I thought by now I will be able to post my post(s) on personal observation on ethnic, social and ‘theological’ divisions in the Church in the Uk. I am still trying to ‘manage’ the joy of being recommended for training for ordained ministry in Church of England following the 3 day Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP in short) I attended to see if Church of England recognised my call to ordained ministry.
I thought, to keep my thinking going, I’ll post my presentation at the early mentioned conference -BAP. This is more related to the Church of England which I feel by extension can help my exploration for the Church in England and other parts of the UK.
Here is the presentation:
Have you ever come across people in your local church who will tell you very clearly that they are Anglicans and others who will tell you just as clearly that they are not Anglicans ?. What this demonstrates, I think,is that as human beings, we like labels; we like to have some sense of identity and a way of distinguishing ourselves from others. But, at times, the unintended consequence of applying labels to others is our tendency to project a single, simplistic story onto groups of people whom we perceive to be different from ourselves.
As far as my own observations go, having journeyed along with many people from different Church traditions, I have come to realise just how unrealistic it can when I try to put people tightly in ‘boxes’ – creating a kind of stereotype. For example, two people could both call themselves Evangelical yet hold very different views on different issues.
Within the Church of England, we have different traditions. I ask myself how can I, as an Anglican in the English context, join others to continue to find creative ways to stand together and work together in order to enhance our Church’s mission and ministry to the nation – and how can I do so without compromising my own sense of identity? If I had to choose a label then I would say I am basically an evangelical with a charismatic influence; other traditions had shed light to my blind-spot.
I find it very comforting studying the history of Church of England – through various splendid and extraordinary research work by a number of people- to realise that at least from the 18th century onwards, the Church has been being enriched by the co-existence of the different traditions within it – the Evangelical, the Catholic and Liberal and it is worth noting that since 1960s, the influence of Charismatic Movement, has become increasingly important
An account in the scripture that resonates with me on this subject is the one found in Mark 9:
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us. “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us”. (Mark 9:38- 40 NIV)
The opposite problem would be for me to pretend that none of these convictions matter at all and go to the opposite extreme of having no principles – and perhaps, even no root. It is important for me to be rooted in my tradition and be generous, not defensive, in sharing my views.
One of the things I have come to appreciate with Church of England is that sense of moderation – a holding together of different traditions and points of view often in tension yet with attentive listening to one another, with differences respected and honoured. This attitude, I think helps us in our relationship with others Anglicans Communion, with our Ecumenical partners, with those of other faith and none.
To summarised, our unity matters to God : Jesus prayed for our unity – “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me”. (John 17:21 NIV).
Our unity in diversity will be a witness to the world and bring credibility to our mission and ministry.
Questions to consider :
When do you draw line due to your honest theological convictions ? Would you allow provisions for those you do not agreed or familiar with their traditions ? What are things you enjoy or like from other Church traditions other than yours.
Personal note : This presentation will be a reminder to me to continue to seek Church unity even when it is hard to do so.