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Hallo again to all.

It is soon to be Ash Wednesday and, in many places throughout the Anglican Communion, the last bit of obvious parochial gaiety is found on Shrove Tuesday. If you want to know the true history of that day and its traditions, do visit this comprehensive page. Hot steaming shrovesAnd be prepared to laugh, chortle, snicker or some inelegant combination of the three. For the Lenten Season, we feature our carefully maintained list of Lenten links and resources.

We welcome to our listings this week the Diocese of North Dakota and St Asaph Cathedral in Llanelwy. (See if you can guess what country Llanelwy is in.) And we have new parish listings in the Bahamas, in Wales, in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Alberta, Manitoba, and eight dioceses in England. We marvel at the beauty of the goods from Jacquie Binns Church Textiles, A Jacquie Binns bannernew to our Vestments listings. And we note the Diocese of Atlanta has announced its slate of nominees for their ninth bishop.

A reader wrote to us recently: 'I am a woman, an Anglican priest, and the daughter of an Aaronic priest (my father is a descendant of Aaron, Moses' brother). I'm wondering if I'm the only one like me! Can you suggest an Anglican list on the net (or something similar) through which I could find out?' We knew of no source, but ask our readers. If you combine these strains in your background, let us know and, with your permission, we shall forward your name to our correspondent.

Anglicans Online has (at this instant) 6660 links to Anglican resources and 2976 links to news items. We use a programme called Linkbot to help us track down bad links, but it is no help in fixing them. We've spent time in the last month tracking down and repairing broken and changed links. We'd like to say that they are all working, but on a site this big, that can never happen. As we write this, the web server for the Diocese of Fort Worth is offline; we know that it will be back online soon, but, for now, Fort Worth links are broken. Last week Anglican Media Sydney was unreachable from North America for several days. It's always something. As we go to press there are 57 resource links that are unreachable; we hope that you don't need any of those right now. We've repaired or updated almost 500 links in the last two weeks.

Each week when we publish Anglicans Online we look for a sort of theme or pattern in recent news or Anglican activities. Sometimes the components of the theme are powerful and obvious—a general synod or a major news event—and the theme itself thus very clear. Sometimes there is no discernible pattern, so we stop looking. The last thing we should want is to impose some sort of forced theme on the week's news and events. This week we noticed in British newspapers the assertion by some person that the reason for the decline in church attendance was not enough magic or mysticism in the church. Then a well-known scientist averred that church schools are evil and anti-intellectual. The conflict between religion and science has been going on for well more than a century, so you would think that, perhaps, each camp might have learned something from the other.

One of the most fundamental principles of science is that if you want to establish that something is true, you must run an experiment in which all factors are controlled or constant except the one that you are trying to measure. The inability to run controlled experiments on human subjects has hindered social science research, but social scientists can do statistical analysis of population measures. Truth be told, almost everybody who is making public statements about church attendance is doing so to support a particular political agenda. The generic cry is: 'If churches were more like I want them to be, then more people would attend them'. We were delighted to stumble across a page in the Parish of Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, which proclaims 'The church is people. But people need somewhere to meet.' Obviously, many of them are now meeting somewhere else. But we don't believe any of the simplistic explanations for declining church attendance; like everything else in modern life, there are no simple answers.

See you next week. (And since we can't say it again until Lent is over: Alleluia! Alleluia!)

Cynthia McFarland's signature
  Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
  Brian Reid

Last updated: 25 February 2001