A survey of Anglican clergy has discovered that three quarters of them don’t believe Britain is no longer a Christian Country.
The Times polled over 1200 serving Anglican clergy and found less than half strongly believe churches will still be holding a regular Sunday service in ten years’ time.On the subject of same-sex marriage, over 50 percent said they support a change in law to allow priests to marry gay couples, suggesting more than 10,600 of the church’s 20,000 priests would be in favor.
In his reaction, the Bishop of Manchester, Retired Reverend David Walker said “Not a single thing that I’ve read in it so far surprised me. I think it bears out what I hear from clergy on a day to day basis as a bishop of a large diocese. So there’s nothing in it that shocks me. It’s a good snapshot of where we’re at.”
According to him, the Church of England has been working on the process called ‘Living in Love and Faith’ for some years with widely differing views on the issue:
“I think this really illustrates where the centre of gravity is among the serving clergy in the Church of England. But that doesn’t pretend that that’s the case for everybody and so what’s going to be really important as the process goes forward, is ensuring that we have a church where people with differing views around same sex marriages can flourish and feel that this is their church.
“Same sex marriage is not on the agenda at the moment. The current agenda is about having prayers and blessings that can be used by a minister in a local church, if that minister and the local church are happy to do that. We’re not thinking about same sex marriages – that would be a change in the doctrine of marriage. And we’ve said very clearly, we’re not going to change the doctrine of marriage.”
Responding to the news that only a quarter of those who responded to the survey said Britain could be described as a Christian country Bishop David said: “In my time in Manchester, I’ve seen more congregations start than I’ve seen close. So yes, populations move as the needs change. We may no longer be a Christian country, but that doesn’t mean we’re in a country that’s given up on God.
We’re still a country where faith has a very important and vital role to play and the Christian faith and our outreach, our evangelism, are an important part of setting out why we believe that Jesus Christ is the way to God”.