Behind the Anglican Division—Power, Money, and Love

The Guardian explores the liberal/evangelical divide without the stereotypes

News stories easily cover the scandalous, the outrageous, and the embarrassing, and when it comes to covering the Anglican Communion's current crisis, many stories center on lawsuits, church divisions, and the power play between bishops and alliances. Fortunately, the exceptional news story exists.

This week, The Guardian, offers an outsider's (author Rachel Cooke is agnostic) look (with admirable sympathy) at the power play between evangelical Anglican churches and the liberal, more "traditional" wings of the church. Cooke attends two services, one at St Mark's, in Dalston, Hackney, a liberal parish where "only nine people are in church tonight, and all but two of us have come alone. As we sing 'Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Anthem', our voices are tiny in all the air; when we share the Peace, our heels click-clack loudly as we find one another in the half-light. I sit in my long, lonely pew, and I think: if this were a restaurant, the proprietor would have hung a 'closed' sign on the door years ago."

On the other hand, at St Thomas's Church, which has the largest congregation in the north of England, "between 800 and 1,000 people—the vast majority under the age of 35—pile into this, a former engineering warehouse in the heart of the inner city … The Philadelphia Campus, as it is known, cost St Thomas's £1.75m—a sum raised entirely by its members—yet still the premises are too small, and a new 'worship centre' is soon to be built on site."

"There are two trends at play inside the Church of England. While the congregations of many traditional places of worship are static or in decline, those at evangelical churches are growing faster than Russian vine on a south-facing wall." Cooke explains that part of the evangelical's success ...

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Behind the Anglican Division—Power, Money, and Love
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December 2003

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