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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Time for change


Bishop John Davies who is to be the 13th Archbishop of Wales                          Source: WalesOnline


A leopard does not change its spots but many a cleric changed his stance after the Church in Wales' Governing Body decision to ordain women, ignoring the counsel of the Eastern church, Roman Catholics and, indeed, the vast majority of Anglicans throughout the world who had not been caught up in the mistaken belief that society has to inform the church rather than the church inform society as part of the Great Commission.

Whatever their reason, with the Church of Wales predicted to collapse within a generation it is again time for a change of stance to restore the sense of mystery and 'otherness' of the church so that when officials offer their "thoughts and prayers" after every tragedy their 'heartfelt' words are less of a cliche.

Many ex-churchgoing worshippers have remarked on hearing the news of bishop John's election: 'Hasn't he done well but, of course, he used to be against the ordination of women......' Readers can fill in the rest - but not for publication! The same could apply to most clergy who occupy senior positions in what have become management roles, primarily for managing decline.

'Unlucky for some', the 13th Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, has a heaven sent opportunity to make a different call, to right previous wrongs in line with the wishes of the majority of church members when they were consulted about the woeful Code of Practice devised by the Archdeacon of Llandaff to exclude faithful traditionalists whilst pretending to be inclusive.

The latest regular, adult, Sunday attendance figures in Wales make grim reading at 28,291 souls. That is 0.9% of the population, with Baptisms down 8% and Confirmations down a massive 21%.

Even funerals, a nice little earner for many a cleric, are down 4% as the popularity of secular funerals increases. Weddings are also down 4%. With more than half of the UK's population declaring no religion, the future for Christianity in this country looks bleak.

The Harris Review Recommendation [XLII (1)] that Fees for occasional offices should be paid into church accounts and go towards the cost of the Share in the Ministry Area was rejected at Governing Body. Perhaps financial self-interest will be the Achilles heel requiring a review of past mistakes.

The worst mistake the new archbishop could make is to be seen as being tarred with the Morgan brush. Archbishop Morgan's political agenda has resulted in the Church in Wales suffering a similar fate as the US Episcopal Church (TEC) under their heretical Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.

So, is there hope? From Wales Online: "'Religion isn't something to be frightened of' - Wales' new archbishop on the challenges ahead. - The new Archbishop of Wales is on a mission to “rehabilitate” the church in Welsh culture at a time of plummeting attendances.

Referring to the "debate and controversy" on same sex marriage the archbishop-elect rather worryingly said: “I think the world outside the church certainly thinks that the church is probably out of step with society... so it’s going to remain a live issue and I have little doubt that it will come back onto our agenda probably at some point in the not too distant future.”

That does not sound very encouraging if the church is to uphold the Christian faith against the tide of secularism but bishop John deserves a chance to prove that he is his own man, not a Morgan clone. To “rehabilitate” is to to return someone to a good, healthy, or normal life or condition. That should indicate a return to traditional Christian values, the 'otherness' and mystery of faith. Further secularisation, twisting scripture to mean something different after millennia is not rehabilitation, it is devaluation.

Looking forward to Archbishop John's Presidential address at the forthcoming meeting of the Governing Body he cannot afford to disappoint traditionalists again. The Church in Wales needs every soul she can muster. He has already expressed his wish that "traditionalists and progressives within Church in Wales can continue to worship together".

That wish is not new. Previously it was expressed by the Archdeacon of Llandaff based on terms dictated by Barry Morgan which ignored the conscientious beliefs of faithful Anglicans. It was a take it or leave it approach. Many have left the church, or more accurately, the church has left them, a dreadful indictment.

If that take it or leave it approach is allowed to persist bishop John Davies could well be the last Archbishop of Wales as numbers continue to fall and giving shrinks to unsustainable levels. It is indeed, time for change.

Updates

Listen to a 30 min in-depth BBC radio interview with the Archbishop here.

[11.09.2017]

Archbishop John Davies shares his vision for the Church in Wales under his leadership
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=21&v=jdo1hiMUzr4

13 comments:

  1. So, 28, 291 souls attend Anglican services in Wales - 30, 751 souls attend St Mary's - OK, not a church but Southampton FC's football ground, for every home match! At last 20,000 souls are expected at Cardiff City Stadium, soon, to watch one football game, Wales vss N Ireland. Old Trafford, Manchester, averages a crowd of 75, 286 - mind you United's nickname is The Red Devils's - a name first applied to Salford's rugby league team in 1934 after touring France They were so 'dazzling and ruthless' that a French journalist labelled them Les Diables Rouges. Can the new Archbishop elect and his team be equally " dazzling and ruthless" - Hmmmmmmmm ... or is it a case, once again, in the CinW of "better the devil(s) you know"!

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    1. The smart money on The Green says it will be 'business as usual'.

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  2. Here we go again another Archbishop in the Bazza mould, tarred by the Bazza brush. It does not fill the faithful with optimism to hear the Archbishop elect resolve to bring the church into step with the world. The analogy of carts and horses springs to mind and red lights start flashing everywhere.
    I wonder if he has ever read Romans chapter 2?
    We do not need an Archbishop whose first words consist of management speak, business speak or psychobabble but one who robustly declares the distinctive Christian view on matters of this world and the next.
    We have the best instruction manual in the world. Start using it and PLEASE avoid that crap about the Scriptures having several levels of meaning and "voyages of discovery". It has brought the CiW to its knees - with exhaustion.

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  3. Pondering Pastor:Bible basics, theological discussion and social focus are the issues of the day. Arranging deck chairs has been too much the preferred embodiment of the Church for far too long.

    Time to put Christ back at the top of the agenda, with good preaching, teaching, sacraments and social action.

    Macro management speak enforcing parishes into unequipped poorly led mission areas needs careful dismantling or, better strategy and resourcing.
    The Church is the body of Christ, what happened to strong, evangelical outward thinking parishes, Anglo-Catholic wholeness, teaching, caring and engaging communities?
    What we have now is a watered down confluence of badly pooled ideas and at worst, more deck chair arranging.
    2020 should be about enlivening mission,getting back to the roots, the parish with a heart to God and hand to man. If we are not mindful, inertia will continue to be, the besetting sin and that would be so unforgivable.

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  4. Will the Last Person turn Out the Lights13 September 2017 at 19:42

    He's got five years (if you discount his final year because he will have announced his impending retirement). He has no authority beyond his own diocese. He has no moral authority after Emailgate and everything that preceded it. He has little theological imagination beyond the 'Same Old, Same Old.' No experience beyond the Church in Wales. He's not actually a very nice person. The Church in Wales can only go downhill. Arglwydd trugahar (by the way, if you're reading, June, that's Kyrie eleison in Welsh!).

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  5. I notice A.B. that you have twice made use of the photograph of the bench sitters clothed in white standing outside a church somewhere.
    The more I look at that photograph as the Christmas pantomime season draws in upon us the more ridiculous it appears to me.
    There was a time when a bishop in full vestments conveyed a clear statement of authority, continuity and certainty that we were all proud of.
    This photograph invites derision and I find it hard to refrain from mentioning girls playing the male role and references to widow Twankey.
    Oops there I go again !

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    Replies
    1. Look out, they're behind you........... !!

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  6. Do I detect a certain inertia, AB? A successor to Barry the Golfer is elected, yet attracts very little comment and analysis. Perhaps the momentum has run out?

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    1. What is there to say Athelstan? The grovelling obeisance to the former Archbishop at the Governing Body followed by a Presidential Address in which the new Archbishop claimed he had had little time to prepare having only recently been elected!

      One would have thought eight years would be long enough to determine how he would do things better if he were Archbishop. Sadly further decline is indicated but we should give the boy a chance to redeem himself. Perhaps he has a cunning plan as Baldrick used to say.

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  7. We know what we ought not to be as the Risen Body of Christ in the world - and we will fight the false. Ancient Briton fought it, you did. The Llandafchester Chronicles stand out as a brilliant rear-guard action and we all know who won. The previous metropolitan - he initiated a response which was a response to something fundamentally negative, born and borne by the fake *ather below, supreme copy-cat; aren't all gays and trans, copy-cats to some degree? He is gone and so you are no longer under his spiritual authority. Lets not mention his n*m*.
    Now is a time for repose, prayer, fasting and spiritual assessment.
    Remember in the books of Kings: those kings that did evil in the sight of the Lord either were given lots of space, such as Ahab or the others dismissed with one liners. The one liners are just as dangerous. Amorphous one-liner ahead?
    And our work at this time?- to work hard on the remnant - to enable them to be more Christ-like than ever. Keep the sanctuary lamp lit, birls and goys.

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  8. Pondering Pastor. I could not have put the case better Thurupence. Let the Holy Spirit bring His restoration. We have not seen how the shuffling on the bench will play out. The addition of an English well experienced women can only add to the fresh dynamic.

    Darth is gone, the new Primate has more going for him than against. So it's time for faith and patience to do there perfect work under God.

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  9. Alas my thoughts on the situation are rather more bleak. Despite recent appointments I see no evidence for the systemic change needed in the Church in Wales, especially in its largely dysfunctional administration at the Representative Body and at diocesan level.

    Indeed, I've come to the conclusion that we are mistaken in thinking of the Church in Wales as a "Church" any longer. What we have instead is a bunch of glorified property managers, some of whom affect clerical garb but in reality are just administrators of a portfolio of funds and buildings.

    Readers of this blog must realise that the practice of religion is so far down the C in W's list of priorities as to be practically redundant. Think of the C in W instead as a failing company in an industry that might soon go the way of coal mining and steel production.

    What happens in a failing industry? The people with talent see the writing on the wall and get jobs elsewhere. The old-timers soldier on until retirement. The ones who are left are unable or unwilling to change, and the few remaining managers are desperate to plunder the cashbox because they know everything's heading for disaster.

    If we step back from the immediate problems caused by Darth Insidious, we see a 40 or 50 year trajectory of decline in churchgoing across the UK. Perhaps the Church in Wales was more insulated because at first it was the chapels that collapsed, but with the ageing of the church demographic it was bound to fail in the near term.

    Instead of embarking on an effort to evangelise, the C in W was and still is utterly complacent about attracting back lapsed churchgoers, let alone converting anyone new. There are some burgeoning new churches around South Wales but they're not Anglican or Catholic, and I for one find their worship quite alien to my sensibilities. But it's hard to argue with their effectiveness, in the face of the floundering C in W.

    What we have instead are increasingly daft schemes to reach out to the margins and bring in tiny minorities whose long-term commitment is inversely proportional to their vocal demands for equality. Like it or not, churches will not replace vanished young families by reaching out to same-sex couples, no matter how fashionable it may be.

    When I was working in the Midlands, I saw how a local church that was losing its family members was gradually taken over by loyal but eccentric characters, well-meaning but quite blind to the realities of the current situation. They all had various axes to grind: liturgical, choral, traditionalist, liberal, LGBT... but they were fighting over a failing institution. No matter which direction they wanted to take it, they could not fill that church with the families that once sustained it.

    Therefore this isn't solely a Welsh issue but it has been exacerbated by the inward-looking aspect of the Welsh Anglican church. Darth Insidious and his cronies arose in an echo chamber that permitted them to flourish. A successful church would have suppressed them.

    The net effect of Darth Insidious’s vapid reign was to accelerate the cack-handed managerialism and therefore speed the decline of the Church in Wales. It was fitting that a church already afflicted with these problems would place a micro-manager in charge at a time when it needed a proper reformer instead. As I said, failing institutions are not the place where you find the brightest and the best.

    The only course for the coming decades is to ensure the remaining treasures of the C in W are not flogged off for pennies on the pound by the idiots at 39 Cathedral Road. Maybe parishes should seize their own autonomy and stop paying their Parish Share, and thereby starve the church’s bureaucracy of money. After all, if Anglicanism in Wales is to survive, it needs to devolve to a local level and disengage from a hierarchy that does not have its best interests in mind. That would of course be a spiritual, financial and legal minefield.

    But I don’t think it would be any worse than what we have already!

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  10. Pondering Pastor, Wow Terra ... What a stark picture you paint, but unfortunately rather true, but what about Holy Spirit me thinks of the 7 churches of Asia Minor in Revelations of At John, a timely call to all Churches.

    You mentioned a withdrawal from paying parish share, not a bad idea, but it would have to be en mass, otherwise the little Parish taking this action would see its clergy removed and keys seized. Yes the "management collective". Making the premise "tow the line and swallow the foul medicine like a good parish. Collective management has become the back breaker.

    What now? Prayer, collective action, petitioning from the congregations. Look what happened when some tried to save there buildings in communities that only had the one community asset. Tow the line, came the voice of ill reasoned management. We can not afford you, you can't pay so thank you for all you did but, what can we do!

    Bottom line is simple Parishes need to wise up and work out pound for pound how there parish share is used, and where. It's hard enough once this is paid to keep doors open so perhaps a clear breakdown of the share is needed to be seen a d that cloth trimmed accordingly.

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