Affirming Laudianism and Ancient Re-Expressions of Church
Affirming Laudiansim has been encouraged by some recent publications (Mission Shaped Church, Liquid Church, Suicidal Church &c) to affirm its own ‘fresh’ expressions of Church, or as we prefer ‘ancient re-expressions of the Ecclesia Anglicana. ‘Sharing’ as it is said ‘best practice’ we print below some recent re-expressions by clergymen (some names have been changed).
Disabled Access - Fresh Expression of the Host
Lancelot (not his real name) arrived as a new vicar in a Herefordshire parish to discover a new wheel chair ramp outside the south porch of his medieval parish church. Here is his story: 'We had informed the local authority of our compliance with recent legislation and I even sent them a photograph of an elderly lady on the ramp in her buggy going to the family service (my first and last)! I then had the ramp removed and the rather high step reinstated, taking the opportunity of waxing the rather fine encaustic tiles. It was fortunate that built into the north wall is an ancient squint, so there remains disabled access, albeit soley visual and of course which gives a lovely view of the elevation. We very kindly provide rugs in the winter and umbrellas when the weather is inclement.'
Cramner in the cold
Austin arrived at his Norfolk church following a successful few years closing churches in the Chichester diocese. When he took up his post the evening service was ‘celtic’ worship which he soon transferred to an outlying field, which fortunately had an old stone for people to sit on, feel and talk to. He was thus able to reintroduce Evensong and at the same time removed the heaters. ‘The church was obviously cold in winter‘ he writes, ‘although as an ancient re-expression I drew upon some eighteenth century engravings I have in the Rectory. I placed in my stall and earthenware hot water bottle and some snuff. When I take the service I wear a fur lined tippet, a very full surplice and a wig, topped by a Canterbury cap during processions. The candles close to the High altar give off little light but my few mistakes are never noticed as I feel few are yet ready for this particular ‘fresh expression’ and none have yet joined me at divine service’.
Re-pitching the Tent - Somewhere Else
Jeremy - not his real name - had been at a vibrant evangelical church in Durham for a few years when he embraced ‘Affiming Laudianism’. ‘My city church was quite famous’ he tells us ‘as a former Archbishop of Canterbury had, in his more humble years, been vicar here and shown early success, not alas to follow him as he moved up the ladder. The church was, however, very demanding with all sorts of bible study groups and Alpha suppers. The people were also sniffy about robes. So I began the process of re-expression. The first thing to go was the carpet, followed by the chairs. As people began to leave for the Baptists I was able to reintroduce the pews, which once again faced the newly introduced Lord’s Table. The baptists were also glad to buy the OHP, the coffee area tables and the few boxes of mission praise which George had clearly overlooked in the earlier purge. I now have much less to do and the PCC are once again happy to talk about fabric rather than outreach all the time’.
When Thomas was given the freehold to his parish he immediately hired a curate and paid him one fifth of his stipend to work in the parish. Thomas now lives for most of the year with a close friend in Italy ‘living off the spoils’ as he says. ‘My curate earns more than if he were a house for duty, so he’s happy and I’m happy’ writes Thomas from Venice. ‘Such arrangements used to be commonplace until Victorian reforms’ he continues ‘and it perhaps is the answer as the Church finds itself increasingly stretched. I might even try and get the income from another parish and do the same again’.
The Revd William Badminton discovered that his parish’s almshouse had ancient statutes which, as a member of ‘Affimring Laudianism’ he was keen to reinstate. The statutes, issued by Queen Anne, granted most of the income from the Almshouse to the Rector. ‘The social worker I talked to was most discouraging’ he writes’ but I was keen to apply the principles of regression. The inmates are now granted one pence a week, with a loaf of bread, half a candle and a change of cap and gown a month. Of course only wealthy people can live there now but the funds directed to me means that my own lifestyle has happily regressed (or more accurately increased) to a more genteel period in the life of the established church’.