Friday, July 30, 2010
Priesthood in the Church of EnglandJust a quick post that I thought might be of interest to some. A friend, currently considering a vocation to the priesthood, recently asked me "what's distinctive about priesthood in the Church of England"? I put together a quick answer:
For me, there are a few threads, but the two most important are:
- inclusivity: we've got it wrong so many times, and will continue to get it wrong (as we are now), but deep, deep in the genetic make up of the Church of England is a commitment to inclusivity. A commitment to allowing the more catholic side to get on with the more protestant side started it, and that's in many ways still key, though the "protestant" side is more often referred to as "evangelical" now. I think there's something very broken about the Church of England which is also very divine: to borrow from Gerard Manley Hopkins, "the centre cannot hold": but it always does.
- inclusivity: but of a different kind. As an incumbent - or a supporter to an incumbent, whether lay or ordained - there is a requirement, and a legal one at that, to minister to every single person in the parish. There is no choice: you have to minister to them, whether you like it or not. You have the cure of _all_ souls. This is an enormous responsibility, and an enormous privilege. Somehow, every single person - every single soul - in our country has the right to approach the Church, through its ministers (again, whether ordained or lay), and to expect succour. That's amazing to me.