With the Church of England engulfed in controversy over gay celibate male Bishops and women Bishops — as well as the issue of same sex marriage — what it urgently needs is a better way for it to speak at a national level.
This is the advice that has come from Marlborough’s Rector, the Rev Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, in response to a request from Marlborough News Online as to his views on the issues
And what he significantly points out too is that the Church of England remains steadfast at a local level with some 2,000 people attending local Christmas services, though inevitably the church is internally divided at the top.
“One thing on which all members of the Church of England can agree is that our publicity has been very poor in the past few weeks,” declares the Rector. “It is too early to say what effect this is having and whether it is going to turn people away or whether most people remain indifferent about it.”
“It is true to say that the church is at its best at the local level, so what was good about the church before the General Synod debate on women Bishops remains good about it, in just the same way that what was bad about the church remains bad about it.”
“What is good about the parish church is that it serves local communities, offers regular worship and endeavours to meet pastoral needs. This work carries on regardless of votes by the Synod or statements from the House of Bishops.”
He adds his hope that “in Marlborough all our churches manage to do this” and points out “we estimate that more than 2,000 people will have attended Christmas celebrations in Marlborough churches in December 2012.”
The Rector then adds: “Having said this, there are real problems with the way the Church of England speaks at a national level.”
“We used to pride ourselves on being a ‘broad church’ and being able to live with difference, but it seems we are no longer able to do this. The net result, as Bishop Peter Selby put it, is that everything becomes a problem and we end up in a place that satisfies no one.”
“For example, the General Synod agreed in principle that women should become Bishops but couldn’t agree on the process and the House of Bishops issues a statement on Gay Clergy becoming Bishops so long as they remain celibate despite the consensus that there should be no distinction between laity and clergy.”
“All involved in debating these issues wish to do so with honesty and with a desire to seek truth. However, the truth appears to be unpalatable — at present the Church of England, let alone the wider Anglican communion, is divided and that the attempt to maintain an appearance of unity is forlorn.”
Marlborough News Online has also asked for the views of the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nick Holtam, who has a reputation as a radical priest who supports both gay marriage in the church and women Bishops.
No response has so far been received.