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Anglican and Nonconformist?

by
11 July 2014

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.

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A friend is a communicant member of the C of E on weekdays but a Nonconformist on Sundays. Is this unusual? Would anyone comment? [Answers, 4 July]

IN addition to, and apart from, local ecumenical partnerships, many church members practise a personal ecumenism, as this C of E communicant member happily does. The motives for these faith journeys, will, of course vary: for some, it is their own contribution to the quest for Christian unity, "that they may all be one", as Jesus himself prayed for his followers; for others, faith-sharing across denominational boundaries and ecclesial traditions will be readily embraced within so-called "mixed marriages", to bring enrichment and united commitment.

Not unlike the C of E communicant's regular practice on Sundays and weekdays, many Roman Catholics attend their mass on Saturday evenings, and accompany their respective married partners to a place of Anglican worship on Sundays - a sure sign that ecumenism hasn't failed.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire
 

Although I am a regular communicant in the Church of England, I often attend Unitarian churches on Sundays, as my husband is a Unitarian lay preacher. Moreover, Iam often asked by Unitarian congregations to take services and preach, since I have two degrees in theology.

As I have never been able to preach in my own church, I value this opportunity to engage with, and share my faith with, those who may never set foot in an Anglican or other mainstream church, either because of the theology, or because of the set liturgy. Many so-called outsiders are so because of misunderstandings of our faith - a situation not helped by our use of archaic language and formulae. For example, what do we mean by salvation? The expression "preaching to the converted" springs to mind.

I suspect that, like me, the friend of the questioner values the freedom that he or she experiences in a Nonconformist service. The length and depth of the sermon may also be a deciding factor. If the sermon is allowed to be longer than the ten minutes expected in many Anglican churches, so much more can be said.

Does it really matter? Why are we preoccupied with pigeonholes? We do not restrict our physical diet to one single cuisine; so why do it with our spiritual nourishment?

(Dr) Rosemary Arthur
Wakefield
 

History has blessed England with a Church at whose services everyone is free to go and worship by virtueof being a parishioner. All can also turn to the incumbent for help and advice, free of charge. You do not have to swear to believe or behaveas "the Church" tells you is right.

In a lifetime of varied experience, you will probably quite frequently change your beliefs. Willpower cannot control what you find true. We go in and out where we find pasture, and our Established Church has learnt from bitter experience not to erect hoops or hurdles to restrict our ability to accept its services - nor does it prevent other organisations, Christian or other, from ministering to those to whom they are helpful.

In my parish church, those who have attended regularly include Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, observant Jews, Hindus, and self-confessed atheists. The teaching of Jesus made lovingkindness and mutual forgiveness more important than "purity".

Alison Adcock (clergy widow, former  Reader and Synod member)
Oxford
 

"Hope of the resurrection"? I thought it was a certainty? D. S. H.

In chanting the Psalms, some church choirs make a distinct break in the middle of each verse, and yet run on from verse to verse with scarcely a pause. What is the theory behind this curious way of disrupting the flow of the poetry? C. R. C.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.

questions@churchtimes.co.uk

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