2 December 2021
Sales not the answer
I was concerned that the “…Rich in Assets” headline in November’s Melbourne Anglican meant that diocese was intending to sell assets to meet an operating deficit. Sadly, capital appreciation will not fund a deficit. Is the implication that diocese intends to sell long-term assets to fund short-term deficits? This is surely not sustainable – when the farm is all sold the supply of assets is exhausted, but the deficit remains.
One option might be to use the assets differently. Like the diocese, my parish is fortunate to have an investment property. I wonder if diocese could adopt a model I have suggested to my parish, that proposes monetising the property’s income generating potential to generate a cashflow without disposing of a valuable asset. Prudent financial management does not always have to mean selling assets.
Time to change
One of the defining features of the Anglican Church is its exclusivity. While often speaking of inclusiveness, it insists on policies which exclude whole sections of the community from worship and the opportunity to be part of a congregation.
I refer to service times. Virtually all Anglican churches hold their services in an exceptionally narrow window of 8-10 on Sunday mornings. This excludes many people: the young, who socialise on Saturday nights, the elderly, the ill, the disabled, and their carers, who often need some time to get up and get themselves organised in the mornings, night owls, who need to sleep in, and parents of children, who also take time to get organised. There is zero provision for all these people. Clearly, they are simply not wanted at church.
I hope that, in the return after lockdown, the church will give some thought to providing for this large section of the community that it has been excluding for so long. The Catholic Church has long provided masses at a wide range of times for the convenience of the faithful. I have no idea why the Anglican Church refuses to do so.
What should our buzz words be?
Ironically, the guidelines for diversity and inclusion arrived in my inbox the same week I was required, for the first time in living memory, to exclude people from worship, according to jab status. “Diversity and inclusion” are nice words, but actually conformity and exclusion are ever more required.
I wondered about the use of these two words “diversity and inclusion”, so expressive of the society we now inhabit. Could we not have said: “Guidelines for building strong congregations in a COVID world”, or “building up the body of Christ among all kinds”.
Perhaps we are using these words for our ever more curious governmental overlords who wish to ensure religious groups are conforming to their current ideological orthodoxy? They will see these two words, smile to themselves, and leave us alone. If that’s our plan, it’s a masterstroke! Kudos all round.
If not, then I wonder where our prophetic edge lies anymore? What makes us different? Are we church being absorbed into the spirit of the age rather than the Spirit of the ages? Am I too idealistic still to dream that we can yet build local communities where love and trust are the buzz words, our guidelines are from the New Testament, and that light removed from its bushel can bring eternal hope to a floundering world?
Over to You is a forum for respectful dialogue about material published in The Melbourne Anglican, or issues affecting the church or society more broadly. Please email letters to email@example.com. They must be less than 250 words. Letters may be edited for clarity, length and grammar.