Posts by Stuart Haynes
It seems to have been a fortnight for battering the church and questioning its role in society. From the ruling about council prayers in Bideford to the latest survey sponsored by Richard Dawkins claiming that those who think of themselves as Christian show very low levels of Christian behaviour and practice. All this seems to have come to a head with Baroness Warsi's comments that "militant secularism is taking hold of British society.
As a local gatekeeper to the Church of England's reputation I feel the pressure is mounting and fear that a rising political temperature could create much rancour between those with different ideologies and world views.
Unsurprisingly the Commission for Assisted Dying report has created concern and controversy, not going far enough for some moving well beyond the pail for others. It is a difficult, moral, ethical and religious problem and one that we all have to grapple with. But it is easy to get into the theoretical and forget that beyond the politics are people struggling with circumstances that the majority of us cannot (and hopefully will never) comprehend.
Let's be straight. The Church of England's position is clear. A statement released this morning says "The present law strikes an excellent balance between safeguarding hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people and treating with fairness and compassion those few people who, acting out of selfless motives, have assisted a loved one to die." For now this is a good standpoint, particular given the concerns over the Commission's perceived bias, but the debate must continue.
So Liverpool Council's planning committee decision to reject a visionary plan to add a Rotunda to All Saints Church in Childwall is a clearly blow for the church council. But it also highlights a massive issue facing many parishes, not just in the Diocese of Liverpool, but also across the Church of England. Just how are we supposed to create a future for our church buildings? The diocese knows the value of its heritage - we are the greatest preservers of historic buildings in our area after all. But we also need buildings that will work for this, and future, generations. In most cases we do this without any significant funding, relying on the dedication and generosity of church members to maintain ageing edifices.
Yet our church leaders have to tread a difficult line. They are not just custodians of a building - a tourist attraction or place for others to admire the architecture. They are in charge of worshiping communities, people who wish to serve their wider community. And frequently the building they have just doesn't work.
Yet any time they try to make changes that make their building fit for purpose they risk a welter of objections, often from people who don't want change made but can offer no solutions.
I have to admit I initially didn't pay much attention to the initial reports of Ian Redmond's tragic death. Listening in the morning I noted the horror of what had happened. But it all seemed remote and no doubt I would find out more in the evening.
Then came one of the phone calls that when they come complete overturn my plans. National tabloids were chasing down a comment from one of our vicars who married the Redmonds. That call led to a day of preparing, offering and reading statements to the press as an unsuspecting vicar and community suddenly find themselves at the centre of attention.