Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What price the diocesan arsonist?

Thanks all of you for your comments. Obviously the Bishop was quite right, and it's well worth blogging even those books you're not sure about: the quality of the debate justifies the time spent reading :-)
Ron wondered what there was about buildings to justify the time and trouble spent on them...I feel quite strongly about the need for an available sacred space in each community, and have covered most of my reasons in an earlier post, "Blessings or millstones". However, I would certainly be in favour of whittling down the ridiculous number of churches there are about the place. Here, we sit neatly in the middle of the old "village" area of Charlton Kings, and the church is literally on the way to many places, so people do drop in for a quiet prayer at odd moments in the day. Equally, in my last parish there was just the one church, open daily, often visited. If I found myself in a situation where there were 2 or 3 Anglican churches within a short walk, not to mention other denominations, then I'm sure I'd see things differently. An ecumenically shared building would be much more appropriate in that context, but it has has HAS to be open. The hospitality of Christian homes is great for those who know about it...but what about the person who just wakes up one morning feeling sad, or prayerful? I'm sure there are ways to ensure they don't slip through the net, but I'd need to know what they are. The much-trumpeted upsurge in numbers of people attending worship in Cathedrals suggests that there are many out there who are ready to risk an encounter with God in anonymous safety. Ringing the doorbell of the man down the road, who hosts a Christian cell in his home, is a very different matter.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the anonymity of supermarkets, and the demands that they too should be open all hours.
+hep

Tony said...

I'm also passionate about churches being open - maybe not all hours but at least reasonable daytime ones. But one of the things this implies is a pretty low-tech building. If your church is full of audio equipment, projectors, speakers, computers for Power Point presentations and all the rest of the kit, it makes it correspondingly more unlikely you will be ABLE to keep it open, unless it is constantly staffed.

Kathryn said...

Well, I guess by now most of you are pretty aware of how very inept I am with all things technical, so there could be a solution here for me. Open church =stolen technology= nowt left for me to break!
More seriously, we have issues here not because of new tech but because of historical artefacts, so have an alarm system covering both altars etc. Every bit as awful, in my book. What message does it convey if access to the sanctuary is preventecd by a rope and a notice
"This area is alarmed". God in a box, eh. Very sad :--(

ron said...

Kathryn, just wondering in the UK are rural parishes responsible for the costs incurred for building and property maintenance...or does the dioceses subsidize the parish. And on a percentage basis, for an average month ( if there is such a thing ), what percentage of the parishes income would go towards missional/community outreach.
I know this is very spiritual, but just wondering...and if you didn't answer I'd understand. Shalom...ron+

ron said...

Woops! should say " this isn't very spiritual ", man I'm spending to much time with the treasurer.

Kathryn said...

Oh Ron...that reminds me so much of a video the C of E produced a few years back, which included 2 clips which I branded "passion" and "pennies"...the 2 seemed almost incompatible.
In a rural context, the local church are indeed responsible for maintaining the fabric of the building, without help from any diocesan subsidies, and yes, that does demand most of their resources. In the village where we lived before my ordination, the electoral roll was around 50, the average Sunday attendance about 20, and yes, the whole thing was very hand to mouth and giving to mission suffered. BUT I still feel it would have been a hugely negative thing for that church to close (not simply because it was a rather pretty little 15th century Cotswold stone building) as it would have suggested to too many that God had in some undefined way lost interest in their community. It's easy for those within the churches to recognise that this isn't the true situation, but for those outside, confronted simply by a barred door when they want to be quiet somewhere, it's a very different matter.

ron said...

Great point Kathryn, we tend to forget that so many communities grew out of and around the church. So maybe closing a church implies much more than the death of a church...and more about "death of community."