I THOUGHT HE HAD RESIGNED

Justin Welby once accused me of being manipulative because I told him that I thought he was the person who was going to help me get my priesthood back again and that he would do it before he left Durham for Lambeth. I was wrong on both points but I wasn't being manipulative, just a bit un-British in the open expression of my hopes.

This open "Letter from Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali to Archbishop Welby, dated 10th. March 2013" is manipulative.

Dear Archbishop Justin,


It is an immense privilege to write to you about the future of our Church. As an evangelist and a pastor, you will know that we need to connect with the deepest longings of our people for significance and meaning in the course of a hard life, for love that proves elusive and for justice, often denied.

The good news of Jesus Christ has to be shown to meet theirdeepest needs. The latest figures reveal unprecedented loneliness, sky-high levels of depression, anxiety about the future and addiction to drugs, alcohol and even shopping to mask emptiness and dread.

In such darkness, the Gospel shines out: God mending a broken world and putting us right with himself and so right within ourselves and in our relationships with friends and family, community and Creation. Such good news needs to be heard loudly and clearly today.
If the Church is to do this effectively its people must be properly equipped; the gifts and the calling of each need to be discerned so we can be prepared for giving a good account of our faith and for ministries of counsel, service, prayer and worship and the awakening of people’s spiritual nature. God is giving every local church all the gifts it needs. The clergy will have to make sure that these gifts are recognised and used for ministry. They do not have to do it all themselves but help God’s people to bear witness in the street, at home and while at work. Resources need to be released away from lawyers, experts and civil servants towards such equipping of those in the pew. This will lead to a lightening of bureaucracy at every level and to church gatherings which are characterised by prayerfulness and attention to God’s word rather than the ‘dead hand’ of parliamentary procedure.

We must affirm the equality of women and men and the importance of their ministry together. Equality is not sameness, however, and as a bishop, I was acutely aware that we were pushing women into a male pattern of ministry. Whatever the outcome of the debate on the ordination of women, we must discover forms of ministry which respect both equality and distinctiveness.

The Church of England excels at being ‘salt’, working away invisibly to preserve, enhance and nourish but has the time come to be more like ‘light’ in the darkness, drawing people to Christ by being  distinctive?

I have been in favour of Establishment on the grounds that if the State wishes to hear the voice of the Church in its councils, why should the Church refuse? But this must be with integrity and without compromise. As the Convocations said to Henry V111 himself, Establishment is only possible ‘insofar as the law of Christ allows’. It cannot mean that the Church is expected to own every passing fad or every trendy fashion in contemporary society. It must, rather,model being a distinctive moral and spiritual community which is committed, nevertheless, to serving the nation as a whole, whether it is established or not.

The Lord bless you and keep you faithful as you tackle such a challenging agenda.

Comments

I THOUGHT HE HAD RESIGNED — 8 Comments

  1. Is there still a debate about the ordination of women? How droll! Oh well, since the Church is not expected to “own every passing fad or every trendy fashion in contemporary society,” like Jesus, I’m sure the call for equality will simply fade away.

  2. Suppose the state no longer wishes to have the counsel of the church in its deliberations, what will the church do about it? Slouch on its episcopal thrones and sulk?

    • Some of the bishops will sulk. Some will rejoice and get on with their job. But the Church is only one of many institutions that “counsels” the state and, at least their counselling is in the open. Secular lobby groups, foreign governments and big business have a far more sinister control over our government and humanists, both religious and otherwise, should be far more worried about the fairness of such influence than that of a bunch of middle aged god-bothering men in skirts.

  3. “We must affirm the equality of women and men and the importance of their ministry together. Equality is not sameness, however, and as a bishop, I was acutely aware that we were pushing women into a male pattern of ministry. Whatever the outcome of the debate on the ordination of women, we must discover forms of ministry which respect both equality and distinctiveness.”

    There you have it! A prelate of the Church has directly stated that Holy Orders are men’s work (as are by implication executive positions, governance, etc. etc.) I wonder what the Queen thinks of that. I wonder what Margaret Thatcher would think of that if she wasn’t suffering from Alzheimers.

  4. Humbug, blathering humbug. “We were pushing women into a male pattern of ministry” — on what planet were women pushed into “a male pattern of ministry” — code for the priesthood? Who were the evil “we” who did this to the poor, pushed women??

    What a spineless, sideways attempt to say that the church should only remain established if women will get back into their places, please. And it’s all up to YOU, Mr. Welby!

    • If he wants to know what happens when you try to push women around he should come round to my place and try it with Mrs MP.

  5. “as a bishop, I was acutely aware that we were pushing women into a male pattern of ministry”

    Oh, for f#ck’s sake!

    [Then again, I imagine Nazi-Rali (sp) must have often—seeing the Holy Spirit’s work—thought “I did that!”]