Saturday, 17 October 2009

Inclusive Church

I attended the Inclusive Church roadshow in Old St Paul's today. The 2 speakers (Giles Goddard and Clare Herbert) were clear, lucid and enlightening and pointed to the fact IC got going as a response to a negative situation (the withdrawal of Jeffery John from the Suffragan Bishopric of Reading). It struck me that one of the difficulties starting anything similar in Scotland is the lack of anything concrete to rebel against. (Not that that stopped Marlon Brando and the boys!) We have canonical clearance for women in the Episcopate, up till now the Bishops have been infinitely more pastoral and LGBT friendly than their English counterparts so why do we need anything like IC?

True up to a point. But there is a certain uneasiness (at least amongst those present) that what one might call the hard won inclusiveness of the SEC could slip away. A change of mood or theological inclination in the Episcopal College might seriously change things. Let's face it, the 1994 decision to ordain women happened not because of what the clergy or laity thought but because 2 bishops retired and the newbies had a different point of view. Had Argyll or Moray voted differently, we might still be waiting for women in the priesthood. A change of balance in the House of Bishops could have a major impact in the future - and that depends on who Glasgow and Argyll elect next.

So partly there was a feeling that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance" and an IC type grouping might be useful in keeping a watch on the Bishops. Stronger still was the feeling that we must organise to resist the Anglican Covenant. I'm all for resisting Covenants: it's what we did in the days of Graham of Claverhouse!! Actually, that could be a rallying point for progressives in the SEC. "Christ and No Covenant"! Dash it, I should have returned by the West Port this afternoon!

Mind you, it all got off to a rocky start when the speakers were told by 2 different attendees that in talking exclusively about the situation in the CofE that generated IC, they were failing to take account of our Scottishness (response 1) and comment was made about "imperialism and colonialism" (English) (response 2). Some of us were deeply embarrassed by this (including a friend of mine who is an SNP activist and who left at half time wanting nothing to do with such "chippiness"). I was narked mainly a) by the discourtesy to guests who had prefaced their remarks by admitting that they were not from Scotland and were giving a context for the emergence of IC and b) by the fact that the commentators are relatively new to the SEC . Those of us who have been here a little longer and listened a little more carefully didn't seem to be offended.

So an interesting day really.


  1. To be fair, the two hecklers were just being liturgically correct and adhering to a literal interpretation of the Nicene Creed as printed in the Scottish prayer book:

    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
 We believe everything bad is the fault of the English. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
 We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. 

  2. Oh MP I'm no literalist: "by English the Creed here refers to Thatcherites, morons in Union Jack T shirts who eat full English breakfasts on holiday in the Costa Blanca when it's pushing 100 F and other eejits, not nice cuddly liberals" (Interpreting the Creed for Dummies, Dougal Press, Craggy Island Publications)

  3. "Thatcher?"

    Thank you father Dougal. I am so glad that there is another clergyperson in the Anglican Communion who still believes in personified evil.

  4. I want her to have a State Funeral: I just don't think we should wait until she's dead. (With apologies to Frankie Boyle)

  5. I think the change in theological orientation in the Episcopal College has already happened. Part of reason for the equivocal position we're in regarding moritoria is that we no longer have the unanimity in the College which produced the 2005 statement that being in a gay relationship was no bar to ordination.

  6. That I think is very worrying and makes it very important that we get 2 new bishops of a clearly progressive inclination.