Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

Feb 8, 2021 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

Last weekend, Nicholas Hellen, journalist at the Sunday Times, published a short piece in which he leaked an internal discussion document and used it to suggest that there is a central plot afoot to undermine the parish system of the Church by cutting the numbers of clergy. Hellen put a number of things together, which added up to a dramatic headline:

Church to cut paid clergy as a fifth of flock wanders off

(The article is behind a paywall, but you can read it all in this tweet:)

[…]  The report was sent to diocesan secretaries and bishops, but not to members of Archbishops’ Council (which was slightly odd), so when I was approached about it, all I could say is ‘I haven’t seen it’. The report has now been published in full at the Church Times (as well as now circulated), and it reads to me like a reasonable reporting of what is going on, based on discussions with the dioceses themselves. Here, the C of E is suffering in the same way as other semi-public bodies, in being given no space to have sensible, private consultations before being rushed into public scrutiny.

There are some rather important things to note about the Sunday Times article. First, the language of worshippers ‘wandering off’ is provocative and untrue; as with all other areas of national life that involve physical gatherings of groups, church attendance for worship in physical proximity to others is likely to be affected for some time by the pandemic experience. The headline suggests casual abandonment. In fact, there is some evidence that the shift to ‘online worship’ has allowed new people to engage and connect; as the report itself notes:

Read here

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