Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 6 June 2020

James Gilder All Things Lawful And Honest A Church for All
“Want a Church for all? Be prepared to engage with the nitty-gritty.”

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to Pretending!

Danny Pegg Anglicanism.org A New Beginning or a Curate’s Egg?
“A local and national reflection on the Church of England during the time of Coronavirus”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Clergy Discipline Measure. Time for Replacement?

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
29 days ago

Stephen Parsons notes: “…the core group set up by the Church to examine the case of Martyn Percy at Christ Church Oxford seems to have been ‘weaponised’ against him. It is unclear who authorised this process, but it has led to a situation where allegations against Martyn are discussed in a forum where he is not represented. Private Eye has examined this case in detail. Because of all the publicity over this case, we are likely to see the eventual discrediting of core groups as currently constituted as a suitable response to safeguarding allegations”   Church of England Core Groups dealing with safeguarding… Read more »

Father David
29 days ago

In the words of a song by that great entertainer – Max Bygraves “Fings ain’t what they used to be”. As your commentators point out – the likelihood of things returning to what they used to be is sadly highly unlikely.

Kate
Kate
29 days ago
Reply to  Father David

“the likelihood of things returning to what they used to be is sadly highly unlikely’

It is indeed unlikely but I don’t know that should be a cause for sadness. Enough people have come forward to say that online services are (perhaps literally) a God-send that I think we should welcome a chance to do things differently.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
29 days ago
Reply to  Father David

‘What they used to be’ was no better than they are now, just different. Previous to the Clergy Discipline Measure the only way to exercise discipline on erring clergy was via a Consistory Court trial – expensive, cumbersome, and much more public. It was because this was so unsatisfactory that the CDM was set up. We need something much better than either.

Kate
Kate
29 days ago

I believe that the Church ought to have a single, universal pay rate covering everyone from priests, to bishops, to secretaries to youth workers. Nobody’s work should be valued more or less highly.

(A London allowance might be appropriate.)

English Athena
English Athena
29 days ago
Reply to  Kate

And the cleaner?

Kate
Kate
28 days ago
Reply to  English Athena

And the cleaner, yes. Anyone not a volunteer.

Father David
29 days ago
Reply to  Kate

They tried that and voted upon it in General Synod and it was heavily defeated despite Rowan Williams, who was Archbishop at the time, voting in favour of all ranks of clergy receiving the same stipend remuneration.

Kate
Kate
28 days ago
Reply to  Father David

Rowan was right. Maybe faced with severe financial problems Synod will finally embrace the idea.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
29 days ago
Reply to  Kate

You really don’t believe that a higher level of responsibility should entail a higher level of compensation? That the manager of the grocery store should not be better paid than the kid pushing trolleys in the parking lot? And that, therefore, the bishop responsible for all the activities of a diocese should not be paid better than the parish secretary who answers phones and puts out a weekly newsletter?   Not to mention the question of long service….should the priest who has served well for two decades really be paid the same as the 23-year-old just out of seminary? Who… Read more »

Kate
Kate
28 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

The first paragraph makes sense but you lose me at, “And that, therefore, the bishop responsible for all the activities of a diocese should not be paid better than the parish secretary who answers phones and puts out a weekly newsletter?” The Church is not a grocery store, it is God’s church and fundamentally nobody’s service to God is more valuable than any other person’s service. So I don’t see that a bishop is doing more than a parish secretary. One has been called to serve in one way; the other in s different way: but both are simply serving… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
28 days ago
Reply to  Kate

You are, essentially, asking a man or woman with a university degree, years of experience, responsibility for decisions that affect hundreds, if not thousands of people, to work for the same compensation as someone with little more than a certificate from a secretarial school (if that). It defies belief that you would expect anyone to follow a “calling” that puts them in that position…how could they support themselves, let alone a family in that situation?
 

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Bishops do not have longer academic training than parish clergy. Indeed quite the opposite. Especially in TEC.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
27 days ago
Reply to  ACI

But they DO have a great deal more academic training than the parish secretary, probably. Kate’s original proposal was that from the bishop down to the parish secretary, everyone be paid the same.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
28 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

As a priest who has served for over thirty years, and a member of General Synod, I believe now what I believed at my ordination: the stipend should be the same, maybe with London weighting. I am fully understand that expenses would be different, but then…. after all it is a stipend not a salary. I for one need neither a bigger bank account or some material recognition. It may seem soppy, but that is what I believe. And yes, I know it can be really hard for families, but that is their decision to make. Nor am I suggesting… Read more »

David Emmott
David Emmott
28 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Clergy are paid a ‘stipend’, not a salary. This is supposed to (and does) provide for a reasonable standard of living. Differing roles within the church will obviously entail differing costs and expenses; nobody expects a bishop to pay their own travel costs out of stipend. But why should anyone expect more than the basics? In some parishes the priest is among the highest earners anyway.

Thomas G. Reilly
Thomas G. Reilly
28 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Your terminology exposes the issue; is being a priest a career, or a calling to serve? The clerical state has become a career, virtually from the second century onwards, but I don’t think the people of God, and God’s world, have benefited from that. Is sanctity of life, and committment to the poor the main qualification?
because we are committed to leading people into life, as followers of the Crucified one. We will receive our reward in heaven.

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Your analogy speaks volumes.

Richard
Richard
29 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Some might call that communism, and many would reject it for that reason alone. What would the next step be? Doing away with clergy altogether? Allowing anyone with a bit of bread and wine to officiate at the Eucharist? For better or for worse, people rely on their jobs in the church to support themselves and a family. With a system where all church roles were in addition to a paying secular job, we could have a volunteer association with each individual donating three or four hours a week. Would that work? Or, men could hold secular paying jobs and… Read more »

J Kirby
J Kirby
29 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I don’t see why a London allowance is appropriate at all. High property prices are the main factor in a London allowance, and housing is free for clergy. In addition, they are able to command pretty high rents from lodgers if they so wish, and on top of that they usually have little need for a car. What, therefore, is this allowance for?

Kieran
Kieran
28 days ago
Reply to  Kate

It’s a nice idea, but as Pat O’Neill points out, not very practical. Maybe if the clergy were properly unionised there would be a chance of enterprise bargaining. Perhaps a better way forward would be a proportionate pay scale applying to all clergy working in the Church of England, with increments for time served and seniority of position attained. And as Froghole has pointed out in numerous places, the real point where serious issues need to be addressed is clergy pensions. On principle I think a London allowance is very unwise, since it reinforces bias towards the south-east corner of… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
29 days ago

This story is much the most consequential news for the Church since the lockdown began: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/lifting-coronavirus-lockdown-plans-to-open-shops-all-day-on-sundays-n9dt9gzrc   Arguably the most important reason for the current death spiral in attendance was the almost total disappearance of families after the liberalisation of Sunday trading and the opening of local authority facilities (notably Sunday morning soccer) in 1993. How many times have I attended ‘family services’ where no families were in evidence? The churches were given at least some respite by restricting Sunday trading from 11 AM to 4 PM. It has long been my view that there ought to be a shift… Read more »

Richard
Richard
29 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

What you say regarding the effects of liberalisation of Sunday trading is no doubt true. But would we want to know that a larger congregation is present only because there is nothing better to do?

Brenda
Brenda
29 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

I’m a churchgoer, though I find it rewarding and infuriating in almost equal measure, and so I’m not sure that I’m the best person to comment on the reasons why people don’t go to church anymore; but I don’t think it’s much to do with Sunday trading. There is plenty of time after Mass to trail round the shops if you want to. Even for a big weekly shop it’s difficult to see how you could spin out a trip around the aisles at Sainsbury’s to last more than an hour. People make time for the things they believe to… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
29 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

In a pluralistic society, I think Sunday-closing laws are ridiculous. The CofE may be the established church, but last I checked, there is full freedom of religion in the UK and therefore businesses ought to be able to set their own days and hours of operation. Liquor establishments being an exception. Besides, Closing up society so that people attend church sounds positively Medieval or 1600s Puritan New England. And, If businesses have to be closed so that people attend church, the CofE needs to take a good look in the mirror. I think religion flourishes best when people don’t resent… Read more »

Kate
Kate
28 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

“On this basis there will be no point during the week where the Church will not face severe competition from other activities.” What about 8pm to 9pm on a Sunday? Actually, isn’t an evening the best time if the offering has become substantially virtual? Children will be in bed or doing homework, but crucially parents can attend virtual services at that time without needing to organise childcare or facing pushback from children who don’t want to be stuck in boring church. As I have said before, the Church is probably facing a period of change. Whether that is a negative… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
28 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

We in the US, in all denominations, have been dealing with this situation since states began repealing what we called the “Blue Laws” in the late 1960s. IMO, if the church cannot “compete” with secular activities on Sunday morning, the church is not doing its job right. Further, there is, of course, more to being a successful church (I would hope) than the ability to put bums in pews for an hour or so once a week.
 

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
28 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

I suppose your view of this latest proposed relaxation of the Sunday trading laws depends on whether you think the church needs to be legally protected from competing activities and ‘attractions’. History tells us that this never was a predominantly voluntarily church going society. The mid 19th century religious census shows that just some 50% of the population attended service on the census Sunday at a time when the secular pressures exercised by landlord, squire and pardon in rural areas were already beginning to fade and when the industrial revolution had released the newly urban population from such pressure altogether.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
28 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Many thanks for your respective comments.   The reason why I mentioned 4 PM to 6 PM is that most families are starting to get ready for the week ahead after 6 PM, which is when many evening services commence. I agree with Kate that worship later on a Sunday evening can be useful (and have encountered it on rare occasions), but I suspect that most people facing a working week and a commute will want to be home by about 8 PM.   I also agree with the comments made about attendance often being a function of legal and/or… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
28 days ago

A typical clergy career, pursued exclusively over the course of an entire working life, as documented in the pages of Crockford’s, is likely to become a thing of the past. The trend towards a more mixed economy of vocations, with a blend of stipendiary, self-supporting and retired clergy, was already in train long before coronavirus. The effect of the pandemic will inevitably put further pressure on our ability to fund the parish system.    Pay differentials rightly reflect the level of skills, training, experience, responsibility, and time commitment. It would be far better to give parishes complete autonomy over clergy stipends,… Read more »

Just Sayin
Just Sayin
28 days ago

As an incumbent of more than 30 years I don’t see any reason why all stipends shouldn’t be equalised so long as support is provided commensurate with the post from central funds. So long as the Church maintains a managerial style – the ‘higher’ the post the bigger the perks, it will remain a management style organisation.   I’d also argue the every day work of keeping the show on the road is hugely responsible requiring hard learned skills, determination, stamina and resilience to say nothing of the emotional and physical stress involved. It’s a role in which there is… Read more »

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