Archbishops of Canterbury and York warn of Anglican collapse

John Sentamu & Justin Welby

John Sentamu & Justin Welby

From John Bingham at the Daily Telegraph:

The Church of England will no longer be able to carry on its current form unless the downward spiral its membership is reversed “as a matter of urgency”, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned.

It could face a dramatic shortage of priests within a decade as almost half of the current clergy retire, according to the Most Rev Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu.

Meanwhile dwindling numbers in the pews will inevitably plunge the Church into a financial crisis as it grapples with the “burden” of maintaining thousands of historic buildings, they insisted.

But the two archbishops also called for the Church to invest more in building up its presence on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get its message across online as part of a “major programme of renewal and reform”.

Sunday attendances have halved to just 800,000 in the last 40 years – although the Church has previously claimed the decline has been levelling off in recent years.

Every year the figures are released, reports are written, and statements are made.

One thing for sure, this is not the solution:

If the Church of England is to return to growth, there is a compelling need to realign resources and work carefully to ensure that scarce funds are used to best effect.

Nor is this:

Last year The Rt Rev Christopher Goldsmith, the Bishop of St Germans, in Cornwall, warned that the church in the areas was facing a “death spiral” unless parishioners put more money in the offering plate.

This is not the real problem:

[The Archbishops] said the Church’s current arrangements for deciding each diocese’s allotment of clergy and cash are increasingly viewed as out of date and widely ignored.

Nor is this:

There is no central investment in reaching out into the digital and social media world.

No answer here:

The burden of church buildings weighs heavily and reorganisation at parish level is complicated by current procedures.

Perhaps it’s time for General Synod to reconsider progress on Challenges for the Quinquennium. That makes 21 things to do while you’re not multiplying disciples and churches.