Friday, August 15, 2014

Kiwi Anglicans favour decriminalization of weed?

OK, the +Bluck post on liturgy, as previously promised. With a nod to someone else who talked about the good plants and the weeds growing (!), +John talks of our liturgyscape in terms of flowers blooming with the odd weed, and, changing metaphor while citing someone else, also as 'tiger country.'

In his view the liturgical genie has been let out of the bottle and it isn't going to be shoved back in anytime soon. His wrap up leads me to a first point I want to make in response:

"Nobody knows where all this will take us the Selwyn Lecturer I introduced earlier, Philip Tovey, told us that there is no evidence that being freer or more formal in liturgy makes any difference to church growth, any more than it does being high, low, middle or messy church.
I do know that new and creative liturgy, when it’s done with clumsy words, bad taste and a hectoring tone, can exclude and alienate congregations as surely as the most archaic and irrelevant language. 
I do believe our liturgical tradition, and especially our attempts to anchor it in the imagery and experience of Aotearoa, has distilled great wisdom and beauty that we ignore at our peril. 
And I long for the day when I can sit in the back row of an Anglican church and worship God with some words and lyrics that evoke rather than instruct, celebrate where I belong, respect all sorts and conditions of fellow pilgrims around me, and just once in a while, leave a little space and silence for  the imaginings of my heart and soul that lie beyond words."

I suggest the great question before us is not first of all, Do we want the genie back in the bottle?

The great question is,

What kind of church do we wish to be as we travel into the future?

There is a sharp edgy question trailing in its wake:

Will we exist in the future?

Our church is in dire straits. The overall profile of our congregations is aging and the statistical trend of attendance is downwards. We face the real possibility that a couple of recently departing clergy and congregations will become a significant split if the Way Forward group (post GS 2014, meeting in Auckland today and tomorrow) cannot find a way to keep us together.

There is no guarantee that fifty years hence there will be an Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.

It is not just that the church is always one generation from extinction, it is that we do not know what liturgical road is the highway we should be travelling to the future. From that confusion flows the strong possibility that we will mistakenly pursue pathways which currently look promising but in fact will be dead-ends, because current congregations will eventually die and new attendees will attend other churches.

What +John is describing is a church desperately trying to find that highway to the future. Perhaps it is following NZPB services: many congregations do that. It could be via not following NZPB services, even to the point, as a commenter on the earlier post noted, of a bishop offering his 'own' liturgy: many congregations do this. It could be via offering a menu of diversity each Sunday: many city parishes do this. (But if that is the highway, it is not open to most country parishes).

Out of this desperation to find the way to a healthy future (if not, noting Philip Tovey's observation above, to a growing future), we should be asking questions I am not convinced we are asking of ourselves. 'We' here is 'all of us who love our church'.

Such as: (in no particular order of priority)

What is working and what is not working? (Yes, to be measured by whether congregations are reverse aging and declining trends)

What would be better if we did it better? (I think this question is one of the major underlying drivers for Bosco Peters' posts on our liturgical life on his site Liturgy).

What should we stop doing (because, frankly, it belongs to a former era and has no future)? [My example: using the burse and veil!]

What value should we place on Common Prayer - the prayers we all pray together in every parish and rohe?

What rules and regulations both assist us and agreeably bind us together in one worshipping church?

In respect of the last question, it is a clear inference from +John's post that we collectively do not think much of our rules and regulations in respect of liturgy. We are not keen to see anyone criminalized for growing liturgical weed!

As for the question before that: the +Bluck post bears witness to the readily observable fact that in the age old tension between unity and diversity, we value diversity over unity.

There are a few thoughts for starters. I see Bosco has a post up about Bill 4 ... the fate of which is germane to the issues above.


Anonymous said...

I was unfortunately unable to hear Phillip Tovey in Auckland. could you outline the nature of the proof of "no proof" that liturgy makes a difference to church growth.
In the Guardian on 8 August I read "Dental experts have found a worrying lack of agreement on how people should brush their teeth, a study by the British Dental Journal has found". If something as clearly susceptible of proof eludes the "experts" I think we need to be a bit careful of "no proof" statements.
In any case there are other important issues; for examples possibly in the present climate of faith, proof of "no decline" would be an exciting encouragement. And what about the age profile of congregations; is it possible that some kinds of liturgical practice hold younger people (ie under 65s!).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rhys
I haven't heard Philip Tovey in Auckland - I was citing something +JB said he said.

But my guess is that when one surveys the landscape of Anglicanism, one can find larges congregations following the liturgy, large congregations not following the liturgy, and thus (along with other factors being investigated) it is not clear that one either "prove" a certain format grows or diminishes the church.

Roughly, that would be my own anecdotal/experiential view. That is, I do not see liturgy as necessarily causative of growth/decline. However it is also my anecdotal/experiential conclusion that young people are not being drawn in great numbers into services which (a) assiduously follow our NZPB services, and (b) sing hymns.

liturgy said...

Thanks, Peter, for this thoughtful, thought-provoking post (and for pointing to my today's post). I am occupied with many things, but look forward to following the discussion and any future posts of yours along this line.

Rhys, probably a good starting point is "From Anecdote to Evidence" To keep it simple, all worship styles are struggling - cathedral-style worship is the one that is flourishing and growing. Sadly, our NZ Anglican church does not keep a lot of statistics so we do not, and really can not, do the proper analysis that moves away from anecdote...



carl jacobs said...


Don't Anglicans say that church doctrine is carried in liturgy? If liturgy becomes ... whatever ... then what defines the doctrine of the Anglican church? Liturgy is already a week vehicle because it is passive. You have no confession. The 39 Articles are widely derided as 'historical.' So what remains to define the doctrine of the Anglican church? If someone asks "What do Anglicans believe?" how can you give any answer other than "Whatever they want." So what does it mean to say that it is a church in any sense if you can't even define whom you Worship? And make no mistake. That is what the absence of doctrine means.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
The breadth of our doctrinal understandings precisely matches the width of our liturgical flexibility and freedom.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

I am just thankful after reading the blog after this headline you weren't blogging that Anglican's, along with all the rest of our 'drippy nonsense', are now being accused of being in favour of decriminalising marijuana!

Or have they or we just not found out yet : ) ...

Blessings, Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Creating moments of thanksgiving is one of the purposes of this blog, Jean!

Father Ron Smith said...

" Liturgy is already a week (sic) vehicle because it is passive."
- carl jacobs -

Carl, the word 'liturgy' implies 'work being done'. there's nothing passive about the Divine Liturgy - when it is properly celebrated.

The problem is when there is no recognition of the Holy Spirit's empowerment of the living Presence of Christ in the Celebration. Where people are not taught about the 'Real Presence', there may be no expectation of Holy Communion - in, and together with, Jesus.

When the main service in church is other than the Eucharist - which Jesus commanded us to celebrate -
there is a lack of a focal point of our worship of the Instrument of our Salvation - Jesus Christ!

"DO THIS, to remember me!"

carl jacobs said...


The breadth of our doctrinal understandings precisely matches the width of our liturgical flexibility and freedom.

Yes, of course it does. By definition. As the width of your liturgical freedom expands, the breadth of your doctrinal understanding will expand to fill the gap. Which to me btw seems the whole point of the exercise. The vehicle that carries the formal doctrine of the church must be allowed to reflect the functional doctrine of the church. It won't be long before you will see feminine pronouns used to refer to the Holy Spirit.

What does the Anglican church believe, Peter? "I don't know how to define Anglican doctrine but I know it when I see it" isn't much of an answer.


carl jacobs said...


You do realize that you would be Exhibit A in any any case I would make to establish the truth of my assertion about the weakness of liturgy, correct? I'm not sure I would need an Exhibit B.


Kurt said...

I’ve believed in the “decriminalization of weed” for 50 years.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

The Way of Dodo said...

Fr Ron Smith

"Where people are not taught about the 'Real Presence', there may be no expectation of Holy Communion - in, and together with, Jesus."

But, but .... isn't that's Roman Catholic theology?

Do Anglicans have a shared belief in nature of the 'Real Presence' and consecration? If not, how can there be communion in your church? And, as a follow on, what impact, if any, does such a belief have on the nature of the priesthood and the sex of the priest?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
The essence of doctrine for our church is 'the doctrine of Christ as explained in the BCP, Ordinal, 39A, and (our recent prayer book) NZPB' (quoting from memory).

If our church uniformly believed that, taught that, and practised that, we would be a doctrinally sound Anglican church, albeit with some breadth.

The reality is that all do not so subscribe.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Way of Dodo
Good questions - but I need you to supply a name not a nom-de-plume if you are going to ask questions of other commenters who do supply their name.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Carl for info!

carl jacobs said...


The reality is that all do not so subscribe.

And yet you still consider them Anglicans. So the references you provided cannot be considered authoritative for purposes of definition. You are presenting to me a dead definition that exists only in documents. I am asking you for the living definition of Anglican doctrine as found among the belief and practice of the members of the church.

If all you have is a collection of documents that can be discarded (or changed!) at will, you have nothing definitive at all.


The Way of Dodo said...

Peter Carrell

My Baptised name is Peter - a good solid name - but please feel free to call me Dodo.

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Peter

Pseudoymns have been a problem here as people hide behind them while attacking people with real names.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
All understood, now!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
Re Anglicans and definitions.
I am not quite sure what you are asking (but that may be my feeble-mindedness).

Anglicans come in all shapes and sizes re beliefs. It is a long time since we have discarded members because of what they believe. Within the Anglican churches exist opportunities to maintain an argument in favour of (e.g.) written statements of doctrine which people have signed up to re declarations and vows.

I would like to be part of a church which welcomes me continuing the argument. Currently I continue to feel that welcome in ACANZP.

carl jacobs said...


Anglicans come in all shapes and sizes re beliefs.

Right. That's the problem. You can't tell me that Anglicans believes X according to [insert list of documents here] when there are volumes, scads, boatloads of Anglicans who deny X.

Either they who deny X aren't Anglican or the list of documents that asserts X is not definitive of Anglicanism. Since you have yourself identified them as Anglican, the question still stands. What does an Anglican believe? The answer would appear to be "Whatever he wants."

At which point we can perhaps conclude two things. Those who seek to change the liturgy are doing so to change the doctrine within it - because they don't much like traditional doctrine. Second, the outward form of the liturgy is about the only measure of unity that Anglicans actually possess.

Who reminds all readers that Manchester United lost its opening match today. And all God's people said "Amen!"

Father Ron Smith said...

Carl, you can't trick Dr.Peter with your algebraic equations. He happens to be a mathematician.

What needs to be understood is that not one single person can be saved by the doctrine they hold. Only Jesus Christ has the power to save, and He does not require signed statements of faith "If you can say that Jesus Christ is Lord, risen from the dead; then you will be saved".

The Way of Dodo said...

Fr Ron

""If you can say that Jesus Christ is Lord, risen from the dead; then you will be saved"."

Not quite what Paul actually wrote:

" ... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

To "confess" is not the same as "saying" and "believing in your heart" requires some understanding of what you're actually confessing.

And whilst we can agree that "not one single person can be saved by the doctrine they hold", a fruitful relationship with Christ means we do have to know Him. Our faith has to have substance.

Just think about all the early and modern cults and sects who could quite happily agree with your statement. There are too many to list.

Here's what Jesus said:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment."

Heart, soul and mind. Knowing God in this comprehensive way demands some understanding of Him, His plan for our salvation and a relationship with Christ based on this?

On August 15, 2014 @ 10:58 pm you stated:

"Where people are not taught about the 'Real Presence', there may be no expectation of Holy Communion - in, and together with, Jesus."

How do you square this with your more recent comment above?


Early days .... An American cannot possibly understand football in the Premier League.

carl jacobs said...


You are correct. But an American can understand soccer in the EPL. Have I reminded you lately the one of the hallmarks of Dodoism is an inability to use proper English?

All this nonsense about Dodophobia. That's just an invented term to de-legitimize the moral critique of Dodoism.

Reminding everyone that the National FOOTBALL League starts in a few weeks.

The Way of Dodo said...


Now that made me chuckle.

It was a dodophobic comment however, as it denies the reality of the irrational prejudice and fear facing Dodo's.

And what is this National Football League? At least you're not claiming its a World League - yet.

carl jacobs said...

Peter de Dodo

It's time for us to stop accepting the intimidation. The world needs more Dodophobes. It's time to say "We're here, were dodophobic, and were proud!"

Just say No to Dodoism.

At least you're not claiming its a World League - yet.

Yeah, which one of us dropped the word 'English' from the 'English Premiere League?'


Jean said...

Hi Peter to actually address your questions I am going to do so from when I attended Churton Park Anglican Church in Wellington 4 years ago under the then leadership of Danny Te Hiko. It was a church averaging between 100-140 people, 40-50 children, most were families but there was a youth group, youth worker, and the odd person like myself from generation X and Y and the odd older 60 plus person - the lack of older folk was due mostly to the demographics of the area. There was an equal number of men and women.

What worked? Prayer ministry (prayer before church, personal prayer offered during communion and after church, prayer book where people could write prayers, prayer meetings montly in the evening for four hours, healing services); Music/woship team (but not as central focus) with mostly modern but a wide variety of worship songs and hymns; Temple Talk (a time for people to share testimony; Eucharist (every Sunday); An openness to visiting preachers and preaching by congregation members; A missional attitude - the focus was on forming disciples not numbers or growing the church, but growing the people who attended so they could then be sent out or onwards as well as feeding those who continued serving; Co-operating outreach services with all the churches in the area; Small group cell groups and courses run by church members from Alpha to Walking in miracles and wonders; Supporting congregation members who worked in other areas of the 'church' such as drug arm, prison ministry, SOMA mission trips etc etc; Religious Education in the school where CPAC is based; Children's talk or object lesson by minister in church before they went off to Kings Kids; church camp; outdoor batism services; One or two day outreach children holiday programmes based around easter and christmas; Flexibility (ie: running courses on discussing baptism and discussing the issues around infant and adult baptism but allowing both); inviting other anglican churches to take our service - neighbourhood mission; the mix of different cultures; attending conferences of other church groups promise keepers etc..; A group of people learn sign language because some of the congregation were deaf and a person was rostered to sign as they were available, the group stood up too sign a learn song, we were all taught to sign the peace!; youth group went on diocesean anglican bus to parachute musical festival most years; If there was a word of knowledge to be shared or the music leader whished to share scripture, or someone had aa vision there was space available for this and it was a regular or normal part of a service.

What didn't? In a family based suburb it was hard to 'keep the youth' when they went away to university. a- lthough some have gone on to minister in other places and we employed a youth minister to help foster this area. Pastoral care was pretty low because the congregation and their family positions made everyone so busy there was not the extra slack and support often provided by retired/older members.

What value should we place on Common Prayer - the prayers we all pray together in every parish and role?
The Eucharist, confession, prayers of the people, Lord's Prayer, the Blessing, added structure and order to each service, this structure was a great strength that came from being an Anglican Church.

What rules and regulations both assist us and agreeably bind us together in one worshipping church?.
Our focus on scripture, the gifts of the Spirit, Confession, Eucharist, The Peace, Making disciples of Jesus then encouraging sharing the gospel, accountability to the diocese and Bishop (note not all these are probably rules)

The Way of Dodo said...


Now you accept there are Dodos! This is good. You are on the path of enlightenment and must learn to accept your inner Dodo.

Repeat after me:

"I'm here. I'm a Dodo and I'm proud."

'Premier' does mean first in importance, order, or position. There can only be one!

"The Premier League is an English professional league for men's association football clubs ... formed ... on 20 February 1992 following the decision ... to break away from the Football League, which was originally founded in 1888."

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Jean!
Sounds like my kind of church :)