Saturday 30 January 2016

Are You Really Church of England?

The Church of England does not really define membership very well. It's easy to know if you are a Beaker Person - you can see the direct debit going out of your account once a month. When I was a Methodist, we used to get a little blue card. And once a Catholic, always one. Unless you really upset the Pope.

But with baptism, electoral rolls, parish boundaries, Mothers' Unions and extra-parochial places all overlapping, the C of E is so complicated. How can you tell if you are an English Anglican? Well, 
here is the definitive guide.
Probably a C of E Church

If you:
  • Were baptised in the Church of England
  • Or another Anglican Church (but live in England)
  • Or you're on an Electoral Roll
  • Or you worship in an English Church that doesn't need its denomination on the notice board
  • Or always intend to go along at Christmas
  • Or you would like a church wedding
  • Or you are confirmed.
  • Or like sitting in old buildings
  • Or you have watched Songs of Praise
  • Or your granny insists you "get the baby 'done'"
  • Or you can listen to Giles Fraser without switching off Thought for the Day
  • Or you want to get your kid into a good school
  • Or you are the Bishop of Salisbury
  • Or you switch off Thought for the Day whenever Giles Fraser comes on
  • Or think the Anglican Communion is either vital or irrelevant
  • Or you regularly drink wine in cold buildings at 8am
  • Or you quite like Wodehouse, Lewis or Betjeman
  • Or  your church minister plays a guitar or wears a chasuble or both, but preferably not at the same time
  • Or you enjoy lighting candles in quiet places
  • Or you are a party leader who wants a fighting chance of actually winning a General Election
  • Or you don't like ticking "No religion" on surveys
  • Or you have a sense of vague dissatisfaction that people don't listen to you any more
  • Or you are in favour or against same-sex marriages (or don't know)
  • Or never know what title to give to ordained ministers
  • Or think deep down God is a reasonable bloke, his Son would have made a decent cricketer and the Spirit does his best work quietly
  • Or like the sound of bells

...then you can reasonably claim to be C of E.
Though you can be sure that another Anglican thinks you don't qualify.


  1. I'd add:

    If you like incense.
    If you detest incense.
    If you like singing Hymns Ancient and Modern.
    If you like Singing Mission Praise.
    If you Like the King James Version.
    If you like the New International Version.
    If you like the New Revised Standard Version (Anglican Use)
    If you like the Ordinariate - at arms length.
    If you think that Bishops are OK in small doses.
    If you like meetings for meetings for focus groups.
    If you like Mission Action Planning.
    If you think that the Religous Life is OK, but only if mixed gender opportunities are available.
    If you think that the Queen could sort out the Mess with a stroke of a pen.

  2. Just to Add

    If you like Vestments.
    If you dislike Vestments
    If you use an Ipad for the Gospel
    If you don't use an Ipad for the Gospel.
    If you like Apple Products.
    If you are a Microsoft Junkie and hate Apple products.
    If you make Sloe Gin and drink it with coke.
    If you make Sloe Gin and just drink it.
    If you ride a motorcycle, have long hair and tattoos.
    If you don't ride a motorcycle, have a crew cut and no tattoos.
    If your a male and wear high heels.
    If you're a female and wear donkey jackets and Doc Martins.
    If you're a former acountant, publican or bus driver.
    If you're still an accountant, publican or busdriver.
    If you are to the left, centre or right of orthodxy
    If you're a member of a society of something or other.
    If you're not a member of a society of something or other.
    If you're affirming about anything at all.
    If you're against anything at all.
    and so on, blah, blah, blah

  3. By attending regularly in a Unitarian church I can be assured I cannot be counted as Anglican, as is my wish, although not so easily if in the nineteenth century among a certain group, who liked a few dodgy liberal Anglicans, and also not so easily because I'm not actually a Unitarian member.

    1. Oh I think the C of E has had enough Unitarians to be going on with.

  4. When I was church secretary of an unconventional C of E church, I regularly had people new to the church (from other denominations or no church background) asking me what it meant on the electoral roll application form to state "I am a member of the Church of England", and if they qualified. I explained that by signing the form you became a member, making this statement tautological or at least self-fulfilling. I hope I didn't sign up too many ineligible people!

    1. Thanks for the advice. As PCC secretary currently in the process of revising the Electoral Roll (and hoping that we may mange to break through the 30 members barrier this year), I find this very helpful.

  5. I was brought up Catholic/Salvationist, joined the Methodists and also sing in an Oxford college choir. I always say that this makes me 10% Church of England. Does that mean I ought to get 0.1 votes when it comes to making decisions? ... No, silly me, the church is not a democracy.

  6. You've got this completely wrong. If you want to be a member of the C of E you have to believe what the C of E teaches. You want to know what the C of E teaches? Glad you asked that. Exactly what the Bible says. Except for the bits we don't like. We condemn homosexuality because of Leviticus 20:13a but Leviticus 20:13b which mandates the death penalty for it, has to be understood in its historical and literary context. As I was explaining to the chap who bought my daughters off me.

  7. Or, you don't know what else to say when the admitting nurse raises her eyebrows and says, "Religion?"

  8. Not the TV show, the Reformer.

  9. Yep, I guess you're about right with these. Years back, when I was living in Northtown on the Edge, the vicar of St Thingy's was doing a sort of survey of his area - a who's what kind of survey. Had a long chat which began with me saying I wasn't a Christian. Came to the conclusion that we were both Quite Decent Blokes so he said, "I'll put you down as CofE."

  10. Or you are Jewish but like to come along to evensong at the Cathedral.

    Or you are American and live in the U.S.A. but wait all year for the Service of Lessons and Carols radio broadcast from King's College Cambridge.

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  12. Your picture is a church of England, but it was built for the Catholics before the Reformation. Then Henry VIII came along and said "I'll put you down as C of E".

    1. That tower looks as if it could do with a bit of attention from English Heritage, never mind the C of E!

  13. Perhaps being an Anglican means singing 'Shine Jesus Shine' without wincing.


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