I started this blog as a means of reflection on a Leadership Training Course. It now reverts to its original purpose of being a tool for reflection during (and maybe after) my study leave this autumn.
Dear Tim, I found your article very encouraging - a warm-hearted apologia for Evangelical belonging to the Church of England & I'm committed to that. Two integrities - I agree it's a hugely problematic formula but it does enable Evangelicals of the traditional integrity of presbyteral orders to stay in. Without clear provision for those who hold to male headship, younger Conservative Evangelicals, who are enthusiastic, gifted, and mission-minded, are just not going to get ordained in the Church of England & we will not a growing gulf between established churches like the one I am privileged to serve & the independent Anglican church plants.I agree the women's issue is not the only pressure in this fissure - liberalism more generally is - but it is a factor.Warmly in Christ,Julian Mann
Hi Tim,Thanks for the article and the clarity with which you set out your position. The only thing that I would question is your questioning of the parichial system. It does seem to me that this is a strength of the C of E and you argue that your first point of contact with many are the occasional offices. If they were not your parishoners would that be the case? If you are arguing for more flexibility re boundaries then O.K. and I know that some parish boundaries are nonsensical, save to the morons who drew them up. However, the parochial system does mitigate against a congregationalism which can deflect the church from its primary missional calling. For me the parish gives a clear sense of a mission field in which I am called to proclaim the good news to everyone. I despair of colleagues I know who refuse to bury parishioners unless they were regular church members. Like you I see the occasional offices as a tremendous God given opportunity to proclaim the gospel and the parish often makes the vicar people's first point of contact.There are some who are into church planting across parish boundaries because they don't believe their neighbouring colleague is proclaiming the gospel; though in many cases the issues is the neighbour is not proclaiming their gospel rather than the gospel. In other cases I do wonder whether the reason is that they have exhausted fishing their own pool with a particular approach and then make the assumption that the problem is with the fish not their bait! I may have misunderstood what you were saying about this so perhaps you could elaborate when you have a moment.
Hi Phil,i guess I want to have my cake and eat it really, as I agree that it is the parish system that gives us the mission opportunities, but I also think that church planting across borders (with agreement from both parties of course) will become more necessary in future.My frustrations with the parish system arise partly from the reality that people come to Stebbing from other villages and i am forced to treat them slightly differently from residents.Let's remember also that the word parish comes from the same Greek root as the word for exile - it's just a way of living until the Kingdom comes in its fullness. I doubt there'll be parishes (or PCCs) in the new creation!
Sorry Tim I meant to say we will get a growing gulf between established churches & church plants if younger Conservative Evangelicals are put off getting ordained in the Church of England.This in fact relates to the parish system because one of its benefits is the accountability of churches to one another within a diocese - the thing that worries me about some of these independent church plants using an Anglican label is that their leadeship can lack local accountability. They have trustees etc and sometimes are partners with mission agencies but those they are accountable to are often not in the locality and so don't know what is going on on the ground.
Thanks for this excellent defence of staying on board the allegedly sinking ship. I don't think it's sinking, at least not yet, but I don't think it knows where it's going except around in circles. From my observations every time any part of it seems to be getting anywhere it gets pulled back so as to please everyone. That's basically why I don't think I will remain an Anglican much longer.
Peter,Hang in there!Don't tell the warden of readers!
Julian/ccI see your point about the gulf and the accountability - where it works well, this is a crucial element in mission. Your own city of Sheffield saw the archeypal example of how not to do a church plant with NOS in the 90's. A great idea and a lot of faith and evangelistic zeal went down the pan because of a lack of accountability and an isolation from the parochial structures.
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