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This page last updated 9 August 2007  

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters. We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to Canadian orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to respond to a letter whose author does not list an email, you can send your response to Anglicans Online and we'll forward it to the writer.

Letters from 31 July to 5 August 2007

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters are the opinions of the writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

There is no far-flung part of the Anglican Communion, dear Dean

Today, 30 July 2007, is observed as a day commemorating the "Saints and Martyrs of Europe". As the Anglican Communion continues to tear itself apart, I want to commend to my online brethren a sermon preached last night by my young colleague, the Reverend Dr Ellie Sanderson. She made, I believe, some salient points which we could do well to note — even in this far-flung part of the world. Click here for the sermon on our Cathedral website.

Anglicans Online continues to be one of the ports of call for my Monday nights. Thank you all.

The Very Revd Frank Nelson
Wellington, Cathedral of St Paul
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
30 July 2007

No, we don't attend church 'just for experiences'

I found your editorial this week mystifying. (link) How can attendance at Sunday worship be “a complete waste of spiritual time”? I know there are some ghastly goings on under the umbrella of Anglican worship (although one person’s meat may well be another person’s poison) but if you were attending the Eucharist, you were receiving Christ under his appointed sacramental signs, whatever your subjective experience. And joining in public worship you are fulfilling your duty as a baptized Christian, and acting charitably to your fellow Christians: if everyone took the view of “only when I feel like it” one Sunday there would be nobody there but the minister.

If you felt unmoved by the experience, then it may well be good practice for your daily life, when most of the time you will have no strong sense of God’s presence, but will still need to serve him in the world you move in.

There will be times when we are unable to attend public worship, and we are bound to fall back on the round of our daily prayers. But that is not the same as the life of a solitary, who will still be nourished by the sacramental life of the church.

Sorry to sound preachy. I really don’t understand what you are trying to get at, unless it is some idea that you only go to church for experiences. I do hope that’s not what you mean.

Thank you for your regular service to the Anglican Communion. I appreciate it very much.

Jon Blanchard
St Thomas, Finsbury Park
2 August 2007

(Ed: We noted in our letter that we were away from home and just visiting this parish. Through the years we've worshipped in a goodly number of Anglican churches all over the world, and generally our experience has been positive. This particular service reminded us more of a 'theme park' than an actual church. Almost invariably the priest presiding over a service gives the impression that he believes God is present and welcome. This priest was probably wondering what time 'Desperate Housewives' would be showing on the telly in the rectory later in the afternoon. We can imagine the adverts for this theme park: 'See a man dressed in genuine priest's robes sing the creed and the sanctus and the Lord's Prayer. See him sing the Prayer of Humble Access in 33 seconds. Please trust us on this one: if you had been there, you would almost certainly have felt the same way.)

'Tired of church?'

Your letter this week (link) reminded me of our Archbishop's article in our Diocesan magazine last month which led with the headline: "Tired of church?" (You can read the article here.)

A great reminder of the privilege it is to meet with the risen Lord Jesus as we gather with his people! May we never lose sight of that privilege!

The Reverend Mark Calder
St Andrew's Church, Roseville
Roseville (a suburb of Sydney), AUSTRALIA
3 August 2007

(Ed: Mark, sometime in the next few years, we promise that at least one of us will attend a worship service at your parish in Roseville. It's a long way for us, but sooner or later we'll make it down there.)

Don't be bored!

Your letter was a most insightful analysis. (link) I have the same difficulty reaching a conclusion on whether to pray alone or attend a rather sad and demoralizing little gathering. Stay home and pray rather than attend church? For one week okay, two maybe. Three weeks? I find myself rationalizing that I can worship God as well watching Tim Russert as I can in church. It just does not wash.

Some time ago I realized that the institutional church is not some mystic cloud of believers, nor is it the professional clergy. The institutional church is what people like me do in our spare time. If church is sad and demoralizing it is up to US to do something about it. Priests may cajole and plead and offer us new directions. But unless we step out and take a few risks, we deserve to be bored.

Oh, and about mumbling priests. I am 61 years old and have found that hearing aids work wonders. By the way, I am blessed with being part of a community that is faithful, Episcopal, progressive, and most definitely NOT boring.

Philip Jones
St. Anne's Church
Reston, Virginia, USA
3 August 2007

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Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.


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