A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND OR A NIGHTMARE?
5th June 2040: Lambeth Palace today announced that the Prime Minister’s office confirmed that King Charles had approved the appointment of Robena Forsyth-Jones, Bishop of Chichester and Chaplain of All Faiths to the King and formerly Bishop of the Outer Hebrides and the Isles as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Robena is married to Joanna who is currently her personal Chaplain. Robena trained for the Ministry at the Internet School of Ministry, part of the Open University. She was ordained Deacon and then Priest in the Chelmsford Worship Centre (formerly known as Chelmsford Cathedral) by the Bishop of Chelmsford Gladys Smith. After her curacy, she was appointed Chaplain to the Gosport Ferry Company and Team Vicar of Portsmouth Worship Centre New Expressions Outreach Team.
Four years later she was appointed Dean of the Worship Centre (previously known as St. Thomas Cathedral) and was elected to General Synod where she served with some distinction. She was part of the Committee for the closure or renaming of Parish Churches as Worship Centres. As well as Christian Services these were opened up for all religions to use to come in line with the King’s new designation as Defender of Faiths. She oversaw the sale of many of the churches made redundant by this innovation to the Muslim Community and some to the Hindu Community; others were sold for redevelopment. This boosted the reserves in the Church which had suffered severely as a result of compensation payments to male clergy made redundant when General Synod passed the notorious Deprivation of Living of Male Incumbents. As there were so many women ordained each year it was necessary to fast track them to become incumbents but that was impossible with many important parishes occupied by the few remaining male incumbents. They were made redundant as part of the Church’s policy to pursue positive discrimination with women appointed to replace them. The sale of the redundant churches also ensured that the more historic churches could be preserved even if no longer used for either Christian or other forms of worship. Several have been turned into very successful gastro pubs open during the week but used on a Sunday morning for services and reverting to a pub for Sunday Lunch and the afternoon and evening.
Bishop Robena was a leading figure in the Women in the Church (Witch) Movement, which she helped to form. She also served on the New Liturgical Committee for “Doing Church & Meeting People where they Are” which had been instrumental in the introduction of many new services including a new service for the Consecration of Bishops. This was conducted quite recently in the Royal Albert Hall when Mary Simpson was consecrated as Bishop of Durham to allow as many people as possible to be present. The evening started with dancing by groups of teenage girls in flimsy outfits accompanied by a group comprising of guitars and drums at a very high decibel level. This was followed by the Gay Liturgical Dancing Team performing several Liturgical dances. The clergy procession entered the Hall not with the anticipated organ voluntary or a trumpet fanfare but with a several boy & girl bands playing modern worship songs. Groups accompanied all the singing and the magnificent Royal Albert Hall Organ was not used during the ceremony. The clergy all wore long flowing garments similar to the old fashioned cassock alb but with trains of lace, some carried by children, and many had flowers in their hair. When the new Bishop had been consecrated balloons, streamers and gold paper came down from the ceiling onto all the participants whilst disco music blared out from a multitude of huge speakers around the Albert Hall. “It was deafening” said Bishop Mary, “but it made me want to dance out of the Hall in joy.” As the new Bishop left the hall girls scattered rose petals from cane baskets making a path of roses for her to walk on. It was hailed by some as a most wonderful experience; others thought it a complete travesty.
Other services that Bishop Robena was instrumental in arranging include: A Requiem or Funeral Service at the Burial or Cremation of Pets, Marriage or Remarriage for Gay Men and Women, Naming and Blessing of Pets, Blessing of Couples Living Together, A Service at the Time of Divorce, A Service for the Baptism of Children at the Marriage of their Parents etc. She is also involved in devising the new liturgy for the service of Holy Communion which we will feature in an article later when it is published.
As Chaplain of All Faiths Bishop Robena has arranged successful negotiations with the leaders of the main religions in the UK including Buddhists, Muslims, Hindu’s, Sikhs, Bahia’s, Pagans, New Age (and others too numerous to mention) with the proposal for holding regular joint multi-faith services.
To be continued……………….