Riazat Butt has written an excellent article for the Guardian, titled Catholic defectors will leave Anglicans breathing sigh of relief – bishop.
Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford is quoted:
A Church of England bishop says congregations will breathe a “sigh of relief” this week when hundreds of worshippers defect to the Roman Catholic church, potentially drawing a line under the schism over the ordination of women.
Up to 900 Anglicans, including 60 clergy, are preparing to be received into the Roman Catholic faith in special services during Holy Week.
The Right Rev Christopher Hill said congregations losing clergy or laity to the Personal Ordinariate, a Vatican initiative allowing Anglicans to convert while keeping elements of their spiritual heritage, would allow the church to move on after being “racked” by the issue of women priests.
Hill, who is the bishop of Guildford and chair of the Council of Christian Unity, said while there was sadness at congregations losing their clergy or co-worshippers – in some instances both – there was reason to be positive.
“Where a decision has been made then those who go will have a bigger agenda, as do those who stay. They can leave this issue alone. It has racked these congregations. It has absorbed a lot of energy. Where a church has had such an exodus, there will be a sigh of relief that a decision has been made.”
Riazat also reports on two parishes where clergy and some laity have left. One of these is St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells.
For the congregation of St Barnabas, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the loss of a priest and 72 worshippers has caused personal and practical difficulties.
All but two members of the parochial church council – the executive body of the parish – have left, and people with no prior involvement in the running of the church have been forced to help out.
Christine Avery, a churchwarden who has been praying at St Barnabas for 20 years, said: “We have to make ends meet and it’s a big church. Everyone is doing jobs they never thought they could do. But there’s a great atmosphere and we want this church to stay open.”
On Palm Sunday a reduced but resolute congregation threw themselves into a Sung Eucharist and a procession along the Camden Road.
Avery, and others, say they have noticed that people who had stayed away from St Barnabas have returned, as have some who said they were leaving for the Ordinariate. The church is by no means united on women’s ordination, but one worshipper implied there were fewer divisions than before the 70 departures…
Some more background on the situation in this parish here.
Anglican parish carries on despite departures
SIR – Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports on events at St Mary the Virgin, Torquay (“The faithful torn apart”, News Review, April 17). As an honorary priest at St Mary’s I know that when the vicar, the Rev David Lashbrooke, announced his departure to join the Roman Catholic Church on March 6 it came as a shock to some parishioners, but it was not unexpected because there had been speculation for months.
Some 25 adults and children went with him to the Ordinariate and that did cause some distress because they went without notice, some abandoning their offices in the parish.
Since Ash Wednesday on March 9 the congregation has begun to grow under the exemplary leadership of Fr Dexter Bracey, the assistant curate, supported by two retired priests. Sunday services have been adjusted, but numbers have increased and the atmosphere is purposeful and joyful as people grow closer and more confident.
There are new churchwardens and a newly elected parochial church council, so we are moving forward still rooted in our Catholic heritage and determined to keep the faith within the Church of England.
“Though much is taken much abides,” as Tennyson wrote.
We miss our friends who have gone to the Ordinariate but we continue to pray for them as they seek to follow their consciences and remain faithful to their calling.
Fr Warwick Whelan