Unworthy reasons for staying away

Aug 5th, 2007 | By | Category: Ministry

Somerset – 5th August

I didn’t go to church for seven years.

I went to church, but not to this church, the church here in the village where I grew up.  I was rarely ever here on a Sunday anyway, but if the odd holiday arose when I would be here, I would go somewhere else.

It arose from the vicar.  He was only around my age but presumed he had the right to talk down to me.  One Sunday in 1990, we were here in Somerset and I ventured along to the parish church.  He must have alienated much of the parish by that time because while the previous vicar would have had congregations of fifty or more, this man had reduced them to twenty.

I don’t remember the sequence of the conversation, but he must have picked up my background from someone, he told me in no uncertain terms that women couldn’t be ordained.  Katharine wasn’t with me, which may have emboldened his comments.  He stood, arms crossed, smiling defiantly.  I smiled back, and didn’t set foot in the church again until he had left the parish, seven years later.

Perhaps being 29 at the time I was as pig-headed as he was, but there were enough fundamentalists in Northern Ireland without meeting them in the rolling green fields of the English shires.

Article 26 of The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion is headed ‘Of the unworthiness of the Ministers which hinders not the effect of the sacrament, in other words, you are there to pray to God and not to take notice of the foibles of the clergy, perhaps I would have paid more attention to those words if I was in the same position now.

I’m soon going to find out how tolerant I have become.  I’m shortly off to church.  I have never met the current vicar, it is eight years since I was last here in the village on a Sunday. I wonder what he thinks about women being ordained.

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