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The Church of England and the Question of Freedom: Bishop Tim Ellis: Not in my name? June 13, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Church, Current Affairs.
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AN EXCELLENT and challenging post from Bishop Tim Ellis of Grantham this afternoon, responding to the Church of England’s recent statement opposing equal marriage, Not in my name?

He writes:

… the Church of England is not like the Roman Catholic Church or other ecclesial bodies in having a central majisterium which speaks authoritatively for the Church on any given matter. So, the Church of England has never been able to come up with the ‘party line’ about contraception, for instance, in the way that the Church of Rome has. Despite the countless people who ignore the injunction, the fact still remains that to be a Catholic is not to be a user of contraceptives. Still less is the Church of England like a political party with a manifesto that needs to be publicly shared by all adherents regardless of private belief. The religious life within the Church of England should not be about conformity to centrally created opinions at all costs-as the ‘voice of the institution’-but more ‘pilgrimaging’ together within the complexities and dilemmas of life under the refreshing and renewing guidance of the Holy Spirit. The ability for the Church in England to see things differently and to honour diversity was a hard won freedom at the time of the Reformation in the 15th and 16th centuries when folk died for the right to see the Mass, Baptism, the Bible and many other matters of the soul from different perspectives from those handed down through the, then, closely held traditions of the Church. It is this freedom of interpretation and of the need for structural adjustment to changing circumstances that has allowed our Church to leave many things to the individual’s conscience but also to make serious advancements such as the ordination of women to the priesthood. When we have veered from this freedom we have, for instance, caused ourselves the embarrassment of condemning Darwin. At the heart of this very attractive aspect of the Church of England’s life is the knowledge that we are a diverse and highly inclusive Church from which there can be no unified voice or opinion in these matters, and it this aspect of our Church that has kept me faithful to Anglicanism all my life.

So, I am forced to say that those of my colleagues who have spoken out on same-sex marriage do not speak for me and neither, I dare to say, do they speak for the Church of England-they are rehearsing their own opinions.

Bishop Tim, I salute you.

Feeling the Call October 1, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Watching and Waiting.
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A FRIEND told me she thinks she may be feeling the call to Anglican ministry. Being the bravehearted type, she asked me what I thought she should write to her vicar about it. Always ready to help a friend in need, I suggested:

Dear Vicar,

I think God has finally lost the plot and I’m hoping you’ll agree.

You see, I think God may be calling me to Anglican ministry. I mean, how bloody stupid is that? WTF does God think she’s doing, calling ME?? Is she bonkers? I know she called you but that was when she’d overdosed on coffee or something, wasn’t it?

So can you do me a favour, please, and pray about this until SHE CHANGES HER FRIGGIN’ MIND!! I know God changes her mind sometimes coz she changed her mind about destroying Nineveh, and asking me to be a vicar, well don’t you think that’s a bit worse than destroying Nineveh? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get swallowed by a FREAKIN’ WHALE than to become a vicar?

Lots of love,

Your No. 1 fan,


My theory is simple: the best test of a vocation is to run away from it. If you end up getting swallowed by a whale and puked up on a beach not far from where you were running away from, you can be 99% certain God was calling you. OK, so you end up with seaweed in your hair, you stink of rotting fish and your skin’s maybe a bit rough from the stomach acid, but that just adds to the authenticity when you get there. I mean, if you’re going to preach hellfire & damnation, you might as well look the part, and that’s what vicaring’s all about, isn’t it? Why else do they all wear those fancy frocks if it’s not to hide the whale stains and holes in their socks?

But for some reason she didn’t send it. Can’t work out why. What do you reckon?

PS: If you’re feeling called by God and would rather avoid the being-swallowed-by-a-whale-and-puked-up-on-a-beach routine, these sermons might help you find your way…

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