I put the following into my Facebook status this morning…
“What a mess the C/E has got itself into…..first the complete mess over women bishops - 42 out of 44 dioceses approved their consecration and it fell at General Synod; second a new set of pastoral fees were brought in on 1st Jan increasing the funeral service fee by a 60% and wedding fees also - hardly encouraging the wider public to engage with their local church; and now this ridiculous decision re admission to the episcopacy of men who are gay or in same sex partnerships - how on earth will this be administered never mind how it insults those in committed relationships. We look confused, greedy and insulting all at the same time. Wonder if the archbishop of Canterbury-elect is having second thoughts?”
I just don’t know where we go next, I’m getting to the point of despair. Is there any place for those with a more inclusive outlook any more? It’s only sheer cussedness that makes me remain in the C/E.
Mutual flourishing - an illusion?
Yes I know the commitment to “mutual flourishing” was made in the specific context of ensuring a place for those who cannot accept the ordination / consecration of women to sacred ministry. But it begs the question of whether the Church of England is committed to the wider mutual flourishing of all within its borders. Voices have been raised on this website and elsewhere by Dean Martyn Percy, Canon Angela Tilby and recently the Rt Revd David Hope about an increasingly monochrome presentation of the Anglican face to the nation. Comments have been made about the use of language in formal communications which is more generally associated with one particular grouping within the CofE. There’s a kind of patois used which might not come naturally to many of us. Beyond language there seems to be a loss of balance in the nature of appointments to clerical positions. In my home diocese of Truro, where evangelicals already hold both posts of archdeacons and suffragan bishop, an appointment is made of an evangelical as diocesan. I’m sure there will be a commitment to “play fair” but surely “balance” is something which needs to be evidenced? Where parishes are grouped into ever larger mission communities and evangelicals are appointed to leadership there are bound to be misgivings among those who see the long held traditions of parishes put aside. There is a new “stripping of the altars” carried on as though those for whom a more Catholic expression of worship are of little account. “Mission” is all though there seems little evidence that the changes usher in the flocking to church which the new reformers seemingly expect. A little while ago I was in a rural church in Somerset while on holiday. I was expecting a traditional harvest in this rural fastness when instead the young vicar arrived with his music group and was obviously intent on “doing unto” the gathered traditional congregation. Is it really missional to address middle aged men as “guys” or think they will be drawn into further engagement to events such as one described as “blokes, brekky, and bible”?
I retired in September as rector of two rural parishes and have followed other retired local clergy to a church belonging to “The Society” (when not attending Meeting for Worship with my wife who is a Quaker). I go there on the one hand because the worship provides an ambience I am comfortable with but also on the other hand to vote with my feet to ensure the Church of England does not become a place of only one voice.
Peter C Bellenes