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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...

Has the Church of England Lost the Will to Live? by Prudence Dailey

There is no doubt that, in an increasingly secular society, uncomprehending—and sometimes contemptuous—of religion, the Church of England faces a struggle to survive.  As the Established Church to which most people in England once paid allegiance (at least in name), its numerical decline was perhaps inevitable.  At the same time, it has been argued that Christianity thrives under pressure and even persecution, and in this difficult time there are opportunities for the Church to further its mission.

Looking at its present priorities and preoccupations, however, it is hard to escape the question:  Has the C of E given up the will to live?

Previously in this column I have lamented the leeching of resources away from struggling parishes to fund superfluous diocesan posts and central initiatives; and more recently, I have questioned the Church’s self-flagellation over its supposed “institutional racism”. If the Church succeeds in convincing everyone it’s racist, why should they respect it or take it seriously?

As if those responsible for our places of worship did not have enough to worry about, it is now being suggested that they might consider ripping out statues and memorials because (surprise, surprise) those in whose memory they were erected did not conform to present-day mores.  At the same time, the prospect of a “zero-carbon” Church looms large—a plan which, if centrally imposed, will close many churches (because they will not be able to afford to replace their heating systems, and people will stop going to them if they are freezing cold).  Is it not obvious to those at the centre that already struggling churches cannot cope with such additional burdens?” 

Nor are these isolated problems.  Last year, at the start of the Covid-19 panic, the C of E seemed even keener that the government to ensure that its doors would remain bolted for months, even seeking to ban its clergy from praying—alone—in their own church buildings. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Communion celebration from the kitchen at Lambeth Palace was presented as a gesture of solidarity with others whose lives had been disrupted, but was widely perceived as silly.  During the most recent lockdown, when churches were permitted to open for public worship, only a minority chose to do so, remaining closed for a number of weeks during which services could legally have taken place.

Lest anyone doubt the Church’s loss of confidence in itself, it has now advised its church schools not to sing hymns that are too expressly Christian in assembly.  This has been greeted with derision by secular commentators, such as Simon Heffer.  And it is not only the C of E’s state schools that embarrassed by “Christianity”.  Earlier this month, Trent College, a private boarding school which is an Anglican foundation, not only fired its chaplain, the Revd Dr Bernard Randall, but also reported him to anti-terrorist watchdog Prevent, on suspicion of stirring up extremism.  His only crime was to suggest to pupils, in careful and moderate terms, that they did not have to agree with the school’s LGBT teaching, but could think for themselves.  Dr Randall’s words were in line with the doctrine of the Church; but no bishop or other senior figure has said a word in defence.

If the C of E continues with such acts of self-sabotage, it is hard to see how it can survive.  It is time for the Church to spend more time and energy on Christian apologetics and less on apologising for itself.

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