Posts Tagged ‘Rowan Williams’

This week has not, I think it’s fair to say, been the best news week for the Church of England.  We began the week with the rumours about Jeffrey John and Southwark, and by the middle of the week it was being declared as well-known fact that Rowan Williams himself had ‘blocked’ the appointment.  However, there has been enough cyber-ink spilled on this one, and I don’t intend to add my tuppence ha’penny worth!  And as if one media feeding frenzy were not enough, we have arrived at General Synod and the women bishops debate (again).  The debate yesterday afternoon was, I thought, very good and then there was that vote about the archbishops’ amendment.  I didn’t want it carried, I’m pleased for the future of the church that it wasn’t, but I feel no sense of rejoicing that some of my loyal Anglican sisters and brothers now feel there will be no place for them in our church.  The media tells us that Rowan Williams had ‘staked his reputation on the vote’.  Really?  I heard him say that voting on the amendment was not a kind of loyalty test.   But anyway, we wait to see what happens when the debate resumes tomorrow.

I don’t normally preach about church politics, but I really felt that all this demanded some comment so here’s a flavour of the way I reflected on it at this morning’s parish eucharist:

But how does this matter  to any of us?  I was preaching on the Good Samaritan, or more particularly on the summary of the Law, which leads Jesus to tell the parable.  ‘Love thy God and love thy neighbour’.  It sounds so simple.  I suggested that all this media sound and fury, debates about women bishops or gay bishops or whoever else, matters to ordinary church-goers for two reasons:  first, we are called to witness to a loving God in the places where we are set.  We want to suggest that there’s something serious in this Christianity, something which has relevance and something to offer to our neighbours.  And our task in doing this is not made easier by the sort of arguments we have witnessed this week.  Secondly, we are part of a greater whole.  We are connected, and connection matters.  We don’t exist independently in our own small corners.  We are part of a wider church, and if one member suffers, then we all suffer –  ‘Any man’s death diminishes me’.  However, if the Church is going to split on this issue or that one, we cannot prevent it.  If some people come to feel that God is calling them to another ecclesiastical home, then that will be as it is.  But the world is watching, and Jesus asks the lawyer ‘Who was neighbour to the man who fell among robbers?’  and charges him ‘Go, then, and do likewise.’  We are called, each of us, to love God and neighbour in the places where we find ourselves, and so to witness to a loving God to our watching world.

p.s. I don’t know the source of the quotation ‘witness to a loving God to watching world’.  It has kept coming up in discussions this week, and I’d be really grateful if anyone could help me with it.  Thanks!


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The Archbishop of Canterbury has received a lot of negative media coverage this week, largely on the basis of his leaked or rumoured part in supposedly blocking Jeffrey John’s name from going forward as a candidate as bishop of Southwark.

As though one church-centred media storm were not enough, General Synod is currently debating (at huge length) the legislation on the table for allowing the admission of women to the episcopate. The archbishops have moved an amendment to the proposed legislation. I am deeply uncomfortable about the amendment, not least because it may have very many unintended consequences, and lead – and I stress – unintendedly to a two-tier episcopate. However, as I listen to Rowan Williams speak on the amendment, I am reminded just how blessed we are with our archbishop, as a highly intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate theologian and pastor.

I may not want the amendment to be carried, but Rowan Williams does not deserve the condemnation he has received in the media this week.

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