Tag Archives: church attendance

It’s the Law (?)

The Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551 required that everyone in Britain attend church on Christmas Day and not use any vehicle to get there. While some parts were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act of 1888, the remainder was repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act of 1969, though it’s often reported that the original act is still in force and simply not enforced.

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Lord Carey’s vision for the Church might kill it off (from the Telegraph) – By A N Wilson, 19 Nov 2013

The Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, could be presiding over a Church sliding toward extinction

The ‘vibrant’ services favoured by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, will not bring back the crowds

 

The Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, could be presiding over a Church sliding toward extinction Photo: AP
I go to a well-attended church   in London, but I have made frequent travels throughout England in the past   year (literary festivals, television work, visiting friends). On Sunday   mornings, I have gone to church. When staying with friends near Canterbury,   I have enjoyed splendid liturgy, intelligent sermons and been part of a huge   congregation.

So what do I make of Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, saying   that the Church is only one generation from extinction, its clergy gripped   by a “feeling of defeat” and its congregations worn down with “heaviness”?    Is he just suffering from peevish-old-man syndrome?

Alas, Lord Carey is right. Come away from Canterbury with me into the parishes   I have visited – in the West Country, in East Anglia, in the Midlands and   the North. I have attended at least 10 churches in the past year – all very   different in their history, but in each case I have had the same experience.   At the age of 63, I have been the youngest person present by 20 years. The   congregation has seldom numbered double figures. The C of E is a moribund   institution kept going by and for old people. They are ministered to   (perhaps I was just unlucky) by an ill-educated clergy with nil   public-speaking ability.

Lord Carey, as an evangelical, thinks that the cure for all this is to reach   out to young people with such initiatives as the Alpha Course (a basic   grounding in the faith, which began at Holy Trinity Brompton). He wants the   sort of services that such Christians consider “vibrant”.

Evangelicals like him have had some success, mainly in suburban parishes,   where congregations can be numbered in their hundreds. But these places,   which appear to buck the trend, are in catchment areas of tens of thousands   of people, none of whom would go near such an evangelical Church, with its   outreach, Toddlers’ Praise and speaking in tongues.

There are two simple reasons for this, and there is nothing anyone can say   that will make these reasons go away.

The first is sex. Traditional Christianity taught that there is no permitted   sexual act outside marriage. All but no one now – even Christians – really   believes this. What used to be called “living in sin” is absolutely normal.   Nearly all young people, gay or straight, when they reach a certain moment   in their relationship, try living together. The Churches can either back   down and say that for 2,000 years they have been talking nonsense about sex;   or they can dig in their heels. Either way, the Church is diminished.

The second reason is a much bigger thing. That is the decline of belief   itself. Most people simply cannot subscribe to the traditional creeds. No   number of Alpha courses can make people believe that God took human form of   a Virgin, or rose from the dead. They simply can’t swallow it. They see no   reason, therefore, to listen to a Church that propounds these stories and   then presumes to tell them how to behave in the bedroom.

When there was a tradition of church-going, there was more room for unbelief.   When a young priest told Archbishop Michael Ramsey that he had lost his   faith in God, Ramsey replied, after a long pause: “It doesn’t matter – it   doesn’t matter.” You can’t imagine Lord Carey saying that.

Unbelief, and the change in sexual mores, affects not only the decline in   Anglican congregations, but the entire history of the Western Church. The    “Francis effect” is said to be drawing back mass attendance in Italy. But   the Pope’s focus groups, asking what the faithful believe, will yield   similar results as they would in the Church of England – people don’t think   it is sinful to live together, they don’t think it is sinful to be gay, and   they no longer really believe in the Incarnation.

This is dire news for institutional Christianity. Yes, pockets of prayer still   exist – of course they do, in the surviving religious orders in both   Churches, in individuals and in parishes. Some people like me will always   feel their hearts restless until they rest in God. And we feast on the   riches that the Church provides. Go to church and you are not alone.   Stretching back into Platonic and Jewish pre‑Christian times, the wise of   old are there to speak to you, through liturgy, Scripture, architecture and   music.

But such habits of Common Prayer (as we still call it, some of us) are a   knack, like the enjoyment of classical music (which is also, we are told,   something that is catastrophically on the wane in Britain). Lose the knack   and it is very difficult to reclaim it.

Most decent, intelligent, middle-aged or young people I know have no sense at   all of what churches are for. The trouble is, so many of those who run the   institutions share this deficiency. Those of us whose minds are filled   (whatever we believe) with the words and patterns of the old liturgy feel   like the old man in Nineteen Eighty‑Four, O’Brien, who is one of the last   left alive who can remember the words of Oranges and Lemons.

Maybe, in “reviving” a Church along Lord Carey’s lines, we would actually   finish it off altogether. Maybe for Churches, as for people, there really   are fates worse than death.

O’Brien asked Winston (the hero of Nineteen Eighty-Four) to propose a toast –    perhaps to drink to the future. Winston instead proposes “To the past!” “    ‘The past is more important,’ agreed O’Brien gravely.” I’d drink to that.

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The Lord’s Army

The Meenister’s Log

Jack was coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. The preacher grabbed Jack by the hand and pulled him aside.
Christmas Santa
The Pastor said to him, ‘You need to join the Army of the Lord’

Jack replied, ‘I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.’

The Pastor then asked ‘How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?’

He whispered back, ‘I’m in the secret service.’

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