Monday, 22 November 2010
Perhaps I am a naive lay woman
The Anglican Covenant? That was another experience. 'You mean the Methodist Covenant,' educated lay types would say to me, taking delight in their superior political knowledge of the Church. 'No, The Anglican Covenant as set out in the Ridley-Cambridge Draft', I would say wearily.
That, in a nutshell, represents people's knowledge of the governing body of the CoE. It is seen as a place where repression is debated on, voted on and acted on. The falsehood depressed me and was the message I sought to get across during the hustings-that perception is as important as reality. The obsession with sexual orientation and gender politics is the brand recognition of General Synod. The church is being seen as an investor in practices deemed outdated and illegal in the modern world. I used the picture of Holman Hunt's 'Jesus knocking at the door' to illustrate my message and posed the question as to how many people were being kept out by this perception?
I am a new player to the politics of the Church but, nevertheless, I am adamant that the ordinary lay person does not care about the Anglican Covenant or the intellectual detail of the theological considerations of the headship argument. If your country was under a serious and immediate national security threat would you rather that the generals sat around discussing the strategic alliances and ideological positions to adopt or would you feel safer if they were actually seen on the ground battling the problem? People want a grassroots level church that is open and accessible to all. Christians being attacked at a frightening rate all over the world don't care for the intellectual indulgences of Christian folk in the safety of the Western world. They want to know that we care.
The big challenge for Synod is fraternity. The concept of the Big Society is being debated tomorrow and this is an opportunity to demonstrate Christian cohesion. However, it will all be undone if trust in the church cannot be fostered. Perhaps I am being naive in hoping for a message of inclusivity to be sent out by General Synod in the way that Miss World contestants hoped for 'world peace' and raised mocks of laughter in response.