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This page last updated 23 June 2008
Anglicans Online last updated 20 August 2000

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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 16 to 22 June 2008

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.

The invisible hand of the market

I enjoyed reading your article on pew rent, something by now nearly forgotten, but once virtually universal! (I only imagine the bitter cries, "But this has always been the Anglican tradition. . . ")

In tracing back the history of one of my clerical predecessors in a New England parish, I found that he had come there from a church in Hamilton, Ontario. So, while on holiday one year, I visited his one-time Hamilton parish and discovered that he was still remembered gratefully and kindly (even some 80 years later) because in the late 1880's he had overseen the construction of their new church building and made only one demand: that there be NO pews in the church, so no one could ever claim pew ownership! The church is still furnished with "cathedral chairs".

Not that the absence of pew rent has always led to an absence of "ownership" of a pew. I recall in my youth devoutly kneeling before Mass in Church of the Advent, Boston, only to feel a tap on the shoulder: "Young man," said this very properly dressed elderly lady, "You are sitting in MY pew!" I moved hastily!

Father John-Julian, OJN
The Order of Julian of Norwich
Hartland, Wisconsin, USA
16 June 2008

'High Heaven rejects the lore | Of nicely-calculated less or more'

I always appreciate and am often informed by your editorials. The comments about pew rentals were no exception. However, I have had the experience of knowing two people who believed that church attendance carried with it an obligation to pay.

When I was serving at a parish in Maryland, I became concerned because an otherwise faithful couple had not attended the Eucharist for three weeks. When I called to inquire if they were experiencing difficulties, they quite reluctantly said that they had not come to the liturgy because they had fallen behind in their pledge payment and were embarrassed by that fact. When I recovered from my surprise, I told them that, of course, they were always welcome in God's house under any circumstances. They did come the following Sunday and again expressed their embarassment about their unpaid pledge. Another discussion ensued about God's grace and love and the couple left, hopefully secure in the knowledge that the doors of St. Peter's Church — not to mention the pews! — were always open to them.

I think most of us realize that, in this society, money is equated with success, privilege, and a host of other things, both good and bad. However, how does our right and proper teaching on stewardship of time, talent and treasure, reinforce the message of society that the more money we have the better we are? Or, to put it another way, the more money we give to the church, the better Christians we are. From that destructive assumption, it is but a very short and unconscious leap to make that God's love depends on the size of our bank accounts.

The Reverend Carlton Kelley
Richmond, Indiana, USA
16 June 2008

No monogramming allowed

I grew up in an Anglican church in Toronto — St Peter's Bleeker Street — where a sign posted in the narthex (in the 1940s and 1950s) read "All pews in this church are free." My father explained the significance to me and I felt good about our church, especially when I visited churches where the "owner's" name was placed prominently by the aisle.

Eleanor Irwin
St Paul's Church, Bloor Street
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
20 June 2008


I'm not sure why you continue to point to stories from the Sydney Morning Herald in your NEWS section without also pointing people to a source which may give an alternate view from that of the author. For example, why not point people to what the Archbishop of Sydney himself has said, such as the four-minute interview which can be seen here:

The Reverend Mark Calder
St Andrew's Roseville
16 June 2008

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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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