From Prebendary John Pearce
Peter Toon’s judicious and irenic assessment of the Panel of Reference and its application to New Westminster in last months issue was wise. However I wonder whether he and many of us have yet recognized what is the basic strategy of the Archbishop of Canterbury and others throughout our Communion.
The plan is surely to take as much time as possible to resolve problems in the conviction that in due course the orthodox constituency will die away. Our ordinands are often rejected on specious grounds. Slowly our smaller churches are being united with liberal ones. In England, the erosion of the freehold will soon mean that even our largest parishes will be at risk when there is a vacancy.
And all the while there is a PR campaign to suggest that it is the orthodox who are the ones being difficult. Meanwhile the Evangelicals cannot bring themselves to do anything which might seriously change the ecclesiastical scene in any structural way – it has been fourteen years since the foundation of Reform.
Catholics in England need to be aware of the use of weasel words to prevent any serious action on the part of the orthodox. It will soon be necessary for the orthodox to take the initiative.
50 Crown Street, Bury St Edmunds
From the Bishop of Whitby
The two occasions marking my Thanksgiving at the time of my Silver Jubilee of Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, each provides its own particular memory. Each was much supported by colleagues, friends, fellow bishops and priests.
The Mass at St Silas, Kentish Town had the grandeur and solemnity that, perhaps, only Fr Graeme Rowlands commitment and insight can achieve; the Thanksgiving in Hymns at St Hilda’s Church, Whitby was a warm and joyful occasion from which have come many expressions of enjoyment.
I have been overwhelmed by the gifs, cards, Masses of Intention and messages received. May I use the pages of New Directions to express my heartfelt thanks to Stephen Parkinson, Forward in Faith, members of the Society of Mary, and to each one of you for your prayers and support.
* Robert Ladds
60 West Green, Stokesley TS9 5BD
From Canon Richard Price
May I thank Fr Scott Anderson for his article ‘End of the parish’ [ND November]. He draws attention to a plausibility gap between the aspirations of Forward in Faith and the reality of the widespread collapse in church attendance. Too little attention has been given to this issue.
He recommends wholesale parish and diocesan mergers and closures. In the process, doubtless, many C parishes would disappear. Moreover, the dismantling of some thirty dioceses, reducing the number to ten, is hard to set against the desire to create an entirely new province.
In reality, even now, many ABC parishes are involved in cluster, merger or shared oversight arrangements with neighbours, which already create interesting tensions, hitherto avoided in the comfortable aura of Anglican comprehensiveness, but which could be hard to disentangle in the future.
I wish he had said more, for the challenge is not just structural but also theological. The traditional, authentic, Catholic Anglican voice, which this journal enshrines, carries the hidden assumption that this is the authentic voice to
challenge modern, secular Britain in evangelical terms, as opposed to the endless capitulations and compromises of the liberal agenda.
Our Roman Catholic friends in this country, while suffering a Mass attendance collapse as worrying as our own, are also capable of responding more positively than the Church of England. One RC diocese provided the simple criterion that any church with less than 100 on the roll should close. Fr Anderson points to the inability of the CofE to change anything, given its present structures. Let us hear more on this subject.
21 Mill Croft, Cowling, Keighley BD22 0AJ
From Mr Roger Sparey
I read with interest the short piece on this weeks Forward concerning St Martin. I have always felt torn when I see people begging on the streets how, as a Christian, I should react. Walking by is clearly not the right thing to do and yet for all the reasons, detailed in Forward, neither is giving money.
While on holiday recently in Lithuania, I came across in a church a really excellent idea which I have never come across before. A notice in the church encouraged the congregation of the church to support local organizations, soup kitchens, hostels etc. with time, money and commitment, and then to carry with them small credit card size cards containing all the details of where these organizations could be found.
Then instead of either ignoring people begging on the streets or giving them money with no control over how that money might be spent, the members of this particular congregation would place one of these cards in the beggars pot.
If the need is genuine the necessary aid could then be accessed and perhaps even further support and guidance given.
Roger D. Sparey
50 Delrene Road, Shirley, Solihull B90 2HJ
Letters for publication should be sent to:
2A The Cloisters, Gordon Square
London WC1H 0AG