*** DEBUG END ***

‘I look up to him’

04 August 2017

THE New Churches brought a fresh Free Church ethos to the ecumenical scene in the 1970s. Today, their members can slip easily across into the Church of England, finding recognisable worship styles. The questions that trouble them as the years advance are familiar to the C of E: such as the agon­ising in New Frontiers about reaching working-class people. Now, it may seem self-evident that Anglicans should have the edge: it is costly to start from scratch, but the C of E al­­ready has its parish churches — and, indeed, many were raised in the 20th century on new council estates, with a sense of local ownership. Again, the C of E has a mechanism for redistribution of re­­sources. On the other side, as in the famous Frost Report sketch about class (John Cleese, Ronnie Barker, and Ronnie Corbett lined up in order of descending height), an Anglican doesn’t have to be working-class to get a crick in his or her neck: the big­gest name in C of E church-planting is an eclectic church with Harrods in its parish; a disproportionate number of bishops were inde­pend­ently schooled; and the parishes, with the po­­tential to bal­ance the tendencies of social net­working, are being abandoned as unsustainable in favour of churches aimed at target groups. All this suggests that C of E pri­orities and as­­sumptions may also be overdue for critical scrutiny.


Fifty years ago

THE Church Times was, it must be confessed, not part of the campaign that led to the 1967 change in the law on homo­sexuality, although the view that prevailed over its columns was not the only one held in the office. In 1988, a former assist­ant editor, the late Alan Shadwick, recalled his boss, Rosamund Essex, and her clerical advisers “all booming away and rocking with humourless laughter” in the conservative atmos­phere of the late 1940s and the 1950s, and observed: “Yes, in the time of Miss Essex that lot might have been right in their fears on the Wolfenden Report — but it was still wrong to put homo­sexuals in prison.” The Church’s Moral Wel­fare Council, Wolfenden, Michael Ramsey, and others played their part in the change, dis­tinguishing emphatically be­­tween sin and crime. That discourse seemed to echo in the two Arch­bishops’ joint statement last week, lend­ing it an uncharacteristically lugubrious tone as they (presumably) sought not to depart from certain resolu­tions or pre-empt the Bishops’ working groups. In a different sense from the BBC drama broad­cast the night before about the Montagu case, it was a period piece. Views of more progressive sub­ord­inates in a Christian organisation must again await their time.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

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 below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past 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.)