To whom would you go?

Apologies for starting a UK thread, and more specifically, probably, an England, Wales and Norn Iron (?) one.

I have a question.

For those Shippies who are declaring themselves disillusioned with the CofE over certain Dead Horse issues and who are seriously thinking of leaving - where would you go?

What are the alternatives for disillusioned Anglicans who are presumably:

- Keen on liturgy and not particularly happy-clappy or given to non-conformist style hymn-prayer sandwich style services.

- On the liberal side of the Dead Horse issue.

Neither Rome nor the Orthodox appear about to change their stance on Dead Horse issues (although it's possible to find wriggle-room on the ground from what I've heard).

So where next? Where would you go?

I've deliberately left Scotland out as the Scottish Episcopal Church appears fairly liberal on these issues, so presume that Scottish Anglicans on that side of the fence can find a conducive home there. I might be wrong.

Welsh Anglicans seem to be heading in a more liberal direction on this issue too, but the situation is fairly mixed there.

I don't know much about the Church of Ireland nor of Anglicanism on both sides of the Irish border.

So, if Shippies do jump ship from the CofE, where would they be likely to end up? Methodism? URC, perhaps? There aren't many Lutheran churches around in the UK.

What are the options for them?
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Comments

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I am afraid no matter where you go you are going to find problems. There will be no ideal denomination to your satisfaction. You mention Lutheranism. Speaking as a Lutheran, I can tell you we are also dealing with a number of changes when it comes to the liturgy. For us, the liturgy has always been adiaphora (neither commanded nor forbidden). Therefore, you will see a wide variety of styles of worship within the Lutheran Church. I am afraid, should you go to the Lutheran church you will be constantly comparing it to your ideal of an Anglican church.
  • There aren't any, which is partly why the fight in the CofE is so bitter. Few of its many tribes have alternative options that are terribly appealing, and the liberal Anglo-Catholics fewer than most. Broad church folk can slide semi-comfortably enough into Methodism or the URC; the open-neck shirt and chinos brigade have any number of independent outfits to choose from; the conservative Anglo-Catholics can wade across the Tiber if they're willing to actually abide by oaths of obedience and take the pay cut. None of them much want to, but the AffCath folk haven't even got anywhere to go.

    And yes, the situation in the SEC is rather better, barring some nastiness from the pocket of homophobes and misogynists in Aberdeen & Orkney trying to do a Christ Church on Bishop Anne.
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    I decided a few years ago that my current church will almost certainly be my last. If it closes, or substantially changes in character, I’ll cease to be a regular worshipper anywhere except at home.
  • Nowhere to go, other than the unitarians if I'm prepared to give up traditional liturgy. I'm not ordained, so it's not directly a vocational question for me, but it is still very important to me.
  • In answer to the OP - nowhere.
    :disappointed:
  • Ethne AlbaEthne Alba Shipmate
    edited March 23
    @Arethosemyfeet , you got here before me!

    The Scottish Episcopal Church in this area ( N E Scotland) seems to be heftily divided , as is the Church of Scotland. So if I want to travel to worship in a building with others ( a thing! One day!) I know enough now to be able to pick a church service with no snide comments or sermons that go off on a rant.
    But travelling for church?
    Meh.

    UK wise?
    In this Church Online Time that we find ourselves in, I have taken the opportunity to rather shop around. There are a number of Safe Spaces for Worship hosted in Cathedrals.
    But were we still in a city I know that I would be travelling to find a church home & sticking Inclusive Church in my search engines.



  • Interesting, and I can't say I'm surprised at the responses to my question so far.

    Nowhere seems to be the default option facing many disaffected Anglicans.

    @Gramps49 - yes, I am aware that there is a range of styles and 'churchmanships' within Lutheranism but I can count the Lutheran churches I know of here in the UK on half the fingers of one hand. I simply mentioned the Lutherans as the CofE regards the Church of Sweden and other Lutheran churches in northern Europe - and perhaps elsewhere - as 'sister churches' to some extent.

    I'm surprised at Thunderbunk citing the Unitarians as an option, but then, perhaps I shouldn't be. There are probably more small u unitarians in the CofE than one might realise or expect.

    Nobody's mentioned some of the unofficial 'Catholic' churches so far - you know, there are some which are inclusive as far as Dead Horse issues are concerned - and there may be a surprising number around. Who knows?

    I keep hearing that they are out there but I've never come across anyone from any of them.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    I feel very sorry for those Anglicans who feel that they may have to leave the Church community. If I understand correctly, certainly in England, the CofE is meant to be the Church of the English people, not just of those who are 'decent' and 'reasonable'

    Especially for those who have long been faithful members of the CofE it must be difficult to think of going it alone. The Church, whatever way we see it, is surely one community and we have to try to live with those other 'decent' and 'reasonable' people who happen to understand the same ideas of love of God and love of neighbour in a different way.

    Were there a positive idea that there is some other religious community which is better then one could understand their going, but it seems to me to be so negative and that is sad.
  • I had always intended to move back to the land of my fathers and had set my twins reaching 30 as the earliest time, which would give me another 3 years. However, I'm now giving serious thought to bringing that forward.

    I don't like the idea of leaving my choir, and to a lesser extent the parish, in the lurch, but the cynical hypocrisy of those bishops not on the evangelical spectrum nauseates me; and the lying, uncharitable triumphalism of the others is worse.

    One of the great strengths of the CofE of my youth was that it truly was a 'broad church'. The ever narrower bounds of what is deemed to be correct belief goes against not only my principles but, IMO, those of many in the past who risked much to allow our generation freedom of thought.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    I'm surprised at Thunderbunk citing the Unitarians as an option, but then, perhaps I shouldn't be. There are probably more small u unitarians in the CofE than one might realise or expect.

    But if you're an Anglican who does believe in the Trinity, or even a small-u unitarian who still thinks that Jesus, while not synonymous with God, nevertheless had a unique connection to Him unlike that enjoyed by anyone else in history, you likely wouldn't be all that comfortable in Unitarianism, if you expect your church to mandate a Christology that even slightly resembles your own.

    Though you could possibly meet fellow members who share your views on an individual level, and feel accepted within Unitarianism. Especially, I would think, in the UK, which seems a little more christocentric in its outlook than UUism in North America.

  • As one of the malcontents that @Gamma Gamaliel is probably referring to, I am fortunate that I am no longer in the UK. But it is not beyond the realms of possibility that I might return some day (after retirement). What I did then would depend on a number of factors but particularly it would depend on where in the UK I ended up. In reality, that is most likely to be southern England but I wouldn't rule out Wales.

    It is not beyond the realms of possibility that I might attend a C of E Church, but purely as a private individual and it would require me to be confident that the church in question (and the vicar) were willing to accept me as someone who disagreed strongly with some aspects of the "official" line. Increasingly (and somewhat surprisingly to me) I would prefer to attend a "straight-down-the-line" BCP service. Cranmer is still The Man.

    I wouldn't rule out attending a Methodist or URC church, but it would depend greatly upon the individual church. In the right place, I could even see myself joining an Orthodox church, as there are aspects of Orthodox spirituality that I find very appealing.

    It might well be, though, that I just gave up on church altogether. I am sick and tired of church politics and the petty snobberies and prejudices that I encounter time and time again.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Although I am a member of a somewhat monolithic (on paper at least) worldwide church I tend not to think far beyond my parish community. If I am comfortable there and it is my friendship community as well I tend to be deaf to spats between foreign gentlemen dressed in scarlet.
    I'm a member of a parish first and foremost. And no cleric can climb into my head and tell me what I can or cannot believe.
  • @Rufus T Firefly - I find aspects of Orthodox spirituality appealing too and have teetered on the verge of the Bosphorus from time to time. I tend to fuse Orthodox and Anglican material in my own daily 'office'.

    I sometimes think that if I lived in a cathedral city I'd be happy enough going to its services and not engaging much beyond that - apart from a Lent or Advent study group or something.

    I can also understand the appeal of neo-monastic orders and fraternities, Third Order 'companions' and the like. Bring back the Beguines and the Beghards, I say ...

    I s'pose my question is more specific than what people do if they are generally hacked off with their church. You can be hacked off with the Quakers if you are a Quaker, with the Orthodox if you are Orthodox. There can be any amount of reasons for that and as has been said, there's never going to be anywhere without its problems or thing that rub you up the wrong way.

    My question was more about those who are disillusioned with the way the CofE is handling Dead Horse issues. If someone had an issue with that, baled out and landed among the Orthodox then whilst they may admire much of its spirituality they are still going to encounter views on Dead Horse issues that they are going to find difficult.

    Or views on women's ministry or whatever else the issue might be.

    It struck me, and various contributors have confirmed this, that UK Anglicans who are disillusioned with their Church over Dead Horse issues yet who wish to retain a more sacramental and liturgical approach are going to struggle to find an alternative.

  • Doc TorDoc Tor Admin
    edited March 23
    There's always Forest Church and/or the Northumbria Community, for those who want to keep the sacraments and liturgy.

    It's always struck me that a lot depends on how hard the vicar/priest is willing to push it. My own shack has a very wide spectrum of liberal/orthodox opinions, especially when it comes to the DH issues. We're affirming of ordained women, but wrt sexuality, the vicar is much more hardline than probably half the congregation. If he 'laid down the law', probably most under 40 would walk.

    (eta)

    I'm not under 40, but would argue strongly for inclusion, and if exclusion was the only alternative offered, I'd consider my position.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited March 23
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining,

    My gifts do not lie in the field of influencing for the better, at least as far as experience shows.
    if that were clearly where God wanted them to be.

    And how might he make his feelings on the matter known?
    If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere.

    That seems to be writing a cheque he may not cash.
    Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    That speaks more badly of the others than well of the CofE.

    It's all a bit pressing for me. My own congregation has pretty much collapsed as of today.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    I suppose it depends how certain they are that that specific church is "clearly where God wants to be".

    And I might speculate that those churches whose members tend to be convinced that they are worshiping in the One And Only Church Beloved By God are also the ones least resistant to reform.

    (I suppose it's possible for someone to think that God wants them to be in one particular church, but is happy with other people being in different ones.)
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining,

    My gifts do not lie in the field of influencing for the better, at least as far as experience shows.
    if that were clearly where God wanted them to be.

    And how might he make his feelings on the matter known?
    If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere.

    That seems to be writing a cheque he may not cash.
    Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    That speaks more badly of the others than well of the CofE.

    It's all a bit pressing for me. My own congregation has pretty much collapsed as of today.

    Sorry to hear that @KarlLB

    We all do influence, simply by being with others and expressing our points of view.

    God lays it on our hearts when we are where God wants us to be, it is affirmed in different ways. It may not be where we want ourselves to be. It’s not about us.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    It's always struck me that a lot depends on how hard the vicar/priest is willing to push it. My own shack has a very wide spectrum of liberal/orthodox opinions, especially when it comes to the DH issues. We're affirming of ordained women, but wrt sexuality, the vicar is much more hardline than probably half the congregation. If he 'laid down the law', probably most under 40 would walk.

    My suspicion is that is the case in the vast majority of con-evo churches, and another reason why the current strategy adopted by Reform and others is going to fail in the medium term.

    In terms of the OP, I'm not entirely sure. The small child inside me instinctively rebels at the thought of going back to sermons of 1hr+. I suspect that were children not a consideration, I'd end up somewhere liturgical that mostly left me alone.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Or perhaps he doesn't much care where we are and leaves it pretty much up to us. I put little stock in "sensing" his intentions and desires having found it about as reliable as the horoscope in the local paper.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    stetson wrote: »
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    I suppose it depends how certain they are that that specific church is "clearly where God wants to be".

    And I might speculate that those churches whose members tend to be convinced that they are worshiping in the One And Only Church Beloved By God are also the ones least resistant to reform.

    (I suppose it's possible for someone to think that God wants them to be in one particular church, but is happy with other people being in different ones.)

    I was a ‘church-hopper’ for a few years before finding that God wanted me to be in the C of E: not because it is more special than any of the others, but because this is where God wants me to serve, for now. Every church I attended was one of Christ’s houses, whatever the denomination. Each had its own community culture, and each included human beings who were not perfect.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    I suppose it depends how certain they are that that specific church is "clearly where God wants to be".

    And I might speculate that those churches whose members tend to be convinced that they are worshiping in the One And Only Church Beloved By God are also the ones least resistant to reform.

    (I suppose it's possible for someone to think that God wants them to be in one particular church, but is happy with other people being in different ones.)

    I was a ‘church-hopper’ for a few years before finding that God wanted me to be in the C of E: not because it is more special than any of the others, but because this is where God wants me to serve, for now. Every church I attended was one of Christ’s houses, whatever the denomination. Each had its own community culture, and each included human beings who were not perfect.

    A solid perspective. Thanks.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    It's all a bit pressing for me. My own congregation has pretty much collapsed as of today.
    I’m very sorry, @KarlLB.

  • So sorry @KarlLB I know how much effort you've put into trying to find a solution to the problems.
  • questioningquestioning Shipmate
    edited March 24
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    God lays it on our hearts when we are where God wants us to be, it is affirmed in different ways. It may not be where we want ourselves to be. It’s not about us.

    And yet, how do we hear or sense that we are where God wants us to be, and that it doesn't involve leaving the place we've been? If it's really not about me, then your three sentences above don't compute for me. It sounds like you're saying, "You can't ever leave where you are," but I don't think that's exactly what you mean, because surely God can call us to journey somewhere new. What if the affirmation you describe does not exist where we are now?

    On another, but related, note:
    At the Easter Vigil two years ago, after struggling with my relationship with the institutional church for over two years, the only thing I remember from the service was hearing, in the Gospel, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" In that moment, I very nearly walked out, thinking that I'd heard Jesus. I still wonder if that was my summons to leave the institution, and my struggle continues. For now, I don't attend services regularly, and I give thanks that COVID virtually eliminates the need for me to explain myself.

    @KarlLB I, too, am sorry. I shall hold you in my prayers - because (thanks be to God!) God doesn't require that I be attached to a congregation in order to be a praying person.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    It's all a bit pressing for me. My own congregation has pretty much collapsed as of today.

    Sorry to hear that, @KarlLB; it's never fun. I have a question, though. Do you mean "today" as in "suddenly and recently", and if so, do you mean in the wake of this LLF stuff? I don't mean to pry, it's just that from my expat position, I'm trying to get a handle on whether the latest row is having immediate and dramatic knock-on effects on CoE congregations.

    Otherwise, I agree with @chrisstiles. The "ever narrower bounds of correct belief" mentioned by @TheOrganist resonates too. Our (independent) church has got away without a confession of faith for 17 years now, and hardly anybody has noticed.
  • DavidDavid Shipmate
    I’m fortunate to be able to keep excellent local relations, but — after years of an on and off relationship with the Church of England — I joined "the little Church with the big heart", aka The Open Episcopal Church, and am presently preparing for ordination.
  • Sorry to hear that Karl. @Eutychus - psst Karl started this thread in Ecclesiantics in January which I suspect is relevant to his situation.

    @Raptor Eye I am a moderate and believe the CofE should be a broad church, giving space for those who would like to gather the crumbs from under the table and all views. But I burnt out and gave up. And I haven't gone back, because every time I think about it, the CofE hierarchy does something else that I do not want to support. Currently I do not want to sign up to a church that keeps kicking the conversation about homosexuality down the road. I have too many gay Christian friends.

    I struggled on for years in a church where I was made to feel unwelcome socially, unless I was providing a service, and boy, did I provide the services. I ran the toddler church for 3 years, with someone attending trying to push it into a far more interpreted version of my preferred tell them Bible stories, give them a few songs and a fun linked activity and leave them and their families to interpret them, then we can remain ecumenical and there for the whole CofE community. One of the times I really really felt the presence of God, was the day I had to cancel in midwinter when we had no heating as the boiler had failed. I phoned round all the parents to cancel with the person who was pushing me to change the services last on the list, to find she'd invited someone to tell me how to do it better to come along. She still tried to pressurise me to run somewhere else. Sadly, I'd felt called to phone her last and it was all too late. (It wasn't something I ever said to her.)

    I set up regular Sunday evening services in response to complaints about inconsistencies with the monthly choral evensong and occasional other evening services, ensuring the church was open, every Sunday evening. And that is still happening now. We didn't always get huge numbers, but we had a chance to experiment, and were open for those searching somewhere quiet to pray - all too often. My usual services were evening or labyrinth prayer sessions - one had the church open and the labyrinth out, the other was the Celebrating Common Prayer service as regular monthly services, with some more interesting stuff occasionally, like a prayer walk in Fairtrade fortnight, or a Café church another year. I heard some very sad stories of people leaving a family member in the local the hospice and searching for an open church.

    I was told there was no space for me in Lent groups or at other small groups, unless I led them. Possibly because I refused to use the "correct" NIV, which isn't actually on the CofE list, and preferred to read several different Bibles to compare, admittedly including the NJB. And for the "learning opportunities" run by the con-evo grouping, the clergy pushed me to speak out with a moderate liberal view so that the challenges to the more rigid views being presented came from more than just them. Others just didn't attend.

    I set up and ran Traidcraft stall for years - was a Fair Trader for nearly 15 years, was working to set up Fairtrade status in the town when a couple of shops closed and made us ineligible. Ran the church website for a decade with a Twitter account on the side, plus A Church Near You for four churches and a smaller website for another church.

    I eventually found that no, there was no place for me, and no real place to go locally, although I could travel somewhere else, but when the CofE keeps doing things to which I cry, not in my name, then travelling elsewhere would be supporting an institution that I am unconvinced I should be continue to support.

    And I'm with the others saying, no, we're not sure there is a place for us in the CofE as it exists locally now. I really dithered about ticking the Christian box on the census this time. If I'm still alive for the next one, I can see me ticking none.
  • It's not my job to stay around to be abused by bigots. That phase is done done and done.
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    edited March 24
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining,

    My gifts do not lie in the field of influencing for the better, at least as far as experience shows.
    if that were clearly where God wanted them to be.

    And how might he make his feelings on the matter known?
    If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere.

    That seems to be writing a cheque he may not cash.
    Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    That speaks more badly of the others than well of the CofE.

    It's all a bit pressing for me. My own congregation has pretty much collapsed as of today.

    Sorry to hear that @KarlLB

    We all do influence, simply by being with others and expressing our points of view.

    God lays it on our hearts when we are where God wants us to be, it is affirmed in different ways. It may not be where we want ourselves to be. It’s not about us.

    I am simply not having this. It is about us as beloved children of God. There's a huge difference between entirely reworking the church in one's own image and requiring acceptance of one's humanity and the validity of one's relationship as a fundamental baseline.

    If ever a comment exemplified privilege this is it.
  • AnselminaAnselmina Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining,

    My gifts do not lie in the field of influencing for the better, at least as far as experience shows.
    if that were clearly where God wanted them to be.

    And how might he make his feelings on the matter known?
    If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere.

    That seems to be writing a cheque he may not cash.
    Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    That speaks more badly of the others than well of the CofE.

    It's all a bit pressing for me. My own congregation has pretty much collapsed as of today.

    Sorry to hear that @KarlLB

    We all do influence, simply by being with others and expressing our points of view.

    God lays it on our hearts when we are where God wants us to be, it is affirmed in different ways. It may not be where we want ourselves to be. It’s not about us.

    I am simply not having this. It is about us as beloved children of God. There's a huge difference between entirely reworking the church in one's own image and requiring acceptance of one's humanity and the validity of one's relationship as a fundamental baseline.

    If ever a comment exemplified privilege this is it.

    I don't think the comment exemplifies privilege so much as it just highlights the different approaches to 'being' Church. For some it's mainly about finding a place to 'be' eg, finding support, consolation, nurture etc. For others it's about discerning a congregational call within the community, and a forward movement for the enterprise of 'being' for others, where one might have something to offer in the mission of communicating the Good News. Sometimes the same people may even move between the two approaches.

    Sometimes the Church institutionally and individually needs to be 'reworked' to some extent in God's image (I don't think anyone is suggesting an entire reworking of a church in one's own image, are they?), so that more and more people may be accepted and validated as the human beings they are.



  • It struck me, and various contributors have confirmed this, that UK Anglicans who are disillusioned with their Church over Dead Horse issues yet who wish to retain a more sacramental and liturgical approach are going to struggle to find an alternative.

    I think that an important thing to emphasise is that this is not (for me, anyway) solely about Dead Horse issues. If it was that alone, I might be more inclined to stay and fight, even in a losing cause. Like @Curiosity killed I get frustrated at so much of the C of E these days that I would find it hard to be an active supporter.
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    First of all, there is a whole world of difference between staying in or leaving a church and staying in or leaving a denomination. The chances of changing a church are slight but you might feel that you are serving some purpose by remaining (I've been in a church where I knew I was distinctly out of step with most of the other people. It wasn't comfortable and in the end it was better for me to leave). But the chances of influencing an organisation are very slim - especially one where the "system" is designed to favour those in positions of power and to ignore dissident voices.

    Secondly (and this is a bit of a tangent), I would deeply question the whole thing of "where God wants you to be" and being "led by the Spirit." Increasingly, I see this as mostly spiritual claptrap that usually serves the well-being of those who have power. I have long thought that God mostly doesn't care WHERE we worship, or WHO we marry, or WHAT job we do; God does care deeply about WHY we make the decisions that we do.

    Me: "OK God, is it your will that I take up this post?"
    God: "You've got free will. Go ahead and do it if you want to. But first tell me why you want to?"

    Me: "OK God, should I stay in this church/denomination or should I leave?"
    God: "I really don't mind one way or the other. But tell me what you think is important about making this decision."


  • Hmmmm - I'm not sure about how much to share. But to me church has felt mostly like 'duty' for more than 25 years. Very often, attending has been pretty unhelpful, regarding my personal faith. As I have become older, I have felt more OK about this, and more appreciative of the dying generation I seem to be called to serve (although, of course, it is entirely possible I have got this 'calling' totally wrong!) and with whom, outside Christ, I have more or less nothing in common. More recently I have found additional fellowship in the men's group of a congregation of some (very) ;other denomination, led by someone I very much respect, most of whose views I very strongly disagree with - but there are others there I have more in common with.

    I don't find much of a cosy 'home' in my marriage and home life, nor in what these days passes for my career (should it ever re-start after Covid). So I'm not really very surprised that this 'home' isn't at church either. At the moment I get a sense of God's peace, as I understand it, on my own in silence. I also have a weird (given all I have just said) sense that I am in the right place(s) at the moment - which is just as well as I have f-all idea where else to go.

    I think it's very OK to stay, be totally fucking blunt about what you think when you have to be, keep silent where you feel you can, and just see what happens. After all, with respect to the OP, Lord, to whom would we go?. There is nothing else.




  • I would put myself in both of those camps, and not generally regard church as a space in which I expect to feel totally safe. However there's a difference between demanding to feel completely safe and putting up with a lifetime of abuse thinly covered in theologically bankrupt terms. I withdraw my consent from the latter if I ever even gave it
  • I can't put myself in your position in a meaningful way. But I do know that expecting 'family' (I'll use that in a wide sense to cover church too) to treat me right, is a hiding to nothing, and that in an odd way only I can give myself (their) shit. I'm not quite there with it yet, but taking shit and smiling isn't quite right. The shit comes, but I have to reach out with my own trowel to apply it to myself. When I don't, it doesn't even land. This makes smiling much easier.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    It struck me, and various contributors have confirmed this, that UK Anglicans who are disillusioned with their Church over Dead Horse issues yet who wish to retain a more sacramental and liturgical approach are going to struggle to find an alternative.

    I think that an important thing to emphasise is that this is not (for me, anyway) solely about Dead Horse issues. If it was that alone, I might be more inclined to stay and fight, even in a losing cause. Like @Curiosity killed I get frustrated at so much of the C of E these days that I would find it hard to be an active supporter.
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    First of all, there is a whole world of difference between staying in or leaving a church and staying in or leaving a denomination. The chances of changing a church are slight but you might feel that you are serving some purpose by remaining (I've been in a church where I knew I was distinctly out of step with most of the other people. It wasn't comfortable and in the end it was better for me to leave). But the chances of influencing an organisation are very slim - especially one where the "system" is designed to favour those in positions of power and to ignore dissident voices.

    Secondly (and this is a bit of a tangent), I would deeply question the whole thing of "where God wants you to be" and being "led by the Spirit." Increasingly, I see this as mostly spiritual claptrap that usually serves the well-being of those who have power. I have long thought that God mostly doesn't care WHERE we worship, or WHO we marry, or WHAT job we do; God does care deeply about WHY we make the decisions that we do.

    Me: "OK God, is it your will that I take up this post?"
    God: "You've got free will. Go ahead and do it if you want to. But first tell me why you want to?"

    Me: "OK God, should I stay in this church/denomination or should I leave?"
    God: "I really don't mind one way or the other. But tell me what you think is important about making this decision."


    I'm pretty sure this is the case. A God who made heaven and earth and everything in it, and yet can only tell me whether to take a job or go to a particular church through vague "leadings" which go tits up as often as not - it doesn't add up.

    If I want someone to do something, telling them explicitly is generally a good strategy. If I want to see what decisions they make, I need to take a hands off observing role. God must be doing the latter, because he certainly isn't doing the former.
  • I'd hope that if I was still in the UK, I'd be in the C of E trying to push it in the right direction (and doubtless feeling very frustrated every time some Bishop made a nonsensical assertion about gay people).

    There will always be new gay people. Even GLEs have gay kids. I kind of feel that if I were to abandon the Church to the Bible-thumping literalist's brand of intolerance, I'd be walking out on those future kids - because they deserve to grow up knowing that God loves them.

    But I'm a straight white married man - it's not my identity that's being shat upon on a regular basis. So saying that I think that someone like me should stay in the church and put up a fight is different from saying that someone like @ThunderBunk should feel obliged to stay and get shat upon.

    I'm fortunate that my TEC shack largely doesn't have these particular issues. Race, though - despite having several Black families, and having Black people in plenty of visible leadership roles in our parish, and in the wider church, we still have a lot of work to do on race.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    It struck me, and various contributors have confirmed this, that UK Anglicans who are disillusioned with their Church over Dead Horse issues yet who wish to retain a more sacramental and liturgical approach are going to struggle to find an alternative.

    I think that an important thing to emphasise is that this is not (for me, anyway) solely about Dead Horse issues. If it was that alone, I might be more inclined to stay and fight, even in a losing cause. Like @Curiosity killed I get frustrated at so much of the C of E these days that I would find it hard to be an active supporter.
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    First of all, there is a whole world of difference between staying in or leaving a church and staying in or leaving a denomination. The chances of changing a church are slight but you might feel that you are serving some purpose by remaining (I've been in a church where I knew I was distinctly out of step with most of the other people. It wasn't comfortable and in the end it was better for me to leave). But the chances of influencing an organisation are very slim - especially one where the "system" is designed to favour those in positions of power and to ignore dissident voices.

    Secondly (and this is a bit of a tangent), I would deeply question the whole thing of "where God wants you to be" and being "led by the Spirit." Increasingly, I see this as mostly spiritual claptrap that usually serves the well-being of those who have power. I have long thought that God mostly doesn't care WHERE we worship, or WHO we marry, or WHAT job we do; God does care deeply about WHY we make the decisions that we do.

    Me: "OK God, is it your will that I take up this post?"
    God: "You've got free will. Go ahead and do it if you want to. But first tell me why you want to?"

    Me: "OK God, should I stay in this church/denomination or should I leave?"
    God: "I really don't mind one way or the other. But tell me what you think is important about making this decision."


    I'm pretty sure this is the case. A God who made heaven and earth and everything in it, and yet can only tell me whether to take a job or go to a particular church through vague "leadings" which go tits up as often as not - it doesn't add up.

    If I want someone to do something, telling them explicitly is generally a good strategy. If I want to see what decisions they make, I need to take a hands off observing role. God must be doing the latter, because he certainly isn't doing the former.

    This feels right to me, too, FWIW
  • I am due to retire soon. I have to move, What fellowship will I join? How will I adapt as well as moving?
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    If I want someone to do something, telling them explicitly is generally a good strategy.

    I agree. I have always found it strange that God is often depicted as someone who has a Definite Plan for each and every one of us and yet who sadistically only drops the vaguest of hints and leaves us blundering about in the dark, whilst whispering "cold... warmer... ooo so close.... colder..."
  • You're Always Welcome at Our House. It would be lovely to rewrite lyrics for church with this 1970s gem of song.

    "The Anglicans knocked on the door of our church, our church
    We asked them to come in and then to pray
    When they closed their eyes we hit them with a crucifix
    Stacked them in the choir, and there they'll stay
    Because you're always welcome in our church, our church
    and we'll hurt you if you're believin's wrong"
  • I am due to retire soon. I have to move, What fellowship will I join? How will I adapt as well as moving?

    Good question.

    I don't know how it works with retired nonconformist ministers but from what I've observed with retired Anglican clergy and have had explained by a 'son of the manse', they often find it hard to settle once they are out of the saddle.

    This thread has broadened out from the OP where I had a particular constituency in mind.

    Which is probably only right and proper as the principles apply in different contexts even if the details or pinch-points vary.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    It struck me, and various contributors have confirmed this, that UK Anglicans who are disillusioned with their Church over Dead Horse issues yet who wish to retain a more sacramental and liturgical approach are going to struggle to find an alternative.

    I think that an important thing to emphasise is that this is not (for me, anyway) solely about Dead Horse issues. If it was that alone, I might be more inclined to stay and fight, even in a losing cause. Like @Curiosity killed I get frustrated at so much of the C of E these days that I would find it hard to be an active supporter.
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I don’t understand why anyone would leave a church rather than influence it by remaining, if that were clearly where God wanted them to be. If not, then the Holy Spirit can be relied upon to lead us elsewhere. Perhaps I see more loving kindness in the C of E church and inclusiveness to all than others.

    First of all, there is a whole world of difference between staying in or leaving a church and staying in or leaving a denomination. The chances of changing a church are slight but you might feel that you are serving some purpose by remaining (I've been in a church where I knew I was distinctly out of step with most of the other people. It wasn't comfortable and in the end it was better for me to leave). But the chances of influencing an organisation are very slim - especially one where the "system" is designed to favour those in positions of power and to ignore dissident voices.

    Secondly (and this is a bit of a tangent), I would deeply question the whole thing of "where God wants you to be" and being "led by the Spirit." Increasingly, I see this as mostly spiritual claptrap that usually serves the well-being of those who have power. I have long thought that God mostly doesn't care WHERE we worship, or WHO we marry, or WHAT job we do; God does care deeply about WHY we make the decisions that we do.

    Me: "OK God, is it your will that I take up this post?"
    God: "You've got free will. Go ahead and do it if you want to. But first tell me why you want to?"

    Me: "OK God, should I stay in this church/denomination or should I leave?"
    God: "I really don't mind one way or the other. But tell me what you think is important about making this decision."


    I'm pretty sure this is the case. A God who made heaven and earth and everything in it, and yet can only tell me whether to take a job or go to a particular church through vague "leadings" which go tits up as often as not - it doesn't add up.

    If I want someone to do something, telling them explicitly is generally a good strategy. If I want to see what decisions they make, I need to take a hands off observing role. God must be doing the latter, because he certainly isn't doing the former.

    You have to leave room for free will, otherwise we would be slaves. But I've never understood the language of "what God wants for me". How do I discern this, and how do I distinguish it from what I want? I find it hard enough to discern that.
  • Many years ago, I knew a retired priest who still lived in the vicinity of his last parish. From the day he retired, he never stepped inside a church again. I swore I would never be like him but now I can easily understand his point of view.
  • I am due to retire soon. I have to move, What fellowship will I join? How will I adapt as well as moving?

    Good question.

    I don't know how it works with retired nonconformist ministers but from what I've observed with retired Anglican clergy and have had explained by a 'son of the manse', they often find it hard to settle once they are out of the saddle.

    They (retired priests) seem to accrete around Cathedrals in the nicer cities and trundle on taking services until too frail or gaga for the Bishop to renew their PTO.
  • Looks like rural UK for us. Unfashionable area as it's the only place we can afford. Near to some family at least.

    Rural Anglicanism doesn't appeal (been there, done that) bear the scars. However we have a strong calling/belief to local and the Kingdom where we are? Whither EM?

  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    I wouldn't entirely dismiss the guidings of the Spirit as they worked well with my family. I was not present at the time, so only have hearsay. When my mother was kicked out of the Congregational Church - well, not exactly kicked out, constructively dismissed perhaps - the family then in the town (I was at college) went round the local churches to see where they were being sent. From the Nonconformists, they found that they had been tipped the black spot for some unexplained reason, which led the Nonconformists to offer them a good welcome. They also tried the Quakers, but Dad missed the singing, and ended up at the parish church which had an excellent Welsh vicar who became a very great friend, and where we all settled in, got confirmed and felt at home. (Well I had to get confirmed somewhere else, which Ewart regretted, as did I, but I was working elsewhere.) Having always taken an active part in whatever church they were at, my parents were able to do the same in the CofE. Awkward issues weren't about then.
    The Congregational, by then the URC, with a different minister, redeemed itself by being the only church to be slated in the local Tory press for opening itself to support asylum seekers. (At least one CofE church in the town prided itself on making sure they couldn't get in at any time.)
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Why is that an example of the guiding of the Spirit? It just looks like stuff happening to me.
  • Looks like rural UK for us. Unfashionable area as it's the only place we can afford. Near to some family at least.

    Rural Anglicanism doesn't appeal (been there, done that) bear the scars. However we have a strong calling/belief to local and the Kingdom where we are? Whither EM?

    Non-conformism isn't entirely dead in rural areas of the UK. A former home (small mill village) of mine in W Yorks has lost its parish church but retains a baptist congregation.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    God lays it on our hearts when we are where God wants us to be, it is affirmed in different ways. It may not be where we want ourselves to be. It’s not about us.

    And yet, how do we hear or sense that we are where God wants us to be, and that it doesn't involve leaving the place we've been? If it's really not about me, then your three sentences above don't compute for me. It sounds like you're saying, "You can't ever leave where you are," but I don't think that's exactly what you mean, because surely God can call us to journey somewhere new. What if the affirmation you describe does not exist where we are now?

    On another, but related, note:
    At the Easter Vigil two years ago, after struggling with my relationship with the institutional church for over two years, the only thing I remember from the service was hearing, in the Gospel, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" In that moment, I very nearly walked out, thinking that I'd heard Jesus. I still wonder if that was my summons to leave the institution, and my struggle continues. For now, I don't attend services regularly, and I give thanks that COVID virtually eliminates the need for me to explain myself.

    I agree, God closes doors as well as opening them, and sometimes it takes a while before with prayer and patience we are drawn to another community in which we worship and serve God together with others.

    In the meantime, we may drift in and out of churches and denominations, but all of the time we learn and grow and gradually discern what is from God and what isn’t. It’s as if our will overrides God’s will, so that unless we continue to pray in humility and the desire for God’s input, we simply go our own way and it all becomes pot luck. Simply thinking out loud here, from personal experience. Other views are available. But we can and do worship God alongside each other without having to conform to each other’s opinions.

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