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calling all Anglicans

(214 Posts)
ionesmum Fri 25-Feb-05 22:35:23

What do you make of the statement today re the gay issue?

Also, what do you make of the CofE in general?

I'm struggling to stay with the church at the moment, and could really do with some fresh perspectives on things.

Cam Sat 26-Feb-05 15:47:50

Seems that there is a real dichotomy with this one, in my particular church there is a very liberal view whereas one of the big Bishops in the county is totally against allowing gay vicars to preach.
Where do you stand ionesmum?

morningpaper Sat 26-Feb-05 15:57:47

I agree it's very difficult. I'm a liberal anglo-catholic myself, although the church I belong to is very very right-wing anti-women-priests anglo-catholic. I am a loud voice of reason (I like to think) and argue a lot (in good humour) with the vicar in charge. I am known as the devil's advocate but I try to remind people that the anglo-catholic movement has traditionally been both liberal AND conservative. I get on well with the parishioner - although they are grateful for anyone under 65 in the parish, to be honest.

The church of England feels very much like a sinking ship.

I have looked at the statistics for our parish - although there are 100 active members, if the rate of decline continues we have about 15 years left.

Religious life has always been a huge part of my life, but I wonder what kind of faith community will be left for my daughter?

As most of my generation, I think that gay people should be welcomed into the church with open arms and their relationships seen as affirming and loving and scared, just as any straight relationships are.

I suspect that the gay issue will cause a formal split soon, but also the women priest issue. Whether both camps agree and we have a third province (perhaps) remains to be seen. But we might need a fourth province (anti-women, pro-gay?!). God only knows. It's a mess and very very depressing.

(The two first provinces are Canterbuty and York of course. The idea has been suggested that the anti-women-bishop brigade makes up their own third province, so remains within the anglican church structurally, but with their own all-male priesthood.)

I suspect my parish will join any right-wing split going. At this point we will leave as a family, but I don't know where we will go.

Sorry for the rambling...

Ameriscot2005 Sat 26-Feb-05 16:00:00

What statement? The one about a "lasting split" over the gay ordination in the US.

TBH, it doesn't bother me. I've been a member of ECUSA, and it's pants compared to the C of E church we are in now. I thought that ECUSA was awful and it's no loss to the Anglican communion if there is a "schism". I do, however, value Christian unity above individual denominations.

I think the whole gay issue is so small in the scheme of things. I hate that some people keep trying to focus an inappropriate amount of attention on themselves - it's so against the basics of Christianity.

Ameriscot2005 Sat 26-Feb-05 16:02:23

Our church is very different to yours, MP - we are growing by 30 or 40 every year. Don't know where we are going to put everyone if we continue. We are C of E.

SleepyJess Sat 26-Feb-05 16:02:50

Hi Ionesmum. I too am struggling to 'stay with the church' with this and other issues. I don't know where you stand on the gay issue, but my very strong feeling is that there shouldn't be an issue. I am aware of what the Bible says about homosexuality, but to me this is just one example of how the teachings in the Bible need broadening (not abandoning, in the vast majority of cases) to incorporate our modern times.. and our understandings of the world.

Quite why a person's sexual preference should affect their ability to preach the Christian faith.. or any faith.. is completely beyond me. Such biggotry is not in keeping with modern-day Christianity.. it is like something from a history book.

SJ x

Ameriscot2005 Sat 26-Feb-05 16:08:03

How much do Anglicans really care about the rest of the Church of England and Anglican communion?

I know that in our church, only the older parishioners feel tied to the denomination, but those of us who are younger (ie under 60) think of ourselves as Christians first. We don't get hung-up on denominational matters at all and have an open table.

Cam Sat 26-Feb-05 16:13:08

We have a woman vicar and also several gay members of the clergy preaching at our church. The services are very traditional (not happy clappy) and like morningpaper we have very few people under pensionable age attending. My dh went to a meeting recently to discuss how to attract young people into the church.

morningpaper Sat 26-Feb-05 16:14:11

Ameriscot: I think the problem with not tying yourself to a denomiation is that you end up with a dodgy heirachy. How do you decide what you believe? The current synod model is at least moderately democratic! I'd rather be in the church of england where there is dialogue with the modern world (i.e. on divorced people). I had to leave the catholic church when I got divorced, because there is no place for a divorced woman in catholicism if she wants to remarry.

Studies of church growth in this country (e.g. Bob Jackson, 2002) have shown that churches membership grows and shrinks but will settle at around 70 active (Sunday) members. There seems to be very few exceptions to this in the current social climate. The figures show decline in all christian denominations in this country except for the Baptist church (thought to be becauase of their social action work - i.e. all those toddlers groups we all go to!).

Ameriscot2005 Sat 26-Feb-05 16:18:45

I think if you are broadly Anglican then there is no danger of dodgy teachings. The one thing that Anglicanism has going for it is that it is the faith of the original and undivided church, so it is easy to revert to the bible for guidance.

This is the main reason we stuck with the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) when we were in the US, even though it was dire, spiritually. At least we were allowed to drink .

SleepyJess Sat 26-Feb-05 16:23:36

Our angilcan church (which is the parish church of the town) has a healthy mix of young and old.. with the majority being young families. We are also about a 50/50 mix of traditional and happy clappy I guess. Not the arm waving serious kind of happy clappy (*no offence at all intended to anyone who has this at there church*).. but the 'jumping around with our kids' kind.. and learning actions to songs.. and 2 services a month being led by the youth. It's the best anglican church I have ever attended.

SJ x

morningpaper Sat 26-Feb-05 16:29:03

> The one thing that Anglicanism has going for
> it is that it is the faith of the original and
> undivided church

No more than any other denomination! Unfortunately you really have to be Roman Catholic to claim this...

> so it is easy to revert to the bible for guidance.

Well that's exactly why we're in this mess with the gay argument. If we revert to the Bible then (let's be honest) we fall on the side of the anti-gay argument.

Ameriscot2005 Sat 26-Feb-05 16:30:50

We have a more traditional service (and a midweek service) with choir and robes, serving about 20% of the church family. The main service is more happy-clappy and informal.

That's not the whole picture though. The teaching is conservative (ie bible based and a low emphasis on the sacraments) rather than liberal (that you get in Anglo-Catholic and ECUSA churches). This transcends both expressions of worship.

We are also a parish church, and most of the older parishioners have had to do a lot of adapting.

I love it .

Ameriscot2005 Sat 26-Feb-05 16:32:01

Nonsense, MP . The RCC have many non-biblical and relatively new doctrine (all the Mary stuff, for example).

ionesmum Sat 26-Feb-05 21:29:26

Thanks for all your comments, I've been reading them with interest. I too am disgusted that homosexuality should be an issue, but the fact is that it is. I'm all for unity but that shouldn't be at the expense of love and tolerance, which is where the current situation has left us. Peter Akinola (the primate of Nigeria) was asked why he in particular is making such an issue out of this when there is so much suffering that the Church should be addressing, and he said that human suffering was 'of no consequence' and that it was human morality that counted. So we have a Communion that will expell two churches for promoting tolerance whilst bending over backwards to please someone who believes suffering is irrelevant.

I'm not one for nailing my colours to the mast as to where I stand but if I had to pigeon-hole myself I'd also say I am a liberal anglo-catholic. I live in a village that is part of a larger benefice and under our last priest things were really flourishing here, particularly in terms of attracting young families to church. But he retired last summer, and there has been so much wrangling between the bishop and the patrons (who wanted to keep their powerbase) that we have literally just advertised for a replacement. In the meantime we have had to rely on retired clergy, but life has gone on and there has been no-one to care for people when they have been in need of a priest. Needless to say families have been drifting away, not least because their children are reluctant to participate in a service if they don't know the priest taking it.

We've also spent somewhere in the region of £100k on one building alone to put in heating, a disabled loo and a kitchenette, as well as various cosmetic jobs - but now we can't afford to heat the building. How spending such an obscene amount of money is to God' s glory is beyond me. We are four small villages - we only need one church. Not only that but even with the improvements the building is really dangerous for little ones - dd1 split her lip after tripping last time I took her. So I have asked if we can have our family service in the village hall, but that suggestion was instantly thrown out at the P.C.C. meeting - apparently some people said that they wouldn't come if services were held anywhere but in a 'church'. It seems that 'church' to some people is a building, not the Body of Christ. I wonder what they worship sometimes - God, or a building?

We also have a very friendly Baptist church nearby, which is a child-safe building, so tomorrow I'm taking our dds there for a family service. Theologically we're miles apart (not least on infant baptism) but in a way I feel more comfortable going to a church that I'm not a member of, because then I'm not signing up to anything that I disagree with.

Before dd1 came along I'd made an appointment with the DDO to start the selection process for ordination. Once I discovered dd1 was on the way I felt that I had to put it on hold, and so decided to go back to it once my children were at school. Quite where I am on that now I have no idea.

(Sorry, this post is very rambling and very 'me, me, me)...

morningpaper Sun 27-Feb-05 08:41:49

Ionesmum: Your post is very interesting. My pp suggested 2 years ago that I consider training as a lay reader - but since he has changed his mind - I think because the parish has never had a female reader!

We are also planning a .5 million building fund, although who are we serving? I can't see who will be here in 20 years, never mind 50. We have a small (3-4) group of toddlers who meet for a monthly junior church, but it's very half-hearted.

To be honest, no one (young families) is really interested. The local Baptist church does a good family 'package' but as you say, we are miles apart theologically (although DH was a Baptist minister many years ago!).

bloss Sun 27-Feb-05 09:49:59

Message withdrawn

bloss Sun 27-Feb-05 10:02:04

Message withdrawn

morningpaper Sun 27-Feb-05 10:10:09

Hi Bloss,

I think that the pro and anti gay arguments are ones which are never going to be resolved. Both sides are pretty much 100% sure that they are following the will of God.

We have, after all, gone against the 'word of God' regarding second marriages (Jesus is clear that anyone who is divorced and remarried is committing adultery) - however, I think in our current social climate we see the need for mercy and forgiveness and no longer - frankly - agree with Jesus on this point. Many of my active parishioners are in their second or third marriages.

The gay issue is very similar. Lots of Christians - myself included - believe that psychology and experience have demonstrated that being gay is not a CHOICE but something that people are created as. Furthermore, I believe that God doesn't want gay people to spend their lives without a loving life-partner. Humans are not designed to spend their lives alone. And the life-partnership that many of us are lucky enough to find is probably the most important, fruitful and sacred of all our relationships. I don't believe that God created gay people and then told them to live a lonely life of celibacy. I believe the message of mercy and wisdom is a more important biblical theme than the prohibitions against homosexual practice - which are, I believe, more a reflection of the current social mores than anything else.

Regarding the matter of being a 'Christian' rather than an Anglican - I do feel more at home in the Anglican Catholic community than anywhere else. For me, the traditional worship ('smells and bells') is something which takes me to a more peaceful, spiritual level. It's something that I feel has saved me at the low points of my life. I also love being part of a church which has (until now perhaps) embraced so much diversity in terms of belief and practice within itself. When I was a Roman Catholic, I was always very jealous that my CofE colleagues were allowed such freedom of thought and discussion - and in comparison with the RC church - that their church moved so fast and with such mercy in dealing with the modern world. I still feel at home within this particular tradition and so - yes - the thought of the church dividing over these current issues is a very devastating prospect for me.

morningpaper Sun 27-Feb-05 10:13:41

Bloss - interestingly, churches which 'plant' are the most successful because the membership of any church stabilises at around 70 active members. Therefore splitting off and planting is the most successful model. This is true regardless of which branch of the church you are from.

Interestingly, when looking at the overall picture of church growth (liberal, conservative, broad church and evangelical) the only branch which is shrinking slowest is the broad church. There is not actually overall growth in other branch of the church. (The evangelical branch tends to have the highest 'turn around' in terms of members - i.e. although it recruits more, it also loses members at a faster rate.)

(Most of these figures from that Bob Jackson report I quoted earlier.)

Overall we are basically doomed.

bloss Sun 27-Feb-05 10:32:45

Message withdrawn

morningpaper Sun 27-Feb-05 13:21:54

Bloss: I don't know how the church is progressing in Australia. I'm not aware of any sustained growth in evangelical/chrismatic communities however.

I myself belonged to a 400-strong charismatic community about 15 years ago. Within the space of 5-7 years, the whole community dissipated. Weirdly, there is now no church there at all. I often think of all the people I knew and grew up with, and wonder what happened to them. The problem is the turnaround of people in those sorts of communities is very high. Maybe your community will buck the trend! (Although if you are excluding divorced and gay people then you'd have trouble finding many converts in my part of the world!)

As a divorced person I think that each divorce has its own awful fallout and I don't know any divorced person that wanted things to go the way they did. Divorce is always the last option. I married as a virgin and my husband and I were very dedicated to God. However, things fell apart rapidly - it was the last thing I expected or wanted and the feelings I had of failing God's plan left me in psychiatric care. However, I like to think that God would not want me to live alone and celibate from the age of 21 however. I think God is far more merciful than us. My husband and I are good friends now, and I like to think that I can see the hand of God in redeeming a friendship from the mess of our marriage.

Every divorced person has their own hellish story to tell and has suffered a great deal because of it. I like to think that God is more forgiving than us and can let us start again.

Anyway, as is obvious, if there is a group with says that divorced/gay people have no place within active church life, and there is a group which thinks they do, then you have two different churches. I think that schism is inevitable at this stage.

Personally I think the really sad thing about Gene Robinson's ceremony was that he had to wear a bullet-proof vest throughout the service.

fisil Sun 27-Feb-05 13:27:52

I think the issue is very sad, but then againm the usual problem with the CofE is that we are all so bloody nice and just get along, and it is important to have discussions. So long as we are all guided by God throughout the debate.... I have had periods of non-attendance at church because of the anti-gay and anti-women issues, but have been back for 3 years now and I have to say that my faith is renewed and I cannot see myself leaving again. One important change was that I feel the church is basically a feeble man-made concoction while we all try to make sense of what God wants - but we're all mortal and not very good at it (in particular we find it very difficult to separate God's word from our sociological and historical position. Sausages burning, must go.

morningpaper Sun 27-Feb-05 13:32:08

Personally I don't think there should be separation of God's word from our sociological and historial position ... God reveals to us through science and psychology and art and history. We have to interpret the Bible for our own times. Otherwise we'd still separate women from men and make them wear headresses over their flowing tresses and make sure they didn't speak in church ...

morningpaper Sun 27-Feb-05 13:33:14

Also the early Christians would have been horrified by you eating sausages (unless they are quorn!) as they still abided by Jewish food regulations....

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