Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Call to ‘celebrate Anglicanism’

THE Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Rev Gordon Mursell, has called on Christians to ‘celebrate Anglicanism’ in a bid to counter the media perception that the UK Church is in ‘terminal decline’.

Writing in a pastoral letter printed in the February editions of parish magazines in the Diocese of Lichfield, the Bishop says the Church only has itself to blame for the negative perception of Christianity, as ‘English Anglicans are extraordinarily good at talking down our church’

He called on parishioners to ‘proclaim what God has done and is doing for us in Jesus Christ’, rather than giving the impression ‘we are incomprehensibly obsessed with sex’

The Bishop points to the account in Matthew’s gospel when Peter walks on water as he single-mindedly focuses on Jesus, and calls for churches to do likewise, despite the ongoing controversies such as gay bishops and whether to pay the parish share.

He added: “If as a Church our overriding priority, in worship and PCC meetings and wherever Anglicans come together, is who Jesus is and what Jesus is asking of us today, we will find these secondary issues look after themselves - because what unites us will then be far greater than what divides us. The churches that are growing - irrespective of church tradition or social background - are those where this happens.”

He added that he believed Anglicanism had ‘not lost its way’, and pointed to the huge growth of the worldwide Communion in Nigeria, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Bishop Mursell also claimed there were ‘countless signs of hope and new life’ in Lichfield, and challenged those who didn’t see them to question how ‘Christ-centred’ their Church and faith are.

He continued: “Does your church really behave like an institution - interested in keeping itself going, or like a movement - passionate about its goals and values?”

In conclusion the Bishop described Anglicanism as a ‘living branch of the Jesus Movement’ and urged Christians to celebrate it.

“We stand for a Bible-based faith that is both life-changing and thoughtful, both enthusiastic and challenging, rooted in tradition but deeply engaged in contemporary life and culture. A contradiction in terms? Nonsense. It’s the faith Jesus came to teach and to live. So let’s celebrate it. For nothing less is good news for our world."

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