|The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury|
Surprise, surprise! The Church of England cannot carry on as it is unless decline is ‘urgently’ reversed – Welby and Sentamu. The latest sorry saga is reported in a Telegraph article here.
First to hit the rocks was The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC). The Church in Wales is bobbing along on autopilot hoping to avoid catastrophe by setting the same course as TEC. Now, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned that in the Church of England "there is a compelling need to realign resources and work carefully to ensure that scarce funds are used to best effect":
"The Church of England will no longer be able to carry on its current form unless the downward spiral its membership is reversed “as a matter of urgency”, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned.
It could face a dramatic shortage of priests within a decade as almost half of the current clergy retire, according to the Most Rev Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu.
Meanwhile dwindling numbers in the pews will inevitably plunge the Church into a financial crisis as it grapples with the “burden” of maintaining thousands of historic buildings, they insisted."
You don't need a doctorate to spot the link. TEC is now described as a post-Christian church :
"This is no longer George Washington’s Episcopal Church – in 1776 the largest denomination in the rebellious British colonies. Membership has dropped so dramatically that today there are 20 times more Baptists than Episcopalians.
U.S. Catholics out-number the Episcopal Church 33-to-1. There are more Jews than Episcopalians. Twice as many Mormons as Episcopalians. Even the little African Methodist Episcopal denomination -- founded in in 1787 -- has passed the Episcopalians"....
"Liberal Christianity has been hailed by its boosters for 40 years as the future of the Christian church. Instead, as all but a few die-hards now admit, the mainline churches that have blurred doctrine and softened moral precepts are declining and, in the case of the Episcopal Church, disintegrating."
Sad to say, the Church in Wales is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Regular attendance figures are almost at rock bottom claiming just 1% of the population as regular attenders. The historic parish system is shot to pieces. Priests are no longer offered a 'living'. Instead, Priests-in-charge, often of groups of parishes and 'house-for-duty' priests have been used to prop-up the system but even this is no longer a viable option. The Church in Wales is regrouping into ministry areas "served by a team of people both lay and cleric", the hierarchy oblivious to the fact that in many parishes the laity have been shouldering the burden of responsibility for keeping the ship afloat for years, mopping-up tasks not suited to incumbents. But don't expect much change with the new breed of Non-stipendiary ministers who expect only to officiate on a Sunday because they work during the week!
From figures in the Telegraph article, "typical Sunday attendances have halved to just 800,000 in the last 40 years:
"The two archbishops gave their backing to a series of reports calling for administrative changes in the Church to be debated by the Synod next month but added: 'Renewing and reforming aspects of our institutional life is a necessary but far from sufficient response to the challenges facing the Church of England.' They went on: 'The urgency of the challenge facing us is not in doubt'.
'Attendance at Church of England services has declined at an average of one per cent per annum over recent decades and, in addition, the age profile of our membership has become significantly older than that of the population. 'Finances have been relatively stable, thanks to increased individual giving. 'This situation cannot, however, be expected to continue unless the decline in membership is reversed'."
So much for the transforming ordination of women, liberal views on gay and lesbian bishops and the current push for same-sex marriage to be recognised by the Church. Read a previous entry "The Church of England is in crisis" here. It is not as if the writing was not on the wall. In 2010 Archbishop Rowan warned "Conform or face the consequences":
"The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked Provinces who have violated the Communion’s moratoria on gay bishops and blessings, along with those who cross provincial borders in response to these actions, to withdraw their representatives from the Communion’s official ecumenical bodies and from the newly formed Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (UFO).
'Some public marks of distance,' or discipline of those who defy the wider Church, 'are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness,' Dr Rowan Williams said."
But the liberal agenda continued until we read in 2013: "The Church of England is in crisis" (here).
While newfangled liberal Anglicanism continues to disintegrate, traditional Anglicanism is thriving where the majority have not been seduced into changing the faith to suit temptation. Some may see this as a judgement. Thriving Anglican Churches are not confined to Africa as witnessed in the Anglican Church in North America. In England there are many growing Evangelical and Anglo Catholic churches. In Wales Anglo Catholic parishes continue to shine in the darkness despite the efforts of their bench of bishops to extinguish the flame.
Amidst the gathering gloom there is still hope.