(Guardian) Andrew Brown–Wanted: New Archbishop of Canterbury ”“ must have plans to fill the pews

If Christianity dies in England, it will die first in the countryside. This may seem paradoxical. When we think of English Christianity, we think of medieval churches standing at the heart of quiet villages. Surely the most traditional parts of the land would cling to traditional ways such as Christianity? But the traditions have largely died, and the churches with them.

This long, slow trend is what should really worry whoever takes over as Archbishop of Canterbury from Rowan Williams ”“ an announcement on which is imminent. To understand the problem, I went in search of the worst jobs in the Church of England….

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

4 comments on “(Guardian) Andrew Brown–Wanted: New Archbishop of Canterbury ”“ must have plans to fill the pews

  1. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “The trouble with this desire is partly that the buildings are enormously expensive to maintain.” [/blockquote]
    This is a nettle that the UK Government as well as the Church of England have to grasp. The country church buildings are indeed very expensive to maintain, yet they are part of the fabric of Britain’s tourism trade, which is huge. If the Church did not maintain these buildings (largely through volunteer work), the drain on the public purse to maintain them would be unprecedented. Yet it is the British government and society that reaps the financial benefit of the millions of tourists who flock to Britain each year for the “British experience”, a significant part of which are the rural churches.

    In effect, the British government has been getting a free ride off the Church for decades if not centuries.

    But this just reinforces the point – why are the CofE and the British government doing their best to drive out the orthodox evangelicals and anglo-catholics who drive church growth? Policies of encouraging liberal doctrine, women bishops and ordination of practicing homosexuals, serve merely to drive out the very people who can best provide the income, volunteers and other resources required to maintain CofE’s assets.

    If the church hierarchy and government continue to do this, then the income and resources of CofE will continue to drop, and the burden of maintaining these very expensive assets can only go to one place – the public purse.

    Is there no end to the foolishness of the CofE and the British government?

  2. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    All good points about the problems with parishes, but there is a particular demographic problem about country parishes. Consider a number of villages I know well, consisting of 10 to 15 houses and a large ancient church. The churches were built and maintained from the profits of the wool trade or agriculture and in medieval times when wool was protected to the extent of burials in it being required trade was good in wool, or when the price of corn was maintained artificially high, the profits of agriculture were good.

    The decline started in the 19th Century with the repeal of the Corn Laws and the import of more comfortable cotton manufactures. Even then the country parishes maintained a vicarage, school and hall supported by the villages, farmers and landowners. But agriculture declined and in these villages houses and cottages were demolished as fewer workers were required as steam and then mechanical devices became available.

    It was after the second world war that the villages emptied as a farm which had required 20 workers now made do with 2 to 5. The village schools emptied and were sold, the Church of England centralised its ownership of property in dioceses and the Church Commissioners and the jobsworths started to sell off the parishes’ assets over their heads, even to the extent of the vicarage being sold and the vicar being left homeless. In one egregious example I know of the large Edwardian vicarage whose land was donated by the neighboring farm was sold, and the local landowners and villagers themselves donated a second time to secure some sort of decent accommodation for the vicar, a pokey bungalow.

    We have been doing the equivalent of selling the family silver, but it is running out. The Church jobsworths have mismanaged the assets they pilfered and sold, and lost large sums, so now things are coming home to roost. The assets have been sold, the clergy not replaced, the investment in the infrastructure, in mission and evangelisation not undertaken, while meanwhile endless diocesan jobs to do anything from chat to Muslims to manage human resources have been created. There has been a deliberate attempt to extend diocesan control and resources at the expense of the parishes and the donors who supported them.

    The picture is not all bad. In the diocese of London, they have run out of churches to reopen, and HTB has led the way in planting churches and bringing a new generation into church. But HTB and the evangelicals are not in control, save those prepared to sell their souls to the establishment. In my diocese hell will freeze over before an HTB plant would be invited in, even though we have many non-HTB evangelical parishes.

    Turning to leadership, Rowan Williams has done nothing to reverse this – if anything he has undone the good done by his predecessor, and from what Canon Ashey reports here and Anglican TV here the wretches have organised the most disgusting and manipulated ACC meeting yet in Auckland with savage and cynical use of the Delphi Technique run mad, no proper voting and resolutions bounced on the meeting at the last minute without time to consider them. It is worse than the manipulation seen in Dublin or prior meetings with facilitators drawn from pro-gay loony liberals [we sent +Chelmsford and Rose Hudson-Wilkin there apparently]. It is designed to flumox and confuse the non-Western Anglicans and has the arrogance and whiff of racism Williams’ and Kearon’s administration have made their own.
    Rotton rotton rotton.

    Whether in the CofE or the Communion, the Rotton Borough of Canterbury continues to be the biggest impediment to the spread of the Gospel and the rebuilding of Christianity in the Anglican expression of it.

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