Skip to comments.FEMINIZATION OF CHURCH OF ENGLAND REVEALS WASTELAND - The Episcopal Church parallels decline
Posted on 06/20/2004 8:55:44 AM PDT by ahadams2
FEMINIZATION OF CHURCH OF ENGLAND REVEALS WASTELAND - The Episcopal Church parallels decline
By David W. Virtue
LONDON, UK-A traditionalist Church of England priest says that the imposition of women bishops will confirm and finalize a long-standing drift from Catholic teaching and place all hope of corporate reunion finally beyond reach.
The Rev Robbie Low, a member of Cost of Conscience, a traditionalist organization with Forward in Faith, writes in the June of issue of New Directions that "reunion will continue piecemeal as faithful Christians move away from the Anglican Church into the historic Communions."
More worrying, writes Low, will be those who will be broken-hearted, betrayed, despairing and go nowhere. "Their experience of Church authorities being so uniformly dishonest, they will shy away from institutional encounter again."
Low blasted what he called the feminization of the Church of England. "The CofE has experienced the very opposite of the growth promised by the feminizers. Twelve years has seen one in five worshippers disappear. The overwhelming majority of those have been men."
Low said studies showed that male church-going is the decisive influence in children. "It is not surprising to see children's attendance in free-fall over that period. The 45/55 male/female split of a decade ago is now a 37/63 split of a much smaller number of regulars."
Men, he wrote, will see a decreasing place for themselves in an organization dominated by militant feminism and bloodless males.
"With the growing triumph of the homosexual lobby and key appointments for many of its senior supporters, men will continue to drift away and so will their children. On current trends, in a decade or so the Church of England will be down to half the 1990 figures and staffed mainly by masculine women and feminine men," said the former Vicar of St Peter's, Bushey Heath, Diocese of St Alban's. Low now lives in Cornwall.
The state of the CofE parallels what is going on in the Episcopal Church USA.
A recent report by the Church Pension Fund says clergy enrollment is way down, and unless there is a significant turn around ECUSA will, in time, collapse.
The number of white males going into ECUSA's full time pastoral ministry is down 90 percent since the 60s and those filling the pulpits today are middle-aged, angry, divorced,lesbian women.
The pulpits are being filled with feminized, homosexualized, simpering, emotionally weak men, women (not all bad) types, but nearly all liberals, who have no ability to make churches grow because they have no discernible gospel.
Pension Fund leaders bemoaned that with the growing shortage of clergy, especially white males, and the dominance of women and homosexuals who, because of their theology cannot make churches grow, that this will, in time, impact the Church Pension Fund itself.
The facts are that nearly 3,500 parishes have 37 members and future prospects for finding suitable clergy grows dimmer with each passing day.
The report, prepared for the CPF late last year expressed alarm that not enough young people were being attracted into the ordained ministry, with far-reaching implications for The Episcopal Church itself.
A sobering analysis of church attendance revealed that on an average Sunday, 17.5 percent of the people in the pews are attending only 3.3 percent of Episcopal churches. At the same time, only 15.4 percent of Episcopalians attend 47.5 percent of Episcopal churches on an average Sunday.
The CPG asked the question, Are we still a denomination of small churches? "If the Church Pension Fund is to provide benefits to its members, we must be concerned with the fit between clergy and their work. Are we attracting a sufficient number of younger people to the ministry? Are there jobs for them? Are they prepared for and supported within the multiple models in which they are asked to serve so that they can expect to serve full careers? Are they working in healthy environments? Are they experiencing burnout?"
The report raised the alarm about institutional wellness and asks the questions are their healthy work opportunities and environments for our clergy? The report bases its statistics on Canon Keith Brown formerly Canon Missioner in the Diocese of San Joaquin, a specialist in leadership and management issues related to congregational and diocesan growth and health.
If an institution is defined by its bricks and mortar, the Episcopal Church is an institution of small churches. The report asked, "what does this mean for our clergy?"Financial pressures are often severe, the future may be uncertain, and the priest is called upon to do almost everything."
The report concluded two things. "The church must do more to help these clergy and it must seriously study approaches to team ministry now being widely discussed." The report then sounded a major alarm. "A very dramatic picture emerges. There is a precipitous decline in the number of younger men. In the 1960s, men under 35 comprised 75 percent of each year's total number of ordinands. This group has fallen by 90 percent - from 278 a year to 25 - and they are now only 10 percent of the average annual total." The report also said that the number of older male ordinands has remained essentially steady.
In the 1960s there were none. In each period since 1976 when General Convention approved the ordination of women, the number of younger women has been fairly constant, but small. What the report noted was the number of older women being ordained. "It is this group that has partially offset the declining number of ordinations overall." A maximum of 31 women were ordained 31 in the ten-year period 1980-1989. Some 22 were ordained between 1990 and 1999 and 15 in the years 2000 and 2001 The report noted that if this group suddenly declined the clergy shortage would be far worse than it initially appears. "As the current clergy population ages, the church may find that it is not attracting enough people into the ordained ministry.
A new initiative called PLSE set up by the national church recognizes the critical absence of young clergy for many mainline denominations, including the Episcopal Church. As a result, these churches have developed a new collaborative partnership with the Fund for Theological Education in an effort to reverse the trend and encourage younger people to consider the ordained ministry.
"It's an important step as we seek to embrace new leadership for the future," said Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold.
Matthew Price, research director of the Church Pension Fund, said the number of young people younger than 35 entering the priesthood each year has dropped from 300 in 1960 to less than 50 in 2000. "The church right now is in a weak position. But we can do something about it," he said.
Many leaders in theological education are concerned about what the church has lost.
"We have paid a heavy price in the last 30 years by not ordaining younger people," said the Very Rev. James Lemler, president of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.
"The price has been that we have almost lost a generation of potential ordained leaders. We have also lost that kind of energy and vigor that is brought into the church, and we need to find a way to regain it."
The program, PLSE (pronounced "pulse"), is a Pastoral Leadership Search Effort that has drawn the participation of the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ denominations. It offers a safe, web-based environment for young people to ask questions about ministry with their peers. Trainers frame questions for them and provide resource information, as well as conferences for young people who want to consider ordination. The website also points to those parishes and dioceses that actively recruit younger people.
But three things are mitigating against this effort.
The first is that nowhere are young people invited to enter the ministry driven by gospel imperatives. Secondly the church's liberal seminaries are in deep trouble themselves.Bexley Hall in Rochester recently closed its doors and moved elsewhere to survive.
Thirdly what sort of an education is being offered in seminaries like VTS, EDS and GTS that would encourage a young person to pursue a theological education and enter the church? Most ordinands enter seminary theologically illiterate and emerge three years later still theologically illiterate. In fact the number of actual biblical courses one needs to take are so small; one wonders why one would bother going to seminary at all!
But what is even more troubling is that the two orthodox seminaries, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge and Nashotah House in Wisconsin cannot find placement for their burgeoning number of orthodox graduates.
Revisionist bishops in liberal dioceses don't want them. The overwhelming majority of ECUSA's bishops have publicly and privately stated that they will never have an ordinand who graduated from those two seminaries in their diocese!
If that is the case, then these liberal dioceses are on a suicide watch, as liberals cannot make churches grow and the doctrine of Inclusion (read sodomy) actually has the opposite effect. Come as you are stay as you are is a sure fire recipe for the golf course on Sunday not an Episcopal parish Eucharistic service.
Who would want to jump out of bed on a chilly Sunday Morning to listen to anything Charles Bennison has to say? How do you back track after you have called the Savior of the universe a sinner? A cup of coffee and the New York Times is preferable and probably more instructive.
The Pension Fund report concluded by saying that over the past forty years there has been a declining trend in the average number of ordinands each year, and that while the decline has not been precipitous, the cumulative impact is significant. The report raises the disquieting questions, "Will some parishes find themselves without clergy? What if the number of churches grows? How does the shorter service for the average priest, ordained at a later age, affect the number of clergy the Episcopal Church will have in the future? Does this suggest the church is facing a serious clergy shortage, adding stress to those already in parish ministry?"
There are many questions but few answers. But one thing is certain, if the trumpet does not sound a clear theological call, who will get ready for battle. Liberals have no concept of spiritual warfare, and right now the Episcopal Church is in a war for its very soul. You enter the battle at your peril, and if you are not properly prepared woe unto you.
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>>The number of white males going into ECUSA's full time pastoral ministry is down 90 percent since the 60s and those filling the pulpits today are middle-aged, angry, divorced,lesbian women. <<
Well, that certainly is an um, opinionated statement! Funny as heck, though, if it weren't true enough to be so sad.
>>But what is even more troubling is that the two orthodox seminaries, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge and Nashotah House in Wisconsin cannot find placement for their burgeoning number of orthodox graduates. <<
I am truly curious about this, however: I have encountered conservative Anglican pastors who, although devout Christians and good men, didn't really seem very, well, Anglican. More like an invasion of fundamentalists. I know nothing about these seminaries. Could it be that some tradition-focussed moderates in the ECUSA are uncomfortable with certain sources of conservatives not because they (the moderate bishops) don't believe in the scriptural morality, but because they fear the new conservatives don't believe in the Anglican charisms of the Anglican Church?
I think you know mw well enough to know I'm not simply making excuses for weak-headed moderates, but am seeking to rule out a potential problem.
This is deeper than it appears. As a society we are becoming very polarized, political hacks seem to have taken over leadership positions. Am I wrong that in the past (prior to 1960) democrats and republicans could and would worship in the same church? I fear for the survival of organized religion, after hearing Michael Moores recent interviews, I also fear our country is headed for a civil war.
In regards to the feminization of the church, I remember a long time ago Pat Schroder made a snide comment that if women were allowed into the military maybe we would not have war. (The recent prison photos prove otherwise.) The thought that women in leadership positions would make the world or church kinder and gentler is clearly wrong.
***Liberals have no concept of spiritual warfare***
That's because they are "darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."
You can't fight in the spiritual warfare if your still spiritually dead!
If the Anglican Church would let married men and women be priests, there wouldn't be a vocations crisis in the Anglican Church.
uh, actually the entire Anglican Communion *does* allow married men to become priests.
You wrote "You can't fight in the spiritual warfare if your still spiritually dead!"
90% of the heretics don't realize this and of course the article is correct that they don't understand what's going on. HOWEVER the other 10% include various pagans including 'new age' types, wiccans, and sundry others who *do* understand this and are to some degree (whether they realize it or not) serving the forces of the Enemy...and that is where it can sometimes get interesting.
My comment was a reflection of a common theme among dissenting Roman Catholics: that our vocations crisis would disappear if the Church ordained married men and women to the priesthood.
Ordaining married men and women has done nothing to resolve your vocations crisis, so I fail to see how it is supposed to resolve ours.
What you write does sound like enough of an explanation of why it's not surprising the mainline ECUSA bishops are wary of those seminaries, while supporting the article's case that their actions are deplorable.
But actually, what I was referring to were a few locally very prominent Anglican pastors: One was an Anabaptist convert who, while being truly an Anglican now still thinks in some ways like an Anabaptist, and a couple others who I think are also from non-Anglican, "low-church" backgrounds, and who have seem to not believe in the doctrine that Bishops are given authority.
>>uh, actually the entire Anglican Communion *does* allow married men to become priests.<<
I think Loyalist was being sarcastic. And very funny.
er, sorry, long day - guess I missed it...*sigh*
The female Ecusa priestesses I ran into during my Episcopalian adventure were vapid, dull, and lacked passion, intellect and were the epitome of a paucity of talent in the priesthood (except for 1 who was wonderful).
I wouldn't have minded seeing a little anger.
"...Ecusa priestesses ...vapid, dull, and lacked passion, intellect and were the epitome of a paucity of talent in the priesthood..."
Describes every one of them I have ever met. They all treated the priesthood as just another vocation, formerly only open to men, that they had won the "right" to take part in, whether they were welcome or not. Never met any who struck me as having heard the call.
Thanks for the informative post. The Chinese-speaking Anglican pastors I have met here in NZ tend to be influenced a lot by the broad church types in the Anglican party (they were all graduates of Singapore's Trinity Theological Seminary). Although they are biblically orthodox and Bible believing, I think they often take church tradition too seriously and scoff at the degree other Christians took the Bible seriously.
I would imagine Hong Kong's Anglican Church (Sheng Kung Hui) is also full of hybrid conservative evangelical-broad church Anglicans. Mnay Christians in HK seem to shun Anglicans if my memory is correct. I didn't understand why this was the case...
"those filling the pulpits today are middle-aged, angry, divorced,lesbian women. The pulpits are being filled with feminized, homosexualized, simpering, emotionally weak men, women (not all bad) types, but nearly all liberals, who have no ability to make churches grow because they have no discernible gospel."
Yup, that describes my (ex-)diocese to a tee. This heterosexual monogamist marriage-believing father of two (aka, "scum of the earth" in the ECUSA) took his family out of the ECUSA and into a Bible-believing church where the pastors believe in spreading the Gospel, not promoting wacky non-Christian left-wing causes.