Canon Rosie Harper wrote a letter to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned by the BBC radio 4 Sunday Programme, 3rd March 2013:
Firstly, take good care of yourself and your family. Everyone will expect you to be superman, but it is God’s job to build her church, and she has called you to a specific role because of your particular gifts. Trust that calling- have the courage to be yourself. The more your role and your true self are aligned the greater the chance that the church will rediscover its own integrity.
So what about the mess? The clock is ticking. We only have a little time left to reclaim our heritage as church for the whole nation. There is such a massive disconnect between our obsessions and the big needs and concerns of people in this country. Surely your first and most important task is to recast the church for everyone, not just for the various special interest groups within the institution. Be a real prophet. Talk about the stuff that matters:
How can faith be good news in a recession?
What are the deep values about the way we use money?
How might we give a decent education to all our children?
How are we going to feed the world?
Can we take good care of our elderly?
People long to engage with that big stuff, but don’t think the church has anything to offer them.
Well — you can guess what I’m going to say next...
How can our society take us seriously when all they experience about us is so negative? The reaction when the women bishop’s vote failed in November showed starkly that it isn’t acceptable to discriminate against women.
Nor is it possible to have any credibility if the CofE continues to speak about gay people as if they were a problem. The post-bag I’ve had from anti-gay Christians has been vomit inducing and utterly shameful. How can we prevent the church from becoming the last bastion for homophobia in our society?
These matters of justice and equality are surely make or break. Each of us stands fully equal before God and if we preach otherwise we have no gospel to proclaim. But if we get it right then we can become a church that is as much at home in the real world as Jesus was. We need to be passionate about hope and transformation.
It’s going to take a major shift in thinking and behaving. Let’s be less defensive, less afraid of risk. Let’s be poetic and dream some dreams for the nation. Let’s have a bit of faith and commit to growth and change. Not tomorrow. Today.