Well I have old dears blaring about me ‘only saying bad things’ about the CofE, and one old dear who pays her 10% tithe dutifully, just as the CofE taught her, wants there to be change.
She wont get change out of the CofE, they are still in the middle ages.
Ok, lets do some good CofE.
The first prize goes to a wonderful woman who I met when I was homeless.
She met me on the steps of her church, the first day I was in her town, she said ‘can I help you?’ In a friendly way, not the usual patronizing CofE way, and I explained to her I was looking for the homeless welfare, and she and I ended up having coffee and breakfast together in a nearby McDonalds.
This became a tradition while I was in this town, we would go to early communion a few times a week, then go for coffee or breakfast.
This lady and I discussed Christianity, we agreed that Christianity not about denomination, but where compassion is practised, Jesus is there.
She represented the good in the CofE, she was kind, compassionate and friendly and broke up my lonely world with her company. We never fell out, and when I left that town, she said she would always pray for me and say goodnight to me wherever I was.
I just had a sudden thought, how does the church end up full of older people, do they suddenly think ‘oh, I will become a Christian!’ when they have their midlife crisis and get scared of age and death, do they start to go to church for company and find taking roles and being officious comforting? Or are most of them lifelong?
Anyway, lets go back to the good in the CofE.
It is hard to write good about an organisation who have done so much harm to me and to other poor and vulnerable people.
They send money abroad a lot, I don’t know how much of this money gets to it’s intended destination, but it makes the old people feel good, and they believe this is Christian. It is a pity they are so condescending and ignorant of the poor and vulnerable in their own communities at times though.
The Church of England are hard to write good about, they have all their little schemes and fundraisers, usually things that are not actually helping the local community or poor but are vaguely ‘abroad’. They feel more comfortable and less burdened that way, because most old people in the CofE are from comfortable backgrounds and are not equipped to relate to the poor and vulnerable and feel more comfortable with the anonymous sending of money abroad.
Funny isn’t it? They are the ‘local church’ and the ‘church in government’, and they are shy of the welfare of local people.
Although you sometimes see very encouraging notices like I saw recently, a church raising funds for mobility aids for local people. Good.
I wont be cynical and say it was probably because an old lady in church needed a mobility scooter!
The Church of England are vaguely involved in things like foodbanks, but as usual, their version of food bank, in my experience, is to treat the poor who come to them as naughty children.
I have been to one CofE foodbank, a long time since when I was rough sleeping, and was so dismayed by it, and the way I was patronized, intruded on and even told where to sleep, that I never went back
In my district and for many miles around, the foodbanks are not CofE run or based, they are run and based in Methodist or community or Reformed or pentecostal churches, which is interesting.
But the government are talking about removing more and more welfare services and expecting the church to pick up the slack, now that is going to be tough on churches, dwindling congregations and low funds, how can the church pick up the slack? And can you imagine when the government continue to cut welfare and expect the church to pick up the slack, as they have done by removing crisis loans and sending people to food banks as well.
The CofE, the Church in Government, picking up the slack, with their shyness of poverty and disability and abuse, they can’t and wont cope with further responsibility, and us, the marginalized, will not enjoy relying on the CofE either, being patronized and treated as naughty children is wearing on the self esteem.
I will try again with the good in the CofE, although every time I think of it, I think of the good in other churches and the bad in the CofE.
The good is that they provide a social centre in villages and rural communities, I remember when I was young, all the smart businessmen who came to church, who were not greatly interested in the service but it provided a place for them to meet with fellow businessmen and freemasons after the service over tea and coffee, and Sunday school for the kids, a break for the parents for a while.
I remember we used to do carol singing round the houses for the Childrens Society, although that tailed out before I was gone, and other non-church groups also do carol singing for money, but last Christmas, my church went out carol singing for the joy of it, not for money, interesting isn’t it?
So, undoubtedly the CofE raise money for various causes, which is good.
They also put their congregations under pressure for extra funds for the Church, and years of listening to this and knowing no matter how the Bible was twisted in these ‘fundraising sermons’ it was not right.
Nor is forcing local people to pay for church repairs, as has been happening in various places, with the Church of England using old laws to force local residents to pay for repairs, now that kind of oppression is from the Middle ages, it does not belong here and now, the CofE is not the great power it was, although it still has a lot of power and abuses it.
Again, lets try and get some good into the CofE.
I can’t name names, but a few more significantly kind and non-judgemental CofE members who got me things I needed on the streets, T, E, P, and S, these people got me blankets and food and other things and even let me stay over in bad weather. Bless you, the CofE needs a few more of you.
There are CofE members who do have the Christian Ethic, and all it takes as well as the ethic, is for people to think for themselves and not within the narrow Church ways and guidelines, and more good could be done.
Don’t let Church suppress your Christianity.
Also tribute to A and G, who even stood up to their Vicar, who was narrow, alcoholic and anti-homeless, they stood up to him when he tried to make me unwelcome to church-based events, and they and their church were very kind to me.
The Vicar was taken by surprise when they heard from me about how he treated me and they bollocked him, they were important in the running of that church and he deferred to them.
He was increasingly useless and often seen drunk in town, he had no joy for his work, and even preached about winning the lottery.
A and G said something to me which sticks in my memory ‘The Church is the people, not the priest, priests come and go, they have their role but the church is not theirs and they are not the Church’.
Again, these people who thought for themselves made a difference.
A lot of CofE work is more symbolic than genuinely involved, such as the Bishop being ‘Patron’ of the nightmare shelter that I ended up in when the Diocese destroyed me and left me homeless.
And again, that power the Church have, to be patron of the place their destroyed victim has to take refuge, led to me being a rough sleeper and very damaged.
The CofE are sometimes enthusiastically part of all the ‘Churches together’ and other local charities, and sadly for me, in Winchester this gave them the power to go on destroying me, because there wasn’t a homeless service or church I could go to where Fisher and Scott-Joynt didn’t slander me, and this was particularly horrific in that I had had many friends in the church community, and being mainly older and blindly believing what the diocese told them, I saw what I thought were long term friendships, including those in the ‘year of friendly emails’ section, wiped out, after ten and more years.
Back to good.
The Bishops have a lot of power in government, so they wrote to the Mirror about welfare benefits and the vulnerable…. oh and then they used archaic laws to force local people to repair their churches when the ‘tithing’ sermons didn’t work.
This has left people broke, homeless and broken.
Not so good.
So, I am trying to find new the good in the CofE.
I am convinced that the good in the CofE comes from the people who think for themselves and think outside the system and the rigid narrow way of the CofE, because that is where I have seen the good, and I have realised that as I wrote this.