The parish church, at risk from the arrogant C of E elite

Aug 29, 2021 by

by Victoria Baillon, TCW:

THE thousands of parish churches dotted around the landscape are testament to this country’s Christian heritage. The impact of Covid-19 made the social value of these buildings even more vital to local communities. Yet the Church of England went AWOL, the bishops deciding to dissociate themselves from the nation and the people they serve in the parishes.

In spite of this, up popped the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, to claim in a recent article for the Daily Telegraph that the Church of England ‘is one of the only institutions left in our nation with a local branch’ and ‘remains committed to this local and national vision: a church for England’, maintaining, ‘as we have seen during the pandemic, as it has been for centuries, the parish is the beating heart of community life in England’.

The Church chose to lock its doors during the pandemic, failing lamentably to respond to those who needed it most, seemingly more interested in restrictions, rules, sanitisers and social distancing rather than remaining a united and inclusive force for the nation. It beggars belief that that the archbishop should offer these belated assurances when evidence proved the contrary. Then post-pandemic, just as parishes were staggering to their feet, he announces a scheme to have 10,000 lay-led churches in living rooms. This would be funded inevitably by an increase in parish share, milking them still further whilst being crushed by top-heavy, bureaucratic and unaccountable management.

Undoubtedly the church has major problems. Data points to the declining importance of the Anglican church in this country, with or only 12 per cent of the population identifying as members, falling to as few as 1 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds.

The diocese of Bath and Wells has appointed a ‘Chaplain to the hedgerows, to pilgrims and pilgrimage’ because potential parishioners ‘aren’t too sure about going into the church buildings for services’. If only they could find any church buildings open. Meanwhile, some parishes in the diocese are deprived of a vicar because of a recruitment freeze which doesn’t apply to employees at the diocesan offices. We are entitled to ask where is the pastoral care for those damaged by isolation and fear during lockdown, those seeking spiritual comfort, solace and connection with our heritage, history and culture? (The church owns far more listed buildings than the National Trust). Yet the church insists in centralising.

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