Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Insight From Fulwood

The chap who took the service at Hull Unitarians came from Fulwood Unitarian church in Sheffield. He and wife afterwards mentioned the Anglican church down the road from theirs, full to bursting point with several services each day. I said that is one of the Reform churches, as is one at Clough Road/ Beverley Road in Hull. It is also busy, though not as busy as it might like: Hull is a touch area for religion regardless of what kind. The Fulwood C of E church regards the Unitarian church nearby as "evil".

I said these are the churches in the C of E for which a woman cannot teach a man. They might be teaching Sunday School boys and girls, but not men. So you cannot have women ministers in charge nor certainly a woman bishop. I said these are like a Church within a Church, so that they'd have their own colleges and training, and own bishops, and Amendment 5 in effect gave them their own bishops because it introduced theological compatibility with the parish.

Yet despite people spilling out of the doors, there are only so many of these churches in the C of E and require car parks. There is one just outside Hull that pulls people in far and wide - very charismatic. The C of E still has a coverage of lesser attended churches (I pass one in the next street to me, evangelical, a congregation probably under 20 in number) and such that the Reform people still represent a minority of the whole. So do the traditionalist Catholics, and they do not generate large congregations.

In the end, the taking back of the Amendments was the only course of action available for the Church of England. The Amendement 8 to explain delegation and derived was probably all right for those who believe in fuzzy things going on when people lay on hands as do traditionalist Catholics who want their bishops derived. It answers the Catholic traditionalists but of course it did nothing for the Conservative Evangelicals, for whom delegation by a woman is precisely the problem. But Amendment 5 was toxic because it mixed with the derived and gave full force to the pollution argument as well as allowing particular theologies to decide added bishops.

The point is that there is no provision to be offered to Conservative Evangelicals. They are Puritans within a different body. They do not carry large scale weight, except by bringing in foreign Anglican oversight from places like Africa and other patterns of entryism. Entryism means they form themselves more clearly as a Church within a Church, for self-rule and self-development, but doing so in order to have the reach of the wider Church into which they are burrowed.

The C of E is giving Catholic traditionalists the chance to regard their other bishop as derived, and in practical realities they will keep a book of laying on of hands in their understanding of derived. Others will, at the same time, regard women and men ordained by women as just as derived. These traditionalists will fade away, or go elsewhere if safeguards against pollution don't go far enough.

But you cannot accommodate with Conservative Evangelicals. You can only vote them down. Of course, when they start doing their entryism proper (Jersusalem Declaration, correct College, international oversight from the Primates Council), then the Church of England has the right to defend itself and root them out. Getting Wycliffe College back, even if it stays evangelical, was important. Conservative Evangelicals with their declations and demands might realise that they ought to have the courage to run their own Church and move into their own churches.

Come back with an undefined 'derive' and 'delegated' if you like, but next time in November just bring in the legislation to be voted upon. The pro-women bishops lobby (if it can be called that) might not get the two-thirds needed (the amendments gained no votes, only lost them) and then it is a clean and clear loss until next time. On the other hand the Catholic traditionalists know that the game is up for them, and should seek their place in the new reality or go elsewhere, as is on offer. The vast spread of the C of E now wants women bishops, so are the Conservative Evangelicals going to frustrate the rest by blocking? Do they have a third or more in the General Synod?

Probably not now: but they might in five years time. Better get this through in November: it is probably the best chance to do so.


Anonymous said...

The Fulwood C of E church regards the Unitarian church nearby as "evil".


Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Conversation from a person in the Fulwood Unitarians.

Anonymous said...

As a Catholic Traditionalist, I can tell you there is nothing in the legislation that is acceptable to our position. Delegation of authority from a woman to a male bishop is not in our view a catholic or apostolic order of governance, and specifically warned against in Scripture. Catholics in the CofE want a third province where Christians, who seek nothing more than to practice the orthodox faith of 2,000 years, can continue to exist with integrity. This is unlikely to happen and so we will strenuously oppose the measure in November.