The Church of England, beset by fears of scarcity and chasing a vision of “something bigger and better”, should look to the experience of the Church in Iran, which has survived being stripped of everything that it possessed, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, told a Church House webinar this week.
Finances and buildings were “both a huge gift to us but also a great curse; they are like nooses around our necks”, she said. “And I think if something were to happen, and they were all to be swept away, we would find at that point new life coming.”
Her comments were made during the first in a series of webinars exploring the Church’s Vision and Strategy for the 2020s: “Has strategy eaten theology for breakfast?” Introducing it, Dr Nick Shepherd, a senior vision and strategy consultant at Church House, acknowledged the existence of concerns about the salience of strategic terminology and planning (Comment, 1 July 2022).
Dr Francis-Dehqani offered episcopal solidarity with such concerns in June (News, 8 July 2022), when, in an address to her diocesan synod, she warned against “putting too much emphasis on our human powers — that if only we try hard enough and pull together well enough and all follow the same programme, then we can solve the problems and challenges and ensure the future survival of the Church, either much as it has been in the past, or preferably producing a shinier, bigger, better version.”
“I don’t see it [growth] as our primary Christian calling, which is actually about valuing what is small and fragile and vulnerable, and I think the language has put a lot of pressure on some of our clergy and lay leaders, who then feel they are failing.” https://t.co/2q5pw7WWRo
— Church Times (@ChurchTimes) September 26, 2022