We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia: Northern Churchman

We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia? The Northern Churchman There is a familiar feel to this time of year. The Christmas advertising on television, the darker evenings, the Carol Services – and the inevitable scoffers who call the Christmas story a myth. Not ‘Once in Royal...

Mark Pickles: The Story of Two Trampolines

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Story of the Two Trampolines:  A passage that is frequently referred to during times of great revival is Isaiah 64:1-3:  “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your...

Ten Thousand Bibles for London’s Children

TBS Auxiliary Meets Ten Thousand Bibles For London’s Children The Greater London Auxiliary of the Trinitarian Bible Society was delighted to report at its Annual Meeting held on 15 November that over 10,000 Bibles have been distributed to London schools since the...

Good News for Egypt’s Christians

Barnabas Fund Reports Good News for Egypt’s Christians The government of Egypt licensed 125 churches and church-affiliated buildings on 14 November. It is the 24th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the licensing process started work in...

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw In the aftermath of Desmond Tutu’s daughter being refused permission to preside at a funeral in a Church of England parish, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told The Guardian that the “C of E must move swiftly to welcome lesbian...

Collins: Who’s Your Righteousness?

Who’s Your Righteousness? By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins Who’s your righteousness? "The Lord our Righteousness" was the sermon preached March 20, 1757 at St. Mary's Church in Oxford. It offended nearly everyone that day and William Romaine was invited to never preach...

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963 Persons Against Whom Proceedings May be Instituted. Proceedings under this Measure may be instituted against an archbishop, any diocesan bishop or any suffragan bishop commissioned by a diocesan bishop or any other bishop or a...

Editorial: Joy to the World Cup

Editorial Joy to the World Cup The result of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is already in. And it appears the Church of England has lost. The latest advice from the Church of England’s Support Hub is for parishes to consider the timing of Christmas Carol Services to avoid...

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership By Chris Sugden Andrew Symes is to stand down as Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream on January 1, 2023, after nearly ten years in post. Rev Symes, 56, who had earlier served with Crosslinks in South...

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension By George Conger The former Bishop of Ramsbury has been suspended for life from the ordained ministry after he admitted to having sexually abused two women. The Daily Mail reported the Rt Rev. Peter Hullah had been the subject of...

And While the Bureaucrats are at Play; Commentary by Calvin Robinson

The Reverend Charlie Boyle – the vicar of All Saints’ Church in Poole, Dorset – could potentially be sacked for breaking Covid guidelines. Boyle stands accused of singing the final verse of an Easter hymn without wearing a mask and generally failing to take responsibility for implementing Covid measures in his church. Most alarmingly, he could be punished for hugging a mourning parishioner during a funeral.

An investigation has been launched by the Archdeacon of Dorset after Boyle refused to resign quietly. The Church of England would have preferred to have kept this ordeal out of the press, for obvious reasons.

Many of the accusations against Boyle don’t stack up. Churches have been allowed a choir in a limited capacity for some time, but even before that was the case, they were allowed a cantor – a person who sings solo in order to lead the worship. Around Easter time, the guidance said that singing was allowed if part of an act of worship, provided singers were two metres apart. There was no limit on the number of singers, other than capacity limits based on the amount of space available. Choirs were even allowed to process into church, as long as they remained in single file.

Similarly, Boyle should not be punished for failing to wear a mask. Prior to the 19 July relaxation, government guidance on places of worship stated that, ‘Those who are leading services or events in a place of worship’ are exempt from wearing a face covering. So it seems Boyle didn’t break any Covid-19 guidelines in these respects.

Reading between the lines, it appears there is more going on here. A number of elderly members of the congregation are unhappy with Boyle’s leadership style. Complaints against him have been trickling in since 2018 – pre-pandemic. Could it be that the church leadership is using Covid as an excuse to dismiss the clergyman?

Boyle might well have breached the guidance by hugging a mourning parishioner. But if showing compassion and charity at a time of loss is a crime, it should be one any good priest would be willing to go to jail for. It is disturbing that the Church of England would even consider bringing a case against one of its own for being a good pastor to his flock.

The church has a lot of explaining to do. This is not its first failure during the pandemic. In the first lockdown, all churches were closed down in a faux act of ‘solidarity’ with people at home who were isolating. This measure went above and beyond what even the government had expected. For the first time in centuries, priests were not allowed to enter their churches to pray for their parish. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, who chose to preach from his kitchen counter instead of one of the many chapels in his palace, apparently didn’t think it particularly important to be in a church building.

For Christians, churches are far more than just buildings. They are steeped in decades – sometimes centuries – of prayer. They are also hubs at the centre of the community. For many people, they are a lifeline. Closing the churches, even to priests, was a momentous mistake.

When the Church of England should have been fighting to keep churches open, it let us down. If ever there was a time for the church to step up to the plate and to provide pastoral assistance and moral leadership, this was it. There was a time not too long ago when a priest would rather face martyrdom than close the doors of his church to his people. Yet it is the church itself which is going after one of its vicars for attempting to do his job properly.

Let us pray the bureaucrats will leave him to it.

First appeared at and used with permission.