It is very interesting reading the responses to articles published in this magazine; they range from interest, to mild amusement and onwards to absolute disgust and horror. New Directions has always been on the edge, it is a magazine that has sought to push the boundaries and engage in debate. You might not always agree with what is written on its pages but it will continue to challenge.
One recent response shocked us: it read ‘time I made sure there are no last vestiges of this stuff lying around…’ It is it would seem no longer possible to hold an opinion, to work with a point of view or even to express it in the modern Church of England. We need to be clear: there are those in the Church of England whose sole aim it seems is to remove any sign of catholics and evangelicals who hold to the traditional faith. They will, it would seem, stop at nothing until we are removed, and this is all done in the name of liberal Christianity.
Let us be clear, Forward in Faith is not arguing that women priests and their supporters, or indeed women bishops and their supporters, should be cast out of the Church of England; we are simply seeking provision to allow us to remain and to live and to thrive.
We wish to try to live and work together and yet there are those who will stop at nothing to prevent us from doing so. Sitting at a desk and reading responses to articles, statements and speeches it can seem as if we are hemmed in in a deep trench with nowhere to move and little hope, yet this is not the case. We must have hope because we are Christians; our faith encourages us to keep going.
Our critics of course will choose to ignore the ‘good news’ stories in our parishes: the young people who are confirmed and brought to faith, the exuberant joy of the Youth Pilgrimage in Walsingham, the care of our priests for the elderly and so on. We are not trying to claim that these stories are unusual or unique but they do show that we are engaging with the world and are serious about spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
Priests and people in our constituency engage with the world, they are involved in homeless projects, in feeding those in need, in raising money for charity. These are priests and people who have been part of the Church of England in many cases all their lives, and now, because they will not change their faith and belief in the churches teaching on Holy Order and the Sacraments they are to be cast out or forced to accept being ‘second class’ Anglicans.
There must surely be a better way forward in which both sides can live together with integrity and love. We must not forget that it is because synod rejected the so-called ‘Archbishop’s Amendment’ that we are in this position. It is highly likely that we could be looking towards the consecration of a woman to the episcopate. Sadly however there is a group within the Church of England that is keen to ensure that there should be as little provision as possible.
We hope and trust as the synod meets this month that that will not be the prevailing voice, and that those who want to get on with the mission and work of the Church will speak up and stand together to find a way for us all to move forward together. It is possible and it would be for the good of the Church.
When people read this magazine they often choose to ignore the good news, the hope and the joy that is expressed on its pages. It is often pointed out that nowhere else in the Anglican Communion is there provision for those who dissent from the ordination of women. In these places people have been forced from their churches, they have been caught up in legal battles and many millions of pounds have been wasted when they could have been spent on other things. Can we not show that the Church of England has found a better way forward? That no one is forced out or forced to go against their conscience?
The Church of England promised an honoured place for us; if that honoured place no longer exists, be honest and tell us so, but be willing to accept that you have broken your promise. For that is what has happened, but be assured though we will not give up on the Church of England and we will continue to recall her to her catholic core. That is the vocation we have been given and we hope and pray to be able to fulfill it. ND