“The Archbishop’s interrogator was Canon Giles Fraser, Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew, and a member of the Save the Parish steering committee. He spoke of “anxiety that the centre of gravity is shifting away . . . as clergy numbers have been cut and parishes become more and more amalgamated and bigger, and that there are more and more people around the diocesan photocopier doing jobs that we don’t understand, and this creates a sort of crisis of trust.” This generated loud applause.”
Campaign group Save the Parish (STP) last week (Thurs 7th July) held their summer conference in York, a day before the General Synod kicked off.
STP attracted over 100 attendees to their event at All Saints’ Pavement in the city centre,
which hosted the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell after a last minute change to the
“The combined scent of damp hymn books, dahlias slightly past their best, candlewax, Brasso and Victorian radiators: breathing in this intoxicating smell is one of the delights of living in England, with its 12,500 parish churches at the heart of every village and town. To press down the latch and feel the church door opening rather than remaining stubbornly shut is one of life’s great reassurers.”
“Over the last couple of difficult years, the parishes have proved themselves full of courageous and generous insurgents. Church House and the dioceses less so. The parish system in this country is a deeply embedded capillary network of neighbourliness and personal relationships. But Church House and the dioceses no longer seem to view it as vigorous and life-sustaining.
In an exciting, last-minute addition to their plans- Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York- is to attend a conference event hosted by campaign group Save the Parish (STP) this week in York.
The conference- which is to take place this Thursday (7th July)- is billed as a day to “hear from and meet with those on the STP team, listen to some excellent presentations by friends of the campaign, and get to know fellow supporters.” It is hoped it will be a ‘rallying cry’ for the Parish campaign one day before this summer’s General Synod.
“The 2021 Governance Review Group report recommended “a new piece of work to explore the reform of the General Synod and Synodical government”. Even if reform is what it takes, I long for us to move away from decisions behind closed doors — for the Synod to be able to discern openly together the common will for the Church as we look to the future. Then we can all agree to put our money where our mouth is rather than find that money has already been promised, and our part as elected representatives is merely to welcome it, whether we want to or not.”
“[Priests] are good, giving people, and they need to be properly paid and they need to be properly housed because they are the bedrock of our Christian faith. They are the people that are going around talking to parishioners, and they can learn a great deal of what is actually needed by the man in the street. Unfortunately, the Church of England is reducing their number and of course in turn that is going to reduce the churches, and they will be sold. So it is something that really needs to be supported.”
“I won’t be launching any new initiatives… I’m committed to supporting and empowering, as best we can, each local context to discern for yourselves how you are to be God’s people in your bit of the world, always facing outwards to the needs of the community in which you are based and working in partnership with others.”
“Considerable resources have been extracted from the parish system since 1976 to fund the current diocesan system. No wonder that so many parishes are struggling
to continue their ministry. After the National Institutions Measure of 1998, which gave to the Archbishops’ Council control of spending the funds produced by the
Church Commissioners, one significant loss was the Commissioners’ ability to make direct grants to benefices.”
“This was not the first time Sir James has intervened in the debate over the future direction of the national Church. In a letter to The Times in October last year, he called Leicester diocese’s decision ‘to fold 234 parishes into the embrace of 20 to 25 huge groups’ a ‘sad day for the Church of England’.
He accused the CofE of behaving ‘like a socialist republic: demanding increasing “tax” (parish share) from dwindling numbers of churchgoers, then spending too much of it on its own bureaucracy. Moreover, as The Times reported last month, in 2017-2020 it spent £248 million on “renewal and reform” projects that failed to increase church attendance.”