A further drop in Church of England attendance has been reported. Average Sunday attendance fell from 944,400 in 2009 to 923,700 the following year, continuing the long-term downward trend. Hardly the result one might have expected after the church decided to make itself more relevant to society by becoming ever more secular.
In an unhelpful Blog article for the Guardian on the prospect of women bishops in the CofE, Andrew Brown writes: "The Church of England's fudge on female bishops is breathtaking". He concludes with the comment: "It may be possible to fudge questions about the nature of a communion wafer in this way. But I don't think it will do for a matter of employment law." So the Body of Christ can be fudged but Its administration by the sacred ministry is something that should be determined by employment law! No wonder so many churches are for sale with plenty more to come as attendance dwindles.
The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 'We will be changed'. From the Churches Together site:
"Change is at the heart of our Christian faith. Saint Paul said that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, and we are called to live as children in the light.
The theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012 comes to us from the churches in Poland, who have reflected upon their own experience as a nation, and in particular how, as a nation, they have been changed and transformed by the many upheavals of their history, and sustained by their faith.
Change is also at the heart of the ecumenical movement. When we pray for the unity of the church we are praying that the churches that we know and which are so familiar to us will change as they conform more closely to Christ. This is an exciting vision, but also a challenging one. Furthermore, when we pray for this transforming unity we are also praying for change in the world."
The upheavals in the Anglican church may have brought joy to some but for the church it has been a disaster with litigation and arguments about the nature of the priesthood, gay and lesbian ordination and same sex marriage which no doubt is now regarded as acceptable on the grounds that there is 'no theological objection', the Anglican justification for female ordination. These changes have had a wholly negative impact on the church when our aim should be unity with the Roman Catholic church from which we have become separated and the Orthodox Church.
If women in England and Wales are to be ordained bishops because of secular employment laws, then 'we will all be changed'. We will be changed but in the wrong direction, choosing Protestantism rather than the ancient churches of Rome and Orthodoxy, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of our baptism, driving us further than ever from church unity. As Synod members prepare to vote, they should not be influenced by secular employment laws but follow Christ's example and listen to His prayer that we all may be one.