Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting things in proportion

The furore over the bishop of Willesdon is a bit overblown, isn't it? I know Pete Broadbent from Spring Harvest. He is a wonderfully vivacious, shoot-from-the-hip Bible teacher with a keen insight into how the church needs to be communicating its faith to a sceptical world. Oh, and he's an Arsenal fan and a Christian socialist.

Perhaps he shouldn't have facebooked what he did but the reaction of the bishop of London is extraordinary. His statement  to clergy in the diocese reads:

Dear Colleague, "I was appalled by the Bishop of Willesden’s comments about the forthcoming royal marriage. In common with most of the country I share the joy which the news of the engagement has brought. I have now had an opportunity to discuss with Bishop Peter how his comments came to be made and I have noted his unreserved apology. Nevertheless, I have asked him to withdraw from public ministry until further notice. I have also been in touch with St James’s Palace to express my own dismay on behalf of the Church.
Arrangements will need to be made in Bishop Peter’s absence and further details will be given in due course.  With thanks for your partnership in the Gospel.

A good bishop has been silenced for having the temerity to disagree with a senior colleague about an issue as trivial as a royal wedding. Is it any wonder that the church's credibility is at a low ebb?

So the upshot is that the men in pointy hats will tell us what we think about the forthcoming royal wedding and those who differ will be invited to take time out from all ministry. We just have to smile and pay the bill (estimated at £5bn by the CBI and Daily telegraph in lost productivity because of the extended bank holiday weekend on the back of the previous 4 day weekend).

I think I'll join Pete in Calais for a party...


Andy Goodliff said...

I'm not sure it is overblown. The bishop was foolish and bit of a plonker to make comments like that in public and secondly I thought they were rather rude. I'm all for the bishop having a different opinion and making a point about the ridiculous way the media deals with news like this, and I probably share some of this but a bishop of the established church of england should know better. I think it points out the dangers of facebooking. I was struck by this post:
I will of course be at the baptist assembly and unable to attend the wedding. :-)

simon said...

I agree with most of what James Smith says there.

I guess the good bishop was undone by facebook's tendency to allow us to feel that we are in the pub with our mates and converse accordingly.

As to whether bishops in the established church have to toe a party line, I refer you to the case of Faith in the City and, indeed, David Sheppard's whole ministry. Free thinking is pretty important in the Anglican tradition, I think.

I think Pete's apology was fulsome and perfectly adequate in drawing a line under the affair. He did not need to be banned from public ministry for what he did.

I will be conducting a wedding the day after the royal one, so will not be at the baptist assembly.

Angela said...

I agree with many of Andy's points-and I think that it is rather extreme to ban him from public ministry.
It is a shame he was not more alert to the dangers of blurting out hastily on Facebook such opinions which might have, on careful consideration, been phrased a little differently.
Are Bugb planning to incorporate the TV Wedding Spectacular into the assembly programme? [sort of 'Prism For Princesses'?]

simon said...

Now, there's a thought. Almost makes me wish I was running this year! But I'm not... I'll pass the idea on, though

Anonymous said...

I wonder how you would feel if it was your son or daughter getting married and a family friend uttered such a rude and intemperate statement.

Just because you're a republican doesn't give you licence to be unpleasant about perfectly decent human beings who have chosen to marry.

Monarchy and the established church are inextricably linked and it demonstrated to me that the said Bishop shot his mouth off before thinking.

Suspension was entirely right.

Dave Faulkner said...

On a matter of detail important to some of us, the last thing Pete would be is an Arsenal fan. He's a Spurs supporter!