Friday, 24 December 2010

The Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church Lives!

I wonder about the future of my website. It needs an overhaul: it has just been too easy to use Facebook as a place to put photographs, drawings and some paintings. I have put some long blogs here that will probably migrate to the website, like the Radio Chadderbox material and then that story that still has the final episode to go. Sometimes it feels like the blog is coming to an end, and then it gets a lot of activity again.

Nevertheless three pages of the website get constant updating. One is the jobs I look for, making my obligation efficient, the second is the hymns available for home and visiting preachers to the Hull church (though I now say, with sufficient notice I can write the tune and produce the music) and the third one is the Liberal and Old Catholics list that relates to all the history. The independent ministers keep contacting me and I keep changing it.

I am very pleased to find that the Liberal Catholic and Apostolic Church has continued since it divided. I was interested in its predecessor, the Liberal Rite, because it did have in mind the Free Catholicism of the early twentieth century and which was a Unitarian and other Free Church development. Indeed a semi-detached Unitarian minister, Rev. Stephen Callander, was, for a time, part of the stream that set all of it going. But when the titles of Nicholson's defunct Ancient Catholic Church passed into the hands of John Kersey, he scrapped The Liberal Rite and went up the candle a little further, joined by Alistair Bate (who was a pastor of Glasgow Unitarian Church). When Bishops Kersey, Linley and Bate then got itchy feet again and formed their Ecclesia Apostolica Divinorum Mysteriorum, it looked as if the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church was done for, except I wondered what had happened to the newly made Bishop Adrian Glover.

It turns out he is still running it, with others and new people, and I have looked across the somewhat the same and somewhat adjusted website, and it has now restored the liberalism and, given his Cross Denominational Mission idea, the ecumenical outlook, including towards Protestants.

I have nothing against small, even tiny, denominations. After all, I function in one myself. I fell out with Kersey and Bate myself over the manner in which they approached a friend I'd known at Sea of Faith, and because I'd had my own contact with this friend and, knowing her, asked her questions before she might become some sort of nun for them. Indeed she didn't, and she has just sent me a Christmas card despite knowing (and writing so) that I don't send cards out. In tiny denominations personality clashes are all the more dangerous.

I still disagree with the statement within the LCAC that they have some connection with the central European form of Unitarianism. They do not. There is no actual connection, to start with. Secondly, the central European form of Unitarianism has a catechism and its bishops are expressly non-apostolic, as demonstrated by the Superintendent ordaining Knut Heidelberg when he tapped into this tradition in order to relaunch Unitarianism in Norway as a Superintendent. The Free Catholics were a development out of the creedless Anglo-American tradition which might be called post-Protestant. I think Lloyd Thomas did adopt the Apostles' Creed, but this might have been liturgical only and he'd have understood it in its not quite trinitarian understanding. When the Free Catholics broke up, he just wandered off into education. If we then think about Ulric Vernon Herford, the Unitarian minister who became Bishop of Mercia and Middlesex, Administrator of the Metropolitan See of India, Ceylon, Milapur, etc., of the Syro-Chaldean Church and of the Patriarchate of Babylon and the East, and founder of the Evangelical Catholic Communion, he probably never changed his theology from a basic Unitarianism and the best that can be said is that he misunderstood his consecrator and his consecrator misunderstood him.

So I am now on the LCAC email list, and I also keep a distant watch on the Liberal Catholic Church International, which is incredibly tiny but does have Elizabeth Stuart the non-categorising gay and lesbian theologian as its Archbishop. Alistair Bate was in that, as a priest, before moving on.

The fact that these groups are tiny, and that there are transient clergy and fleeting congregations (if one can call them that) is the potential for organised religion these days. Unitarians will have to become regionalised based around centres, and I can see the Methodists and URC etc. collapsing in a few generations with no unique selling point. That there are a few hundred thousands left with them is irrelevant if they are all roughly the same age and basically all die at once (or as good as). This is what is happening now, and those who are younger are having to rationalise their meeting places.


Anonymous said...

You're making these names up! These organizations can't possibly exist; even religion, known for inventing ridiculous things, wouldn't be THIS obviously idiotic.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Truly. Anything in green ink is reporting. Anything in dark red is quoting. Anything in dark orange is like the real but isn't.

This is in green and it is about a tiny handful of people.

Anonymous said...

@Nixon I can vouch for the LCAC existing - I am a priest in the church, ministering in Newcastle upon Tyne. ++John Kersey, +Andrew Linley and +Alistair Bate prefer the Latin as you can see. To me the attraction of the LCAC is it's ability to be catholic in liturgy, universal (:universal), AND liberal...
Rev Amma Bridget Wilson Hall

PS Great caricature of +Adrian!!

Anonymous said...

They are all Charletans