From Mr Nigel Holmes
Sir, - The most telling quotation from the "superdiocese"
News, 8 March) was that of the Bishop of Bradford. "Look at the
numbers for the three dioceses and, whatever the rhetoric from some
quarters, they are, broadly speaking, heading south." That I take
to be a euphemism for decline.
There are too many dioceses in England. A wise interim strategy
before merger could, however, be ecumenical. The Anglican,
Methodist, and United Reformed Churches in Cumbria have this month
published just such a proposal for their governing bodies to
consider. They recognise publicly for the first time the severity
of the decline all are facing. "Few under 50 now see the Christian
faith and the Church as relevant to their day-to-day lives."
The report proposes 50-60 ecumenical "Mission Communities" to
serve a population of half a million. The "leader in mission" could
be drawn from any of the three denominations.
Effectively, all three Churches are saying that they can no
longer afford to be cavalier in their use of available ministerial
talent and experience. "We must tackle the underlying causes of
overload and unrealized potential and must change our attitudes and
practices in ministry." Most encouragingly, they envisage "a
greater variety of roles for both lay and ordained and more scope
to move between roles" - something that I have advocated for years
without conspicuous success at a national level through the General
Synod. So let us pray that it happens.
Woodside, Great Corby
Carlisle CA4 8LL
From Canon Robert Cooper
Sir, - I am unsure that your reporter Paul Wilkinson (News, 8 March) attended
the same Wakefield diocesan synod as I did on Saturday 2 March,
because, if he did, then perhaps he might well have reported the
debate rather differently.
In his report, Mr Wilkinson quotes Professor Michael Clarke from
the Dioceses Commission (speaking in favour) and John Bullimore
(speaking against), who opened the debate.
fter the debate was opened by these two speakers, there were 30
speakers, 11 of whom spoke in favour of the motion, one of whom
spoke for an abstention, and 18 who spoke against.
In his report of the synod, Mr Wilkinson quotes four people who
spoke in favour, the one who spoke for an abstention, and not one
person who spoke against the motion, apart from the diocesan
Bishop. The speakers who spoke against the motion included an
archdeacon, the Canon Missioner, the chair of the DAC, the Dean,
several rural deans, and many lay people; but he has not included
one thing that any of them said.
This is not a balanced report of a synod that was characterised
by engaging debate, prayerful attention, to the subject and a
thirst to embrace change.
St Giles Vicarage
Pontefract WF8 1NE