More should be done to bridge this cultural divide

by
23 May 2014

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From Prebendary John Root

Sir, - Your account of the conference on "Church Growth and Decline in Contemporary London" (News, 9 May), reporting growth both in London diocese and in minority-ethnic churches, was heart-warming, as was Dr David Goodhew's timely encouragement that the Church of England needs to be open to learning from minority-ethnic churches.

This is of the greatest importance, since it is highly likely that the two dominant issues for world Christianity in the 21st century will be on the one hand the intensifying challenge that "Western" secular thinking and practice presents to the Christian faith; and, on the other hand, the explosive growth of the "Southern" Christianity of Asia, Africa, and South America. A world city such as London is at a crucially important intersection of these two conflicting global forces, and the Church of England is well placed to play a significant part in both helping Southern Christianity to make an impact on the secular West, and to share with Southern Christians what we have learned about responding to secularisation.

It is all the more dismaying, therefore, that the Church of England has spent so little energy, money, and manpower on building relationships. By contrast, we have devoted considerable resources and manpower to building good relationships with people of other faiths, possibly because it also wins us the approval of leaders in politics and the media.

Relating closely to minority-ethnic fellow Christians - with whom there is necessarily a much stronger bond of accountability - can raise more intense challenges, however, arising from different spiritualities, theology, evangelistic practices, and ethical convictions. Yet it is by working through those challenges in a spirit of loving commitment to each other that we will be able to make a vital contribution to the health and growth of world Christianity.

It is a challenge to which the Church of England needs to make a purposeful response.

JOHN ROOT
42 Newlyn Road
London N17 6 RX

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