Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Schism, Split and DIY Validity.

The new Radius development in Prestwich. In an age of increasing homogenisation and dominance by chains such as Costa coffee and Starbucks, there are still some brave individuals who will stick their necks out in the cause of, erm, something, although exactly what is beyond me.

First up are the British National Party, who are aggrieved that their entire membership list is available HERE, and HERE, they seem to close quickly. I am told that it contains names of a Church of England vicar, a pagan prison chaplain, doctors, nurses and policepeoples. I had a cursory flick through and the name of a pub in Manchester came up, the Ace of Diamonds, on Oldham Road. I wonder if this list will not become a USP for Estate Agents? I can imagine the sales patter, '.....fitted kitchen, off road parking and two miles from the nearest fascist'. (THIS MAP shows how many BNP supporters live in which area, the earlier, better map has been removed)

The BNP, obnoxious though their policies are to any Christian (or sane individual), have something of a history of astonishing gaffes, like visiting Eastern Europe to look for land to live on when the end is drawing nigh. Any fringe-of-sanity party seems to drop off the wall of coherence after a while and this lot, doubtless thwarted by the realisation that if they ever achieved power, their policies would be legally unenforceable as well as leading to the utter financial bankruptcy of the nation (if the Bank of England would follow their instructions, which they would not), they have to invent newer and more ludicrous theories to keep people on message. They are currently trying to have the websites closed down, using the European Human Rights act which they are, erm, opposed to.

In a lighter vein, HERE you can find details of the latest sect to come under the Anglican Wanderings radar. Take a look at the 'Our Validity' page for a total rejection of any sort of orthodoxy, if that is what you might need. As you probably know, there are dozens of groups around the country claiming to be Archbishops, Priests, Abbots and Monks, mainly deriving their orders from Arnold Harris Mathew. Here is Sean Manchester's lot, the GRAIL CHURCH and HERE are another load of (in my opinion) nutters, led by the Archbishop of Great Britain who, unbeknownst to most of the world, lives behind the motel in Timperley, South Manchester. There are also the TAC and HERE the Anglican Catholic Church, each offering a differing degree of validity to the last. There are some who have great hope for the TAC and may be looking at their progress with interest. There are some who may be looking to another sect or group, but the truth of the matter in this country is that such groups do not work. People have no interest in them, they may have many Churches, the TAC may be strong in Canada, but the numbers of people attending them are infinitesimal. Many Churches have an altar in a house and a congregation of one or two.

The last thing this country needs is another denomination, or, alas, they will be looked upon as we look upon the majority of the above groups. People are loyal to the Church of England, as I have seen in a couple of Parishes where the Priest has retired and the new Vicar has been a lady - parishes where people said most vehemently that they would 'not stand for it' and the rest of the verbiage and then stayed because it is their home, where that have always worshipped and where their friends and family have always worshipped. Nothing would stop them going (and who would want to , really). For this reason, I am firmly convinced that solutions which may seem natural and workable overseas would not work here. This is a small island dominated by two main Churches and I am certain that any move by orthodox Anglicans which, in peoples eyes, takes us away from either of those two bodies is doomed to failure.

What do we do? Something must be done, I have no doubt of that. I am inclined towards a third province, which will retain our goodwill and orthodoxy. If that is not available then whatever move is made will have to be virtually indistinguishable from the Church of England in the eyes of most worshippers. That was the genius of Forward in Faith and the resolutions, we retained our integrity and our loyalty (which seamed to be valued) and have grown in the interim period. Let that not be forgotten by us - we have grown under this present system which has until recently worked - our capacity for growth will have to be closely examined under any proposals which we may consider. The Southern Cone is a long way from the knowledge, interest or understanding of the average worshipper. The PEVs have been accepted and loved because they were 'from and of us', men known to us already.

I have argued before that we are in many ways still a most conservative isle, taking badly to change, particularly in our Church. The core of effective change in the Church is the veneer of changelessness, covering the Gospel imperative to preach to each forthcoming generation and to do so in such a way that makes everyone feel valued and cared for - and which enables the Church to grow. We would lose much of this I believe if we allied ourselves with a group which is not in the hearts of the English people. GAFCON has rallied support from some thirty Evangelical Parishes in the UK who would ally themselves to that body and I say again that it would be suicide for us to join in with them. Our differences are no insurmountable, but sufficiently diverse as to make us at the least troublesome bedfellows.

What is the answer? The third province and nothing else, if we wish to stay together. Whether it be given or cajoled or taken, this is the future for us from what I can see. There is much speculation as to other ways, but there is the continuation of that which has been proven to work and which is loved by many in this country of ours who rely on us, day in day out. We would do them a disservice if we no longer offered them the timeless service of the Church. Splitting, unless it be to attach ourselves visibly and clearly with the root of Peter, will be a swift death.