Letters to the Editor

Evangelical perspective

From the Revd Jonathan Frais

Thank you for ‘What is a bishop?’ by Dr Geoffrey Rowell [ND January] who was Father-in-God to me until I left Ukraine last year. Permit me to add some points that evangelicals can wish to make.

First, after Matthias replaces Judas, the apostolic priority becomes the succession of doctrine [particularly 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus]. Second, elder (presbuteros) and overseer/bishop (episkopos) are interchangeable names for those who pastor with and teach this doctrine [Titus 1.6–7]. Third, the New Testament encourages us to use the word priest for temple sacrificers [Acts 6.7] and Jesus [Hebrews 10.12] with ‘priesthood’ for believers [1 Peter 2.9]. The BCP’s ‘priest’ comes from presbuteros via the Old English preost (Chambers English Dictionary). Fourth, we ordain deacons and presbyter-bishops and consecrate bishops and archbishops to represent their fellow pastor-teachers as regional presiding elders (Article XXXVI).

Having sat on General Synod 2000–05, I am aware of the marginalization of all varieties of those who teach the traditional faith (with an historic Jesus, a cross-shaped spirituality and orthodox morals). Scripture, reason and tradition are overruled by pragmatism (what works), subjectivism (how I feel) and relevance (keeping up with the world). We would be better off with more Rowells.

Jonathan Frais

11 Coverdale Avenue, Bexhill, East Sussex TN39 4TY

Cost analysis

From Mr Burt Hunter

We are indebted to Fr Nicholson for filling in some of the gaps in Channel 4’s Priest Idol presentation [ND January]. Lundwood, the parish featured, was obviously struggling, and it is too easy to lampoon some of the most bizarre aspects of ‘church lite,’ but it surely furnishes us with an object lesson in what can and cannot be achieved by throwing apparently bottomless finances at a problem.

It may even save the church as a whole in the long term if a proper cost/benefit analysis were made of the Lundwood Experiment. This might seem a little too secular as an appraisal of any given parish, but nebulous apologia of ‘unseen benefits’ consequent upon pastoral work are unconvincing, when they are not manifested in at least weekly attendance to hear the word of God preached and the sacraments duly celebrated.

Burt Hunter

The Chesters, Knitsley, Consett DH8 9EN

Undemocratic

From Mr Kenneth Horton

‘The Church of England is proud of our national democratic heritage’ [ND Comment January]. So proud that it cannot allow the whole of its elected membership any say in momentous decisions that govern not only the present church, but its future and its place in the Church Catholic.

It is as if parliamentary elections were decided by those on the electoral register electing Parish Councils, who would then nominate a representative on the County Council, which body would then nominate a member for election as an MP, with no direct consultation with persons on the electoral register. How very democratic!

Examine your own church. How many PCCs consulted the whole church membership on the momentous matters of women in the priesthood and the episcopate? Should everyone on the electoral roll have been consulted on these matters, which have split the church, it is doubtful whether the Church of England would be in its present state.

Am I proud of the CofE’s ‘democratic institutions’? No.

Kenneth Horton

27 Main Street, Saxby-All-Saints, Brigg DN20 0QJ

Practising deceit

From Mr David Fletcher

Your recent articles in ND concerning the form of registration for a civil partnership have been crystal clear. ‘The registration of a civil partnership is by signature alone, and by law is required to be without any content whatsoever…’ And yet numerous press reports have spoken about vows being exchanged and the leading letter in The Daily Telegraph on Friday 23 December from a witness says that his ‘friends made their vows to one another with pride.’

Have you been misinformed about the style and content of such registrations or are some registrars permitting some of those registering to conduct a ceremony for the purpose of entertaining their friends?

I hope a future issue of ND will clarify the issues.

David N. Fletcher

6 Victoria Court, 10 Davenport Road, Coventry CV5 6QL

Not me, guv!

From Mr Tom Sutcliffe

I find myself being given a penance to perform (10 Hail Marys etc) because, as a General Synod member, I should not have been heard on Radio 4’s Saturday Review referring to Archbishop Fisher as Sir Geoffrey, and saying that ‘church plate does nothing for me.’ The blood-donation picture postcard bearing these suggestions was unsigned. But may I exploit your columns to point out that the Tom Sutcliffe who is a General Synod member and notoriously unsound on matters of faith is not the Tom Sutcliffe who chairs Saturday Review and writes about television in The Independent?

Tom Sutcliffe

12 Polworth Road, Streatham, London SW16 2EU

Victor Meldrew hearsay

From Fr Geoffrey Squire ssc

At an Epiphany service in a very rural church, some friends of mine reported that the first hymn had the unfamiliar words, ‘Kings and queens of orient are bearing gifts they bring from afar.’ When the procession began, all was explained as the customary three kings were replaced with two kings and two queens. One of the kings had his face blackened, the other was stained brown; one queen’s face was stained yellow, while the other had been whitened.

The vicar explained that they could not leave out the girls or have an odd number, so they decided on two of each. He added that he thought it important they truly represented people of all races. However, as everyone in the parish was white European, they had to colour-up some of the children.

All these nice new liturgies!

Geoffrey Squire

Little Cross, Northleigh Hill, Goodleigh, Barnstaple EX32 7N

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