Thinking Anglicans

Save the Parish campaign launched

The Church Times has this report by Madeleine Davies: ‘Save the Parish’ campaigners have Synod in their sights.

A CAMPAIGN to elect members to the General Synod under a “Save the Parish” banner was launched in London on Tuesday evening, with a warning that this was “the last chance to save the system that has defined Christianity in this country for 1000 years”. The move was welcomed by a Church of England spokesman.

In his remarks at the campaign launch, in St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, in London, the Rector, the Revd Marcus Walker, spoke of the need for a “co-ordinated campaign” that would unite Anglicans across traditions, transcending debates about women’s ordination and same-sex marriage…

There is a video recording of the launch event, which you can view here. The keynote speakers were Alison Milbank and Stephen Trott.

And there is an embryonic website.

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Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

I have every sympathy with the aims of this campaign. There are too many people who have found their way into the hierarchy of the Cof E who don’t understand it – and certainly don’t value it. I can understand why people may feel that the parochial character of the Church is under threat and feel moved to do something about it. But launching a campaign like this, where middle-class, right-of-centre clergy (plus one or two lay people), mainly from London and the Home Counties, most of whom are permanently occupied with their twitter accounts, and many of whom are… Read more »

James Allport
James Allport
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

Bill, You neatly highlight two key points, that movements without a positive vision tend to fail, and that success is attractive, so highlighting parishes which are successfully being the leaven in their community is important. I wish you had made those points without the sweeping generalisation about the people involved. There are lots of things that Marcus Walker and I disagree about, but history is made by the people who turn up. I don’t think many of us relish standing for Synod. But I’m unwilling to cede the ground to the Conservative Evangelicals, who have very successfully organised so that… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
Reply to  James Allport
1 month ago

I find myself mid-way between James and Bill. Another campaign makes me groan and say ‘not more displacement activity, please.’ Although I think Bill has highlighted the the core issues succinctly (and is probably quite accurate in *some* of his characterisations, too!) I think James has also identified an important factor. The Evangelicals (many of whom are, ironically, frustrated by the accountability inherent in synodical government) know how to work the system to their advantage. You can be assured they will be sparing no energy to get their people to stand for the Synod. In that sense, it is important… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
1 month ago

As I have said before, it would be a good thing if more people who are eligible actually voted.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

I’m not sure that attempting to save the parish system “will turn everyone’s attention away from the communities and the people they are there to serve,”. Surely a groundswell of protest against a ridiculous evangelical re-make of the CofE is not a full-time job. ‘Save the Parish’ could be an opportunity to show non-cooperation with people who have no idea about Anglicanism, but who use the CofE ‘boat’ to fish for people who who might be temporarily entertained by a smiling singing group led by men call Mick, Nick or Dave. If 10,000 parishes refused to listen to the myriad… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by FrDavid H
Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

“Surely a groundswell of protest …”. The trouble is, FrDavid H, that I doubt there are enough people to make a groundswell. In rural areas where the church of the parish still means something nobody who doesn’t attend cares so long as church is there for life and death events. In urban areas the notion of the parish church is pretty irrelevant these days and the unchurched and dechurched don’t even care about christenings, weddings and funerals now that granny who might have insisted on having the baby “done” is dead. Like Bill Broadhead and Stephen Griffiths I sincerely hope… Read more »

alison milbank
alison milbank
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

sorry to keep popping up on your website but such a remark about me! I am a full-time academic yes, which gives me a strong insight into neoliberal managerialism for my sins but I do children’s church regularly, baptise, preach, take weddings, lead discussion groups, do weekday eucharists – bog standard stuff. And I am only on your website because the response to our meeting has been so overwhelming the university want me to track the impact on blogs.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  alison milbank
1 month ago

As I said, I hope much comes of it. I apologise for misrepresenting you. I expect you are still delightful.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

‘most of whom are permanently occupied with their twitter accounts’

Indeed. Marcus Walker has 10,600 Twitter followers and is himself following 2,876 Twitter accounts. Are these all members of his parish? Apparently he spends a fair bit of time each day interacting with a non-local community. As, in fact, do many of us here on Thinking Anglicans!

Horace Mitchell
Horace Mitchell
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

I’m for personal action not ‘campaigns’ but I was still delighted to hear about ‘Save The Parish’. As regards what types of campaigns work best, as a long-time marketing specialist my observation is that for most purposes it’s easier to get people out and active against something than it is ‘for’ something. Those past a certain age and with long memories may recall the Poll Tax proposals, which got people on the streets who had never marched before and probably haven’t marched since. From a marketing perspective a ‘stop the rot’ message (against something) works much better than any ‘save… Read more »

Lay person
Lay person
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

I must correct the assumption that this is a campaign supported by ‘one or two lay people’. This is a genuine alliance between stipendiary parish clergy and the lay people who can’t bear to stand by and watch how they are being treated by the diocesan bureaucracy. I know, because I am one of many lay people who have joined STP – the numbers are well into four figures and it only launched on Tuesday. It is a call for the parishes to go to the top of the pecking order for resources, rather than continue to be drained of… Read more »

alison milbank
alison milbank
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

Dear Bill, Please watch the video. My whole talk was about the missional potential of the parish in the future and my examples from all over – more north of trent than south as I recall. Our campaign is much bigger than just the parish – though that stands for inclusivity, stability, commitment to place and the worth of the liturgical and the transcendent dimension, which is quite a lot! The parish cause, however, should unite all sorts of different flavours of Anglican. And we need people on that synod now to vote down legislation coming up which will make… Read more »

Charles K
Charles K
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
1 month ago

Bill – I applaud you! You have it the nail on the head with this. There is little substance to this rather hysterical response to all the Myriad furore. What I dont understand is why so much energy is wasted on huffing and puffing and such relentless negativity, that those who want to save the parish dont fritter away time on Synods, but invest it in their own parishes. As an increasingly bemused onlooker from the pews, if the parish is to survive, it needs its clergy to step up a gear, listen to their communities, avoid synods, be more… Read more »

Peter in t' North
Peter in t' North
Reply to  Charles K
28 days ago

That too, Charles!

John Milbank
John Milbank
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
12 days ago

Yes

Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

“the last chance to save the system that has defined Christianity in this country for 1000 years” That’s a rather disparaging thing to say about Christians who aren’t part of the Church of England and its parish system. They are now officially outside the definition of Christianity. My brother is a long time member of a Pentecostal congregation in Manchester, and has two decades of Christian charity work under his belt. He hasn’t been part of a C of E parish system for 40 years. Is he outside the definition of Christianity? And can I be the only one with… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Indeed, and many thanks for making this point. I am vehemently in favour of the parish system, but this statement seems maladroit, and might even weaken the case that this campaign wishes to make. The parish system was largely established in its present form between the ninth and twelfth centuries (there were probably at least several hundred minster churches before 900). The parish was also only one of the means by which Christianity manifested itself prior to the Reformation. The great Nicholas Orme has once more noted the proliferation of chapels in addition to parish churches: for example, in Devon… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Sorry – that should read: “…it was the system which was the most comprehensive, and often the most visible, manifestation of the faith during the last millennium…” And, further to comments made about the Church of England accounting for a minority of Christians, I should note that the 1851 religious census (the Mann census) determined that only 5.3m people attended Anglican services in England and Wales, out of a population of 17.9m, with 4.5m attending nonconformist churches and just under 400,000 attending RC services. Therefore, even at the Victorian meridian – the high point of the Church’s fortunes in the… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Approximately 30% of the population attended a C of E service on that particular Sunday, Mothering Sunday, 1851. Does “sustantive allegiance” imply attending services absolutely every week? We don’t know (or perhaps you might know) how many turned up three weeks later or ten weeks later. Surely a lot more? Some perhaps went most weeks but not that week. When Her Present Majesty came to the throne in 1952 two thirds of infants born in England were baptised into the Church of England. The majority of those who were not, were baptised in a different denomination. Even amongst those who… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

In case anyone outside the British Isles reads this, Mothering Sunday is 3 weeks before Easter Sunday and 10 weeks before Whit Sunday.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

It’s worth noting, for people outside the British Isles, that between the publication of the BCP and 1851 Mothering Sunday drifted from a day when people returned to their mother church and when servants returned home to go to church with their mothers. Unusually, “mother” became less, rather than more, metaphoric.

British people of a certain age tend to harrumph about British Mothering Sunday being subsumed into American Mothers’ Day.

John Bunyan
John Bunyan
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

I am a little distance away from the British Isles (in the mainly puritan Diocese of Sydney) but I have joined in the celebration of Mothering Sunday since childhood. However it is the American Mothers’ Day in May that has become widely observed in Australia. As for Save the Parish, as a rector for 22 years in my last parish (and a hospital chaplain for over 22 years since retirement – now at the age of Caleb though without much of his vigour) I have just watched the meeting at Great St Barts and am delighted to know of Save… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

Many thanks for these astute remarks. There is a considerable amount of literature on the Mann census (by Bill Pickering, David Thompson, Rodney Starke, etc.), and it is known that a portion of those who did attend in the Victorian era (and even well into the twentieth century would attend both Anglican and nonconformist churches). Some landlords were quite strict in requiring tenants to attend the parish church; some mill-owners were quite strict in requiring millhands to attend the local nonconformist chapel. In any event, the results of the 1851 census were so shocking to the establishment that the survey… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Froghole
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

‘Jesus said “Feed my Sheep”. Today’s shepherds don’t want sheep, they want assistant shepherds (training not required). Sheep are just passengers.’ This is a classic example of what happens when one metaphor is taken out of context and seen as the complete truth about Christians. Yes, Jesus describes his people as his ‘sheep’, but he also calls them ‘disciples’ (indeed, the word ‘Christian’ was originally invented by people outside the faith as a slang term for disciples), and he says, ‘Make disciples of all nations’. Disciples are not passive, they are active in their own learning, and the way Jesus… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

“Making disciples of all nations” may sound like a noble command, but has historically resulted in wars, crusades, the decimation of ancient tribes and horrible human suffering. After spreading Anglicanism through its former colonies, we now see ‘disciples’ in the Global South arguing over who is more bible-based and “holier than thou”. Given half the chance, these evangelicals would try to convert untouched Amazonian tribes to sing “Shine Jesus Shine, before telling them to sling their much-loved gay members into the jungle.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

FrDavid, it’s Jesus’ command, not mine. Variations on the command appear at the end of every gospel. We frequently hear these days that we’re called to be ‘faithful, not successful.’ I don’t see how you can be faithful to Jesus and ignore his final commission. What has historically resulted in wars, crusades etc. is not disciple making per se, but disciple making understood in Christendom terms and carried out from a position of power, often by the paid representatives of established state churches. This is not the only model. And if you don’t like the way evangelicals have done it,… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Here though is an example of confusing a verb with a noun. You quote Jesus as saying “Make disciples of all nations”, and then follow it with a statement about disciples. The word translated in some Bible versions as “make disciples of” is a verb. The KJV shows this, as of course does the Greek. Make disciples of all nations baptising them and teaching them. The word “them” does not refer to disciples. It cannot do because that phrase is a verb. The only antecedent noun is nations. It is nations which are to be baptised and taught, not disciples.… Read more »

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Completely agree. The majority of Christians in England are not part of the C of E. The parish system today is utterly meaningless. It may have been defensible up to about 1970 when a substantial number of people identified with the C of E even if they did not attend its services. This campaign is led by people with a vested interest in propping up a failed system.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Sam Jones
1 month ago

Comments like these are unhelpful. Those no longer loyal to the C of E or the parish system have the option of pursuing their chosen alternative(s). As Froghole points out, this Campaign, although clearly well-intentioned, didn’t choose the words of its announcement carefully enough. That answers Tim Chesterton’s objection. I don’t know your situation any more than you can know mine, but in rural communities the parish is the centre of Church life and I also have personal experience of city parishes which are currently thriving.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Ref “in rural communities the parish is the centre of Church life and I also have personal experience of city parishes which are currently thriving.” Surely correlation is not causation. There may be parish churches, both rural and urban, which are thriving. But the are are many non-parish churches in other denominations which are also thriving. And there are many parish churches which are dying on their feet, or have already faded away. Church success is not linked to its parish status. I think if you analyse why a church thrives it is more to do with the socio-geography of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

My experience has been different although, of course, it hasn’t been in the Salisbury Diocese. The immediate catchment area of the Cathedral can hardly be representative of such a huge diocese, surely?

In any event the subject of the campaign and of this thread is a hoped-for renewal of the Church of England. It’s unfortunate that things unnecessarily said in the campaign launch about other denominations have caused offence

Alan Marsh
Alan Marsh
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

??? I can see no reference to other denominations in the Save the Parish material – simply the ambition to put the parish churches front and centre in the Church of England, rather than local branches managed by a central office – like the ill-fated postmasters.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

The phrase “many non-parish churches in other denominations” is perhaps an exaggeration, at least with respect to Wiltshire. However, having attended services at every parish church in Wiltshire from Kemble and Marston Meysey to Bramshaw, South Damersham and Tollard Royal, I rather tend to agree with your analysis. There are some congregations which have indeed faded away, but not necessarily to the extent that the church is a festival church (indeed, festival churches in Wiltshire are rare, and I can think presently only of Horningsham and, lately, Chicklade and *perhaps* Sevenhampton); two churches (Buttermere and Fugglestone) are used on a… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I forgot Hannington, Sherington and Tytherington, which now also function as effective festival churches.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Dear Rowland and Froghole, Thank you for your comments. I think yours, and mine, illustrate the problem. We can all speak anecdotally from our own experience, but perhaps what is needed is hard evidence. I have no axe to grind about the parish system. What I want to see is what will work best to make a long term sustainable network of functioning church communities in the villages where I minister, because the current system is fading away. I would love to see a strong , practical, reasoned argument put forward for how the parish system can be made to… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

As I shall shortly be 80 I suppose it’s inevitable that there is nostalgia, nor can I put forward reasoned arguments for a panacea for the C of E’s current ills. From my admittedly limited position, Lay Person’s reply above to Bill Broadhead makes a lot of sense. I believe that Froghole has campaigned for similar reform, but will it happen? Or, how can it be made to happen?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Many thanks. I now recall the scheme from about two years ago. And, of course, Boscombe was Richard Hooker’s parish before he went off to Bishopsbourne. I also recall a degree of controversy about the closure of Allington, but I was able to attend a service there, and at Idmiston, in 2014. I encountered the then incumbent again at a service at St Buryan (Cornwall) a couple of years later. Personally, I think it is essentially too late, almost everywhere. The parish system, especially in the countryside, might have stood a chance after 1998 had it not been forced (without… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Sam Jones
1 month ago

“The parish system today is utterly meaningless.” I suggest that statement is too sweeping. I can assure you, in various parish churches I have belonged to over nearly 7 decades, the pastoral care and presence of local church communities have been far from meaningless. So much love and care has been practised by parish church communities, and the costly devotion of individuals year after year. In turn, although Christianity is not in vogue (many alienated by churches that oppose gay sexuality etc), I know that for many people in a parish setting, the parish church is seen and understood as… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

The disparaging way in which Alison Milbank describes the majority of Christians in England as members of ‘nonconformist sects‘ is another example of the unconscious (?) sense of smug superiority that seems to characterize people of this ilk.

alison milbank
alison milbank
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Dear Tim, If the Church of England abandons its ecclesial organisation and its commitment to the whole country to take on a gathered model, then it will, logically, be sectarian to its former character. It is in this context that I used the phrase about Anglicans, not anyone else. If you listened carefully, you would have found I referred to ‘free church’ members elsewhere. This talk and this campaign is about the Anglican Church and upcoming legislation to allow suspension of clergy and closure of churches without appeal, to which a lay contributor above has drawn attention. I also praised… Read more »

Peter in t' North
Peter in t' North
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
28 days ago

Yes, your point is taken strongly – we need to more careful with our language – but STP has arisen because of a specific set of problems within the C of E which have become worse in the past five years. In this context the ‘parish’ is a metaphor, if you like, for a settled congregation in one place over a relatively long period of time. It is the focus and the sign for stability and the continuing presence of Christ in the community. The current behaviour of the diocese from this standpoint is precisely that it blots out or… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
1 month ago

The assertion on the website that being on General Synod is not onerous is somewhat questionable. Apart from the 2 meetings a year there is a great deal of reading if you are going to do it properly. Are General Synod members ex officio on Diocesan Synod ?

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

Yes, and on their deanery synod and the PCC of the parish where their name is on the electoral roll: see Church Representation Rules, rules 32(1)(a), 16(1)(b) and M15(1)(i). (These are the relevant rules relating to the laity.)

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  David Lamming
1 month ago

If being on General Synod is not onerous doesn’t that just undermine the usefulness and effectiveness of the synod that you could be a member without really engaging?

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 month ago

There will probably be 3 General Synods each year for the next 3 and the members will need to give up time to attend – including many who will need to take annual leave.

Simon Drowley
Simon Drowley
Reply to  Simon Butler
1 month ago

Why three a year for the next three years? I thought the November date was only reserved as a contingency, such as sorting out the Women Bishops vote in 2014. Is it moving to be a regular part of the Synod calendar, rather than just February and July?

peter kettle
Reply to  Simon Butler
1 month ago

What about a hybrid model for each session – zoom or whatever on weekdays, attendance in person at weekends when working members are less likely to need to take annual leave. The last year has shown that’s there are teething troubles with new models of working (both in church and state) but when needs must, and if the will is there ……

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
1 month ago

I wish the project success, not because it perfectly articulates everything there is to say about 1000 years of the English parish, but because it might address what so many of us fear, and comment about on these pages, in relation to the imbalance of power within the Church of England. If, through General Synod and other means, this group can destabilise the centralisation process currently at work in the Church of England it will be worthwhile. Lots of handwringing takes place over maverick bishops, the imposition of strategies, targeted distribution of money, the growing shadow of Lambeth Palace, management… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
1 month ago

This campaign and its tone is certainly parochial in its focus, but more in the sense of ‘a limited or narrow outlook, especially focused on a local area’ – including the complete excluding of other churches, as already noted. Nor, from this corner of Devon and the South West, do I go to London for informed perspectives on the challenges facing parish ministry and mission today. More positively I commend Bishop Andrew Rumsey’s wonderful book ‘Parish’ – an Anglican theology of place’ (SCM) and his article in the Church Times, ‘A kind of belonging’, June 2nd, 2017. In his review… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

I think one of the problems, to slightly misquote Churchill, is that Brits and North Americans are ‘two peoples divided by a common language.’ When we use the word ‘parish system’ here in North America, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same animal as C of E people are. And when Andrew Rumsey talks about ‘an Anglican theology of place’, is his theology ‘Anglican’ in a sense that would apply to, say, Canada or Hong Kong or Brazil, or is it just ‘established church/C of E’? To give another example, Eugene Peterson (an American Presbyterian) was fiercely devoted to… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Bishop Rumsey’s previous living, prior to his consecration to Ramsbury, was close to where I lived, and I have endeavoured to correspond with him in the past. Excerpts of the book can be found here: https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Parish_An_Anglican_Theology_of_Place.html?id=6Ht6vgAACAAJ&redir_esc=y. His blog amplifies the views articulated in the book, and might be characterised as similar in certain respects to writers like H. J. Massingham or Robert Macfarlane, albeit in clerical garb (note the repeated references to Richard Jefferies, which are perhaps apt for Wiltshire, though the Jefferies museum is located off a dual carriageway in a non-descript suburb of Swindon; Jefferies, who is buried… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Fair comment Tim. My need to be more careful with terms not, I think, Andrew Rumsey’s I think. In his article he begins … ‘a stranger draws alongside two companions along the Emmaus Road. The outsider asks to hear the news from Jerusa­lem; so they respond: “Are you a stranger that you don’t know what has happened here?” The word Luke uses for “stranger” – paroikeo – is one of several points in the New Testament where the term appears, from whose same stem grows our word “parish”. An altern­ative rendering of the conversation might, then, be: “Are you a parish­ioner that… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

You are right Tim. We used to speak about Church of England recognising that its established status and parochial organisation made it different to both English Nonconformity and the churches of the Anglican Communion. Its clergy were mostly called clergy rather than ministers. Use of the word Anglican so freely and the increasing disuse of Church of England has happened during my life time. Interestingly the term parson ( the usual term of my grandparents ) has disappeared altogether. I think semantics has followed sociological realities.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

As the Baron Von Hugel wrote ( I quote from memory so perhaps not entirely accurately) “You will never find God everywhere until you have found him somewhere.”

Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

I’ve just looked at the website. Here is a quote:

Let us be a ‘key limiting factor’, not to the growth of the Church of England but to the emergence of a church we do not want and we do not need.”

This is not an isolated sentence. There is as much on this website about opposing the planting of house churches (which they describe as ‘mansion churches’) as there is about saving the parish system. The title ‘Save the Parish’ is misleading. It’s actually a campaign to stamp out alternatives to the traditional parish.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

That is true. It is a campaign to do so, and to avoid the emergence of parallel funding streams which divert cash away from the parishes. It is highly reminiscent of the attitude that many clergy had towards the nascent Methodist movement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is driven to a large degree by money and concerns about the competition for scarce resources, when so many ancient buildings demand these resources and (in view of the appropriation of their historic assets by DBFs) parishes rely solely on contributions from congregations or, if they are fortunate, small-scale… Read more »

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

We actually need ‘both and’. Alison Milbank’s co-authored book ‘For the Parish’ has a lot of important things to say but they do castigate extremes like ‘knitting group church’. What is absent in their analysis is that churches of all kinds have always used ‘fringe activities’ to draw people in. My church has a coffee shop and most of its customers would say that they belong to All Saints. From my doctoral research, the great majority of ‘Fresh Expressions’ which I assume Myriad is endorsing and encouraging, actually derive from and are supported, both in people and financial terms, by… Read more »

alison milbank
alison milbank
Reply to  John Wallace
1 month ago

Dear John We do not castigate knitting circles or any mission or outreach initiative in ‘For the Parish’. What we question is how far a group where (in the example of a knitting group I knew about), the only worship element was a table for prayers could count as a church in itself, which is the ideology of Fresh Expressions. I thought the knitting group was great and did good work. But it’s not a church in itself. Our vision was for porosity between fresh expressions and the parish, connectivity in thinking, collegiality and saying the office together between parish… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
1 month ago

One of the defining features of the Church of England’s cultural heritage, it seems to me, is its eclectic, ecumenical and cosmopolitan musical tradition. Having evolved over the course of a number of centuries, it was handed down from generation to generation, involving all ages. It is probably one of the unacknowledged strengths of the Church, and unique selling points, without which there would have been a much more pronounced decline a lot sooner, after its heyday in the decades of the post-war period. Great St Bartholomew’s, West Smithfield, has a successful fresh expression of its own. According to the… Read more »

peter kettle
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

That’s a very interesting perspective, which I think has considerable mileage in it. One way is to have a group of 4 paid choral scholars who can then encourage from within the enthusiastic but perhaps inexperienced parish choir (good music sung badly won’t grow any church!) They could also be developing their own careers with recitals, concerst etc in the church for the wider community. The problem is that that doesn’t help smaller, especially rural, churches. But the possibility of a ‘cantor’ might help: the Christian Science church has a strong tradition of a soloist in their services (never a… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  peter kettle
1 month ago

Thank you, Peter. Most rural churches have an organ, but rarely an organist! Sadly, the hymnbooks, psalters and anthems will be gathering dust in the vestry; the choirstalls empty. Very often, the basic infrastructure is already there – just not the musicians! And the other problem is the lack of investment in the training and recruitment of church musicians, which seems to be regarded as something of an afterthought in central strategy documents: all the focus is on the ordained ministries. Consequently, we’re becoming more and more ignorant of our world-renowned musical culture which sustained many thousands of churches down… Read more »

Alan Jeffries
Alan Jeffries
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

Yes, Andrew, you’ve got it. If the CofE spent less on its youth workers and mission ‘enablers’ and invested more serious resources in its musicians, I think we might see a tangible difference in the quality of our worshipping communities and their capacity to attract people. Why do we imagine cathedrals and other places with well-resourced music (including charistmatic churches) are doing so well? Of course, the current hierarchy of the CofE is ideologically opposed to music and the arts because it doesn’t, on the whole, generate the kind of Christianity that ticks their ideological boxes (‘discipleship’ and all that).… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Alan Jeffries
1 month ago

As frequently happens in these discussions, the organist is hardly mentioned, but he or she is the lynch-pin in Church music, as much (possibly more so) in parish churches as in cathedrals, both accompanying singers, choir and congregation, and usually the person responsible for training the choir. To some extent the seeming decline of the Royal School of Church Music has been compensated by the outreach work of the Royal College of Organists and the Incorporated Association of Organists (usually known as the IAO). As well as these bodies there are local associations of organists and choirmasters all around the… Read more »

alison milbank
alison milbank
Reply to  Alan Jeffries
1 month ago

brilliant! In fact the report, ‘A Time to Sow’ on Anglo-Catholic church growth in London reported that establishing children’s choirs was key to their success. In Grantham, the director of music gives a lesson in the local primary schools and recruits a choir that way – with the accompanying families. They don’t all sing every Sunday but there were 30 children singing the day I attended: ten boys and 20 girls.

Alan Jeffries
Alan Jeffries
Reply to  alison milbank
1 month ago

Interestingly, since posting my previous comment, someone emailed me to say that she knows of two dioceses where a significant annual sum from the bishop’s discretionary fund is made available to a local RSCM committee to pay for organ lessons for youngsters. Now, imagine the difference if the Commissioners and their well-defended SDF were to take this a stage further and direct serious funding to properly resource music in churches – including paying the music staff at the professional rate! It never ceases to amaze me that churches and cathedrals will cheerfully pay the professional going rate for architects, lawyers… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Alan Jeffries
1 month ago

Thank you, Alan, for your heartfelt appeal. Outside the cathedrals, major parish churches, Oxbridge colleges and public schools, there’s little by way of career structure for church musicians, who are often left to their own devices. As Rowland notes, the local organist associations, the RCO and IAO do sterling work, against an increasingly more challenging backdrop. The talented organist generalizes as accompanist, recitalist, and extemporizer, as well as conductor and choir trainer. It’s understandable why many specialize or go freelance. Or vanish without trace. As you suggest, to do either choral/organ music or charismatic worship well requires investment. Mediocrity seems to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by αnδrεw
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

It has fallen to my lot in recent years to accompany Matins (the full works, unabridged and sometimes with two psalms) and Evensong increasingly without any choir. A congregation doing this regularly picks up, or already knows, how to follow pointing, and to adapt to different chants each week for the psalms and canticles. Some of them are able to sing from a psalter. It would be wonderful for choirs to return to these rural churches – incidentally where all are totally devoted to the church buildings where they and their forebears have worshipped for centuries.

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

You do well to keep them going, Rowland. Once people have adapted to the logic of pointing, absorbed its easy rules and learned some simple chants, it is a very satisfying way of singing the Coverdale psalms. Likewise, the extensive repertoire of settings of the canticles accumulated over the course of nearly five centuries have helped to ensure the survival of the Book of Common Prayer, and the enduring popularity of choral evensong (and matins). The poetry of the language when combined with beautiful music magnifies the liturgical experience. The key to its success is extreme concision on the one… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by αnδrεw
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Alan Jeffries
1 month ago

I was pleased to get a free copy of the RSCM’s, Inspiring Music in Worship, encouraging “parishes to make the best use of music to enhance their worship, even when they have few resources.” Sadly it is a curate’s egg with nothing to say on the most basic means of lifting the Eucharist: singing it. Any small to medium parish – i.e. the typical Church of England parish and the target Inspiring Music is aimed at – is capable of singing a simple mass setting: Murray, or Appleford, or Addington. Now that we reconnecting with singing and its emotional heft, it… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

Also regrettable if the sung Offices of Matins and Evensong are being overlooked as, sadly, seems to be widely happening.

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

Yes, Allan, anything to relieve the tedium and wordiness of said communion services in contemporary language. As you say – far better to sing a well-known congregational setting. Even better, in quires and places with the means to do so, a choral setting from one of a variety of musical periods really enhances Sunday worship. Congregational singing is then catered for by the hymnody, at the many transitional points in the liturgy which require ‘filling in’: the processional, gradual, offertory, communion, and recessional. It matters not whether the words of the texts match precisely. Everyone familiar with the flow of the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by αnδrεw
Charles K
Charles K
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

What planet are you on??! Cranmer’s preface to the 1549 BCP.. “it often chanceth diversely in diverse countries”. In other words, we need a diversity of forms in relation to local cultures. What is the problem with a diversity of worship? The parish is not at at stake here, the gospel is! If we just bang on about how things used to be then we have completely missed the point. To bemoan a receding past is futile. To build boldly for the future means reframing the past into a bolder future – as David Runcorn quotes from Gustav Mahler… “Tradition… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Charles K
1 month ago

Charles, a ‘diversity of forms in relation to local cultures’ is kind of what I’m calling for; but bringing those diverse musical forms to the present local culture that are separated from us by time and space. A ‘dead’ musical composition is only in that state unless and until an ensemble of musicians revivifies it in performance. And then it can be electrifying. Do you not find the works of Palestrina, Byrd, Tallis, Bach, Purcell, Handel, Wesley, Stanford, and Howells intensely moving, and uplifting in worship? Mahler wasn’t for abolishing the symphony orchestra. He was developing a tradition handed down… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

Maybe, but the people who go to Proms concerts, let alone the number who go to other classical music concerts, is a tiny proportion of the population. The mission of the Church is not just to those who like classical music, nor is it to educate people to like classical music. Liturgy in a language understood by the people applies as much to music and other factors as it does to modern English v Tudor English v Latin.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

A German perception “England das Land ohne Musik” says it all – but not quite all. Around the country church musicians of all abilities week by week strive to enhance the liturgy. Congregation members respond in varying degrees. I don’t suppose you can have any idea how disheartening it is to read dismissive comments like this.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

It wasn’t meant to be a dismissive comment Rowland, and I’m sorry you found it disheartening. I guess my opinion is that parish church music should not be a performance of difficult music, or music that generally excludes the worshippers from active participation, but music that enables the congregation to sing and worship. That may well be traditional, such as singing matins or evensong with responses and Anglican chant. It may be a sung eucharist where the congregation can fairly easily learn to sing the kyrie, gloria, sanctus, agnus dei as well as hymns — whether traditional, modern or a… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

That pretty much extinguishes cathedral worship as we have come to know and love it. The flame will surely go out unless we keep it alive. Language can divide people; but music is universal.

Last edited 1 month ago by αnδrεw
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

Well, you have at least one supporter here. I am withdrawing from further comment until good manners are restored on TA.

Charles K
Charles K
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

I am not sure how more patronising you can be! There are so many cultural/spiritual/liturgical/social assumptions you make in your comments. I am proud to have an MA in Music, researching music performances from Monteverdi to Messiaen, and Schutz to Stockhausen. If you had been aware of the Proms over recent years – and especially the pioneering work of Sir Simon Rattle – he has combined the new and the old..the pioneering and the established. And now in cricket – to add to the 5 day test match and 20/20, we now have The Hundred. We might not like it,… Read more »

Charles K
Charles K
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

…. I am reminded in all this “nonsense about church as it is and church as it might look like “, to the words of T S Eliot: Life is not hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush, to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you. Can we please stop dreaming of how things used to be – which is more like repeats on the Dave channel- and engage in embodying… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

Andrew, I don’t think we’re singing from the same hymnal. You refer to “the tedium and wordiness of said communion services in contemporary language,” as if BCP Holy Communion doesn’t suffer from wordiness, if not tedium, when said. As for congregational singing being “catered for by the hymnody” and “filling in”, this smacks of leaving crumbs for the laity while the musicians and choristers indulge themselves. Cathedrals may get away with this, although I recently heard a Sanctus/Benedictus so interminably prolix that it sundered the Eucharistic Prayer. It was as if the Liturgical Movement never happened. In most parish churches… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  Allan Sheath
1 month ago

Fair enough, Allan, but what can be more poetic than to say: “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy table”? You can make the language of the eucharist as contemporary as you like, but it doesn’t simplify many of the complex theological concepts recited in close succession. So I wonder how truly ‘accessible’ you can make it without reducing it to banality. That said, I agree that a couple of good mass settings will suffice for the average parish church. And yes, the 1662 is too long, though the up-to-date versions do at least… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by αnδrεw
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

Andrew, I’m not advocating making liturgy “accessible” or even “relevant” as this can result in worship that is easier to grow out of rather than in to. Worship must have a sense of mystery, of otherness, of the transcendent. But I believe this can be achieved with contemporary forms as much as with 1662. However, this requires appropriate liturgical formation of its practitioners.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  αnδrεw
1 month ago

Agreed the shortage of organists is a concern, but there is hope – see my reply to Alan Jeffries below. But there has been a marked tendency at various levels in the church to assume that the music will ‘happen’ and at no cost to the PCC! So, if a potentially talented young person is willing to play, and needs some lessons, the parish should pay for these (or something towards them, but no need to be parsimonious). As an example, few non-players realise that hymn-playing, widely assumed to be a basic skill, is in fact very far from simple!… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

If you watch the video and read the mission statement you will see there is great emphasis on “long, costly college-based training for every leader of the church”. Not just ensuring that residential colleges continue to be supported and encouraged but that course-trained clergy would be permanently subject to a glass ceiling, probably a pretty low one since I imagine that it’s envisaged that this should apply to all incumbents. So is this campaign “save the parish” or is it “save the residential theological colleges”? If enacted, this would rule out three of the current six women diocesan bishops (London,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Bernard Silverman
Alan Marsh
Alan Marsh
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

Part of the devaluing of the currency of parish ministry over the past fifty years has been to abandon the requirement for three years of full time theological education in preparation for ordination, which used to be regarded as a bare minimum for producing clergy able to preach and teach. The loss of this training has been experienced in many parishes whose minister nowadays does not have sufficient depth or breadth of theological understanding to do either effectively, let alone be a public apologist for the Christian faith in a secular society which increasingly challenges the Church to debate.

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
Reply to  Alan Marsh
1 month ago

In the Church of Ireland, you cannot be the incumbent of a parish (or group of parishes) unless you are theology graduate who has trained residentially. Also just over 50% of its bishops have an earned theology doctorate.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
1 month ago

This is true for the home growns all trained in the one institution with degrees awarded by Dublin University (TCD), but these days especially in the south you will encounter incumbents who have “blown in” from England who may or may not have a degree in theology and may or may not have trained residentially (I did not).

Don Brennan
Don Brennan
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

One recent advert from a Church of Ireland diocese states ‘those wishing to be considered for nomination to this Union [of parishes] must be eligible for appointment to a stipendiary position in the Church of Ireland’ which is, presumably, one way of ensuring that even ‘blow ins’ possess the necessary training, experience and qualifications. In your case, Stanley, it must have been self-evident that your quality of mind more than compensated for an unticked box! Interestingly, I found myself part of a conversation recently about a bishop here who is shortly to retire. One of his friends said ‘we always… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Don Brennan
1 month ago

Flattery will get you everywhere, Don. An interesting discussion. Of course, just because one did well in those sort of exams back in the day means nothing other than that one had a good memory at that time and knew how to write an answer that would appeal to (flatter) the likely marker. I’m having the devil of a job NOT to name one or two CoI clerics I know who IMO show no evidence of allowing their brain neuron to do any work that could be described as imaginative. Some of them appear to share the single neuron. Seriously.… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
1 month ago

That’s fine if you have the financial wherewithal to pay for that model. Nowadays it takes a rich diocese and/or rich students to make it work.

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Alan Marsh
1 month ago

My point was not whether long residential training is or isn’t appropriate, though we may have to agree to differ. Rather that by including this point which has long been contentious, the “save the parish” campaign splits its natural supporters from the outset. Not necessarily good politics. Single issue campaigns really should stick to single issues and the main issue is presumably subsidiarity, expressed in various ways. By the way, I’ve tried to find figures to see whether the point that Michael Mulhern and Stanley Monkhouse is debating is supported by any evidence that the C of I is faring… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

Don’t bother, Bernard – it isn’t! See also my reply to Don Brennan above.

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

To be honest, Bernard, I don’t think the CofI’s primary concern is bums on seats. It is a minority church with a complicated history in a country with a relatively small population; but is sufficiently at ease with its identity and its place in Irish society (in the Republic, at least) that it isn’t fighting for its life. It is content to offer a pastoral and scholarly ministry, without punching above its weight in its own head. For that reason, it is not crowing about how many refugees it is taking-in in the form of disaffected Roman Catholics. It’s a… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Michael Mulhern
1 month ago

Absolutely right, Michael. But I wonder how sustainable it is that dwindling congregations will be able to pay for an incumbent – not so much in Dublin and the tourist/second home Cork/Kerry riviera, but in the central areas. Since I left in 2014 two neighbouring previously full-time cures are now half stipend shared by husband and wife from England, another is filled by an English blowin, the Rector of Killarney is another half stipend Englishman – even Killarney! We shall see.

Don Brennan
Don Brennan
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Yes, of course, amalgamations of parochial units happen as population shifts take place. It happens as much in Africa as in Europe. But, in response to Stanley’s specific point, it might be helpful to point out that the Rector of Killarney is also the Archdeacon, which is why the parochial element of his stipend is 50%. He is also someone who has a track record of enabling the church to engage effectively with the tourism and heritage sectors, which is why he is the right person in the right place at the right time.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Don Brennan
1 month ago

He, the Rector of Killarney, was my immediate predecessor as Asst Curate in Derbyshire. Small world. As you say, right person, right place, right time.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
1 month ago

Just recently come across this line while following this tread ….
‘Tradition is tending the flame, and not worshipping the ashes’ (Gustav Mahler)

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

The question I ask myself as a Past Anglican and transferee to the Roman Catholic Church (I prefer not to the use the word “Convert” as it can be ecumenically offensive”) and one who has a close friendship with the Greek Orthodox Church in Edinburgh, who has observed through 46 years of past membership Anglicanism at first hand and also Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy at first hand, will the reduction of Parishes and Lay led churches being given more priority will lead Anglicans who value the Parish System in all Churchmanships to question whether the Church of England has… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

An “exodus” was predicted after women’s ordination, but a dribble of traditionalists joined the Ordinariate about which we hear very little. A decline of Roman Catholicism in Europe ( almost total collapse in the Irish Republic) doesn’t augur well for potential converts. An animosity towards the LGBT community, at the same time that estimates that 80% of Vatican clergy are gay, suggests a hint of hypocrisy. Demands by the RC laity for women priests aren’t going to disappear. A terrible public image of the RC clergy after the calamitous child abuse scandals world-wide, has led to a drought of vocations… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

This sounds like an account of Catholicism designed to put a troubled Anglicanism in some kind of glimmer of light. That way of proceeding never produces much fruit. A dubious ‘they’re worse than we are’ ism.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

But which part of what I said is untrue? I wasn’t intending to produce good fruit. Only pointing out that the original tree is in a state of widespread decay. Anglicanism is positively healthy in comparison.

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  FrDavidH
1 month ago

Most of it is obviously your own view on things like LGBT issues, demands for women clergy (where, globally?), and just the usual liberal Anglican talking points.

If you believe the state of affairs in Anglicanism is “positively healthy,” you are entitled to that opinion, but it is not clear how anyone could determine that factually. It certainly isn’t clear from your comments here…

I’ll leave the topic to Mr Jamal, to whom you have responded.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Dear Friends when I made the decision in 2003 to be received into full Communion with the Roman Catholic Church and was received on Holy Saturday April the 10th at St John the Baptist Church in Melville Street at Perth in Scotland, it was not the issue of Women Priests that led me to this decision nor the Gay Issues, but a call to enter more deeply into the Pain of Christ for the disunity of his Church. For 12 and a half years I was a Monk in an Ecumenical Monastic Community, the Community of the Transfiguration at Roslin… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

A most inspiring testimony, thank you for it. How foolish, and childish, are some of the silly, petty quarrels now besetting Christ’s Church.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Thank you, Jonathan, for this moving and inspiring account of your journey. May God bless you with grace, love and hope as you continue to walk in response to this calling. I am grateful to you for sharing this and I found it personally helpful and encouraging.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Thank you for your inspiring journey of faith. We need more Christians like you.

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Thank you Jonathan. We have been recipients of remarkable ecumenical friendship and fellowship at the hands of the Catholic Church in France. Your journey resonates with parts of our own. I try to describe a catholicity to be embraced in my 2020 book, Convergences, deriving from this experience — including the care and support for my wife through a difficult disease and transplant. Pain, as you say, is a great teacher when Christ is present and guiding. It is the way he knows. Grace and peace.

Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Church music got me hooked. It blossomed into decades as a church musician (FRCO etc) running a choir for ordinary kids from a Nottingham estate in the 1970s and 80s, and a church choir in central Dublin in the 1990s. It led me to ordination and a real passion for trying to bring some sort of life abundant to those who need it most. So I hope readers will understand that it pains me to say that I think all this talk about church music as an evangelistic and revitalising tool is in these times unlikely to do the trick.… Read more »

Patrick
Patrick
1 month ago

From a recent job advertisement in the diocese of Lincoln:
“Major Parish Church
Due to the size of our building …………has recently been nationally designated as a Major Parish Church, though we currently lack a number of the resources to enable us to function as such.”
How are churches designated as “Major Parish Churches” and on what grounds? Who makes such decisions?

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Patrick
1 month ago

See here, Patrick: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/diocesan-resources/strategic-planning-church-buildings/major-parish-churches St Paul’s Burton was invited to join in 2018 when I was still in post. It is enormous, has quality fittings, impossible to heat, very expensive to maintain, in an increasingly Muslim area, a regular congregation of between 20 and 30 retireds. It is now ICHABOD. I thought that joining would be a huge distraction given our lack of a critical mass of anything. Would I be cynical in thinking that it’s just another club? If it enables its members to have access to more funding, then I say why not simply make the funds available… Read more »

Patrick
Patrick
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Thank you – very helpful. Major Parish Church sounds impressive but it seems it’s pretty much about the building – and might be something of a mixed blessing for the parish, depending on circumstances.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Patrick
1 month ago

A major parish church has all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Physically very big (over 1000m2 footprint)
  • Grade I, II* or (exceptionally) II listed
  • Exceptional significance and/or issues necessitating a conservation management plan
  • Have a role or roles beyond those of a typical parish church, and make a considerable civic, cultural and economic contribution to their communities

https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/diocesan-resources/strategic-planning-church-buildings/major-parish-churches

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Patrick
1 month ago

It is based almost entirely on the area of the church building (over 1000 sq metres qualifies) and this can produce some anomalous results where a parish hall is a linked part of the same building. In one ‘major parish church’ I know, the church itself occupies less than 700 sq m.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Patrick
1 month ago

Patrick it’s just the latest outfit for the Emperor.

Neal Terry
Neal Terry
1 month ago

“The Englishman of the middle class estimates a Church, established or otherwise, by its utility: he measures its importance by its usefulness to his family, to his village, or to his parish, and lastly, perhaps least of all, to himself.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530. This remains, what has gone adrift is that ‘himself’ has become the focus of the church instead of a kenotic selflessness, temporal success and scientific management the latest fad to infest the centralised leadership Any church can only have meaning if it is in service of the other as… Read more »

Peter in t' North
Peter in t' North
1 month ago

Perhaps we could view Marcus’s campaign as a catalyst? I agree we should turn up and we have already started, prompted by the campaign (and Lord Carey) to have a discussion focused on the policies of our diocese which we believe are undermining our parish

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

I’m not sure whether this is the appropriate thread, but the following needs to be said. There has been a shooting today in Plymouth involving multiple deaths. The local MP Luke Pollard is quoted by the BBC as saying Ford Primary School and St Mark’s Church on Cambridge Road would be open from 09:00 on Friday as a “safe place for our community to come together”. Perhaps people continually knocking the church, and especially the Church of England, might reflect on St Mark’s Church being a safe place for the community without any pre-conditions. That is the C of E’s… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Local Anglican clergy have appeared on the national media showing an immediate and sympathetic response to this tragedy. I would echo Mr Wateridge’s observation regarding the unconditional support to the local community of the parish priests. They have shown a Church willing and able to share in local people ‘s sufferings.

Stephen A Warden
Stephen A Warden
1 month ago

Hello all, I have just heard, in general terms, the plans for the parish changes to our diocese of Leicester. Our priest informs us that a reduction in clergy numbers will soon take place the management of the parish and leadership of church services in the hands of the PCC. Non-ordained persons will lead services, which of course may happen during an interregnum or priests absence. However, it appears this policy will be a permanency so it appears the C of E are following the Free Church model to cut costs. As a parish Treasurer, I would rather the diocese… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stephen A Warden
1 month ago

Many thanks, Mr Warden, but my understanding is that parish clergy are funded via the parish share system. Whilst the Commissioners operate the payroll, they only cover the costs of the bishops and certain capitular clergy, plus pre-1998 accruals. I assume that you are referring to St Wistan’s, Wigston Magna, which I saw last Sunday (I also looked at Chadwell near Melton, which also has significant structural issues, and is a tiny hamlet, which Wigston is most definitely not). I hope that an outcome similar to that of Bagworth is not adopted (the old church was demolished and replaced, but… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Froghole
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I should add that Wigston and Burbage are not analogous, of course, because you still have All Saints, but I was wanting to make a more general point that churches do fade away when they lose their buildings (viz. Ramsden Crays in Essex, which met in a hall after the church was sold, and where the congregation has vanished altogether, or Akeley in Buckinghamshire where the church was taken down and has since met in the CE primary school, but where the congregation, prior to lockdown, was well under 10, etc.). However, it is the case that churches meeting in… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Bagworth, not Burbage!

Stephen A Warden
Stephen A Warden
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thank you to Froghole [whomever you are]. The history of church buildings and their demise is interesting, but misses the central point I was airing. The church was closed to worship in early June 2018. Following architects and structural reports, The PCC in December 2018 voted to close the church because of the cost to repair and the history of the church needing major work to be carried out with an uncomfortable frequency. My central point was the length of time it is taking to process the closure of a small parish church that for many years has had a… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stephen A Warden
1 month ago

Mr Warden, I am sorry I missed this comment. I was back in the Leicester diocese yesterday (I now live in easternmost Kent). There is no mystery to the central point you have raised. The diocese will have a committee (usually an offshoot of the DAC) which has to decide what to do with buildings that are at risk of closure. They have a dilemma: St Wistan’s is ancient and listed (Grade II). If a closure scheme is made (I do not recall seeing one, even if the building is, for practical purposes, closed), it will become a charge to… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I should add that the Commissioners established a ‘Sustainability Fund’ last year to support dioceses that are essentially insolvent. The subventions are due to increase this year and next. It is possible that the provision of such central funds may help to resolve the Leicester DBF’s dilemma with respect to St Wistan’s. However, I should note that the Commissioners assets have waxed as they have because of parish share subventions. It would be a frankly morally dubious paradox that the provision of Sustainability Fund grants would enable dioceses to close and sell churches whose closure will often have occurred largely… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I should also add that the burden faced by All Saints with respect to St Wistan’s is relatively unusual. In the middle ages it was typically the case that parishes contained dependent chapels, which might on occasion become the parish church (All Saints was an instance of this, and I have also cited the example of Market Harborough). It was also common for a parish to be subdivided, even within the same village: examples of this are Brightwell and Sotwell (formerly Berkshire, now Oxfordshire), with the latter having one early morning service a month prior to the first lockdown, or… Read more »

Mrs Caroline Wakefield
Mrs Caroline Wakefield
1 month ago

My parish church is in grave danger of being closed down. We are in the middle of an interregnum and have been told we will only get a part-time priest next time. So far we have only had two applicants who have both backed down. I deplore what is happening in the Church of England and your campaign seems to be the only chance left to stop the decline. I have already written to our Archdeacon who responded but failed to address any of my concerns.

Stephen A Warden
Stephen A Warden
Reply to  Mrs Caroline Wakefield
1 month ago

I have formed the view the C of E is in a heap of financial trouble, which has been in view for some years, and there is now a realisation it cannot continue to live beyond its means. I am sure we all want to do what we can to assist and minimise the effect of the clergy rationing but until the diocese clergy are open and transparent about what the plans details are, we can only guess what is going to happen. After all, it’s not our church is it, it is their church, or so it would appear.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stephen A Warden
1 month ago

Mrs Wakefield and Mr Warden, The Church may be in deep trouble, but it does not necessarily need to be in quite as much trouble as it finds itself. What it needs to decide is whether it is: (i) a small collection of ‘viable’ churches scattered sporadically across the country (usually in affluent areas) that can pay their own way; and (ii) a provider of spiritual services on a comprehensive and national scale. Option (i) will entail the closure and disposal of some 12,000 or so buildings, and the retreat of the Church from about 95% of all communities. The… Read more »

Richard May
Richard May
7 days ago

I am very sad and angry at the benefice merger which has been forced on our parish simply to save money, when we have always been at least self supporting in our contributions to our diocese, in the past even helping other parishes and benefices pay their share.

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