I had my mum and dad for lunch today and we wondered together, amongst other things, what the dog-collar actually means and how it is very necessary to discern when it can block and when it can aid people's access to God.
One of the ministers at my church does interesting things with a neck scarf which could be very helpful at times and I was very interested to be a part of group chatting the other day because when we were interrupted by someone wanting to know what my contribution was going to be to the shared lunch, the female vicar to my right introduced herself as the landlady of the local pub without adding she was also a vicar.
John Richardson has had his head in his hands this morning, wondering too so it was edifying and encouraging to read Chris Bishop's response to him, which I copy in full here:
I think one of the things to remember is that Anglicanism is essentially an historical construct in which Christianity can flourish (or not) as the case may be. I too don't get the impression that Jesus envisaged the whole gamut of national churches, clergy and laity, WO, moving pews and all the other paraphernalia and bickering that goes on do you?
Jesus Himself appeared in Israel at a time when the nation was far from being God's ideal yet Jesus worked within and outside the existing religious structures of His time.
The important thing is the message of the Gospel and the freedom to be able to preach it. This can still be done within the CofE - in fact the great advantage of the CofE is that most people still see 'the church' as being essentially Anglican. It is after all a visible presence in most towns & cities.
As a leader in a a Baptist church I find that people are less familiar with Baptists as a 'church' than they are with the CofE. Indeed, I have always thought that you Anglicans have one over on us here. I find it easier to invite people to an Anglican church than I do to a Baptist one despite the fact that unlike Anglicans we Baptists are wet all over..
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, although there were weeds growing, the real stuff was also. It is this that people will respond to if they can see the transforming reality of the Gospel in our lives. So I think we will always have this somewhat messy outward appearance of the 'church ' yet we must not forget that the wheat is there as well. At the end of the age God will clear the rubbish away but this is the current scene.
So I wouldn't worry too much about all the fuss re: ordinations and so on. Get on with preaching what you know to be true. You are in fact part of the solution, not part of the problem. You have a far greater effect than you imagine.
A saying by an Assembly of God pastor who I once knew and is now in his 90's which is somewhat pithy but I have to found be true, is
"Bloom where you are planted - you can be 'scent' where you are"!