Transporting parishes

On Sunday, I visited what would be (if I were an Anglican) my parish church. My own congregation was away at a festival and, having intended to visit the Quakers about 3 miles down the road, saw that it was pissing down with rain so I opted for the church I could get to in 3 minutes.

As it was one that had been paid a visit by a Mystery Worshipper within the last 2 years, I didn't go there with an eye to doing another report. Though it seems things had changed.

What struck me, and what I wanted to ask about, was whether what they were doing was "normal" in the Church of England. They were combining two churches, but from different parts of the same city. Let's say church A has it's building in 1 locale, and church B (also Anglican) meets in the same city, but about an hour away. The people from church B are now commuting half way across the city to get to church A.

The sermon came across very much as trying to persuade people that it was a good idea. There was talk of it being an arranged marriage (arranged by God, not people) and it all struck me as a bit odd. Anyone know of any precedents to this or why this might be done. I didn't quite have the nerve to heckle: "If this was God's idea, which human first spoke the idea?"

Comments

  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    Maybe not enough priests? No idea if it’s normal in the Church of England but it happens with Catholic churches.
  • It does seem a little odd. If the churches are not too far apart, that is to say, in contiguous parishes (or in a benefice either united, or in the process of uniting), well and good.

    OTOH, I do know of two particular churches, in different towns, and several miles apart, which share a priest-in-charge (IIRC, they also have an assistant priest), but which usually dovetail their services (0930 at one and 1100 at the other). This is because both have similar Anglo-Catholic practices and beliefs (let the reader understand).

    Last Sunday was the fifth Sunday in the month (there are usually just four 5-Sunday months per year), and this is sometimes used as an opportunity for 'joint' services. Was this perhaps one of these occasions?

    IJ

  • We were put together with a church across the city. Philosophically in common apparently. The culture of the combined entity - "amalgamated" was the beautious word they used, with analogies to marriage - was dominated by the one whose building it was. Bishops sometimes lead from some ideology or other about something which I once thought might be through a glass darkly since revised in to a looking glass darkly. Which may sorely test the faith and commitment of parishioners. No doubt priests walk through looking glasses into some wonderland or other growing in faith.
  • SipechSipech Shipmate
    It definitely wasn't a one-off. Upon a little digging around, it seems the new vicar of church A was formerly a curate at church B (which, I might mention, is actually in a different diocese) and is taking some of the congregation with him.

    It's not a wholesale transplant. It's not a case of a lack of clergy. Both churches have their own (rather nice) buildings, so it doesn't seem like it's a lack of need. If anything, it may be overspill from church B which looks to be quite a large church. Yet it still seems odd that they would traipse to another church about an hour away simply at the behest of their former curate.
  • Would I be right in thinking that church B is evangelical - and possibly associated with Holy Trinity Brompton? This sounds like the kind of thing they would do. Typically, the group moving from church B will have made a commitment to do so for 2 or 3 years, so that the "new" church can get on its feet. After that, these people may decide to stay or return to their "home" church.

    (I am not saying that I don't have issues with this type of action, but it seems to be regarded as pretty normal within the HTB set-up)
  • It does seem odd. It generally takes a fair bit of engineering to restructure parishes. I've not heard of it being done on the basis of what sounds like a personality cult - people wanting to follow the curate from A to B.

    There may be some arcane or hidden reason for it which is yet to emerge or too Byzantine to become apparent from a single visit.

    At the risk of sounding cynical I tend to think that all mergers, most church plants and similar initiatives tend to take place for purely pragmatic reasons - whether it's the CofE or anywhere else, Baptist, Methodist, independent ... - and then are given spiritual justification of some kind.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    [tangent] I spend too much time on the Ship. I read this as "Trainspotting parishes." [/tangent]
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    [tangent] I spend too much time on the Ship. I read this as "Trainspotting parishes." [/tangent]

    Plenty of them. Especially the clergy.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    angloid wrote: »
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    [tangent] I spend too much time on the Ship. I read this as "Trainspotting parishes." [/tangent]

    Plenty of them. Especially the clergy.

    Actually in the URC its the Organists who tend to be train fanatics.
  • In my admittedly limited experience, they tend to be organ fanatics (but not necessarily interested in other kinds of music).
  • Getting back on track, as it were, there are cases of HTB-style church renewals/revivals which are not actually part of the HTB network.

    We have one in this Fair City, where some 40 members of the congregation of a largish suburban parish are committing themselves to the re-opening and revival of a long-closed church, as part of the Diocese's involvement in town-centre regeneration. The Vicar is, IIRC, a 'new' appointment, rather than a transfer from the supporting parish.

    IJ
  • Jengie Jon wrote: »
    angloid wrote: »
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    [tangent] I spend too much time on the Ship. I read this as "Trainspotting parishes." [/tangent]

    Plenty of them. Especially the clergy.

    Actually in the URC its the Organists who tend to be train fanatics.

    Cecil J Allen write along the lines of the rhythm of a steam locomotive being so close to musical rhythm which attracted clergy and church musicians.
  • As a committed Christian and enthusiastic railway employee, he organised special trains for the Crusaders Bible classes in the 1930s.

    He was invited to ride on the train attempting to break the world speed record with "Mallard" in 1938, but refused because it was on a Sunday.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 2
    And, oddly enough, AIUI he was also a competent organist, as well as being a good organiser !

    IJ
  • SipechSipech Shipmate
    Would I be right in thinking that church B is evangelical - and possibly associated with Holy Trinity Brompton?
    No, they were both Anglican.

    Couldn't find any sign that they were formally linked with Holy Trinity Brompton (which still sounds to me like a kind of fold-up tricycle) but church B was lower down the candle than church A. I was told that they didn't use liturgy or vestments, whereas church A was a bit more middle-of-the-road/traditionalist.

  • HTB is nominally Anglican, it's part of the CofE and part of St Mellitus, the training college for clergy across London and Chelmsford dioceses.
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