The distinctive mission of the Church of England, while based upon the principle of inculturation, cannot endorse uncritical acceptance of the totality of English culture. And yet it operates a territorial ”˜church in community’ type of ecclesiology which works with the state to define its worship, and through dioceses, parishes and chaplaincies to effect its pastoral care and compassionate service. Establishment commits the Church of England to full involvement in civil society and to making a contribution to the public discussion of issues that have moral or spiritual implications.
By concerning itself with the pastoral dimensions of wholeness and healing, the mission of the Church of England accords with people’s quest for meaning and an assurance of identity which cannot be found without community, without fellowship. Its fundamental weaknesses, in common with many churches in Europe, is its tendency to demand that people do not merely acknowledge the Lordship of Christ but also abandon their former way of life in favour of that of a peculiar middle-class sub-culture. Notwithstanding some of the excellent work going on in some of the most impoverished parishes in the country, the public perception of the Church of England remains one of middle-class privilege and an Ã©litism which has little relevance to a modern, pluralist, multi-ethnic society.
And it is also one which has very little relevance to most gays and lesbians, and therein lies the missiological challenge.