Thursday, March 05, 2009

Choosing the route


Beinn Ime
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
I spent yesterday and Tuesday in Oban - hence the photo, taken on our drive home through wonderfully dramatic scenery after the snow. I was attending the Diocesan Synod, the annual gathering which hears how the money's going, who's doing what, and decides who will try to do what in the forthcoming year. That sort of thing anyway.

It was the last item on that little list which was a bit depressing: there are so few stipendiary clergy in the diocese these days that the choice when it comes to, say, choosing the group to consider who might be our next bishop is, well, limited. But it was a relief to me to hear it spelled out clearly during one debate that we must ordain young people to be priests, for a church served entirely by people of retirement age is indeed going to be a church of retired people.

The road ahead may look as if it's leading straight into difficult terrain, but we have to keep moving forward. Whether it's in the choice of bishop or the appointment of a new rector for my own church, we cannot revert to the church of the '50s - no matter how cosy that might seem. For in the event, I think it'd be no cosier than the Arrochar Alps look in my photo.

5 comments:

  1. and all of that is a bit trickier when "the church of the 50s" is still alive and fiercely clung to in many places.

    you'd have loved the clergy day on postmodernism & liturgy...

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  2. Setting aside the matter of young or older clergypersons, where are you going to find bishops, now that two (at the last count) are retiring this year?

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  3. Couldn't agree more about the need to ordain younger priests (speaking as a sometimes energy-challenged retiree). But this won't happen unless the Church is prepared to engage in some radical and creative thinking about recruitment and training, not to mention putting in an appropriate level of resource.

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  4. I think the [apparent] lack of a significant group of younger stipendiary clergy is partly a mindset and confidence thing. The Provincial Mission and Ministry Board recently had a consultation about how we might train such a group - if we had them

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  5. Nostalgia is a powerful enemy. Here in the USA people often think wistfully about the good old days of full churches and blame the social action stances of mainline churhces for the decline. While there may be some truth in that assertion, closer to the truth is the recognition that in the USA in the 1950s being a church goer was socially acceptable - even required. I would guess that in the suburban community where I was baptized in 1950 more than 90% of the residents were members of one of the local churches. It was the thing to do and for some folks it was the way to make career-advancing connections. That is hardly the case now and I welcome the change. We are clearly moving into a post-Christendom era and the churches will be smaller and, I hope, have a more committed membership. I hope they will also have a focus on God's mission and not on adding members. Participating in God's mission is our vocation and I think that if we were really serious about that we would not need to worry so much about attracting younger candidates for ordination.

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