Archbishop Welby wants ‘flourishing’ of all traditions in the Church
In his presidential address to the General Synod of the Church of England meeting in London last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, outlined his vision of a Church in which there would be “a commitment to the flourishing of every tradition”.
However, he also warned that this would require “a massive cultural change” involving an acceptance that people with whom one deeply differed were also deeply loved by Christ “and therefore must be deeply loved by me – and love means seeking their flourishing”.
THE GIRLGUIDING PROMISE
The decision last summer of Girlguiding uK to remove, as from 1st September last, the words “to love my God” from the organisation’s Promise and to replace them with “be true to myself and develop my beliefs” led to serious concern in the Church of Ireland (Gazette reports, 27th september and 31st January).
While reflecting in a significant way on one’s beliefs is surely a good thing, being true to oneself, when one thinks about it, turns out to be a rather ambiguous idea. It can be taken to mean following one’s conscience, which is a good thing, but it can also be taken to mean simply following ‘my’ standards. Conscience, whether or not one is religious, is a very deep matter and is certainly about much more than ‘me’.
Moreover, last week, the Church of England’s General Synod, while taking care to recognise the work of Girlguiding uK in appropriately laudatory terms, expressed its view that entrants of all ages into the Girlguiding movement should be able to continue to promise to love God when enrolled, commending the suggestion of an optional religious preface to the Promise (report, page 8). Importantly, from an Irish point of view, the Irish Girl Guides’ Chief Executive Officer, Linda Peters, has made it clear that Girl Guides in the Republic make a different Promise to that of Girlguiding uK members. In a letter to the Gazette (25th october 2013 issue), she wrote: “Following a lengthy consultation process with our members, we made the decision in 2010 to alter the wording of our Promise slightly to: ‘I promise on my honour to do my best to do my duty to my God* and my country, to help other people at all times and to obey the Guide Law.’ (*Members have the option of replacing the word ‘God’ with the word ‘faith’, according to their spiritual beliefs.)”
A statement from Girlguiding uK, issued swiftly after the English General Synod’s resolution, indicated that the organisation was prepared to allow those members who “struggle” with the new wording to “provide the context of their own belief if they wish before making our Promise”, but without adding to the Promise itself, thus ensuring that there is “one Promise”.
However, an inclusive organisation, as Girlguiding uK claims itself to be, should be sufficiently open-minded – like the Irish Girl Guides – to allow a religious variation of a Promise, if that is what a new entrant wishes. Indeed, to allow such variation would teach all concerned not only about the real diversity in life but also about the need to provide for one another out of true mutual regard.
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ECHOING THE WORD: THE BIBLE IN THE EUCHARIST Authors: Paula Gooder and Michael Perham Publisher: SPCK
ETCHED BY SILENCE: A PILGRIMAGE THROUGH THE POETRY OF R.S. THOMAS Complied by Jim Cotter Canterbury Press; pp.139 Price: £12.99
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