The Church Of England Re-connecting

Three CA&H Voyagers have just led a week-end for some hundred Readers (licensed but unpaid church workers and preachers) in the Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth. It was styled as ?A week-end of seminars and workshops to help us re-connect with the Spirit and the Scriptures, the saints and the streets, the seasons, the soil and silence.?

You may already have spotted that this echoes the Community?s headliner that is now printed on our literature. Brenda Lofthouse led sessions on how we can re-connect with the streets (e.g. the street angels of Bradford where she lives), and with silence. Ryk Parkinson helped lead sessions on how we can re-connect with the soil and with the seasons. I explored how we may re-connect with the Spirit, the Scriptures and the saints.

On Sunday morning we explored how existing and fresh expressions of church can make transforming connections. Ten groups came up with a vibrant and fascinating list of examples. These will be put on the Diocese?s web site. (do a google search for Portsmouth Diocese/Readers). I gave tasters from the multi-dimensional course soon to be published by Kevin Mayhew Ltd ?The Transforming Church?.

I began my homily at the final Eucharist by quoting child psychologist Oliver James, author of Britain on the Couch, who diagnoses our national condition as ?affluenza?, whose symptoms are ?hysteria that reflect feelings of low status, insignificance, powerlessness ? while part of us longs to be the best?. The church is the divine agency to heal and transform this sick society, to be the soul of the body politic. Sadly, however, the church has to overcome some built-in hindrances if it is to fulfil this historic calling. As Dr Wendy Savage, researcher in psychology and religion at the University of Cambridge impolitely put it in her comment on the 2006 report The Future of the Parish System: Shaping the Church of England for the 21st5 Century:

?One difficulty is how to motivate the ?settled blancmange? of the softly acquiescent majority ? social loafers who are just bums on pews. Christian ?niceness? is ubiquitous. This can tie churches up in knots??. She says that the hangover of feudal patterns elicits bad behaviour such as status seeking, fawning, bullying, passivity, blaming others and gossiping.?

This week-end explored how to spread a vision that takes people beyond all that, and how to motivate and equip leaders to raise up a new people who journey with God, and transform, in God?s way and time, every aspect of our society.

The Transforming Church course will be published the Spring.

Posted at 13:25pm on 27th January 2008
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