Tuesday, 5 March 2013

WHEN CUMBRIA BECOMES 'STRATEGIC' FOR CHRIST

Conservative evangelicals in the Church of England are now faced with the prospect of losing 'strategic' (i.e. socially influential) ministry platforms.

We have to face the fact now that we are an embarrassment in any Anglican clergy chapter. Why? Because the growing proportion of female clergy find us offensive. Any bishop appointing a conservative evangelical faces the wrath of his local women's ministry support network.

So in the coming years, under the almost inevitable single clause women bishops' measure and more or less covertly even without that, conservative evangelical opponents of the unbiblical innovation of women presbyters and now bishops are not going to be appointed to incumbencies.

There are some glowing exceptions. Carlisle is conservative evangelical friendly. But how many conservative evangelicals want to go and minister in Carlisle? How 'strategic' in conservative evangelical eyes is Cumbria compared to London and the south-east?

Where are the chambers teeming with barristers, the banks bursting with wealthy financiers, the Clarendon public schools and the top-flight academies in the environs of Keswick? 

However, the debarring of conservative evangelicals from platforms of influence in London and the Home Counties could be a great opportunity for us to rethink 'strategic'. Surely anywhere that has people in it who can be reached for Christ is strategic.

Was not an obsession with the socially powerful and influential a spiritual problem that the Apostle Paul had to correct in Corinth? -
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1v26-27 - NIV).

Besides, who knows what is going to happen to the south of England in the future?

Under a future socio-economic disaster scenario devastating London and the south-east, Cumbria could be the springboard for the re-evangelisation of the British Isles.   

21 comments:

  1. It could be Julian!

    Of course not all the SE is made up of barristers. I'm the odd one out in my road for not having a white van. White Van Man is how Essex built it's wealth, so we don't have a UPA nor "highly professional" feel.

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  2. You ask:

    "Where are the chambers teeming with barristers, the banks bursting with wealthy financiers, the Clarendon public schools and the top-flight academies in the environs of Keswick?"

    I am serving in a parish which is in SE London, which according to the C.U.F. stats is the 12225th poorest out of the 12700 parishes in the UK. Next to us is Thamesmead - Clockwork Orange territory.

    Why am I here? BECAUSE we are called to the poor, and to give the Gospel to them.

    Where are these barristers and bankers in SE18? NOWHERE!

    More nuance, please.

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  3. Give it a few weeks JEGM, it will be gentrified!

    I was in Peckham, which we were told at the time was going to be the new Islington, by the time I left Newham was hailed the new Peckham. London is always a mixed bag.

    Having worked in the North, I get Julian's point. & there are pretty posh parts there too. But I don't think that's quite what he's saying. London UPAs normally feel edgey & cool (Clockwork Orange, lock stock etc.), Northern equivalents are being Eileen or Bread.

    But I think you're doing the sort of thing Julian bigs up, go somewhere "non-strategic" & make it strategic!

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  4. As ever, a conservative evangelical Anglican refuses to accept the obvious: Episcopalianism does not work.
    Eventually - some time ago in the case of the Church of England - the Episcopate becomes mainly involved in justifying its own existence, and is irrelevant to the cause of the Gospel, or downright damaging to it.
    Stop campaigning against women bishops. Campaign to get ALL bishops out of the way.Therein lies salvation for the CodE, and more importantly, England.


    David

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  5. Hallo John. Bishops are in the NT and they are part of the Catholic "given" of the Church. Cranmer's curate is quite right however about the dismal future for those who will not go along with women priests and bishops. They will get sent to Coventry - I already have!
    The answer now is becoming obvious through GAFCON and its UK affiliate AMiE, who are willing to help us restore the true face of the Church.
    I honestly think that without cold and expensive buildings to maintain and without the administrative and political clutter, we can see the redevelopment of a Christ-honouring and people-loving Anglicanism ahead.
    Bully for those who are still safe in their own parishes, but for the rest of us, I say, "Bring it on!"

    Mike

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  6. Hey Darren,

    I was at Christ Church Peckham for many years. Yes, I know the area well! I recognise what you mean ... but Plumstead is not Peckham, and it will probably be another decade at least before "gentrification" gets to us! Maybe I should hang in here and watch the rich flood in! ... You never know, we might be the next HTB ... or not!

    (Oh, and by "Clockwork Orange" I meant "grim concrete hell", not "Cool 70s kitsch"!)

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  7. Not a very flattering picture of your only 'safe-harbour', Julian. I can't see any future Bishop of Carlisle offering you a post after that. Never mind, I'm sure you will find fellows, like yourself, who really feel that God could only possible call the male of the species into ministry. In the meanwhile, the Church is certainly benefiting from such ministry as the Church does allow them. Maybe God even wants them to help keep the Church of England going - especially in the light of your revelation that con/evos are declining in number.

    Fear not, God loves you - even if you find it difficult to love and respect your sister clergy. Although he did say "...". I leave you to find an appropriate text.

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  8. If I may a comment about comment policy - it is not just the abusive anonymous comments that are not being posted, but other anonymous comments that add little to the discussion.

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  9. Having just been through the process of getting a post and been asked and probably rejected on the issue of women's ministry repeatedly, you are absolutely right about the future for conservatives I think.

    Also as one moving from Blackburn to Rochdale, having worked for St Helen's Bishopsgate in London, I appreciate your point about the unwillingness to come north of many.

    However, I'm unsure that Carlisle is straightforwardly different from say the Diocese of London, which is friendly to conservatives, or Chichester, or possibly London, or some other northern dioceses like Blackburn. Equally there are unfriendly diocese in both provinces.

    Perhaps most concerning is that we have geographical barriers to CE ministry which we need to overcome somehow. I wonder if CEs need to think more specifically and work in a more united fashion to overcome these sort of barriers (a mixture of planning, money and AMiE perhaps).

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  10. Andrew Godsall, Exeter7 March 2013 05:17

    Carlise has an excellent woman Archdeacon and is certainly not monochrome in terms of support for Conservative Evangelicals. Graham Dow was unswervingly in support of the priestly ministry of women, and of their oversight of parishes, whilst he was in Willesden and when he was in Carlisle. So is James Newcome.
    The problem with both Conservative Evangelicals and Conservative Catholics is that they are separatists - they don't really believe that anyone else is the genuine article. They have therefore - you have therefore - annexed yourselves. You are welcome back at the table anyime you want to play rather more nicely.

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  11. "The problem with both Conservative Evangelicals and Conservative Catholics is that they are separatists"

    Just wondering Andrew - how would you describe the attitude of CoE liberals back in 1992 (and since) towards Rome and Constantinople?

    They even fantasised that those two would actually come to see the error of their ways (or wisdom of the CoE liberals' ways) and start to follow where the latter were leading. Is there even the slightest indication that that is happening?

    Dan

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  12. Andrew Godsall8 March 2013 01:23

    Hello Dan -
    Are you in Communion with Rome or Constantinople? Last time I looked those two ecclesial communities were not in communion with any Anglicans - liberal, conservative, or whatever. So we are all in the same boat aren't we? ARCIC III is proceeding. So are conversations with the Eastern Churches as well as with Lutherans etc. No big changes since 1992 in any direction really.
    Ecumenism involves conversation - not take over. The vast majority of Anglican provinces ordain women. That isn't going to change now.

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    1. "The vast majority of Anglican provinces ordain women."

      Not in the sense you mean, Canon Godsall. Some of those provinces ordain women as deacons only - something that most conservative evangelicals are quite comfortable with.

      Other provinces have in theory allowed ordination of women as priests, but in fact few women are ordained, and there are significant parts of the province that do not accept their ministry.

      A further problem with your quip is that the provinces that most enthusiastically ordain women to the priesthood tend to be the stagnant and shrinking western provinces.

      Overall, it appears that a substantial majority of Anglicans in the Communion do NOT accept the ministry of women priests or bishops.

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  13. The point being, Andrew, that if we're all separatists of one sort or another, why single out CEs?

    Dan

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  14. Andrew Godsall8 March 2013 06:23

    I'm not singling out CEs - or FiF type Anglo Catholics for that matter. My point is that you are singling yourselves out - and making yourselves separatists - by asking for separate *legal* provision. We don't need law for this. Other Anglican Provinces don't have law for this. In New Zealand it works supremely well without law.
    My other point stands - CEs and FiF type Catholics regard the rest of us as less than orthodox - if you didn't, you wouldn't need separate provision. And it's simply offensive and needs challenging at every turn.

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  15. Andrew, what do you mean by "less orthodox." If you mean CEs and FiF types think you are wrong then presumably you also think they are less orthodox. Seems a bit circular and probably needs challenging at every turn.

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  16. Julian. I may have wrongly labelled you as an alumnus (or, at least, a one-time resident) of Moore College, Sydney, in the Australian Province - on my kiwianglo website.

    Am I wrong about this?If I am, please accept my apologies. If so, would you kindly let me know, so that I can correct the impression on my weblog. Agape, Father Ron, ACANZP.

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    1. Thank you Sir - I have never been to Australia.

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  17. In agreement with Andrew (Godsell), it needs to be understood that the majority of Anglo-Catholics in the Anglican Communion are not 'against' the ordination of women - either to the priesthood or the episcopate of the Church of England. Some of us already have them in our own provincial Anglican Churches.

    As Anglo-Catholics, we all have a definite devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary female) who, in her own womb, brought forth our Redeemer. We believe this to be at least equivalent to the priestly task of 'bringing forth' Christ's Presence at the altar in the Church today.

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  18. Father Ron (kiwi anglo), most anglo-catholics do not ordain women, even to the diaconate.

    What has emerged in recent years is a tendency for some liberals to claim to be anglo-catholic, on the basis that they like the vestments and ceremonies. But that doesn't make one anglo-catholic, any more than having fur makes one a rabbit.

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  19. Fr Julian, getting back to the point of your article:

    There is indeed a looming problem for CE churches in the Church of England. Harsh experience in the Episcopal Church of the USA shows that a church with a liberal trend tends to become more and more hostile to traditional religious believers within its midst, to the point of being downright oppressive. Some of the fulminations seen on liberal blogs after the women bishops measure was defeated give an indication of how little sympathy or love is held by certain liberals for anyone who thwarts them.

    Sure, a particular bishop in CofE might be sympathetic to the need to evangelise the nation today, but who is to say that that will continue when that bishop is replaced, or that evangelicals in another diocese will have the same experience with a different bishop?

    I suggest that part of the answer is to foster and maintain relationships between (a) conservative churches within the Church of England, and (b) Anglican churches in England who are not part of the CofE.

    You are aware of course that there are a number of congregations around England who take episcopal oversight through AMiE, and whose doctrine is based on Canon A5 of the CofE (or variations thereof), but are not and never have been part of CofE. Their numbers are likely to increase in the months and years to come, simply because they have the freedom to evangelise and plant new churches as the Spirit leads them.

    These independent Anglican churches can be a useful support and comfort to evangelical churches within CofE who may face an unsympathetic bishop in the future, or demands by CofE to agree to things which, in godly conscience, they cannot agree to.

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