The Church of England needs a Gorbachev

Andrew Brown of the Guardian published an essay yesterday citing some of the reasons that the Church of England is in a decline from which it will be difficult to recover. Two particularly provocative paragraphs:

What is extraordinary is the tally of advantages the Church of England has failed to capitalise upon. Its considerable social reach, its schools, and its place in civic and political life, none of them have seemed to make it convincing. It is not even convincing from the inside: a friend of mine in his early 40s, who has worked at Lambeth Palace and now has a good chaplaincy, says people of his generation are all as cynical about the organisation as the party members were in the last days of the USSR. They know that all the official stories are lies, and are waiting and hoping for some Gorbachev-like figure who will admit this.


“What has happened is a complete disjunction between the values of the church and the values of the population,” says (Professor Linda) Woodhead (of Lancaster University). “The church has clericalised until it’s just clergy and lay ministers talking to each other. The public are not an audience for this debate. And you can’t have a minority gospel for a majority religion.”

Are there lessons of The Episcopal Church in the Church of England’s troubles?

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