In his Petertide 2018 message the Archbishop of Wales uses the current obsession with soccer and hysteria surrounding the World Cup tournament to spice up his appeal for people to become involved in lay ministry. He says he is certain that there are "thousands of faithful people in our churches around Wales" who could do a huge amount to strengthen and build-up our ministry. He goes on to plug the 'Theology for life' course.
Ummm, thousands of faithful people? At the last count there were only around 28,000 mainly elderly regular attenders in the Church in Wales representing less than 1% of the population. There were 5,963 regular attenders under the age of 18 which, remarkably, is against the trend of continual decline but probably the result of parents seeking a place for their offspring in a church school before disappearing again.
In a province numerically smaller than many dioceses in the Church of England, Oxford has 65,000 worshippers, Chichester 47,000, most congregations are dominated by the elderly, some exclusively. In London with 89,000 worshippers, Pastoral Assistants are typically in their early to mid-twenties and considering a vocation to ordained ministry in the Church of England.
In Wales, dream on! In my experience and that of others, many volunteers who felt called to a lay ministry would have been the last people I would have wanted calling in times of distress. Some were totally unsuited to the ministry to which they believed they were called but it was difficult to convince them.
Given the Church in Wales' apparent policy of accepting anything that moves if they show the slightest inclination towards ministry, lay ministry could do more harm than good.
As for the 'Theology for life' course, the Church in Wales does not do theology. It does what it refers to as equality. That is not 'equality' in the normal sense. It is a feminist euphemism for parity which applies a quota system instead of offering equality of opportunity based on ability and suitability. It is pure sexism.
What, then, is the Church in Wales teaching having abandoned the faithful, many of whom used to carry out the numerous tasks claimed by the archbishop as being left to the clergy. It teaches that the church must be relevant to society, adopting secular values.
As the number of women clergy increases cultural relativism expands. Our common heritage with the majority of Anglicans fades as spirituality gives way to sexuality. Far from saving the Anglican Church, feminists are destroying it, starting in the US and now rampant throughout the West.
In an article headed 'Could feminists save the Anglican Church?' the "brilliant theologian of the feminist movement", Rosemary Radford Ruether, is quoted as claiming that "Christianity has always absorbed cultural change to match people’s real lives – thankfully. Yet Christian doctrine seems to be continually out of step with social progress". The article goes on:
"Feminism has produced some startling and radical theologies over the years, making it possible for women to claim their place in the Anglican Church hierarchy as priests and bishops.
"Christian feminists are working to subvert the patriarchal dogma of Christianity from within, dealing with some awkward, misogynist biblical passages and some awkward traditionalists. Read Mary Daly or Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and it becomes possible to imagine Christian symbols in ways that are not oppressive.
"Feminist theology attempts to re-frame Christianity to allow oppressed groups access to God, who, it turns out, does not privilege the male, white, middle class and heterosexual humans after all. Queer theology, like feminist theology, operates at the boundaries of the Church, though there is much more hope, acceptance and optimism at the grassroots.
"Feminism started a theological ball rolling....feminists worked tirelessly to talk the church out of its most blatant sexist dogma. The same process is happening for the LGBTQ Christian community. Of course, sexual identity is much more than being able to be married in church, but it would be an outward sign of theological transformation."
If anything the archbishop's appeal indicates how desperate the Church in Wales has become in its terminal decline, diluting priestly ministry as it identifies more with nonconformists and a United Church for Wales than the Holy Catholic Church of which it claims membership:
"Since the Church in Wales continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including other Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Bench of Bishops acknowledges that this decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment and reception within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God." (Code of Practice)
Within the Anglican Communion, many provinces have gone their own way in the Global Anglican crack up. They have little in common beyond their historical links with the Church of England.
The majority of Anglicans look to GAFCON to Celebrate Gospel of God. Meeting in Jerusalem at the largest international gathering of Anglicans in 50 years, the GAFCON chairman, Nigerian Primate Nicholas Okoh, said that the West is now among the most secular nations on the planet, which sadly includes the Church of England, to which the Anglican Communion owes its origins and for which, he said, we still have a deep affection.
"The essence of the Gospel has virtually been lost in the nations of the West, and if it is to recover its spiritual identity, it must once again embrace that same Gospel or face irrelevancy, decline and finally obliteration.
"The mostly western churches have compromised on sexuality issues and that is viewed here, by these evangelical Anglicans, as a road down which they will not go for fear they jeopardize both the true nature of marriage that is exclusively between a man and a woman, and worse, damaging to their very souls.
"It is not without its significance that of the 11 active Primates here, five are from Africa, two are from the Argentine and Brazil, one is from Australia and Southeast Asia (Myanmar) with just one from the U.S. That the U.S. role which was for years so prominent, and now so reduced, indicates the shift in global Anglicanism from the Global North to the Global South."
From the Letter to the Churches - Gafcon Assembly 2018:
OUR GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE
To proclaim the gospel, we must first defend the gospel against threats from without and within. We testify to the extraordinary blessings on this Conference, which leads us to call upon God even more, that the Anglican Communion may become a mighty instrument in the hand of God for the salvation of the world. We invite all faithful Anglicans to join us in this great enterprise of proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations.
When the Archbishops of Wales and of Canterbury hold minority views which are contrary to the beliefs of the majority of Anglicans and the wider Church, further decline is inevitable.