby in his statement apologised on behalf of the Church saying: “We recognise that many institutions fail catastrophically, but the Church is meant to hold itself to a far, far higher standard, and we have failed terribly”. But since then in April 2019 he has rowed back with a comment that Smyth was “not actually an Anglican”, which must have caused a gasp from knowledgeable church insiders on the evening of the Channel 4 interview. Was this advised by lawyers or Lambeth Palace advisors? Hopefully this will be one thing the Makin… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
22 days ago
Reply to  Gilo

“My understanding is that sadly he [Archbishop Welby] has maintained an insistent ‘blank’ to the survivors – his former friends – despite many opportunities to meet with them and explain his and the Bishop of Ely’s actions in 2013” – ‘Gilo’

That ‘blanking’ by Welby not only includes victims of abuse, but also victims falsely accused of abuse.

My guess is that on matters of safeguarding [and related matters] he is told what to say [or not say] by highly-paid ‘reputation managers’ skilled in PR – like a ‘puppet-on-a-string’.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
22 days ago

It is interesting ‘Gilo’ uses the term ‘blanking’ for the behaviour of Justin Welby.

This may suggest simple psychological denial on the Archbishop’s part – which could be an alternative explanation to that of him being manipulated and controlled by master puppeteers.

Last edited 22 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
21 days ago

I think you may be right. He looks increasingly a tortured man.

Stanley Monkhouse
19 days ago

Private Eye today (dated 6-19 November) reports that the complaint against Welby that he did nothing in 2013 has been dismissed. What a relief. Worth a link?

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
23 days ago

I wonder if the Bishop of Leicester has noticed the average age of the congregation in the parish churches he’s visited. The annual Statistics for Mission would corroborate his experience. His Panglossian view of the Church’s membership is endearing but also worrying. Even if there were an army of lay people ready to surge into ministerial action what about the Church’s sacramental ministry? Perhaps one or other of the diocesan bishops might soon be writing an article for the Church Times saying that lay presidency is not so problematic after all.

Stanley Monkhouse
23 days ago

Lay ministry and use of technology It’s interesting to see that when the Church of England is forced into a corner, it thrashes around a bit, comes up with a random idea, and then pretends it’s a strategic development at the forefront of innovative (horrid, overworked word) thinking. Snow’s juvenile piece on lay ministry might say something of his journey, but he’s centuries behind the Wesleys. Could the C of E have embraced the brothers and worked with them? It could. Did it? It did not. Too snooty. Too conservative. Too risk-averse. Crumpler’s self-congratulatory piece on the use of media… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
23 days ago

It’s very awkward of God to call a greater number of people to be ordained at a time when the Church can’t pay them. Obviously “innovative” thinking is required to cover this embarrassment and to call these new ‘vocations’ by a trendy new name. I’ve never understood why God calls people only to ordination, whereas folks in other jobs decide to do them of their own volition. For instance, I have never asked my bin men when they felt called by God to empty my trash. It is time for bishops to stop talking pious mumbo-jumbo about vocations and ministry.… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
22 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Some people have a vocation to teaching, medicine, the law, research, farming, creating inventions that will help other people, etc. It isn’t only ordination that’s spoken of as a vocation – though I think it s the only vocation spoken of as ‘ministry’. And you’re right that that isn’t helpful

Stanley Monkhouse
22 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Good stuff FrDavid H. I only once gave my adolescent sons career advice. I suggested to them on separate occasions (they were two years apart) that they give serious consideration (praying about?) to two possibilities. The first was organised crime (Gospel centred wealth redistribution), the second porn (pleasure redistribution, some of it Biblical). Neither of them AFAIK felt thus called. Pity: it might have helped keep me in the manner to which I could have become accustomed. The bishops could be on to the second option with LLF, as I’ve suggested on another thread.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
22 days ago

There should be a PR campaign to let the population know about the bishops’ obsession with sex. The new LLF sex debate – which could last for many years – might attract a large prurient constituency which loves talking about what people are allowed to do in their sex lives. Many folks labour under the misapprehension that the CofE is obsessed with Jesus. Learning that sex is top of the agenda could attract millions.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
22 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

“Many folks labour under the misapprehension that the CofE is obsessed with Jesus” I think that particular problem stopped some decades ago. The public perception of the CofE is that is is a society of people who are worried that some people, somewhere are enjoying their lives, and a stop needs to be put to it. The CofE has a long list of things it wishes people to stop doing (being gay, being female, being in loving relationships) but a rather shorter list of things it positively wants people to do. Once your faith is defined wholly negatively, then absent… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
22 days ago

The public perception of the CofE is that is is a society of people who are worried that some people, somewhere are enjoying their lives, and a stop needs to be put to it.”

The American pundit H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as “the dreadful fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time.”

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
22 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

In the 1982 movie The Missionary, Michael Palin plays a parson sent by his Bishop to rescue fallen women in London’s East End in 1907. The bishop’s charge is : ” Find out what these people do; ask them why they do it, and tell them to stop it”. This sums up perfectly the basis of the LLF debate soon to be foisted on long-suffering members of the CofE.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
22 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Interestingly enough, based on my parish’s recent experience in finding a new rector, TEC has the problem of not enough new ordinands. A large percentage of our clergy are reaching mandatory retirement without a sufficient influx of new, younger clergy to replace them.

And, yes, they do need to be replaced. Outside of the metro areas, the parishes are usually too far apart to be served by a single priest efficiently.

Charles Read
22 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

We could send you some of ours….

ACI
ACI
22 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

I’d be curious to see the figures on that. I am unaware of drops in enrollment at the usual seminaries (VTS, Sewannee, ETSSW, Nashotah, BDS-Yale, Anglican House at Duke, etc). The biggest competitor for these schools is now non-anglican schools, due to the increasingly local character of training in NA; so that too increases numbers. At Wycliffe Toronto we have had an 85% increase in new Masters-level enrollees.

Last edited 22 days ago by ACI
Anon
Anon
22 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

This seems to be an emerging issue but just isn’t being discussed. It’s good to hear that many people are exploring vocations to lay or ordained ministry. But I wonder how many will be retained if there isn’t some way of supporting that ministry. Some people are able to offer ministry funded by their paid employment, savings, pension etc or their spouse’s income. But it does also happen (as I’m sure we know) that people expect to go into paid ministry, but end up in a non-stipendiary or part-stipend role because there aren’t the posts available. Unlike people who initially… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
22 days ago

Some thought-provoking articles, including Tim Goode’s excellent piece (and Stephen Parsons’ blog raising serious concerns about power). I think Martyn Snow’s reflections on lay ministry fail to grapple with some of the questions raised by, say, Hugh Valentine’s earlier Church Times article. I have only glanced quickly at the Faith and Order Commission report but this does not seem to refer to the work of Orthodox theologians such as Paul Evdokimov or indeed much relevant non-Western Anglican theology over the past century. The key issue of the broader calling of the laity in a deeply unjust, unequal and violent world… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Savi Hensman
Perry Butler
Perry Butler
22 days ago
Reply to  Savi Hensman

I agree Savi the lay apostolate should surely be looking outwards..salt and light in the world.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
22 days ago

I have been accused of a “personal war” against Justin Welby.

This is not the case. There are a considerable number who feel far more strongly than I do.

If there is any “war” I’m waging, it’s a War on Lack of Care and Justice.

The Iwerne camps were run under the aegis of the C of E, so moral responsibility attaches to the church under its duty of pastoral care. 

Just because Smyth was a lay person – not ordained clergy – does not exempt Archbishop Welby from moral safeguarding responsibility.

Charles Read
22 days ago

Iwerrne was never an officially Anglican thing, although it had many Anglicans involved. It was under the wing of Scripture Union I think originally.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
22 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

But it was an an ‘unofficial’ Anglican thing.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
21 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

The leaders, officers, and speakers were overwhelmingly Anglican, many of them clergy. Smyth himself was a licensed Reader.

Kate
Kate
21 days ago
Reply to  Charles Read

A difficult argument to run with after the Church of England found that the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, falls within the scope of Church of England responsibilities for safeguarding.

Father David
Father David
22 days ago

As Brenda of Bristol once famously said when Mrs. May called a General Election – the same might be said about the imposition of a second Lock Down – “Not another one?” When churches were allowed to resume public worship following the first Lock Down I reckon that a quarter to a third of my pre Lock Down congregation did not return. I wonder what effect this second Lock Down may have when hopefully public worship is allowed to return during Advent? This pandemic is also having a devastating effect on church finances as reported elsewhere on Thinking Anglicans, a… Read more »

Paul
Paul
22 days ago
Reply to  Father David

Why not start by reducing the number of Suffragan bishops?

Father David
Father David
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul

As Maria from The Sound of Music would say – “A very good place to start”

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
22 days ago
Reply to  Father David

Would you prefer that a quarter to a third of your congregation get seriously ill and/or die because you insist on having in-person worship?

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
21 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Is there any evidence that in-person worship under the current restrictions has actually resulted in anyone getting ill or dying?

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
21 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

I don’t know about the UK, but there are several confirmed instances of worship services becoming spreader and super-spreader events in the US.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
21 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

But that’s the US where their reluctance of many either to wear masks or socially distance has led to many infections and deaths. And in religious circles this seems to be particularly prevalent amongst Conservative evangelical circles who figure largely amongst the Trump supporting Covid-19 deniers. This super-spreading has its source in mass gatherings at ‘worship services’ not in liturgically based worship where the right precautions are being observed. It’s not right to extrapolate from US experience that the same will happen in the U.K. where, by and large, the medical advice is being adhered to amongst worshipers as it… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
21 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

The restrictions on public worship, in my country and yours, apply to all religions and dehominations, correct? In the US, it would be unconstitutional to make different rules for Episcopalians than for non-denominational mega-churches. I assume something of the same nature applies in the UK.

I was not speaking specifically of TEC services, but of services in general. Sauce, goose, gander, my friends.

ACI
ACI
20 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

Here is a place where small sized congregations–CofE–are in a less dangerous situation. Also TEC (in a country where rules are state by state).

ACI
ACI
21 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

In TEC? That would be surprising. The average congregation is upper 50s, low 60s.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
21 days ago
Reply to  Father David

I know a number of people who haven’t returned to physical worship because they don’t consider it safe to do so. They haven’t abandoned the faith, they’re following streamed services or those on the radio.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
21 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

A third of the worshipping community of the C of E is aged 70 or over. A number are likely either to still be reluctant to mingle following advice on shielding (although it no longer strictly applies) or to be advised by their doctors to be careful because of specific health conditions.

ACI
ACI
21 days ago
Reply to  Simon Bravery

I believe the average TEC worshipper is 65 and about the same congregation size.

David Exham
David Exham
21 days ago
Reply to  Father David

Why do you think that reducing the number of dioceses will save money? Much the same amount of work will need to be done, and people will need to be paid to do it. Consider the Diocese of Leeds: 5 bishops and 4 archdeacons. The same point can made about proposals to reduce the number of suffragan bishops.

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
21 days ago
Reply to  David Exham

The “amount of work to be done” by bishops and archdeacons will not be significantly reduced until there are substantial reductions in the number of church buildings used regularly for parochial worship.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
21 days ago

Quite right Simon. This is the elephant in the room. It’s time for the CofE to face reality and close large numbers of unviable churches.

Father David
Father David
21 days ago
Reply to  David Exham

When asked about the influence of the French Revolution Zhou Enlai is reputed to have said “It is too early to say”.
Perhaps the same reply could be employed when asking how the creation of the diocese of Leeds – merging three dioceses into one – has extended the Kingdom of God?

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
22 days ago

Every celebration of communion is, from one perspective, essentially virtual” says Miranda Threllfall-Holmes. I sincerely hope her doctorate is not in any mainstream branch of theology from a University with a long-established, well-reputed theology faculty.

Kate
Kate
21 days ago

I think your statement is ducking the issue, however as to whether and how the Trinity are present during services. I assume you are objecting to services being virtual because you subscribe to a belief in omnipresence? Omnipresence by definition doesn’t require a congregation to be physically gathered. If we are made in the image of, God, does that mean that we can be omnipresent too? Is it at least possible that virtual worship is forcing us to put aside limited notions of physical presence and recognise that we can be united in wirship with people not just across the… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
21 days ago
Reply to  Kate

No Kate, I don’t subscribe to a notion of omnipresence. I subscribe to an orthodox understanding of the physicality of the sacraments: that actual physical material (in this case bread and wine) becomes a locus for the divine presence in a particular physical location, at a particular moment, in the presence of a gathered congregation in that place and moment, where particular words and actions are used. That place, that moment and those people constitute the universal Church by doing what the universal church does in every time and place. Once you say it’s OK to transpose that physicality to… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
20 days ago

Well put, Michael.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
21 days ago

Miranda’s doctorate is from Durham, which does indeed have a long-established and well-reputed theology department. I blinked a bit at the sentence you quote, but as I read on I saw what she meant by it. I think it’s another way of saying that the sacraments are constituted by both and outward and physical sign and by an inward and spiritual grace.

ACI
ACI
21 days ago

Outward and visible, tangible, concrete mysteriously/sacramentally securing presence, as our Savior instituted. Thank God our Lord did not virtually give his body and blood, but really, and commanded us to do likewise until his coming, concretely, again.

Kurt Hill
Kurt Hill
21 days ago

Miranda’s article was thoughtful. In these times, however, perhaps more thought should be given to the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In this Office, a special Blessing is given to the faithful, and reception of Christ’s Body and Blood is not required for this. I would think that this is quite a useful Service nowadays.

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