Does the Church of England need a revolution or, a somewhat slower process, reformation?
Last year the General Synod met under bad-tempered black clouds and constant heavy rain. This year we meet under blazing sun and constant complaints about the heat. Welcome to England.
The Synod began yesterday with mainly routine business interrupted only by the new Archbishop of Canterbury’s first Presidential Address. He looked the Synod – and its wider audience – in the eye and called for a revolution in what we preoccupy ourselves with, how we behave with one another, and what we prioritise under our ‘theologies’.
I wondered whether his repeated use of the word ‘revolution’ was a deliberate substitute for the more commonly referred-to ‘reformation’.
The church likes the idea of reformation. It takes generations. It also sounds nostalgic – taking us back to a time when things were simpler and the church more pure. Utter nonsense, of course.
In asking for a revolution, the Archbishop is stressing both urgency and realism. Not just in matters of sexuality does the church need to speed up, sharpen up and look up. He got huge applause yesterday – deserved for the boldness and clarity of his call. We will now see if his call has been heeded… or if it is business as usual with Synod parties demanding their own ‘rights’ over against those of others.
In my humble opinion, and as we go into small facilitated groups to address (again) the matter of how to allow for women bishops, we need a revolution in some things and reformation in others. Indeed, reformation might be the outcome of processes including the odd revolution.
We shall see.