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Editorial Giving Thanks for the Rail Strike


Giving Thanks for the Rail Strike

It is not a frequent thing to find support for public strikes in the pages of the English Churchman but we will make an exception for the one scheduled for this Saturday, 8 October.

Our gentle readers are right to ask, Why?

The reason is simple.  It will make it very difficult for people to go to the Prayer Book Society’s stand-in service for the rescheduled 50th Anniversary service.  The natural follow-up question is easily anticipated.  Why is that a good thing?

Let us endeavour to explain.

For some time, plans have been in place to hold the service at Westminster Abbey on that date. Recent events and the RMT strike has necessitated a stop-gap service move to St James’ Garlickhythe.  

The service was to be a utilisation and celebration of our unmatched Book of Common Prayer and its liturgy and the Society dedicated to its propagation.  Some even anticipated the usage of congregational hymns that would enable the entire congregation to participate in thanksgiving and praise rather than observe others doing so.  There is still hope for that, but it seems there is little hope that the assembled congregation will hear a sermon worthy of the occasion.

Why? Because the revisionist Bishop of Southwark is to be the preacher.

We asked Mr Bradley Smith, the current Chairman of the Prayer Book Society as to why the Bishop of  Southwark was chosen to speak at this stop-gap service.  He replied, 

“Shortly after the announcement of the RMT strike, the Trustees agreed, with great regret, to postpone the national celebration since hundreds of our members simply will not be able to get there. It was also agreed that a different event should be arranged for the benefit of local members (the London and Southwark Branch) plus members who have already booked accommodation or planned a longer stay in London. We have always been clear that this is not a replacement for the 50th anniversary celebration at the Abbey.  

“Since the Bishop of Southwark was planning to attend the service at the Abbey, and knowing that his journey to Garlickhythe would be possible, the Trustees present at the meeting agreed to our President’s suggestion that he be invited to preach. Therefore the invitation was issued, and the Bishop accepted. 

“We have no idea when the 50th anniversary service will be held, but we expect it to be some time in 2023. It will not be held on 8th October 2022.”

It would seem that convenient accessibility was more important to the Trustees than orthodoxy.

The Bishop of Southwark openly supports the LGBTQI agenda.  One of his recent ordinands, Deacon Charlie Bell, is an outspoken proponent of that wing of the Church.  He has even written a new book called Queer Holiness.  The bishop knew this before he ordained Bell to the diaconate.  He has been anything but shy and retiring in his promotion of sin. If he has received a reprimand from his bishop, it has not been made known.

According to Bell’s alma mater, the St Augustine’s College of Theology website, “Charlie faces these issues head on.  His thesis is simple—to reject the overwhelming scientific and experiential knowledge about LGBTQI people is no longer valid.  The liberation of LGBTQI people is not only for LGBTQI people—it is a task for the whole people of God.” 

Did you notice how that biblical revelation was not considered?  For Bell, experience rules revelation like ease of access over-ruled biblical orthodoxy for the PBS Trustees.

The Bishop of Southwark knowingly ordained someone who openly held theological views contrary to the keeping of his ordination vows and has declared what God has called evil, good.  The Seventh Commandment has been made optional.  His reward, to be the featured preacher at a service proclaiming the faithfulness of God’s Word in the BCP.  So much for his consecration vow “to drive away all strange and erroneous doctrine” from his diocese.

That is a warped idea.

We find it difficult to understand as to how inviting someone to speak, who is known for heterodoxy, goes along with the stated purposes of the PBS which is, “for the promotion of the worship and doctrine enshrined in the Book of Common Prayer and its use for services, teaching and training throughout the Church of England …”

We realise that some view members of the Prayer Book Society as Religious Historical Re-enactors rather than those committed to the biblically faithful worship found in the BCP.  However, the PBS’ raison d’être is to promote the use of the BCP precisely because of its content—not the manner of prose used to say it.

Whilst we are perplexed by the invitation of Bishop Chessun to be the speaker, we are not without consolation.  Our consolation in this matter stems from two things.  One, the RMT strike will keep large numbers from easily travelling to the service and so large numbers will not hear the sermon. Secondly, we know that if the service sticks to the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, which you would think would be a given, those in attendance will hear the Gospel proclaimed and explained…even if the sermon is a contrived piece of episco-speak.

The Trustees have a lot to consider in re-scheduling the big anniversary service.  Dues paying members do too. We pray for both groups.