Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 5 September 2020

William Davage All Things Lawful And Honest By Law Established
“In the wake of suggestions that ordinations should take place without a celebration of the Mass, and that the common Eucharistic cup should be replaced with individual glasses, William Davage asks how these canonical irregularities came to be proposed in the first place.”

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap Bring it on home to me
“Today we did a ‘first’: the General Synod clergy held our own Zoom meeting”

Rachel Mann Church Times Honesty will supply a rich legacy

Paul Devonshire Surviving Church CDM. A Kafkaesque Nightmare

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Froghole
Froghole
15 days ago

Mr Lynas remarks: “From Exeter Cathedral, Cate Edmonds [canon steward] described the shift required to move from an organisation that was very music- and buildings-centred to a different kind of ministry: the impact of furloughing nearly all the staff, and the significant hit on income.” What is that supposed to mean? What is the raison d’etre of a cathedral if it is not about the building? Moreover, if there is to be a shift away from the building what, then, is the point of capitular clergy? Why should they not undertake parochial work instead? The thumbnail precis of Canon Edmonds’ speech… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
15 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Let me try to put this clearly. Cathedrals were entirely and completely irrelevant to my parochial ministry. They made no effort to serve the parishes other than in one case telling us when we’d be prayed for at Evensong. Despite the many clergy associated with them, there was AFAIK no policy of cathedral clergy visiting parishes as a sign of fraternal support. The emotion conjured up at the thought of capitular clergy therefore was no warm glow, but rather at best apathy and at worst resentment.  One of the churches I’ve now retired from is the size of a small… Read more »

Michael
Michael
15 days ago

Ditch the parish churches – that is already in progress, whether the laity like it or not, as many churches have still not reopened in my neighbourhood, or are offering a paltry maximum of 30 minutes on a Sunday morning to listen to some readings and recorded hymns. Congregation forbidden to participate, other than being present. I am in the same situation as Ted Harrison, who has an article in the current Church Times. Tomorrow will mark for me 26 Sundays without being inside a church, let alone receiving communion. I feel like I have been abruptly excommunicated without a… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
15 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Many thanks (and also to Stanley): https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/4-september/faith/faith-features/the-point-of-no-return. There was a ‘window of opportunity’ for the Church to re-establish itself with the community and therefore to obtain some financial respite between June and August when infection rates had plummeted and church buildings could have their doors open (not least because of the heatwave). The RCC in France and elsewhere was very cognisant of the existential risk of not re-opening promptly, which is why its bishops harangued parish clergy to resume normal service with effect from the termination of the ‘spiritual lockdown’ on the third Sunday of May. However, in England the… Read more »

ACI
ACI
14 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

I agree with your analysis. Perhaps all the fear in the air regarding safeguarding issues has conspired to create a default of paralysis. In this case, it could be extremely detrimental. The calendar is not a friend now that Fall approaches. It is also the case that the CofE had built-in problems that have festered over the last decades. The Catholic situation in France is already pretty much what it is. So our good friends in France simply accepted that there was a crisis, and they’d be back worshiping soon. Everyone is already used to the state of affairs (since… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
14 days ago
Reply to  ACI

Many thanks, ACI! I agree completely. The Church of England has been cosseted in certain ways, which the RCC in France has not. The RCC in France has therefore had a better perception of what is at stake and how easily things can be lost. I am not certain that the Church of England is yet in the same place, at least psychologically; however, it is about to reap a bitter harvest from its complacency. You have been quite right to alert readers on TA to the growing ‘credibility gap’ between the Church of England’s notional established status (which, for… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
14 days ago
Reply to  Michael

I also note that the failure of Synod even to broach the fundamental question about the financial consequences of the lockdown and of the Church’s response to it – even (if seems) to make any statement about the financial impact – is itself a remarkable tribute to its utility. We are still left with a situation where large numbers of benefices have still not updated their websites since lockdown began, or are holding one service per benefice (often merely virtual), leaving the great majority of churches in what may be a multi-parish benefice effectively redundant. In certain instances if real… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
14 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Indeed so. As the Church Times piece says – ‘honesty will supply a rich legacy’. At the very least, the Archbishops’ Council, as executive branch of the Church, should consider providing Synod with an update on the financial position of the diocesan boards of finance, and their intelligence-gathering of the impact of coronavirus on parochial coffers. As you know, it was the Church Commissioners’ reckless property investments in the 1980s, exposed in the recession of the early 1990s, that led to the Council being set up in the first place, and the move from Number One Millbank to Church House.* On… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
14 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Many thanks, Andrew. I quite agree. Lovell’s books should be read in conjunction with the official histories of the late Geoffrey Best and Andrew Chandler. I would also recommend the occasional commentaries provided by the excellent John Plender of the FT. For all that there are many histories of Church finance in the medieval and early modern eras, there are, alas, no economic histories of the modern Church I have yet been able to find which touch upon diocesan or parochial finance, or of the Church as a whole (as opposed to the Commissioners, who are only part of it).… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
13 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

In Lovelock, there was a convenient fall guy to take the blame for the follies of the notorious Assets Committee. A generalist civil servant had been let down by wide boy casino capitalism running amok, unbeknown to eminent pastors with nominal oversight of the Commissioners. Luckily there was a fallback position to compensate for their investment calamities. The Archbishops’ Council, established by the National Institutions Measure (1998), exerted more control. The Church Commissioners’ now invested in a wider range of safer stocks and shares, rather than put all their eggs in one basket as they had done with Ashford Great… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

It will be sad indeed if the only response is to cut stipendiary posts. 60 in Chelmsford. 20 I hear in Carlisle. Overall that could mean as many as 1000 stipendiary posts gone in the next few years. Many parishes esp in multi church benefices are relying more and more on retired clergy but I fear with the new and very extensive safeguarding training now being required of retired clergy a good number may well decide this is the time to hang up their cassocks.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
12 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Indeed, this is already happening. Also – and writing as a retired – some of us will be asking ourselves if we have become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Froghole
Froghole
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Many thanks, Andrew (and thanks also to Dr Butler). Yes, the 1997 Pensions Measure was an over-reaction to the Lovelock years. The Church swung from one extreme to another: from the Commissioners bearing the bulk of the burden to the parishes. The assumption was that Lovelock (and his aides) had left the Commissioners prostrate, so that they needed relief. Query whether the intention in 1997 was to give the Commissioners momentary relief rather than establishing a ruinous permanent settlement to the enduring disadvantage of the parishes, at just the point at which the parishes needed to increase their investments in… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
12 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

The Church has always found a way of cutting its cloth according to its means. When a revolutionary approach is needed to improve its political economy, legislation is readily changed – the reforming Measures of 1997/8 being the most recent such examples. But those reforms, a sharp reaction to the rapacious capitalism of the eighties going awry, in turn motivated by the radical nationalization of parochial assets, and socialization of clerical remuneration in the seventies, have bequeathed us a version of the feudalism of yore. In a reversal of fortunes, the parishes go from riches to rags. Three influential articles… Read more »

Paul
Paul
14 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Michael, there is no time like the present. Take the plunge.

Ian
Ian
15 days ago

When I was at theological college I was a regular attendee at choral evensong. The music was sublime. I found myself sitting most evenings by two ladies of the close who would pass comment on the congregation, dividing them up into their own version of sheep and goats: OCD and NOCD.. I discovered that they were dividing people into ‘Our class dear.’ ‘Not our class dear’.
I miss Cathedral Evensong since becoming an RC, but I don’t miss that Cathedral Close snobbery.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
14 days ago
Reply to  Ian

When I was on the staff of Bradford Cathedral the residentiary canons made a point of taking services at parish churches, often during vacancies or when the vicar was away. I hadn’t been priested yet but did sometimes take evensong at parochial churches, or speak at Mothers’ Union meetings. On days off in the Dales I often used to visit village churches and write ‘Greetings from the Cathedral’ in their visitors’ book. All this was a very long time ago now, but I would hope other cathedrals do something similar, if they have enough staff.

Paul
Paul
15 days ago

Surely a congregation of 30 cannot support a church the size of a small cathedral, even if it has only one third of a priest. Matters will get even worse if some of the thirty go to Elim or the Catholics, as Stanley Monkhouse seems to advise.

Stanley Monkhouse
14 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Absolutely right, Paul. Some of the thirty have died, I’ve just learned. Such a wonderful building too. BTW I did not advise anyone to join Elim or the Catholics, though they’d certainly be part of vibrant communities were they to do so in this town.

Stephen Lynas
13 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Just to be clear, my ‘thumbnail sketch’ was of a meeting of the House of Clergy, not the whole Synod. General Synod is likely to meet virtually (possibly even virtuously, though judging by the tone of comments here, that might be disputed…) in November, assuming the required Measure gets through the attentuated one day Synod on 24 September. I have no inside knowledge, but I would imagine that the issue of Church finances that Froghole wishes to see broached will be part of the November sessions. Constructive comments on bathwellschap always welcome: you’ll find the report that started this thread… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
13 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Lynas

Many thanks for that clarification, Mr Lynas. Thank you also for your report. I intended no criticism of it, and appreciate that you have to precis the various contributions. Indeed, I am most grateful for your report (and for the very cogent and useful summaries of Synod meetings which you have supplied on previous occasions). Frankly, I remain very surprised that whichever house met, the issue of finance was not dealt with and in detail. Whilst I appreciate that there are a number of pressing items for discussion the progressive financial immolation of the parishes must be treated as both… Read more »

Kate
Kate
15 days ago

What a contrast between the detailed, but relaxed, report from Stephen Lynas on a meting of the House of Clergy and the recent opaque, anonymously authored, report on the meeting of the House of Bishops.

Robert Ellis
Robert Ellis
15 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Well said Kate… I don’t know why they bother issuing such a silly Press Release… it raises more questions than it answers… but there again look at the amount of coverage it gets in the Press… zilch! Perhaps the C of E Press Officers take the line that their job is to keep the Church out of the news!

David Lamming
David Lamming
15 days ago

As a footnote to Stephen Lynas’s informative article (and his accounts, frequently also entertaining, of physical meetings of General Synod are always worth reading), he and readers of TA might like to note that the House of Laity are holding their own online ‘Zoom’ meeting from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm on Tuesday 8 September. As well as providing an opportunity for those unable to attend the Synod meeting at Church House on 24 September to comment on the draft Remote Meetings Measure, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell “will be joining the meeting to provide an update on the work he is… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
15 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Perhaps something from Diocesan Secretaries on the financial situation might not come amiss. Sodor and Man have come clean but how many other dioceses are nearing bankrupcy?

Father David
Father David
14 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Isn’t Truro on the skids as well? Perhaps a reuniting with the diocese of Exeter is long overdue?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
13 days ago
Reply to  Father David

Who knows Father David? Candour is needed as Froghole says above. Birmingham? Durham?

David Lamming
David Lamming
13 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

I think there is enough business in the agenda tomorrow for a 1½ hours evening Zoom meeting. But perhaps we should take the technological opportunities revealed/exploited by the Covid-19 pandemic to hold more frequent such online meetings (maybe with a ‘one item’ agenda) when important issues such as the one you raise can be discussed and experiences shared of how dioceses are addressing this. Important as meeting face to face is (see 3 John 14), modern technology, rightly used, has enormous benefits, as we have all learned over the past 5½ months.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
15 days ago

Re: ‘CDM, A Kafkaesque Nightmare’, Paul Devonshire says:

“I came to realise that the polity of the Church of England at every level is totalitarian in form, such regimes relying on judicial collusion to persist”

Totally agree.

I am reminded of George Orwell’s last-known published words in 1949:

“But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours. The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you”

Last edited 15 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Father David
Father David
15 days ago

Having just listened to Lucy Winkett lead the Sunday Service on the wireless I am wondering why she isn’t yet a bishop? I write this as a Trafitionalist! Surely, this appointment is well overdue but her appointment must be as a Diocesan, for if she were to be appointed to a Suffragan See she would surely outshine any current Diocesan!

John Wallace
John Wallace
14 days ago
Reply to  Father David

I totally agree with Fr. David about Lucy Winkett. I was expecting her to be one of the first woman bishops. Perhaps she has been approached but turned it down as being too restrictive and managerial in the current climate.

David Lamming
David Lamming
13 days ago
Reply to  Father David

Chelmsford perhaps? The first meeting of the CNC is on 12 October, and the second (when the short-listed candidates are interviewed) is on 18-19 November, so we might have an announcement by Christmas.

Father David
Father David
13 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

An excellent suggestion. Chelmsford diocese where I spent 10 happy years before moving to the south coast in 2013.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
12 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Lucy Winkett would be an astonishing appointment as Bishop of Chelmsford. It is a large diocese, and has traditionally gone to a diocesan bishop from a small diocese (e.g. John Gladwin) or an experienced suffragan (e.g. Stephen Cottrell).

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
12 days ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

There are precedents in other dioceses. Rachel Treweek at Gloucester, 2015, coming from the Diocese of London, and Vivienne Faull at Bristol, 2018, are examples of women Diocesans who have not had previous episcopal appointments. Vivienne Faull was Dean of York, a different, but a very senior role in a very major cathedral. Lucy Winkett knows cathedral life from her time at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, 1997-2010 (where she initially had a tough time and overcame wounding treatment from some of the Chapter), the first woman priest there and becoming Canon Precentor. For the last ten years she has served… Read more »

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