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Monday, 31 August 2015

Accountability


With apologies to Pixar

In his April 2015 Presidential address to the Church in Wales' (CinW) Governing Body(GB), the Archbishop of Wales urged people to vote in the then forthcoming General Election: 
"Archbishop Barry identified one of the tasks of the Church during the run up to the General Election as being to tackle voter apathy by engaging in the democratic process — encouraging people to vote, and helping inform them by holding hustings where politicians of all parties can be invited to respond on their attitudes to a whole range of subjects." 

His encouragement would have had more weight if the democratic process were allowed to operate in the CinW. In theory members have a voice but in practice not so. For example, meetings held in dioceses across Wales to discuss same sex marriage options have been a farce, as were the 'consultations' on a Code of Practice (CoP). See here, here and here. If +Barry doesn't like the outcome he reserves the right to ignore the findings. Consequently the Church in Wales has a meaningless CoP and if Barry has his way the CinW will allow same sex marriage in churches by persuading GB members to vote as he requires, regardless of the fact that some of the gay lobby voted out of personal preferences against the wishes of others and at least two dioceses voted to maintain traditional marriage. So much for Barry's idea of democracy.

This is how it works. + Barry decides what he wants. He arranges for papers full of spiritual irrelevancies to be prepared as the basis for discussion but the outcome is for guidance only. That means, if the results are favourable they are used in evidence. If unfavourable they are ignored because the bishops, ie +Barry, knows best.

This one man band approach has been an disaster for the CinW but unlike the secular world which +Barry strives to emulate there is no accountability. Like a galley master beating the oarsmen for more effort the poor pew sitters are urged to give more and more to support a failing institution. Academic research claims that the CinW will be extinct in a generation leaving only the Church of England (CofE) to survive in the longer term but there is no spiritual lifeline as provided in the CofE for those who have not fallen under +Barry's spell. In any other walk of life the chief executive would have done the decent thing and resigned. But decency is not a factor recognised by the bench of bishops.

The ordination of women was supposed to re-invigorate the Anglican Church, or if you believed the Ass Bishop of Llandaff, "the ordination of women will rid the world of homophobia, misogyny, brutalisation of women in all situations including those in war zones". Far from being homophobic, Church and State has an active gay lobby which grows ever more confident with LGBT issues constantly being pushed in schools where transgender has become the dominant issue and in churches where worshipers are branded as homophobic for believing that marriage is the union for life between one man and one woman. As for the brutalisation of women, apart from the treatment of women in Islam which too many bishops are keen to endorse as a legitimate faith despite biblical warnings, it has not concerned the CinW one jot that many faithful cradle Anglican women have been robbed of the Church they loved by the feminist takeover.

Also highlighted in the April 2015 GB  report was a report on the Representation of Women in the Church. Their recommendations on page 5 kick off with "The Bench of Bishops and the Governing Body must reaffirm the role of women in the Church, and monitor and review on a regular basis the appointment of women to senior posts" followed by nine other Recommendations, mainly about 'gender balance' and the need to be 'inclusive'.

Recommendation 4: Gender Equality and Training sums up the feminist cause in the Church. "Gender Equality must be reaffirmed as integral to the training of all ordinands, clergy and laity. Those in training as ordinands should be required to abide by the policy of the Church with regard to discrimination." That will be discrimination against anyone who in conscience cannot accept the sacramental ministry of women.

The CinW is obsessed by equality of opportunity in the workplace and being politically correct. The spiritual needs of faithful women and men have become an irrelevance. Ironically one of the few women to mention spirituality was the briefly Dean of Llandaff, Janet Henderson. Writing in the Llandaff Cathedral magazine, The Bell, in response to the Elerie Jones Report Dean Janet commented:

" Instead of writing a letter this month, the Chapter has asked me to report
on the recommendations. The brief given to Professor Jones and Dr HavenTang
did not cover a review of our worship, our education programme or
our staffing nor did it ask for any information about the opportunities
afforded by our deep Celtic roots and our potential place as a site of major
interest associated with the Celtic saints. I would stress that these areas are
also important - excellence of worship, good all age Christian education,
support and training for staff and the exploration of the riches that are
present in our archives and on site. I also see a great deal of opportunity
to develop our musical and artistic life and to be in partnership with
schools, colleges and universities. Read with these areas also in mind, the
report offers a basis for our future planning....

"I propose to hold a Vision Day on 1st June for all Chapter members and for
our newly elected PCC members at which we will be working on a
Development Plan for the cathedral. I will write more about this and offer
some of my own observations about the directions in which we should be
moving in the next issue of the Bell. Once the Chapter and PCC have
finalized the Development Plan, this will then be widely available for people
to see at the back of the Cathedral and on our website. So, if you have any
comments to make about any of this, please do send them to me or to
members of the Chapter and PCC before June 1st."

In the June 2013 edition of The Bell The Most Reverend Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, wrote "I did not expect to be writing this letter in The Bell but I know that many of you were shocked and saddened at Dean Janet’s resignation and I share in that sadness"...."Unsettling as all of this has been, and it is deeply unsettling, we need to bear in mind, as I said at the installation service, and as one of you reminded me this week, that the church of God and this Cathedral has faced all kinds of difficulties and crises in the past but God has been steadfast in His care for us and assures us that whatever we face, He faces it with us and alongside us. In the end, it is His church and not ours."

Whatever the merits or demerits of comments made by commentators who have resorted to using this Blog as a means of airing their grievances, their comments suggests significant dissatisfaction. I do not know how representative commentators from the Llandaff Cathedral congregation are but even if only a disgruntled minority, they have brought to the attention of the casual observer a level of Christian stewardship at the highest level which appears wanting. But where is the accountability? There is none. There are no answers, just 'don't rock the boat'!

The Archbishop wrote in The Bell, "In the end, it is His church and not ours" emphasising that "the church of God... has faced all kinds of difficulties and crises". The problem is that the Archbishop treats the Church in Wales as if it were his Church, accountable only to himself. The Governing Body has become another tool of authoritarianism. The bench of bishops is either complicit or ineffectual. While this is going on the Church in Wales is dying. In his April 2015 GB address Dr Morgan posed the question, "If I exercise my right to say or write anything I like about you, what are the consequences for our relationship?"

There are times when people have to speak up for the faith. Something which appears to elude the bench of bishops. If nobody is allowed to comment the Church is left with the attitude "whatever the vicar/bishop/archbishop wants", seemingly oblivious to the fact that congregations continue to dwindle as the CinW is transformed from being an accepted part of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church into a secularised social club for the like-minded.

From Conger (here):  "Archbishop urges Christians to see the Bible through a skeptical eye:

"The Archbishop of Wales has urged the Governing Body of the Church in Wales to cast a skeptical eye on the Biblical prohibitions, saying the authors of Scripture were ignorant of modern committed same-sex relationships. In his 23 April 2014 Presidential Address Dr. Barry Morgan stated the “few texts we have in the Bible about same-sex relationships are very negative. Yet, it can be argued that homosexual relationships as we understand them in terms of committed, faithful, monogamous, long lasting relationships, were unknown in biblical times and what the texts rail against is sexual promiscuity and experimentation.” Jesus did not speak to the issue of same-sex relationships the archbishop averred, adding that it was not impossible for the church’s teaching on gay marriage to evolve as it had on divorce and remarriage. “Will we, as a Church, eventually adopt the same approach as far as same-sex relationships are concerned, as we have done about re-marriage after divorce, or is gay marriage in a different category from the re-marriage of divorced people,” Dr. Morgan asked. The archbishop’s address kicks off a formal round of debate on gay marriage within the Church of Wales. No decisions were taken at the meeting, but Dr. Morgan asked the debate be respectful. “Whatever our viewpoints, I hope that our discussions can be charitable."

The implication is, if it is fashionable, accept it, ignoring the real point of the Church which is to worship God and preach the Gospel, not conform to the latest secular fad. The Church should be guided by what the Bible does say rather than speculate around what is not said:

"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." The converse is...... But there is no accountability in the Church in Wales so more of the same while the CinW becomes a ruin in the lifetime of our children.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Fit for purpose?


Archbishop of Wales, Rt Rev Barry Morgan, at the National Eisteddfod                      Credit: Daily Post


In a 2011 BBC video clip (here) the Archbishop of Wales claimed that we needed to look to see if the Church in Wales (CinW) is "fit for purpose" and if we are using our resources in the best possible kind of way because investment income is falling, the pension bill is rising and therefore more money is needed by the church. Dr Morgan said the organisation needs outside help to cope with the decline in clergy, waning investments and falling congregations. He warned that the Church needed to be ready for significant change and take whatever proposals the Review may come up with seriously to make it fit for a future in Wales.

Unsurprisingly in 2012 the Review duly reported that the Church is “burdened and hampered” by too many aspects of organisation, and the parish system, as originally set up with a single priest serving a small community, was no longer sustainable.

No time has been lost in dismantling the parish system while cutting parish clergy but the top-heavy management structure remains in tact and peripheral appointments abound. For an example see the Llandaff structure here. No wonder the CinW has no future.

According to research reported in the 'Church Growth Modelling' Blog, the CinW will be extinct within a generation. The date of "around 2040" may prove to be optimistic. If a rumour circulating proves to be correct, CinW regular Sunday attendance figures are down by a massive 10% on the 2013 figure of 31,000 to only 28,000.

There are a number of factors. There is a limit to the willingness of members to support an organisation which has become so divorced from their Credal beliefs that it ceases to be credible. Many orthodox Anglicans have remained in the CinW because it has been their spiritual home since their baptism. They have found no suitable alternative but there comes a point when habit becomes unsustainable.

Also, the sense of 'belonging' to ministry areas, which will depend for their existence on lay worker assistants, does not have the same spiritual dimension as being able to call on one's parish priest if needed. *

It is obvious to many that the decline of Anglicanism in Great Britain has accelerated as the Church has become 'more relevant' to society. If this trend is continued and the Archbishop successfully convinces the Governing Body that same-sex marriage is the best thing since sliced bread, steeper decline seems inevitable.

So fit for purpose? No. Money may make "the world go round" but it does nothing for the "prosperity of the soul", a point seemingly lost on the Bench of Bishops.

* Postscript [11.08.2015]
   See 'Lots of Lay Leaders Licensed' here.

Monday, 3 August 2015

WITCH way




House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests
Chrism Masses: Report of the Independent Reviewer

"Part of the package enabling the consecration of women to the episcopate in the Church
of England was the introduction of a process for the resolution of disputes relating to the
operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests
(GS Misc 1076). The Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (Resolution of
Disputes Procedure) Regulations 2014 provide for the appointment of an Independent
Reviewer to consider individual grievances from a parish as well as more general
expressions of concern arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, with the concurrence of the Chairs of the
Houses of Clergy and Laity of the General Synod, confirmed my appointment to this new
role which took effect from 17 November 2014.

2. On 13 April 2015, Hilary Cotton, Chair of Women and the Church (‘WATCH’) wrote to
me expressing WATCH’s concern about the fact that a number of chrism masses were to
be held in 2015, as in former years, at which bishops of the Society of St Wilfrid and St
Hilda (‘the Society’) – an ecclesial community dedicated to maintaining catholic teaching
and practice within the Church of England – would preside. Ms Cotton asked in what
possible way continuing these occasions honoured the five principles embodied in the
House of Bishops’ Declaration, in particular the first two of those principles and the call
in the Declaration to promote mutual flourishing...."

“Mutual flourishing is, we believe, not meant to be about each group flourishing
independently, ‘tolerating’ the other’s presence, but flourishing together even
though that causes tension – which is why all clergy renewing their vows
together would seem to be a case in point.” - Chair of WATCH

Now that women bishops are part of the structure of the Church of England, that mean-spirited, feminist group,WATCH seek to unpick the agreement which gave them what they wanted so that

"those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological
conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or
priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of
the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to
enabling them to flourish within its life and structures",

'flourishing' can be only on WITCH terms. True to form!

The complaint was not upheld. Report here.

With crisis reports appearing such as "Demise of Christianity: 1,000 churches could shut across Britain as congregations shrink" and "'Gay marriage' all about attacking Christianity, says author" one would have thought there were more pressing issues but the feminist cause must be served regardless. Their campaign has always been motivated by politics rather than spirituality no matter what the cost, especially to others who do not share their distorted view of the Apostolic Church.

See also "WATCH your backs - they really are hunting you" on the Let nothing you dismay Blog.

Postscript [10/08/2015]

A report from the Independent Reviewer regarding All Saints, Cheltenham:
In multi-parish team benefices, licences issued to female assistant clergy (other than members of the Team) should specify the nature and extent of the ministry they are authorized to undertake in resolution parishes." H/T Forward in Faith

Postscript [14/08/2015]

From Ruth Gledhill " The CofE needs a fresh start to reconcile its differences" here.