Comments: Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich: Dr Karowei Dorgu

He's a Gooner. He must be OK.

[Gooner - a supporter of Arsenal Football Club - ed.]

Posted by Susannah Clark at Tuesday, 20 December 2016 at 1:33pm GMT

So he celebrates diversity including sexuality and at the same time holds fast to the Church's traditional teaching on sex and marriage. No change there then.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Tuesday, 20 December 2016 at 7:53pm GMT

Do I dare ask what the London Bible College is?

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Tuesday, 20 December 2016 at 11:41pm GMT

Is it absolutely essential to support a football team in order to be a bishop? Scarcely an appointment seems to be made these days without an incoming bishop offering his unsolicited opinion on which eleven-man squad is preferable to all others. I don't for a moment doubt the sincerity of Bishop Karowei's emotional investment in some guys who wear a particular colour when they play football (as opposed to all people who play football wearing garments of other, lesser hues), even if I'll never ever understand it. I guess an arbitrary preference for one football team over another is something like the doctrine of unconditional election - but I don't believe in that either.

I think I'd find the whole thing easier to understand if football teams represented particular contesting theological doctrines: Arsenal for the real presence in the Eucharist, Chelsea for the priesthood of all believers, Millwall, I guess, for double predestination. (I understand there is already a system something like this in Glasgow). I would have no objection to bishops supporting football teams on purely theological grounds, rather like the chariot-races of Augustine's day.

This might in fact be a means of rekindling the British public's dying enthusiasm for Christianity: it would add a whole new element to the spiritual life of the nation if the Cup Final saw Man U, bedecked in splendid golden crosses and kissing ikons, facing down a line of grim, hectoring Calvinists representing (let's say) Aston Villa. More importantly, fusing sport and religion would convert mere hooliganism and mindless thuggery to calculated sectarian violence, which I think we can all agree is preferable and superior in every way.

Posted by rjb at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 5:53am GMT

This can only be good for the Church - Diversity living into Unity. Deo gratias!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 7:32am GMT

RJB - In this particular instance, the Bishop-designate's support of Arsenal is of great historic relevance - the club's previous name was Woolwich Arsenal, after all.

...and as a long-suffering Villa fan, I've taken great offence at the hectoring Calvinists comment!! The club was actually an offshoot of the local Wesleyan Methodist chapel, as it happens... /tangent

Posted by Matt at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 10:21am GMT

According to an article on the BBC website The CofE is being described as 'institutionally racist' by Rose Hudson-Wilkin in an article about this appointment. I have found the CofE to be institutionally a lot of things (eg. middle class)

I suppose 'diversity' (or the lack thereof in the church) means different things to different people depending on viewpoint - class/gender/sexual orientation/educational etc. and of course race.

Posted by Fr Paul at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 11:09am GMT

Well, Daniel, a two second search on google will answer your question (note that it's no longer called the London Bible College).

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 11:18am GMT

To rjb: splendid ideas there. Let's get violence off the streets into the church where it belongs

Posted by Fr William at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 11:32am GMT

"Arsenal for the real presence in the Eucharist"... as a lifelong Gooner, and having catholic inclinations, I'll settle for that.

Spurs would of course stand for heresy and anathema.

However, as a footballer myself, I have to stand for my own beliefs, not what other people believe. As a goalkeeper I'm almost always wrong anyway: people tend to remember the mistakes, when often it's down to your defenders.

I just love the way that football can create common ground with workmates, a language we can share and understand, a source of humour and deprecation, something less serious than religion, and yet, at times, seeming almost life and death.

It's the best game in the world, it's fantastic, and I'm delighted the new Bishop loves it too, and supports such a classy club.

I offer my condolences to Matt on his team languishing in the Championship, below Birmingham City. {empathy and sensitivity your way with no sarcasm whatsoever...)

Bishop Woyin may like to build a few bridges before Arsenal play Watford next month, as that's the Bishop of Stepney's benighted club. Visions of bishops' meetings and "He was offside by a mile..." "...what are you talking about, your player clearly went in with raised studs" etc.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 12:29pm GMT

Prize to Fr William for the funniest one-liner I think I've ever seen here at Thinking Anglicans.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 2:40pm GMT

So there are now, in The Guardian's phrase, two black bishops in the Church of England.

How long will that be the case?

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 2:43pm GMT

'According to an article on the BBC website The CofE is being described as 'institutionally racist' by Rose Hudson-Wilkin'

and on the TODAY programme.

While listening to Canon Hudson-Wilkin and others on the radio News, I reflected that it is not so long since the Church of England justified its racist policies, by direct appeal to the Holy Bible, itself.

Deja vu anyone ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 7:20pm GMT

I should have appended this reference to my previous comment :

'When parliament voted compensation in 1833 - to former slave owners rather than the slaves themselves - the church received £8,823 8s 9d, about £500,000 in today's money, for the loss of slave labour on its Codrington plantation in Barbados. The contemporary Bishop of Exeter and his business associates received even more, nearly £13,000.'

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 7:24pm GMT

So he has no problem with ssm, including for clergy??

Posted by S Cooper at Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 9:29pm GMT

Clergy can be Stipendiary or SSM...

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 8:19am GMT

Isn't it odd that we know more about which football team the bishop-elect supports than we do about his Christian beliefs? His CV tells us what he has done but nothing about his beliefs on key moral issues like divorce, abortion, immigration, links with the armed forces etc. That's not a particular criticism of the bishop-elect himself but a general observation that the Church of England doesn't seem to think sharing such things is important when announcing a new bishop. That seems wrong to me.

Posted by Kate at Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 1:56pm GMT

Ahaha I like what you did there, +Pete

Posted by Chuchu Nwagu at Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 2:01pm GMT

"Clergy can be Stipendiary or SSM..."

Presumably you mean the stipend stops if we get married?

Posted by Fr Andrew at Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 4:13pm GMT

Maybe Kate, but I think the key trait for any Bishop is their pastoral capacity and openness to love.

That, if you like, should be the common ground on which all church members can welcome their new bishop, whatever their theological views, and then things go on from there.

To me, above all, the bishop is a pastor, a loving human being. Of course, certain theological views can have pastoral consequences, but I think at the start, common ground should be sought because he or she is everyone's bishop, rather than accentuating theological differences.

If more autonomy was afforded to local priests, PCCs, churches, communities to explore spirituality in their own unique ways, and if bishops had less grandiose roles in pontificating on what should be believed, then it would matter even less what particular slant any bishop took on things. Or archbishop for that matter. Theology should be devolved to local church and community level.

The bishop should fundamentally just be a pastor and listener and servant who's there for everyone, facilitating each community when able to, depending on what the community actually asks for.

What counts most of all is the pastoral instincts of the candidate/appointee - not their political position in the Church.

It is their capacity to love that matters most, and that's not easy to capture in a Downing Street press release.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 4:21pm GMT

'If more autonomy was afforded to local priests, PCCs, churches, communities to explore spirituality in their own unique ways, and if bishops had less grandiose roles in pontificating on what should be believed, then it would matter even less what particular slant any bishop took on things'

I don't know if you really believe this, Susannah.

For instance, in your vision of Anglicanism, should local priests, PCCs, churches and communities be freed to explore the spirituality of congregational life implicit in the practice of lay presidency at the Eucharist?

If the answer is 'No', is that because one's theology of marriage is not seen as a Christian essential, and the ordained status of the celebrant IS a Christian essential? And if so, who gets to decide what is essential and what isn't?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 6:19pm GMT

Tim, I routinely appreciate your contributions, and thank you for this one too. I'm glad you've challenged me on it, because - to be transparent - I haven't really got it all worked out in my head. Being of catholic inclination myself, your challenge does make me stop and think, but I can't really see why the Holy Spirit can't work through lay people administering the eucharist.

See, I'm really not fussed by all the intricacies of theology. And YES, I think that God works in the actual lives of actual people at a local and one-to-one level. And I think that there are multiple models of 'community' each diversely expressing the eternal community of the household of God.

It really does seem to me that a local church, over marrying gay or lesbian couples for example, should be able to develop its own conscience-led theology and practice, responding to actual people in their lives, in actual local communities.

And, for example, the pastoral needs of a community in New York or Vancouver may be vastly different to the pastoral needs in a culturally different setting like Kampala. My daughter works in the slums in Uganda, but culturally a transsexual lesbian woman like myself wouldn't honestly be understood, let alone acceptable, to many of the people she is ministering to. Yet in North America or here in the UK, more and more people not only tolerate it, but would choose to celebrate it, to share our joy, our service, our lives.

Why should we expect churches to develop identical models, when each community is different? And if we believe the Holy Spirit works, right at local level, in person to person, doing unexpected things... why shouldn't local churches, who know their own communities best, be free to explore spirituality, and follow conscience and conviction... and why should it be that 'bishop knows best'?

That seems in a way a model of out-dated patriarchy, and I prefer to see bishops as role-models of loving kindness, as servants, as facilitators... whose primary job is to listen to local Christians about what God is doing in their communities, and to pray about how they can be supported and facilitated.

I'm sure there are counter-arguments, and being frank, my views are provisional on this, and I do appreciate challenge and reason and the need to test my beliefs.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 22 December 2016 at 8:44pm GMT

Susannah,I believe that a church is a worship community not a pastoral community. That is the essential difference between our views on things.

Posted by Kate at Friday, 23 December 2016 at 12:51am GMT

Susanah Clark I found your comment so open, thoughtful, modest and inspirational. I wish more us were like you, myself included.

I have lost confidence and faith in the Churches, but what you write is very refreshing, even so.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 23 December 2016 at 8:51pm GMT

Thanks for your reply Susannah. I'll try to respond adequately to it after December 25th!!!

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Friday, 23 December 2016 at 10:56pm GMT

I am actually quite a crap person, Laurence. Life is so imperfect. You probably know that as well as I do. But we can still love though, can't we? Thank you for being so sweet.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 24 December 2016 at 12:47am GMT

@ Tim Chesterton: Yeah I had already done that. I was just been a smarty-pants.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Sunday, 25 December 2016 at 4:56pm GMT

Kate, I don't know how you separate the "worship" from the pastoral; how you separate discipleship from worshiping the Lord Jesus. Matthew 25 draws that out pretty clearly.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Monday, 26 December 2016 at 8:42am GMT

Susannah, your comments about same-sex marriages: "a local church . . . should be able to develop its own conscience-led theology and practice, responding to actual people and local communities" may be called congregationalism by some, but has episcopal blessing. The bishop of Willesden once described "bringing canon law into line with custom and practice" as exactly how the C of E, in its great wisdom, has always worked.

Go up 10 places!

Posted by Michael Skliros at Monday, 26 December 2016 at 12:09pm GMT

Susannah, just to be clear - there is a difference theologically between 'lay people administering the eucharist' and 'lay people PRESIDING at the eucharist'. My question was about your view of the second. You responded by talking about the first. Were you actually talking about the second too?

As to your reply, I have a second question. Are you saying that there is actually no objective standard of truth/error, right/wrong - and so the Holy Spirit might lead different congregations to take diametrically opposed positions on moral questions (which, it seems to me, is the same thing as saying that there is no objective standard)? Or are you simply indicating a lack of confidence in our ability to accurately hear what God is saying, so that we need to give other people leeway on the off-chance that they've heard better than we have?

And on both of those options, my question would be 'Are there limits or boundaries of any kind? Are there core teachings that are so integral to Christianity that we can't let them go? And if so, once again, who gets to decide?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Tuesday, 27 December 2016 at 6:54pm GMT

I apologise for the delay in replying, Tim (been in bed with a chesty cough and not thinking clearly enough to reply thoughtfully).

With reference to the eucharist, I was speaking as a recipient, not as one who administers or presides. And from a recipient's point of view (well, this one) what matters to me is the substantial presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ when I eat the bread and drink the wine, the body and blood of Jesus.

And because I believe only God can work the miracle of his sacrament, theological arguments about who actually presides or distributes just don't worry me. What matters to me is the givenness of God, and the love of God, and encounter - in the act of communion - with God. Theology arguably gets in the way sometimes, or acts as a divisive agent between rival parties trying to 'know' or control knowledge.

And yet, in the practice of contemplation, what I find is that very often our own 'knowing' can come to an end, as we gaze (to use the well-used image) through a cloud of unknowing towards the love of God.

So I don't really think it matters if we cannot explain the miraculous. All I know is that, sometimes, God just comes - in perfection - and for the rest... trust and love and in the end our dependence on the faithfulness of God, not on our own weak faith, or on priests, or anyone else.

I reply to your interesting second question, the answer is: LOVE.

In other words, what counts is the Love of God, and the love of God in our lives and the lives of others.

While I believe that different congregations may take diametrically opposed positions in good faith, I think what matters most is not 'Who is right?' but 'Will you open your hearts to the Love of God?' Yes, we're fallible, yes we may have divergent views, but each of us has the capacity to love... the primary commandment.

The rest is more or less footnotes.

Core teachings? Not blaspheming against God and calling God evil. Loving God. Loving our neighbours. For Christians, the Holy Trinity (though some would question that). Beyond that, I'd say that each of us finds pathways towards God, and those journeys are many and varied, but what matters most is love.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 29 December 2016 at 5:04pm GMT

Susannah, thank you for your response to my comment. Appreciated.

And, it is I, who must thank you, for many thanks, and in partic for being sweet, thyself.

I found your recent comment regarding the eucharist rather lovely. And with ring of lived-truth. The

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 30 December 2016 at 6:22pm GMT
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