Sunday, 12 October 2008

Let Us Prey

There’s an old joke about bureaucrats dealing with every disaster by forming a committee. Similarly, you will be relieved to know, Manx churches also intend to deal decisively with the current international financial crisis.
They are holding a Day of Prayer next Thursday. Not to be outdone, the Buddhists are also offering weekly classes in achieving ‘inner peace’ at £5 a go. Even funnier, the Buddhist nun running them used to be a chartered accountant!
The current Anglican Bishop’s invitation for all to join in is on the Isle of Man Newspapers website at if you want to know more, while the Buddhist bid for punters is at .
One thing intrigues me – the Bishop says ALL Anglican churches on the island will be open. This is ambitious, given that most parishes of three or four small churches stagger by with a few lay clergy supporting one professional vicar.
Some years back, the Synod seems to have decided that not replacing vicars, combined with selling off their rectories as they retired, would be the best way to balance the Diocesan books. In theory, the full-time clergy are gradually replaced by ‘hobby vicars’ – generally retired people or professional types coasting towards retirement who have trained as lay readers. This saves on salaries and increases the conservative voice in Manx clerical circles, while simultaneously reducing that irritating tendency towards liberal views seen in Manx professional clergy who have been ‘in the business’ all their lives. Crikey, some of them even favoured lady vicars and weren’t homophobic!
Another point is that, by the Synod’s own admission, 52% of their churches are ‘surplus to requirement’. We know this from the 2004 Manx government document ‘Study of Places of Worship’ – described as 'a jointly commissioned report by the Department of Local Government, Manx National Heritage and the Diocese of Sodor and Man into the architectural, historical, structural and pastoral significance of local churches'. It caused some controversy when the guy commissioned to write the report inadvertently let slip information given him in confidence suggesting the Diocese might already be lining up buyers.
So is this a last bid for punters before the big sell-off? Or just religionists mining misery for cash as usual?

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