From the Very Revd Trevor Beeson
Sir, - That the new reform project is Church- rather than
Kingdom-orientated is clear on every page of its reports - most
especially, as might be expected, on that which is concerned with
the allocation of financial resources.
There the secular business model of "investment for growth" is
unashamedly announced, in stark contrast to the gospel model that
was expressed by T. S. Eliot in "Choruses from The Rock":
"Take no thought of the harvest, But only of proper sowing."
The most urgent need of all the Churches in every part of Europe
is not the recruitment of large congregations, but the creation of
a multitude of small cells on the frontiers of increasingly
secularised societies. This is in the hope of serving these
societies and, at the same time, cultivating the soil in which the
seeds of faith may one day grow.
A theological and spiritual renewal must, therefore, have
priority over organisational reform
69 Greatbridge Road
Romsey SO5 18FE
From the Revd Mark Bailey
Sir, - That the report Resourcing Ministerial Education
calls for an increase in the number of ordinands comes as no
surprise. Statistics for Mission 2012 reveals that 272
stipendiary clergy retired that year, but, even more worryingly,
that 295 left ministry altogether.
This raises the important question not just of recruitment -
which everyone seems happy to talk about - but retention - which is
never spoken about. How do we retain clergy in ministry in the
longer term? It would be helpful to know why so many leave.
Dioceses should be encouraged to have "exit interviews" and clarify
more carefully their stats with regard to those "lost". This might
be a way forward in helping to discover which dioceses offer models
of best practice, to be made available more widely.
Other professions struggle with the same problem: e.g. the
current crisis in recruiting and retaining GPs. We are not alone.
Recruitment will be successful only if issues around retention are
carefully weighed and addressed.
The Rectory, 6 Green Close
South Wonston, Winchester
Hampshire SO21 3EE
From Hilary Topp
Sir, - The case for the Church of England to commit itself to
working for social justice could not be more urgent. Strong words
from the Archbishops last week (News, 23 January) reflect the
concerns of many of students. It is important, however, not to
neglect the other equally urgent foundation of the Church's work:
Arresting this decline requires creativity and energy, qualities
that many students bring. Yet the reports and resources that were
released focused heavily on equipping young adults exploring a
vocation to ordained ministry, and made almost no mention of
The Church of England should make student ministry a priority.
It needs to implement a clear, national strategy that supports and
resources students, chaplaincy in higher education, student
workers, and churches. We need a Church that is committed to
justice, but we also need to inspire students and young people to
be part of that Church.
Student Christian Movement, 504F The Big Peg, 120 Vyse
Birmingham B18 6NE
From Mr Kevin Carey
Sir, - The latest flurry of Church of England reports fails to
deal adequately with our greatest financial burdens. First, we
should face, head on, the contradiction between mission and acting
as the state's heritage curator.
Second, we should press for a better balance between the
ordained and royal priesthoods. Indeed, Lord Green exacerbates the
second by assuming that church leadership should be ordained.
112a High Street, Hurstpierpoint
West Sussex BN6 9PX
From the Revd D. C. Njguna
Sir, - In the past few decades, the Church of England has proved
that it can get things done if it wants to. We have seen
encouraging steps and measures taken in affirming women's ministry
in the Church. Who would have thought that the Church that many
claim to be monolithic would be talking about fast-tracking women
bishops into the Lords?
In the report Simplification, the Church clearly
demonstrates that it has the will to tackle what are seen as
historical obstacles constricting its mission and growth on a wider
scale. I hope that the rigour and determination exuded in the
Simplification report in overcoming historical challenges
will rub off in the application of the Managing Talent
report, and release the gifts and talents of minority-ethnic
Anglican clergy into leadership. I see fast-tracking
minority-ethnic Anglican clergy into leadership as the practical
expected outcome of the latter report.
All my hopes are now founded in Managing Talent. With
what I expect to be an open structure for developing talents in
leadership, I am more than confident that the Church will reclaim
its central place in multicultural Britain.
D. C. NJUGUNA
The Vicarage, 68 Wood Green Road
West Midlands WS10 9QT
From Mr David Soward
Sir, - Developing Discipleship. What is this word
"discipleship"? It's not a word we use in contemporary society.
Could the Church of England please speak English?
15 Poplar Farm Close
Milton under Wychwood
Chipping Norton OX7 6LX
From Mr Philip Johanson
Sir, - The paper on the National Church Institutions highlights
the minefield of committees and vested interests which makes one
wonder whether the Church of England is really capable of major
Indeed, the report, referring to recent working groups such as
the Bridge review, states: "We are wary of a further attempt at
far-reaching structural reform since there is a high probability
that, like those exercises, they would consume much energy only to
founder." That comment is very telling as far as significant reform
It is far from clear to most people who really makes strategic
decisions at national level; is it the Archbishops' Council, the
House of Bishops, or the General Synod?
My understanding was that it was always intended that the
Archbishops' Council would make strategic decisions, and for that
reason the original recommendation was that its membership should
be based first and foremost on competencies and not representation.
In the end, the latter by and large won the day.
I suggest that much of what happens at the centre could be
discarded and very little if any difference will be noticed at
parish level. The report says: "A ruthless focus is needed over
what, nationally, is genuinely going to add value in helping the
Church grow, given the serious challenge the Church faces." But
will this happen, and, if so, who will do the work and who will
make the decisions?
The entire process of the various task groups, we are told, is
to halt the decline in membership of the Church of England.
Changing structure at the centre and even making more resources
available will not of itself achieve that end. Why is it that the
so-called "New Churches" are making new disciples and planting
churches at a greater rate than the Church of England? Those
churches appear to have a light touch when it comes to structure
and central bureaucracy.
I venture to suggest that they not only speak about every-member
ministry: they practise it. The real key to growth is for this to
be the number-one priority in all churches, leaders locally, both
lay and ordained, really equipping people to fulfil that
10 Ditton Lodge, 8 Stourwood Avenue
Bournemouth,Dorset BH6 3PN