Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friends, Romans ... and Clergy, lend me your ears.

It's been a busy few weeks, hence my lack of writing. I suppose I have not been the best friend having neither time to listen or time to share news. Yet, I hope you know that my friendship extends accross the distances. It's a shame, though, that some vicars I've spoken to recently do not realise that.

I had an interesting few days at the General Synod, the ruling body of the Church of England. The debates on Women becoming Bishops was interesting but at the same time disheartening. One excellent young lad, aged 19, stood up and said that it made no sense not to have women right the way through the church to people of 'our age.' He's right; to the rest of the world it looks stupid that the church cannot master equal opportunities in the twenty-first century.

That said, though, inequality exists right the way through society. the church is held up as one institution that is inequal. I would say that, actually, most of society values men and women differently and that the Church of England is just more blatent about it. My Bro has done research into and his findings were that many people were unaware of how much difference there actually was between men and women simply because it had not been investigated.

So, I sat in the press gallery and watch the church rip itself apart. I started to wonder if this was truely a place I felt happy attaching myself to as an Anglican. On Sunday, though, I attended a service at York Minster. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached and the Archbishop of York presided. The service was wonderful, full of rich texts and deep meaning. It showed what the Church of England does well: worship and thoughtfulness.

Since my return, I visited a friend in Nottngham who is set to get married. This reminded me of two things. Firstly, the way that the Church of England and faith is there at all the crucial stages in life. The Church has an issue thouh; unlike the Baptists, the URC, the Fee Evangellicals and, to a lesser extent, the Roman Catholics, the Church of England is an institution. It is at the heart of society and has to welcome those who just see it as a place for 'hatches, matches and dispatches', the key events in life as well as to the devoted, weekly church-goer. The Church also has a role as ethical and moral guide, as can be seen by the list of things discussed at Synod. Polution, ethical trading, the Middle East and City renewal were all discussed. Unlike many other institutions the Church has a wider task than simply preaching the gospel.

The second thing my visit to my friend reminded me was the value of friendship. He is a good christian and the brief time we spent together was affirming. It was a good reminder that friendship extends accross long distances and long-gaps of separation. This is particularly good at the moment as I leave Sheffield on Friday. I know the people I have met here will remaion friends beyond this separation.

I suppose, there's also a lesson there for the Church of England. Despite the divisions and distances between the various standpoints on women in the church, the key is that friendship is about understanding and not necesarily agreeing with eachother. As friends, we relish our differences rather than trying to be the same.

So, In friendship,