The cat is out of the bag! Today sees the publication of "Highlights of the Church in Wales Governing Body September 2011". Apart from the reference to 'the Church' in its leading article Equal opportunities for all in the Church and an obscure piece on page 4 headed ‘Worship’, the Report could be that of of a minority political party or Trade Union. What sets it apart is its priorities.
Relegating impending disaster to the back page, as predicted, gender balance, provides the lead theme with some interesting figures given that the ordination of women was supposed to reinvigorate the church and make it more relevant to society. Despite the gloomy outlook, the Governing Body heard “that change in the representation of women in the Church has taken place faster than expected and in a positive way”. Ironically Page 8 illustrates how, commensurate with the feminising of the church, it is having the opposite effect with the church heading for oblivion. Church attendance was reported to be falling rapidly with its associated financial difficulties.
Here is an extract:
“Sadly the Church plays scant regard to all the data it has. It does not give it the time or the resources it deserves if we are to properly form, measure and monitor our strategy making and policy forming.”
“So often in the Church we move from one half-baked initiative to another, often at great financial cost with little or no thought at measuring outcomes and the difference we make, and learning lessons for future strategy and work.”
“There is little good news in the Report. We have experienced an alarming rate of decline in average attendance, and that is clearly undermining our ability to perform financially particularly at a parish level. The difficulty in maintaining large buildings and making the
books balance remains. Large numbers of parishes are having to dip into diminishing reserves to make ends meet.”
If the official report is alarming enough, unofficial reports reaching me are worse. In September 2008 the Church in Wales issued a Press Release which began: “The Bishops of the Church in Wales today promised to provide continuing care for those opposed to the ordination of women, following a decision not to appoint a new assistant bishop. They stressed there was still a place in the church for those unable in conscience to accept the ordination of women and emphasised their commitment to sensitive pastoral care for all people and parishes in each diocese.”
The cat jumped out of the bag when a woman vicar suggested that candidates for ordination must be refused if they do not support women's ordination. Such is his 'commitment to sensitive pastoral care’ that His Darkness conveniently forgot it and remained silent other than to announce that discussions would take place in the GB next year, leading to legislation being prepared for a vote to make it possible for women to be bishops. This announcement came as much of a surprise to his fellow Bishops as it did to everyone else, confirming Bazzer's conviction that the assembly exists merely as a rubber stamp. So much for Equal Opportunities for all in the Church. It should have read Equal Opportunities for all in the Church who agree with the Archbishop.
Leaving aside the ‘pastoral care’ aspect, another Press Release issued prior to last week’s meeting (now confirmed in the report) provides some interesting financial figures: “On average, church members last year gave £7.79 each Sunday – an increase of 1.8% on the previous year. This represents 2.5% of the average Welsh gross weekly adult income. However, with fewer people going to church the total increase from direct giving continues to fall.”
So for many traditionalists, what Equality of Opportunity in the church amounts to is a willingness to contribute considerably more than £7.79 each Sunday as an act of faith with no Episcopal support or understanding, thus subsidising not only the people who oppose them but the Theological College that trains women to peddle their feminist agendas. By comparison in the Church of England Archbishop Rowan demonstrates his commitment to continuing care for those opposed to the ordination of women. Now those in Wales adhering to the traditional faith can only pray for a successful outcome when their Ordinariate Exploration Group meets on 5th November. Please pray with them.