Thursday, 17 May 2012

more on Southwark evangelicals withholding money

The Guardian has this report by Andrew Brown: Money becomes new church battleground.

Some excerpts:

The Rev Paul Perkin seemed bewildered by the question: what was his take on the latest scheme for conservative evangelical churches to withhold money from the rest of the Church of England in order to keep it out of the hands of liberals, gay people or women priests?

“I can’t talk about that,” he said. “You’ll have to ask James Paice.” Both men are vicars in south London. And both are directors of the company set up last month to implement this scheme, the Southwark Good Stewards Company. It is the latest, and perhaps the most serious, move in a bitter power struggle within the CofE and the wider Anglican communion.

Not contributing to central funds could represent a serious threat to the rest of the CofE, whose cohesion depends in part on a redistribution of money from rich, largely suburban and middle-class parishes to the inner cities and the countryside where congregations are too small and the buildings too old to be economically sustainable.

Although the Good Stewards Company claims not to be separating from the rest of the CofE, this reading is plausible only if you assume it is the rest of the CofE that has separated from Christianity.

The money will be made available only to churches that commit themselves to a rejection not just of homosexuality, but of liberalism: they must sign “in good faith” a declaration that they will “reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed … Pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.” Such people include the present archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams…

And this:

…Five retired English bishops, among them Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester who was the evangelical candidate for archbishop of Canterbury last time, have promised to act as bishops for those clergy who sign up to the pledge not to accept women bishops or tolerate gay people in the church. It is not at all clear that these arrangements are legal, since the authority of the bishops over their clergy is established by the law of England. But any legal battle would be enormously expensive and time consuming. There is no sign that the rest of the Church of England has the stomach for it.

One crisis is approaching rapidly. This summer the synod must decide whether to accept legislation allowing women to become bishops that will not make special provision for their opponents. The present draft is the product of years of wrangling. If it goes through unamended Nazir-Ali predicts that more clergy will come over to his organisation. They will attempt to leave the rest of the CofE, taking their money and their churches with them – all the while claiming, as their rhetoric already suggests, that it is the rest of the church that has left them.

But if the bishops water down the draft to avoid this open split the other side – a great majority of the church – will probably rebel. Campaigners for women bishops threaten to vote the whole measure down rather than accept amendments that would give them a permanent second-class status. The bishops meet later this month to decide and their space for compromise is vanishingly small.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 17 May 2012 at 11:28am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

I seem to remember the late lamented Colin Slee, at the launch of Inclusive Church in Putney throwing down a similar challenge about Evangelicals withholding money. His challenge was simple - go on, then, withhold your money.....

Posted by: peter kettle on Thursday, 17 May 2012 at 12:52pm BST

Sadly there is nothing new in this. The Diocese of Sydney, Australia's largest, has for decades declined to pay its full contributions to the General Synod because it doesn't like the ways I which they might be used.

Posted by: Brian on Thursday, 17 May 2012 at 1:01pm BST

I must say that the imposition of a Holiness Code (reviving the ancient ideas of who is clean who is unclean) has always seemed like the unstated goal of the radical conservative push - but this statement, if accurate, seems to lay those cards right on the table. How that could be called "orthodox" when Jesus in word and deed rejected the holiness code of his day, is perplexing.

My firm belief is that the real disagreement is not over acceptance of gays, or women, or whatever. It is between a pre-modern worldview and a post-modern worldview. No amount of goodwill can reconcile this difference as it is functionally two different worlds.

I'm glad the Evangelicals (why do they get to claim this title?) are being this honest. But all the invitations to conversation and dialogue certainly die in the face of this statement.

Posted by: Scott on Thursday, 17 May 2012 at 1:08pm BST

Welcome to The Episcopal Church experience, especially in the wake of +++Rowan's appeasement of bullies and ultimatum throwers. His own chickens have come home to roost. Until Neo-latitudinarians (as opposed to liberals) stand up for a broad inclusive church the fundagelicals will act out fhis notion that they are the only Christians.

Posted by: Michael Russell on Thursday, 17 May 2012 at 3:07pm BST

Do these five retired bishops hold any licenses?

They should be removed.
If they mean what they say then this will mean no difference to them whatsoever, but it will put a distance between them and their actions and the Church of England.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 17 May 2012 at 6:15pm BST

"It is between a pre-modern worldview and a post-modern worldview."

Scott, I think this is a bit Manichaean. After all, there is an awful lot of similarity between the pre-modern and the post-modern world-view (if indeed you can generalise about such a thing, and surely it is a typically 'modern' characteristic to want to talk about such abstract confections as 'world-views' in the first place). Talking about homosexuality' at all looks pretty modern to me - the pre-moderns would have sex with anything, but they weren't big on such reifications.

Personally, I'm a big fan of the pre-moderns. Our Saviour was such a one! And there's certainly nothing especially commendable about having a contemporary 'world-view' (should we not try to have a Christian 'world-view'?). Nor do I actually think these Southwark evangelicals want to bring back the 'Holiness Code.' I don't believe their motives are quite that theologically advanced. At the risk of underestimating them, this looks very much like power-politics of the time-honoured sort. If these evangelicals occupy a strange moral universe, the problem is not that they are insufficiently modern. What hath Southwark to do with Jerusalem?

Posted by: rjb on Friday, 18 May 2012 at 3:04am BST

I know people here are often using the word 'evangelical'to mean the conservative sort of evangelical but don't forget that most of us evangelicals deplore what this so-called Trust fund is doing. We rejoice in the Church of England's diversity even where we want to question somer expressions of it! Often the deepest opprobrium from the ConEvos is reserved for us other evangelicals (who are wosre than the lubruls as we should know better!)

Posted by: Charles Read on Friday, 18 May 2012 at 10:45am BST

Just how many parishes are likely to be involved...I heard 10 at most. Often these sort of parishes have organised their financial affairs in such a way already, that it wont necessarily make as much difference as some might think. A propos Charles Read's comment :sadly true! I remember an anglo-catholic bishop saying to me some 15 yrs ago..."Of course they hate each other more than they hate the rest of us".Many Cons Evos seem increasingly embued with a profoundly sectarian ethos though I doubt if many would actually leave for ,as the old saying goes, the C of E is still the best boat to fish from.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Friday, 18 May 2012 at 5:44pm BST

Seconding Michael Russell on chickens coming home to roost, which I said at the time when Rowan encouraged the ACNA and AMiA folks to believe that they might one day be a parallel province in the US.

June Butler

Posted by: Grandmère Mimi on Friday, 18 May 2012 at 9:58pm BST

I was at a church meeting near here (in my Rural Dean capacity) in a prosperous small village (you know the sort of thing, big houses, 4WDs everywhere, everyone wearing Barbour). It was discussing the future of its church, and owned up to the fact that the total annual income for the parish was about 700 GBP.

Perhaps - just perhaps - this Southwark nonsense will be part of a general wake-up call. Serious stewardship is too often only seen among the ConsEv presence. If it is the case that a majority of Anglicans are not ConEv, then perhaps it's time to reach for the chequebook. Otherwise our beliefs are clearly not worth paying for.

Posted by: david rowett on Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 10:18am BST

The St Matthias Day Statement (14 May 2012) is an update of the 1995 St Andrew’s Day Statement on homosexuality and seeks to help Anglicans understand their church’s teaching in the area of marriage and sexual relationships and its relevance today.

It does so by providing a five-fold summary of that teaching based in Scripture and Anglican tradition under the following headings:

1 – God’s love and call to love
2 – God’s Word and Church
3 – God’s gift of marriage
4 – God’s grace and call to holiness
5 – God’s people united in and by God’s word

As would be expected the statement takes a very high view of Scripture and is unambiguous about taking the whole of Scripture seriously.

I was particularly struck by the principles in section 2 which need far wider promulgation, especially 2b which addresses a major heresy in the church today.

The essential flaw of this heresy is that it tries to affirm ‘God is Love’ (I John 4:8) whilst ignoring ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments’ (I John 5:3).

The commandment to love our neighbours (Exodus 19:18) cannot be used to justify sexual sin.

Posted by: JJ on Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 7:54pm BST

David Rowett
you would make the same general observations if you came to my village. But the people actually coming to church are all retired (bar 2), on fixed income and only one of the retired people is paying income tax.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 9:17pm BST

"The commandment to love our neighbours (Exodus 19:18) cannot be used to justify sexual sin."

You have already decided that a permanent homosexual relationship constitutes 'sin', so that particular line has a meaning quotient of nil, if you don't mind me observing.....

Posted by: david rowett on Sunday, 20 May 2012 at 12:48pm BST

Where I come from (ACANZP), this sort of stewardship boycott is called 'Congregationalism', and has no part in the main-line Church. If such congregations wish to 'go it alone', they should surely opt out of the main-line Church provenance - certainly not call themselves 'Anglican'. They have already become a sect.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 21 May 2012 at 1:08am BST

The St Matthias Day Statement (14 May 2012) is an update of the 1995 St Andrew’s Day Statement on homosexuality and seeks to help Anglicans understand their church’s teaching in the area of marriage and sexual relationships and its relevance today.'

wow 'their church has teaching' - who'd have guessed it? Only on gay sex though ?

Or shall I await with baited breathe 'their church's teaching' on the holy eucharist and its relevance today ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 21 May 2012 at 3:09pm BST

Apparently the Southwark Good Stewards have a new visual identity which depicts a cross on which hangs a collection bag as used in some parishes.

I believe that makes it clear who these schismatics really worship: Mammon.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 6:08am BST

I think the collection bag is meant to represent being good stewards of the money that is collected:
ie to fund support of the apostolic gospel rather than the revisionist one.

Posted by: LondonVicar on Monday, 28 May 2012 at 6:43pm BST
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