While there is a lot the church can learn from the world and vice versa, it is not always easy to incorporate modern day models and ways of doing things into the traditional church.
Anglican Bishop Dr. John Holder made this observation on Saturday evening as Reverend Davidson Bowen was installed as the rector of St. Philip The Less Anglican Church, Boscobelle, St. Peter.
“There can be an uneasy feeling in the church when we try sometimes to use models from elsewhere to help us understand the need to strengthen what we are doing,” he said.
“There can be a feeling of contamination and sometimes then pious persons can resort to theology to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can do it all by ourselves, within our church, within the parish, without the rest of the world.
“Yes the models that will fit neatly in every aspect of ministry … but we cannot use this to put up barriers. We must find some useful method to assess and strengthen our ministry.”
Bishop Holder added: “There is a lot in the management culture and the secular profession that can help us in our ministry within the church; but we should not expect all the models to fit neatly in every aspect.
“There is a dimension of ministry within the church that might very well call for its own model given some of the peculiarities of this great institution. We cannot deny however that there is a lot of room to learn and to share.”
Using those modern models, he said the installation service could be seen as the movement of an individual from a temporary to a more permanent status, but it was more than that. There was an element of ministry imbedded within the ceremony, he added, that could not be fully captured by a secular model.
“So we can never ignore the more of ministry. This evening, Davidson, we are doing more than ushering you from a temporary to a permanent status within this diocese. We are affirming your ministry by highlighting the symbols that point to the more. That this affirmation takes places now rather than earlier, cannot in any way weaken the affirmation, the timing may not be a critical point.”
The Bishop told Reverend Bowen he would be presented with symbols of the faith, that should be used in guiding him and his parish in the years to come. Those symbols were a Bible, water, the stole, a prayer book, oil, constitution cannons and regulations of the diocese and bread and wine.
He advised Bowen to move forward confidently but to never behave as if the ministry was about him — to ensure the people under his care were under the grace of God.
He also further advised Bowen that he would not have all the answers he needed immediately and not to believe that he did, but to travel the path of God with the symbols as guides pointing to God’s grace, “the more” of the ministry.
Complimenting the newly installed cleric for the job he had done in the parish since taking over six years ago, he urged him to continue the good work while remaining humble. (LB)