Book of Common Prayer is a winner in Chelsea
THE Prayer Book has played a “key role” in boosting Sunday attendance at his church over the past decade, a London vicar believes.
The Vicar of the Thames-side Chelsea Old Church, in Cheyne Walk, Canon David Reindorp, said on Tuesday that his congregation had increased by more than 20 per cent since he arrived in 2006, partly owing to the continued use of the Book of Common Prayer.
“Our worshippers do not describe themselves as zealots of the Prayer Book, but that is what they ...
The Church Times 23/4/2016
Soppy Christians are their own worst enemyEdward Lucas
Published at 12:01AM, January 14 2016
Until worshippers show more conviction and ditch the flippancy, their faith won’t flourish
Where ever we go on Sunday mornings, we have to arrive early to get a seat. At the 10am children’s service at Chelsea Old Church the language of the prayers is archaic, but that does not bother the scores of youngsters, from tots to teenagers, as they sing hymns, read and act out a Bible story in full costume, answer questions in return for Mars bars, take the collection and read prayers. Dogs bark joyfully. But somehow nobody finds it hard to sit still when the professionally run choir is singing: last week’s anthem was Elgar’s Ave Verum.
Later, for the sung Prayer Book Matins, it gets even more crowded. But my wife Cristina Odone is Roman Catholic, so we often head to the Latin Mass at the Brompton Oratory. Incense wafts out of the doors, while outside the church the crowds mingle with the congregation from the next-door powerhouse of evangelical Christianity, Holy Trinity Brompton, home of the Alpha Course.
None of this gives you the feeling of what statistics suggest is a dying religion in a post-Christian country. For all their liturgical and doctrinal differences, what all these congregations have in common is a belief that Christianity matters. It matters because it is true, and because it helps you live your life fully, as your Maker intended.
Conviction matters much more than the differences between the various strands of Christianity, which outsiders often find bewildering. In fact they reflect the diversity of the human condition: they are a plus, not a minus. For some believers the sense of mystery is paramount; others particularly prize aesthetics, or tradition. Some want structure; some want informality. The Bible may be taken wholly literally, or largely metaphorically. The real problem is that so much of the Christian church in Britain has lost its conviction — and thus its power to convince.
To be fair, the modern age is tough on Christianity. The cult of pseudo-rationality puts its claims under a wrongly focused microscope; how can you actually believe this stuff, the Dawkinsites ask, not realising that their own moral and even scientific beliefs are based on hefty doses of supposition and wishful thinking. In an age where deference is seen as a sign of weakness (albeit selectively: don’t joke about Islam) mockery abounds of anything that sounds serious, complicated or important: when I contributed to a book about Anglicanism, I was told Christianity is “cannibalism acted out to please the Sky Fairy”.
Meanwhile other gods (notably Mammon and Bacchus) have simple, powerful offerings. Loving your neighbour is hard. Doing business with him, or getting drunk with him, is easier.
And there are own goals too. The hypocrisy and cruelty involved in endemic child abuse in some churches, and the equally appalling cover-ups, have eviscerated Christianity’s moral authority in the eyes of many — though they in fact illustrate that humans are sinful and that the voice of the powerless must be heard above that of the powerful. Both are central messages of Christian teaching.
The issue of sexual morality is dividing the Anglican communion this very week, as my cousin Justin Welby hosts its squabbling bishops in Canterbury. It is interesting to note that Jesus had almost nothing to say on this subject, except to denounce divorce — which even the most hardline African and American Bible-thumpers now regard as worthy of forgiveness.
But these problems pale beside the central one: a lack of conviction. It does not matter what you emphasise in your preaching, or practise in your worship, but if you go about it with the embarrassed jokiness that has become the house style of many Christian churches, you are not going to get people out of bed on a Sunday morning. The worst advertisement for Christianity in this country, I sometimes feel, is Radio 4’s Thought for the Day: platitudinous conclusions drawn from lame anecdotes.
In a largely secular society, many people look at these problems and yawn. It is nice to have churches for weddings and funerals but why care if they are empty the rest of the time? Some do more than yawn. A new novel by Quentin Letts, The Speaker’s Wife, is based on a sneaky (and not implausible) scheme by secularist politicians to turn empty churches over to property developers to ease the housing shortage. Secularists want to chuck the bishops out the House of Lords, and religion off the airwaves and out of schools.
I think that pushing Christianity out of public life is a mistake, even for those who feel no attachment to the religion. One reason is civilisational: if you want to understand this country’s history, literature and culture, it helps to have a rough idea of what people have believed and practised over the past centuries.
More importantly, removing Christianity eases the path not for modernity, but for the nihilistic medievalism of the jihadists. Even dilute Christian identity helps to counter the charge that modern society is shallow, corrupt and hedonistic. People want meaning in their lives, and will flock to those who offer it. The past 50 years show that the creation of a moral vacuum in society has not been a success.
I worry about that more for my country than for my church. We can survive persecution, or we would not be here now. The lack of conviction, though, and the apathy that it stokes, is a far bigger problem. The worst enemy of Britain’s Christians is not the secularists, but themselves.
Courtesy Times Newspapers
Duchess of Cambridge recycles black lace gown as she and William attend friend's wedding
A THRIFTY Duchess of Cambridge appeared to have recycled an outfit as she braved the cold to attend a friend's wedding over the weekend.
Kate and her husband Prince William were guests at the ceremony, which took place at Chelsea Old Church - situated on the same road where the Duchess previously lived at the former Middleton family home in west London.
The mother-to-be looked elegant in a floor-length black lace gown, as she wrapped up warm with a red tartan scarf, hiding her blossoming baby bump.
Kate's frock looked to be the same as the dress she wore to attend the star-studded Royal Variety Performance last month.
Smartly-dressed William kept close to his wife, who is five-months pregnant with their second chid, as she led the way in front.
The Duchess accessorised her long-sleeved dress with a simple black clutch bag and her brunette tousled locks down below her shoulders.
Courtesy Daily Express