House of Lords to get first woman bishop
Ecstatic over the fact that The Venerable Rachel Treweek, above, will be ‘the first woman bishop to sit with the 26 diocesans in the House of Lords’, Christian Today says that her voice will now be given ‘additional significance’ and that she will be ‘a woman to watch as well as listen to on the part of both secular and religious leaders’.
So what pearls of wisdom are we to expect from the current Archdeacon of Hackney who is to be the next Bishop of Gloucester?
Precious few, if this is the way her mind works:
I do not start from a place of a failing institution.
Oh yes you do, Your Venerableness. Your Church’s goose is truly cooked.
Dr Linda Woodhead, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University, concluded a lengthy piece in the Church Times last January by saying:
The recent rapid decline in Anglican baptisms, weddings, and, increasingly, funerals, is particularly serious, since this is the Church’s core business, and of enormous importance to what has traditionally been a Church for the whole of society rather than just for the most committed churchgoers.
The Church’s greatest failure in our lifetime has been its refusal to take decline seriously. The situation is now so grave that it is no longer enough simply to focus on making parts grow again. The whole structure needs to be reviewed from top to toe, and creative and courageous decisions need to be made.
But Treweek persists in oozing optimism. In an interview with Christian Today, she declared:
For me it is not about starting from a place of fear and anxiety, but starting in a place of hope and confidence. I do feel hugely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. The Church is in a very exciting time.
This, despite Woodhead having pointed out that:
Attitudes towards the Church of England are not encouraging. When asked if they view the Church as a positive force in society, only 18 percent say ‘Yes, and only 14 per cent say ‘No’. The majority (58 percent) say ‘Neither’, and the rest ‘Don’t know’. In other words, most people are ignorant of, or indifferent to, the Church rather than hostile.
As for the reasons for disapproval, older people are most likely to say that the Church is ‘boring and stuffy’, but younger people now state a strong moral objection: ‘The Church is prejudiced – it discriminates against women and gay people’.