Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Anglican ??? Worship in Sydney

In yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, a writer described recently attending a Baptism service in a Sydney Anglican church. Some of the comments.

"To be fair, it's a while since I attended a christening or indeed a church service, but I did expect that I would recognise both. I didn't. Not the words, not the hymns, not the prayers (other than the Lord's Prayer).

The service began with ''OK. We'll get started now.'' Well, we sort of did. I presume it was an attempt to be contemporary, but really the service sounded like it was being made up on the spot; there was no flow, no structure, and no sense of occasion."

"Clearly, churches no longer attract the congregations they once did. No doubt there are myriad reasons for this, and perhaps the adoption of an informal approach is thought to be more appealing to a younger generation. But it is hard to see how the complete dumbing down of the hymns, the content and the structure of any form of worship does not do a disservice to everyone, particularly the young.
Whether you believe or not, there is a sense of importance and occasion in a service with form and structure. Dare I say tradition?"

I happened to also read the latest monthly bulletin from St James, King Street where Fr Andrew Bowyer writes about his time there. On arriving Fr John Stewart, at that time Acting Rector,  told him the three principles of worship at St James were “diligence, dignity and devotion.”

That is why parishioners travel from all over Sydney to worship there.  I had elderly friends in the Blue Mountains tell me, with tears in their eyes, that the local services did not seem Anglican and they were unable to travel regularly the long distance to St James.

One Christmas morning we took my mother to St Stephen's Anglican church at Willoughby. We were unable to get her to the very early service and were surprised when at the next service the rector arrived in shirt sleeves and tie.  The only part of the service I recognised was the creed and I left when the congregation were asked to raise our hands if we were saved.

When I wrote and complained that the service was not Holy Communion, the rector did apologise that had not been made clear in the local advertisements but also told me he believed that too many people took communion unworthily at Christmas. I was too flabbergasted to reply.

Many (most?) of the churches in the Sydney Diocese are Anglican in name only.


Dobby said...

It is good to read an outsider's impartial view of Sydney 'Anglicans' who are the laughing-stock of our Communion. Sadly, these evangelicals are guaranteed to ensure the Anglican Communion goes further into schism and irrelevant oblivion.

Fran said...

"...he believed that too many people took communion unworthily at Christmas."

Oh my God, flabbergasted indeed. Heartbreaking and outrageous. What is done in Jesus name is a crime.

I am often reminded that on the Cross, Jesus' arms are wide open, not crossed in front of his chest. That is how he welcomes all, but this reality is lost on many.