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Saturday, 6 May 2017
Take it or leave it!
As the Catholic and Orthodox Churches continue to come closer together the Anglican Church in the UK drifts further away from the unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church with every ill-advised congregationalist move it makes.
During his visit to the Coptic Church in Egypt, Pope Francis joined with the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox churches, in placing flowers, lighting a candle and praying at the site where dozens of Coptic Orthodox Christians were killed by an Islamic State militant last year. Video here.
Christian Today reported: "As Christians face an increase in violence around the world and especially in the Middle East, there are significant signs that the major Churches are coming together, with the blood of martyrs acting as the 'seed of unity'." - But not the inward looking Anglican Church.
The contrast could not be greater. Coptic Christians are regularly attacked and killed in Egypt. Christians throughout the Middle and far East are constantly targeted by Muslims but in Great Britain Islam is affirmed as a religion on a par with Christianity while the Anglican Church pursues its fixation with secular matters.
As Scottish Anglicans move towards same sex marriage their leader has warned that GAFCON should "stay out of our territory" while the Church of Ireland is split over whether it should liberalise its stance on same sex marriage. Meanwhile the Church of England continues its shared discussions before its expected capitulation to the LGBT lobby in opting for secularism.
The bishops of the Church in Wales will still be smarting over their failure to lead the charge towards same sex marriage but they lost the plot years ago. Many congregations are elderly with little sign of younger people joining them. Indeed, for many youngsters in Wales religion has become a no go area. Some are even petitioning for an end to compulsory prayers in Wales' schools. They gained more than 870 signatures of support in less than two weeks. Without new blood collapse is inevitable.
Perhaps the experience of readers is different to mine but from what I hear, any faith visits to children in their formative primary schools are often carried out by female Methodist ministers, sometimes by an evangelical nonconformist but never by a traditional male Anglican priest.
I had hoped to be more positive in my outlook after Barry Morgan's retirement but I fear I was too hasty in my April entry, A promising start, when I reported that the bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the senior bishop on the bench of bishops, told the Governing Body to "put evangelism at heart of ministry".
My positive outlook crashed with the appointment of the bishop designate of Llandaff who has made it clear that her priority is to appoint more women to senior roles until parity is achieved. That is feminism, not evangelism. An appointment which, incidentally, has been met with a stunned silence in Llandaff after the clamour created by claims of homophobia, subsequently disproved, because the Dean of St Albans failed to secure the votes he needed.
So no new broom to address the disillusionment created by Barry Morgan as he bent the church to accord with his own views. Just more of the same. Take it or leave it. Many have decided to leave it, doubtless with more to follow. As Church of England rejects have been appointed in Wales the best of Welsh talent has left for England while the laity have opted simply to leave altogether.
One wonders how all those clergy who abandoned their former colleagues and faithful parishioners for a career in the Church now feel as they look at the state of the Church in Wales and see that they have no prospects in Wales.
Many more clergy and laity will be examining their consciences after the appointment of two female bishops. Doubtless many red lines will become distinctly pink but for others it will be the end of the road. A sorry, unnecessary predicament. In that, Morgan and his bench sitters have been cruelly successful. Opposition has been virtually wiped out in some areas, but at great cost, ignoring the expressed wish of the majority in consultations for alternative provision, leaving the fate of the Church to the Jackson/Wigley/MAE Cymru cohort.
Does anything matter anymore in the do-as-you-please Church in Wales? What of those who broke their Llandaff Electoral College oath of silence and the shameless campaigners including the unnamed bishop who put LGBT issues before the Church? No doubt that will be swept under the carpet by the bench along with everything else.
While some will find reasons to stay put, others will continue to leave. Evangelism is fine but for what? A church in which faith managers have shattered the parish system, interpreted the Bible to justify their own secular desires and ignored the wishes of its members when asked for their views while still claiming to be members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
How many more must leave before the bishops get the message? Without acceptable alternative provision, leaving is the only option for anyone who wants to keep the faith.