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Clericalism, not the parish, is the issue

by
17 August 2012

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From Canon Andrew Bowden
Sir, - Your report and article on the Review of the Church in Wales ( News and Comment, 27 July) suggest that ministry in rural areas needs to be delivered in a radically different way. Amazing! So said Tiller in 1983; so said the Archbishops' Commission on Rural Areas (ACORA) in 1990; and, over the past 20 years, the Local Ministry Movement has actually shown in practice what radical change could look like.

The reviewers appear to believe that the root of the problem is our cultural devotion to the parish; but much more important is our cultural devotion to clericalism. A recently published survey of the movement, Ordained Local Ministry in the Church of England, charts how difficult it is to shift us from this cultural prejudice, even when the need for radical change stares us in the face.

As the church report All are Called put it in 1985, "We are all called, no matter what our occupations may be. There is no special status in the Kingdom for those with 'important responsibilities'; nor does our calling - our vocation - depend on any kind of ordination. . . What is more, this calling comes to us all, for all our days and for all of our activities."

Until we learn to "walk that talk", there is little long-term hope for the Church in rural - or urban - areas.

ANDREW BOWDEN
Washbrook Cottage, Caudle Green
Cheltenham GL53 9PW

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