Church of England Ageing Congregations

Will ageing congregations be the death of the Anglican Church of England?

Some in its midst fear the answer to that question is yes.

Anglican Church of England Investment Fund

Andreas Whittam Smith, the overseer of the Church of England Investment Fund, told the General Synod yesterday that the Church of England was facing a “crisis” with its ageing demographic.

He likened the Church of England to large companies that “perfectly and impeccably manage themselves into failure.”

He suggested that not all Anglicans were fully aware of the scale of the crisis facing the Church of England.

“One of our problems is may be that decline is so slow and imperceptible that we don’t really see it coming clearly enough.”

Another Synod member, the Rev Dr Patrick Richmond, from Norwich, warned that a “perfect storm” was brewing, as the number of adults and children attending services continues to decline nationwide.

He expressed concern that there would be no Anglican Church of England left as ageing members start to die out in the next few decades.

“The perfect storm we can see arriving fast on the horizon is the ageing congregations,” he said.

“The average age is 61 now, with many congregations above that.

“These congregations will be led by fewer and fewer stipendiary clergy.”

He added: “2020 apparently is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of natural wastage – that is, people dying.”

He suggested that 20 years from now the Church of England would be “no longer functionally extant at all”.

Some bloggers have offered their thoughts on how serious declining attendance is for the Church of England.

EChurch Blog writer Stuart James said it would take more than a recruitment drive to turn Church of England attendance around.

“Normally headlines are alarmist, but sadly I think one’s spot on,” he said.

“Supervising decline”

I think this aptly sums up the situation many Anglican parishes find themselves in.

“I still find the decline of the CofE painful to contemplate. As to why this is happening, I have my theories and no doubt you do also.

“It’s easy to kick something when it’s down.”

The Vernacular Curate blogger, Fr David Cloake, was a little more optimistic, dismissing Dr Richmond’s comments as “grotesque pessimism”.

He said that the average age of Anglican Church of England attendance had always “erred towards the ancient” because people tended to return to the Church of England in their fifties “once families and their immediate needs abate.”

Source: Christianity Today | Wednesday, 13 July, 2011.

The Anglican Church of England dead in 20 years?

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Conservative Anglicans U.S. Propose England Clergy Swap

Conservative Anglicans in North America are inviting priests in the Church of England to take part in a clergy swap as a show of solidarity.

Formed last year by conservative Anglicans who broke away from The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in North America is proposing the swap in the wake of the consecration of TEC’s first partnered lesbian bishop last Saturday.

ACNA said the clergy swap would be an opportunity for Church of England parishes and clergy to express their solidarity and friendship with ACNA churches.

According to the proposal, participating clergy would be matched to churches with similar preaching and ministry styles and serve the pulpit for a period of three to four weeks in January and July or August next year.

In a letter of invitation to Church of England clergy, Paul Perkin, chair of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Chris Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, said the swap would be of “mutual benefit.”

“We are writing in the wake of the letter from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to the Primates of the Anglican Communion that her consecration of a woman in a partnered same-sex relationship represents the mind of the majority of elected leaders in the Episcopal Church,” wrote the conservative Anglican leaders, referring to the letter from Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

“Institutionally the CofE seems to be sitting on the fence. The Archbishop of Canterbury (head of the worldwide Anglican Communion) has said that the consecration of Mary Glasspool in TEC is ‘regrettable'; yet the CofE has not fully embraced ACNA,” they added.

“An important contribution at this stage will be for parishes and clergy to express solidarity and friendship with clergy and parishes in ACNA,” they concluded.

Following the consecration of Glasspool as one of two new suffragan bishops in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Anglican Mainstream said The Episcopal Church should withdraw or be excluded from the Anglican Communion’s representative bodies.

The consecration of Glasspool has forced traditionalists in the 77 million-member global Anglican body to further distance themselves from The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.

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www.christianpost.com

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House of Lords vote to allow Civil Partnerships to take place in Church

Article published:  March 3, 2010

Last night (2nd March 2010) the House of Lords voted to change the law on Civil Partnerships, allowing them to be performed in Churches and/or with religious language.

The amendment, which was introduced by Lord Alli, an openly homosexual Peer, and backed by a number of liberal Bishops, effectively removes one of the final distinctions between Marriage and Civil Partnerships—introduced just five years ago as being purely secular in nature.

The amendment was voted through at 11pm, by 95 votes to 21—an extraordinarily low number for such an important matter—and was hailed as a breakthrough by homosexual activists.

In January 2010, the Government had resisted Lord Alli’s amendment, reassuring the public that it was ‘not a workable solution to this issue’. However, in an unexpected move, the government suddenly allowed its Peers a free vote on the issue. The Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats also gave its Peers a free vote.

Ironically, the amendment was advanced as an issue of religious freedom, with some religious organisations voicing their desire to hold Civil Partnership ceremonies.

However, homosexual activists have previously made it clear that any change in the law would only be a step towards forcing churches to perform civil partnerships. For example, Ben Summerskill, Head of Stonewall, recently said: “Right now, faiths shouldn’t be forced to hold civil partnerships, although in ten or 20 years, that may change.”

Andrea Williams, Director of CCFON, said:

“What took place last night is nothing short of outrageous and all who care about democracy should be alarmed at the proceedings. At the end of January, Baroness Royall for the Government stated that: ‘Any change can therefore be brought only after proper and careful consideration of these issues.’

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Gay Marriage Approval Death Knell for Anglican Unity

Anglican Bishop Gene Robinson

Bishops in the US dealt a death blow to hopes for unity in the worldwide Anglican Church when they approved in principle services for same-sex partnerships. The decision will finally split the Communion between Bible-based conservative evangelicals and liberal modernisers.

The bishops at the Episcopal General Convention voted by 104 to 30 to “collect and develop theological resources and liturgies” for blessing same-sex relationships, to be considered at the next convention in 2012.

The resolution notes the growing number of states that allow gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, and gives bishops in those regions discretion to provide a “generous pastoral response” to couples in local parishes. It was passed on Wednesday [July 15, 2009] hours after the Episcopal Church voted on Tuesday [July 14, 2009] to allow the consecration of gay bishops. The motion passed by 99 to 45 among the bishops and by 72 per cent to 28 per cent among church deputies, made up of clergy and laity.

The decisions on gay consecrations and same-sex blessings end the uneasy truce agreed after the consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson (pictured left) as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

In a closed session at Anaheim, an ad hoc committee of bishops had been asked to study the resolution to find ways to keep the Episcopal Church within the bounds of the Anglican Communion while also allowing for same-sex blessings. However, Bishop Mark Lawrence, a conservative from South Carolina, said that an accommodation would not work. “I’m not interested in tweaking this,” he said. “It’s not the train that’s the problem — it’s the direction it’s going.”

At the start of the convention last week, Dr Williams said in a sermon to delegates: “I hope and pray that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that could push us farther apart.” At the General Synod in York at the weekend, he told friends he was confident that Episcopal Church leaders would take his concerns seriously.

Lambeth Palace declined to comment as the decisions taken by the Episcopal Church’s leaders showed that they saw no reason to place the concerns of the “mother Church” in England above the demands of their own worshippers.

Source: The Times (July 17, 2009)

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