We Must Win Back Control of Our Church; Opinion

Article excerpt

Byline: David Taylor-Gooby

MOST of you who read my columns know I am a member of the Labour Party.

I am also a member of the Church of England and have been for longer than I have the party.

Perhaps, controversially, I think it is desirable for the Church of England to be established.

It receives no financial benefits from being established, but has certain duties and obligations.

One is that it has a presence in all parts of our country. In some deprived areas, it is one of the few agencies to provide some comfort and hope to disadvantaged people when others have fled. The challenges faced by 'Rev' in the TV sitcom are not that far removed from reality.

The Church of England is also an organisation welcoming everyone or at least it should be. It has a mission to witness to everyone, regardless of their background or where they come from.

Someone once described it as like the National Health Service. It was meant to be a jibe, implying that its theology and purpose were vague, but I think it is a good comparison. Where else do people turn for solace when a crisis such as a random killing occurs which they cannot explain, or when they need spiritual help at a difficult time in their life? It is also in a unique position to speak out on issues of national importance and this is a remarkable asset. It was a Church of England Archbishop, William Temple, who first used the phrase "welfare state" for example.

The church cannot continue to enjoy these duties and privileges if it makes itself look silly and disconnected from our daily life, which it has done with the vote on women bishops. Some members seem to want it to become an obscure sect with strange beliefs, rather than a national church. …