*** DEBUG END ***

‘Not wanted as C of E member’

21 March 2014


By tradition I am a liberal Catholic. I am also a gay man in a civil partnership and am currently serving a prison sentence. Quite clearly the C of E does not wantme as a member. How can I develop a personal, sacramental faith without the attached religion?

You are lucky that the Church of England is not, in fact, a membership organisation, and so your circumstances are irrelevant to your incorporation into the Body of Christ as he is known in the C of E. No church representing the gospel of Jesus Christ would be so presumptuous as to enquire, let alone care, about your sexuality or marital status; nor would it take account of your law-abiding (except perhaps for some obvious precautions depending on the nature of your offence).

For most of us, this means that we can simply pitch up to our parish church and find ourselves welcomed, included, valued, and loved. Your circumstances are temporarily somewhat constricted, but I have no doubt that until you are able to do that, your prison chaplaincy (perhaps in co-operation with your parish church) will provide regularly the sacramental nourishment you seek, as well as appropriate pastoral and spiritual care on your journey of discipleship.

I trust that no Church Times readers will be able to offer any experience that contradicts my assertions (although, if they do, perhaps that would provide evidence that could be usefully incorporated into the recent survey of the health of the Church of England. You never know: we might learn something.)

(The Revd) Andrew Sweeney
London SW4

C of E members and churches vary widely. Many will welcome you: they often describe themselves as "inclusive". Ask your partner and your prison chaplain to look for one.

(Canon) John Goodchild

Why does the questioner thinkthat because he is a liberal Catholic, gay, and in prison that the Church of England does not want him? I would say to him: Come and join us in worship of the Lord.

Kenneth Dovey,
Worcester Park, Surrey

Know that repentance and following Jesus leads to a hard, narrow path. Try to get into a daily routine of Bible-reading and prayer. Seek out your prison chaplain, who will help you attend chapel and get to know other Christians. Be still; be prayerful; be patient. Don't worry: trust in the Lord and wait for his direction. Rule out nothing, not even the C of E. The Lord will lead you to a church that's right for you.

May the Lord bless you, dear brother, with peace and joy.

Sylvia Binns

If a lay canon takes Holy Orders, does the canonry lapse? [Answers, 7 February]

I was appointed a lay Canon of Southwark Cathedral, in 2004. At about the same time, however, I was selected for ordination training. In 2008, towards the end of my training, I resigned my lay canonry, beore my ordination as deacon.

I used to be a lawyer. My view is that, had I not resigned, my lay canonry would have lapsed on my ordination. In any event, it would not have been right to be a curate with the title of Canon.

(The Revd) Brian McHenry
Orpington, Kent


What is the correct liturgical colour for a confirmation in the parish eucharist? Some say white, others red, others the colour of the season. At one confirmation in Lent, the altar was in purple, the vicar wore a white stole, and the bishop wore a red chasuble. M. W.

One of my parishes is tiny with few active church members. Our APCM resulted in the appointment of one churchwarden (who is also PCC treasurer and deanery-synod representative), and one other PCC member (only). All other vacancies were unfilled. Is there a minimum membership for a PCC to be properly constituted?

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


We ask readers not to send us letters for forwarding.

Forthcoming Events

20 October 2021
Does the parish need saving?
Warnings that the parish is under threat date back decades. But are claims that it is now being dismantled accurate? Join our panel for a lively online debate.

21 October 2021
Transgressing Theology
From SCM Press: authors Natalie Wigg-Stevenson and Thia Cooper in conversation.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)