Saturday, 14 February 2009

Report from the Forward in Faith Meeting Today. UPDATED.

First of all, read the bad news, unconnected with the Synod, in the post below. Then offer a virtual candle to Our Lady of Walsingham.

It has been a busy day for traditionalists. The Forward in Faith meeting in the Emmanuel Centre in London was well-attended, with many more like your scribe listening in on the internet. Father Geoffrey Kirk began proceedings by stressing, in no uncertain terms, the need to have a clear plan and to stick to it and stick to it together, supporting each other and nurturing the (many) good things we have got.

Father Simon Killwick, Rector of Christ Church, Moss Side in Manchester followed on by saying that we are here to stay, but a code of practice will not do, for us or for our opponents. He also informed us that eighty percent of the youth group of Synod rejected the idea of a code of practice, not believing it to contain enough security to keep the Church together, a consideration which outweighed the other concerns for them and, I suspect, for the majority of people. He suggested that the model of a religious society may be possible and that work on looking into that may begin immediately. Father Jonathan Baker of Pusey House supported many peoples' hope by sounding a note of positivism for the future. He explained that the Archbishop of Canterbury abstained last time because he wanted legislation which would work for everybody, which the proposals would not. So he bravely abstained. +Dover has mentioned 'fresh expressions of a diocese' which brings things into terms which many can relate to and +Winchester argued for new dioceses in the last week, whereas +Norwich, Father Baker reminded us, had argued for a Godly pause to reassess the timing and haste of some who wish to push things through in an unseemly fashion.

Father Paul Benfield gave a talk similar to that which he gave us in Preston a few months ago, which enlightened us so as to the mysteries of the working of Synod. He exhorted us to proceed carefully in our complaints and to take joint counsel when we feel sidelined. He also sounded the note of caution that Parliament may find a notion of separate dioceses to not fit into their vision of a fair and equal society. God knows they come across as a Godless bunch at the best of times. Care and caution again were advised. He was followed by Father David Waller, who reminded us to be humble, listening and faithful - therein lies the action plan - to be faithful to God's teachings and to bear undiminished witness to Him together. He mentioned that the context we live in is not one of simply opposition to the ordination of women, nor one of conflict, but of an ecclesial body living an ecclesial life. He urged us to think big, to have grand designs and hope for the future, to arrange great joint Masses and to gather around our bishops. And again, that we must work together.

Father Alan Cooke from Chadderton in Manchester Diocese then introduced THIS MOTION, which was carried and which makes interesting reading. Father David Houlding then spoke, telling us that in spite of the many views held within our group, we have a duty to stay together but also to ponder on what sort of Church we want to be in, as a tolerated minority or with a genuinely equal and honoured place. Staying together on the journey is crucial for now and "in the greater vision yet to not fear of what we might lose, but hope of what we are going to gain", although I have to say what we are going to gain is currently unclear, I agree wholeheartedly with the sense of this message. Finally, he left us with the refrain "only an equal and honoured place will do", which is what we have been promised and what may well have been words of comfort and inspiration to those of us contemplating answering God's call at this time, in this place, in this way.

Bishop John Broadhurst, the Chairman of FinF summed up and gave the blessing, just before which he said he wished that things were coming to a head now, not in the future, sharing with many of us a frustration at the machinations of the Synod.