Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Who has the "right" to choose clergy and bishops?

It has been reported that some churches are considering paying to train their own clergy outside of the Church of England.  This leads me to question who has the right to choose who should be clergy in a particular place, or bishops.  I am thinking particularly of the Church of England which is not a congregational church.  There is also of course the question of who has the"right" to choose who should be clergy.

Of course God chooses, but in the CofE this is mediated by varying mechanisms, but the overwhelming gist is that people are chosen by the whole church, not just the local congregation.  Those churches which want to train "their" clergy elsewhere appear to be departing from that tradition (unless they are referring only to locally deployable clergy - those returning to their sending parish - I know this is a simplification).

The problem that I want to look at, and to which the video has one solution, is that of preventing us getting in God's way.  We all "know" exactly what kind of priest or bishop we want - what if God wants us to have a someone different?

The value of outside "interference" is that it brings the value of a Non Executive Director, someone who can bring an independent view to the matter - something which for example an atheist Prime Minister is more likely to be able to do than people with axes to grind!

However, if we want to do away with "outside interference" then which method would we prefer?  Secular employment now recognises that recruiting "people like us" is not best practice, perhaps the best approach would be to draw lots - after all there is Biblical precedent (Acts 1:21-26).  The problem with all other methods is that we are all so certain that we know God's will that we forget to let him get involved in the process.

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