*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

How the Church lost the baby-boomers

by
25 September 2015

iStock

From Susan Cooper

Sir, — Professor Harriet Baber’s article “Why working women leave church” (Comment, 18 September) strikes a chord with me. It also connects with a chance remark made by a speaker at a seminar I attended on ageing: that the church never managed to connect with the baby-boomer generation.

I attended church regularly from the age of eight, Sunday school, confirmation, youth club, as well as matins, evensong, and 8 a.m. communion. As a student, I received my fellowship from the Student Christian Movement — locally in Aberystwyth and nationally. My connection with the Anglican Church was maintained through attendance at early-morning holy communion.

When I returned to the London suburbs in 1968, I found the preaching in my local church banal, and the only fellowship available for women was the Mothers’ Union. As I was unmarried and not a mother, and, pursuing my career, not available for daytime meetings, this did not in anyway meet my needs for fellowship.

Not surprisingly, church dropped down in my priorities, and I did not attend for 18 years. Having established my career and suffered a bereavement, I started searching again in my late thirties.

One Saturday, I borrowed a book from the library on being a workaholic, read it from cover to cover, and recognised my symptoms, and that a cure could be doing something you did when you were young. The next day I went to my local church — which happened to be where I had been baptised. I found the clergy were preaching the sort of thing that inspired me in my SCM days. The rest, as they say, is history. I am now a Reader there, and have served on the General Synod for 15 years.

As a member of a suburban congregation, I still feel an ambivalence as a single person with no family of my own, but there are opportunities for service as a mature person which were not available to me when my energies were required to pursue my professional studies.

I am not a very practical person, and I am not able to arrange flowers: it is not my calling; so the practical stuff that women used to be prepared to do has never been open to me.

I think that the different family patterns that exist now have not made the Church particularly appealing to men or women. There is a need to think through what real people’s lives are like nowadays, and find ways of serving people as they are, and not expect them to fit a pattern that no longer rings true to the majority of the population.

 

SUSAN COOPER
28 Headstone Lane
Harrow HA2 6HG

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

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.)