Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Whose Church is it anyway?

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10:  The Archbishop...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The world of the Church of England ‘Democracy’ is somewhat defective in that it is a rather closed environment.  It is closed for a variety of reasons and here are a few I can think of from my observations.

Firstly it is not covered very well by much of the Press.  Ordinary people, not least ordinary worshippers do not hear what goes on.  The dedicated, and not widely read, publications that do carry General Synod reports are dry and staid in their reporting and thereby not likely to be accessed by most people.  Most of the honest and up to the minute reporting goes on online and to a slowly growing audience, and I’m not talking about the C of E website. Do try THINKING ANGLICANS, they are very good.

Secondly, the more local democracy (Diocesan Synods) are not well run, with matters being badly chaired, usually by management.  Real opposition to the accepted view is not given much of a voice, if any.  In the case of the Anglican Covenant the matter seems to be being presented to many diocese as a matter for endorsement rather than debate!

Thirdly, there is a long accepted acquiescence towards Clergy and particularly senior clergy who are most often given the status of ‘sainthood’ in the minds of the worshippers.  It is unfortunate that clergy are viewed in this way as it provides a predisposition to believe what they say and at the very least to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Therefore reason may fail in a debate when Archbishops and others demand loyalty.

Democracy demands openness and an active press.  So much in the Church of England relies on explicit and implicit secrecy.  Opposition is too often painted as disloyalty to clergy and good reporting is not widely read by the constituents.  Synod allows this untidy and unsatisfactory position to continue on the whole, but there are a growing number of subversives who are muttering discontent in the restaurants of London and the corridors of York University (summertime).

Mr C


  1. Even more worrying, if my undersranding is correct, is that the Church of England belongs to everyone who lives in a parish. this means every square inch of England is included, so all residents effectively "own" the CofE. However, we have made the electoral role something that is only used these days by active members of the Church and do not canvass in the local community to get parishoners to sign up.

    what a differecne there might be if the people of England relaised that they could influence and decide on things politically for their Church!

  2. Apologies for my awful typos in that comment. I didn't check it before submitting! D'oh!

  3. Yes, 28 years as a vicar and I've often felt frustrated that most communication in the church is one way - top down. - Of course one can always reply to the top, but little opportunity for discussion among peers (except in limited context of one's own parish or clergy chapter - and even in chapter open discussion may be inhibited by semi formal/official context).
    The internet is beginning to change this and I hope it will do so much more. - I suggested to our archdeacon that we could have some kind of online discussion forum for our diocese - but he said it would have to be carefully monitored and this would make it not viable!
    But why the need for such heavy monitoring?