A hopeful moment in the Church of England

It took the Methodist Dave Warnock to bring to my attention Jonny Baker’s post a hopeful moment in the church of england. Despite its 1st April publication date and its complete lack of capital letters, this does seem to be a serious report of what is for once good news for the C of E.

It is good news because it shows that the church is beginning to realise part of what I wrote last December, that the parish system is a historical relic which is not helpful in the 21st century and needs to be abolished, or at least radically modified. Basically, as described here, what has happened is that a new “pastoral measure” has been brought into force introducing “Bishops’ Mission Orders”, which permit church planting initiatives which cross parish boundaries or involve collaboration between parishes.

It will be interesting to see how widespread such orders will be and how successful will be the resulting church planting. But the main implication of this “pastoral measure” seems to be that parish boundaries are no longer inviolable, and therefore that incumbent (senior pastors) cannot claim a monopoly for their own particular style of Christianity within particular geographical areas.

0 thoughts on “A hopeful moment in the Church of England

  1. I don’t want to say too much about it yet. But in this neck of the woods we’re in the middle of exploring a pattern of ministry and mission which might need one of these new mission orders for it to work both legally and practically. It won’t surprise you that we’re meeting resistance.

  2. My mother’s parish in New England (yes, folks, I was raised Anglican — or Episcopalian as we say on this side of the pond) was forced by the Bishop to merge with another parish, without particularly happy results for either congregation. Doing away with the parish system probably would have helped significantly to come to a more creative and satisfying solution to the problems of declining attendance in parishes that are three centuries old. (OK, so that may not seem long to you in England, but it is here.)

  3. Rich, we have the same problem in rural old England, with declining village church congregations and unhappy mergers. I don’t think this measure will help with that one. It is more a strategy for growth, which is happening in some areas, and to stop that growth being restricted by parish boundaries and churches which are too liberal or too lazy to do their own outreach, or too stuck in their ways to do anything relevant to today’s younger people.

  4. I wonder if that works backwards. In New South Australia the powerful and wealthy and evangelical Sydney diocese has been encroaching for years on the surrounding dioceses. Perhaps that should be part of the strategy of those affected dioceses – to go to Sydney and start up new Anglican groups there. ‘Cept the dollar will have some say in this ever happening and Sydney has far more dollars at their disposal than any other diocese in Australia.

    It may become the same in Blighty and then there will be “evangelical fervour” employed to bring in the pounds so that various forms of gospel can be spread willy-nilly and those “particular styles” of Christianity (Anglican forms only?) will no longer be geographically and parochially determined.

    Sounds like it could then become like some forms of pentecostal Christianity here with people moving from one group to another in their local area (which is greatly widened by being able to drive one’s car for over an hour to hear the “real gospel”).

  5. Naomisu, I understand your concerns, especially about churches using wrong techniques to bring in money. But what is being officially allowed to happen here in England is rather different. It is still under the bishops’ control, so no one can encroach on another diocese without permission. But our dioceses are probably less diverse than yours, and bishops, whatever their personal churchmanship, are mostly happy to promote any church of any style or theology which is successful, if it abides by the basic rules. I think there is little danger of English Anglicans being parted from their much of their money through inappropriate fundraising techniques.

  6. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Possibly another hopeful moment in the Church of England, and the Anglican Communion

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