From Prebendary Olwen Smith
Sir, - I was heartened by the article
by the Revd Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard (
Comment, 20 July). I was in industrial mission for more than 30
years, and it was a source of anguish that church members could not
see the link between the economic order and their Christian
Industrial mission has always been at
the cutting edge of ministering to those who create wealth - not
only by "weeping with those who weep" (as when redundancies are
announced), but also by "rejoicing with those who rejoice" (as when
profits are up and jobs are created), knowing that God is in the
boardroom as well as on the shop floor.
I always remember being asked: "What
have you, a 'woman of the cloth', got to do with us who have to do
with 'filthy lucre'?" The answer lies in our theology of the
incarnation. If the Church were better at doing theology, then
there would be no need for the question. Industrial mission works
to enable the Church to make the connections between faith and the
economy, including the creation of wealth.
It is, therefore, very sad that many
of the recent cuts in diocesan posts have come from industrial
mission. It is no wonder that church thinking is so muddled about
commerce. Perhaps we need to think again about the real cost, in
mission terms, of losing these posts.
(Former Team Leader of Black Country Urban Industrial
St Andrew's Vicarage, 66 Albert Road, Wolverhampton WV6 0AF
From Mr John Wheatley
Sir, - The views expressed by the Revd
Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard turned out to be even more appropriate in
the light of the obituary (
Gazette, same issue) of Major Kenneth Adams.
When Adams was appointed at St
George's House, Windsor, it is true that his "wealth-creation"
mission was directed at not only clergy, but also people of
influence in the worlds of commerce and industry (yes, industry
then was still a key part of the national economy).
Happily, however, he responded to a
call from the Church of England Men's Society to take his powerful
arguments to the parishes throughout the country by using this
grass-roots Society. I well remember the sermon that he gave to us,
using the Good Samaritan parable, with the question, "Where did the
two pence come from?"
With a membership of men from the
whole range of work - shop-floor and office to boardroom, and every
public sector, we were well able to debate and consider at all
levels the balance between money-making and how it was put to
Because we were part of parish life,
we were in a unique position to influence the Church (and, dare I
say, parish clergy) where it mattered - bridging the divide between
worship and work.
Our aim from parish branch to parish
branch was, as Dr Rayment-Pickard stated in his final paragraph in
respect of today, to face up to the prejudices against money-making
by showing, in our working and Christian lives, that wealth can and
must be created for the common good. It was too important to be
left only to "the great and the good".
As you know, the Society, as a
single-sex organisation, was closed by a Church uncomfortable with
its segregation. What should have been done, of course, was to
change the Society into one that ministered within parishes, to all
who worked, men and women. Dr Rayment-Pickard may have had a
different story to tell if it had.
Little Granary, 1 Bean Acre, Hook Norton, Oxon OX15 5UA
From the Revd David
Sir, - The Revd Dr Hugh
Rayment-Pickard may not be on the strongest ground by citing the
parable of the talents as New Testament teaching supporting the
making of profit. Does he really want to ally himself with a Master
who was "a hard man", who reaped where he had not sown, and
gathered where he had not scattered? That surely means he had made
his money by exploiting others' labour.
The third servant was the only one who
refused to enter into this greed-inducing system, in which those
who have are given more, and those who have nothing forfeit even
what they have. Parallels with self-enriching bankers, and those
losing their benefits as a result of those bankers' schemes, spring
The hero of the parable of the talents
is surely the third servant, who refuses to get rich by exploiting
others, not the Master, who has got it down to a fine art. The
creation of wealth is, of course, essential, although it can be
done - and perhaps more kindly - by co-operative and collective
means as well as by individual entrepreneurs.
The latter have their part to play,
but let it not be solely for their own benefit, but - at least
partly - for the common good.
59 Burford Road, Evesham WR11 3AG
From Janet Leythorne
Sir, - The Revd Dr Hugh
Rayment-Pickard's article seems to me to omit one important point:
namely, that we are stewards, not owners, of whatever money and
material possessions we have. It is our responsibility to exercise
that stewardship wisely, considering the needs of the whole of
creation as well as our own.
Alexanders, The Cliff, Arbor Lane, Pakefield NR33 7BQ