Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Institutional, Established Church....what is it good for?

It's Advent
Christmas is coming
A time of expectation
A time when our minds turn to eschatological things (perhaps)
A time of secular Christmas vs. Church Christmas
A time when people flock to their churches for ... something
A time of economic woes, of fear
Perhaps a time when the church might have something to say ...

What do we think of the "institutional church" anyway?

Three blog entries came across my radar today, the first was a reflection by the Rev. Dr. James Somerville, the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church here in Richmond in which he asserted, “I have no interest in institutional self-preservation.”

The second was the Archbishop of Canterbury reflecting on the Church in England and Wales, where the Anglican Church is the "Established Church," when he claimed that, "I spent ten years working in a disestablished Church and I can see that it's by no means the end of the world if the establishment disappears. The strength of it is that the last vestiges of state sanction disappeared, so when you took a vote at the Welsh Synod, it didn't have to be nodded through by parliament afterwards. There is a certain integrity to that."

The third was the most recent video by the Rev. Matthew Moretz, "Father Matthew," who claims that those who claim to be "Spiritual but not Religious" may need to do some further reflection...




From the Rev. Dr. James Somerville

It was some time after that realization that I stood in the pulpit and said, “I have no interest in institutional self-preservation.”

What I meant was this: that Jesus didn’t call me to heat and cool and clean and secure magnificent buildings. He called me to preach the gospel, and to move his people to fulfill his mission. As a result, I didn’t always have as much appreciation for the institution as I might have.

Since then I’ve come to believe that while the institution is not our mission, there is an institutional way to fulfill that mission. Having a building, and a budget, and a full-time staff makes some things possible that would be nearly impossible otherwise. Worship is one of those things, but it’s only one: Sunday school classes, showers for the homeless, divorce recovery workshops, volunteer mission trips, ministry to the deaf, marriage enrichment retreats, programs for children and youth, all of these can be ways of “bringing heaven to earth,” but in every case it is people who are served and not the institution itself.

Read it all HERE


The Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury quoted in the London Times

He said: "I spent ten years working in a disestablished Church and I can see that it's by no means the end of the world if the establishment disappears. The strength of it is that the last vestiges of state sanction disappeared, so when you took a vote at the Welsh Synod, it didn't have to be nodded through by parliament afterwards. There is a certain integrity to that."

One aspect of the establishment of the Church of England is that all measures passed by the General Synod, which next meets at Church House Westminster in February, have to be ratified by Parliament.

But Dr Williams said he did not think it should be on the agenda at the present time.

He said: "At the same time, my unease about going for straight disestablishment is to do with the fact that it's a very shaky time for the public presence of faith in society. I think the motives that would now drive disestablishment from the state side would be mostly to do with . . . trying to push religion into the private sphere, and that's the point where I think I'd be bloody-minded and say, 'Well, not on that basis.'"

Read the London Times article HERE

The Guardian also has a story.

Ruth Gledhill has more at her blog


The Rev. Matthew Moretz, of "Father Matthew Presents" has a video on being Spiritual but Religious - who woulda thought!




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