Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 8 May 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Opening the jar, carrying the load

Hatty Calbus Surviving Church

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David Hawkins
David Hawkins
10 days ago

If you are an Anglican Parish Priest what is the measure of your success ? In an age in which most organizations demand quantifiable results, church attendance is likely to be top of the list. I want to suggest that this demand for quantifiable results, this managerial approach to church governance goes well beyond the orbit of HTB. Consider a restaurant. If you are attracting customers and making healthy profits, you can safely ignore the odd difficult customer who questions your business methods but how does this translate into your local parish church ? Not very well I suggest if… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by David Hawkins
A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  David Hawkins
9 days ago

The problem is that we seem to have put all eggs in one basket in how we try and halt decline and it isn’t working! The fact that it is also encourages the amoral managerialist thinking that plagues the rest of our society is just a Brucie bonus!

Hoping TA pick out the article on maternity leave provisions for clergy as it is prime example of how this type of thinking dehumanises and justified poor treatment.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  David Hawkins
9 days ago

1/2 I agree and disagree! Yes – numbers have been made out to be everything. They are not. But they are something. The ordinal is a robust role description, and places a high bar against a number of areas of ministry – messengers, watchmen, stewards; teachers, admonishers, feeders. In no other area of work can you cherry pick and say that one has priority over another. There should be an ecclesial accountability which needs to be held to which the church simply fails to do. The church consistently fails to call clergy to account – and it should do with… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
9 days ago

‘A pastoral chat every few months’ I didn’t see a bishop or archdeacon for a pastoral conversation more than every couple of years or so. I’d like to know which dioceses are offering chats every couple of months.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Fr Dean
8 days ago

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Bishop or an Archdeacon for a genuinely pastoral chat – there’s always an agenda, even if it’s just including questions about how my ministry is going or the parish alongside any pastoral questions, and confidentiality (or it coming back to bite you) cannot be assumed even where no safeguarding or professional conduct issues are involved. To be honest, with the (extensive) experience I’ve had of working fairly closely with them, I’d be loathe to entrust my pastoral care to all but a very few unless it looked like needing senior staff input to… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Realist
8 days ago

This is very sad but also true. I agree with every word.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
9 days ago

You should perhaps reflect on the story of the widows mite. There are those who are ostentatious in their worship. They attend church every Sunday. They probably dress up for church. They will be sure to talk to the minister when they leave the church. They probably have a standing order for their giving. Then maybe there is an old widow. She buys some cheap bird food in Aldi and sits on the canal towpath feeding the ducks. As she does, she praises the Lord for His creation and dedicates the food she is casting to Him. Which is more… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  Kate Keates
7 days ago

Perhaps the best thing is to leave the judgment to God.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
9 days ago

“In many dioceses this has been watered down to a “pastoral chat” every few months with a bishop or archdeacon.” Having been responsible for ministerial development in one diocese and involved with its delivery in several others I can assure you there is no such thing as “pastoral chats” every few months with the bishop. Regular ministerial reviews with training and development goals are the norm. And for the reasons you rightly stress.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  David Hawkins
9 days ago

Ahh! That phrase. “bums on pews”. I think it’s straightforward to believe that church attendance is good. I think the world would be a better place if more people went to church. It’s pretty much my starting point.

Sarah Douglas
Reply to  Oliver Miller
8 days ago

It depends on the church. I have attended some churches that I would be happy to invite people along to and others where I would actively discourage them from attending. I think we have to be honest about what particular churches are like when considering inviting people – if it is a church with lots of petty squabbles, discord or bullying I can’t see that it is a good idea to encourage people to go along.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  David Hawkins
8 days ago

HTB draw on the parable of the talents, invest and grow, bury out of fear or resentment and even what you have will be taken away. Leaders grow and HTB leaders lead in love, so this portrayal of HTB leadership is entirely false. The management principles HTB employs in planting churches as I have seen it is about putting together a good team of people with a diverse range of skills under a strong leader with the same vision and communicate this vision often. Find a good location to reach the widest possible audience, mainly the unchurched young and continually… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
7 days ago

Does HTB’s pastoral care extend to visiting the homebound and/or hospitalized? Does it include offering space and support to organizations such as AA, Al-Anon, PFLAG? Do they sponsor Boy Scout and Girl Guide troops?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  Pat ONeill
6 days ago

They run Hubs that support a wide range of social action under the Love Your Neighbour banner. They are called in by local bishops specifically to fill gaps in local mission, rather than duplicate what other churches are already offering, such as supporting the organisations you mention.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
10 days ago

It is shocking that whilst some people have been asking for bread, the CofE has given them the stones of McChurch, a ghastly fast-food distortion of Christian discipleship in the form of cheap entertainment and Jesus with fries. Hatty Calbus does us a great service in exposing the HTB bible-burger which has infected the Church like a coronavirus. She mentions the HTB “casualties” who seek recovery in normal parishes after experiencing no pastoral care in the dangerous sect the happy-clappy CofE has become. The Church should use its considerable wealth in spreading the Love of God in Word and Sacraments,… Read more »

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 days ago

Fr David – Covid killed many people. To make HTBs presentation and clothing of the gospel analogous with a deadly virus is a wholly misplaced and inappropriate analogy. You may not like it, but that doesn’t make it deadly. For many it is life enhancing and life transforming and for that we need to be thankful. To not like something is OK – as a matter of taste and style. And here’s the thing….. drivers/owners of Range Rovers and drinkers of Pimms also need the life giving Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know quite a few… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
8 days ago

I accept it is possible to drive a posh car, bankroll a right-wing TV station, finance a conservative religion which is suspicious of gay people, AND claim to follow the man who rode a donkey. I fear the message that Jesus supports rich people may be lost on the poor . Getting a camel through the eye of a needle, and a rich man into heaven are a bit difficult.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
9 days ago

2/2 We may not be a supermarket, but we are a local branch of a beautiful family or should be, with a branch manager. And if you are its leader, you need to take that responsibility seriously and not just have a “ministry of being nice” – as one archdeacon described it to me. Or as Austin Farrar described priesthood ” You are a walking sacrament”. It doesn’t get better than this to describe the transformative nature of priesthood.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
9 days ago

A ministry of being nice is certainly better than a ministry of being nasty or uncaring.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
8 days ago

Or, indeed, any genuinely Christian believer – we are all, after all, a royal priesthood; I think it was Paul who said that. Chipped cups, yes, in whom the divine image is marred, but we are all still walking sacraments.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
9 days ago

HTB is not Soul Survivor, Hill Song or Saddleback. They only operate where invited to do so by the local bishop to whom they are accountable. So there is no similarity whatsoever! Their vicars undergo upto 5 years of ministerial training and are equipped to respect and serve across all traditions of the CofE. Generous orthodoxy means they never openly criticise other churches or traditions, but they are orthodox. Their training is second to none in my opinion and attracts the brightest and best of their generation. HTB and others are trying desperately to hold together and revitalise a rapidly… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
8 days ago

You haven’t addressed any of the devastating points raised by Hatty Calbus.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  FrDavid H
8 days ago

If it’s about accountability then HTB is fully accountable and subject to the same safeguarding principles as every CofE church and officer. No one connected with HTB has been disciplined under this process as far as I am aware. Hatty Calbus has not mentioned anyone so this is guilt by association. What further rebuttal do you need?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
7 days ago

Why would you want to belong to a church which collects data on your and other people’s sex life? This snacks of abuse of power and control. Why should political affiliation be the concern of a nosy vicar? It all sounds like evangelical Big Brother. Most sensible people would run a mile.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 days ago

HTB does not collect data on people’s sex lives or political affiliation. If you have these concerns you should report it to your local bishop immediately as a Safe Guarding issue.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
7 days ago

According to the HTB website it does. You should read Ms Calbus’s article

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 days ago

i can only speak of what I know and when I was associated with HTB and I was never asked for this information. I don’t believe everything I read.

Dr Peter Debenham
Dr Peter Debenham
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 days ago

Sigh. I have read the article, and HTB’s website (specifically their Privacy Policy). I have also received GDPR training. GDPR states that all personal data has to be held and processed according to rules of necessity and sensitivity but additional care is required for “special category data” (what some call “sensitive personal data.”) HTB have simply given the standard definition of what constitutes “sensitive personal data” in the UK [1]. Rather than some dark intent to record everyone’s sex lives HTB are stating [2] that where they collect “Sensitive” data they must highlight why they are doing do; religious beliefs… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Dr Peter Debenham
4 days ago

Why on earth does a Church need deeply personal data on ANYBODY? Most Churches would resent the Vicar holding information about the sex life of the flower ladies. Don’t let the facts get in the way of justified criticism.

Dr Peter Debenham
Dr Peter Debenham
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 days ago

Thank you for so clearly proving the point of my final paragraph. It is most kind of you.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 days ago

Indeed. My sexual, political and similar views – so long as I am not hurting others or forcing them to conform to them – are solely my affair, and most certainly not a vicar’s. I have known a couple of sky-pilots who tried imposing their own views on churches in that way, and would prefer to steer well clear of anyone else who did that. Sounds like it is calculated to breed a collection of ‘yes men’ who won’t challenge an insecure leader – and Adrian, you’ll find it isn’t something HTB have a monopoly on. Its usually done in… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
8 days ago

I would hope we were all generous in our orthodoxy, not just HTB! (Or was that an encoded reservation of the status of ‘orthodox’ for a particular constituency within the CofE;-) ) I’m acquainted with two HTB outfits in this diocese, and both are generous in their respect for other traditions, obedient (and very well resourced). I’m currently working with one of their members in discerning an ordained vocation, and the insight I’ve gained into what they’re doing in a run-down urban area is remarkable. However, even if canonical obedience to CofE structures sees off the risk of Soul Survivor-esque… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Rowett
7 days ago

You mean HTB can be risky for developing young people. It might be best they stay away.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 days ago

Again if you have concerns about young people and HTB then you have a duty to report it to your local diocese as a safe guarding issue.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
7 days ago

If you were the parent of a gay son or daughter would you like them to be taught their orientation means they must remain celibate? That is abusive.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 days ago

All I am saying is that if HTB is abusive then report it. I have not seen myself any evidence of abuse at HTB. I get the guilt by association angle but that only works if there has been any cover up and there hasn’t been.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  David Rowett
7 days ago

Orthodox: as in following or conforming to the traditional or generally accepted rules or beliefs of a religion, philosophy, or practice.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
7 days ago

A fair but, might I suggest, not watertight definition? AFAIK marriage is not mentioned in any of the creeds. In terms of practice, the social conventions over the centuries certainly favoured a man and a woman (it was just the way they did things back in the day, which is probably why Jesus framed it that way, in the setting that his listeners were familiar with and understood… the real implication was fidelity. When it comes to ‘Orthodoxy’, perhaps the most important orthodoxy of all is the greatest imperative: to love God and love others. With the help of conscience… Read more »

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
6 days ago

Generally accepted by whom? The majority?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
5 days ago

If you don’t like or understand the definition I have chosen, then by all means choose your own.

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
6 days ago

At one point, of course, ‘quod ubique, quod semper’ was used as a means of rendering impossible any restoration to fellowship of a believer who had fallen into serious sin. Tertullian (‘De Pudicitia’) and Hippolytus, the first anti-pope (‘Refutatio‘) both have a go at Callistus for suggesting the possibility that there might be forgiveness for such. (In terms of development in general, doctrinal or ethical, wasn’t the homoousion condemned by Arius’ sympathisers as an unscriptural innovation?) I have to say Tertullian’s colourfully histrionic turn of phrase does rather remind me of some of the more remarkable contributions I’ve heard in… Read more »

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
8 days ago

‘This is never about ‘issues’; it’s about people.’ What a great conversation.I wonder how it works out!

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