'Church of England is one generation away from extinction': Time to end arguments, says Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu

Criticism comes as after former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, told a conference that more must done to attract young people into the Church

The Church of England is failing to devote enough energy to spreading the faith in favour of arguing over words and phrases, the Archbishop of York has warned.

Dr John Sentamu compared wrangling within the Church to "re-arranging furniture when the house is on fire" saying people were being left "amid meaninglessness, anxiety and despair" as the church failed to evangelise, or get its Christian message across.

"Compared with evangelism, everything else is like re-arranging furniture when the house is on fire," he said.

"Tragically too often that is what we are doing. Reorganising the structures, arguing over words and phrases, while the people of England are left floundering amid meaninglessness, anxiety and despair."

The criticism from Dr Sentamu, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, was made as the Church's national assembly, or General Synod, backed a new task group to work on boosting congregations.

The move came after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, told a conference in Shropshire at the weekend that more must done to attract young people into the Church.

He warned that the Church of England was "one generation away from extinction."

"As I look at the church today the most urgent and worrying gap is in young people's work," he said. "So many churches have no ministry to young people and that means they have no interest in the future. As I have repeated many times in the past 'we are one generation away from extinction'.

"We have to give cogent reasons to young people why the Christian faith is relevant to them. For most of us, our hearts were touched when we were young and that precious touch we should not hold from our young people."

The Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Rt Rev Robert Paterson, speaking at the General Synod today said potential members were put off by the Church of England's "internalising" tendency.

He said the Church of England was failing to capitalise on a widespread "residual faith" in English society.

"There is a great deal of residual faith around in this country, you only have to meet people in hospital, people who are sad from the death of those they love, people who don't turn up on Sundays to church but who ask us to pray with them," he said.

He added: "The trouble is that what is on the label of the Church tin is still not what is in the tin.

"On the label, the church tin says 'open here for salvation, peace, hope, purpose, love, Kingdom.. but when it is open inside the tin we so often find humbug, or if we are Anglicans, fudge.

"People outside the church have noticed that internalising tendency and they don't want to belong to an apparently useless and self-orientated organisation.

"The symptoms of this can be seen in the general decline of the self- preserving parts of the institutional church and in contrast, growth among the more visionary and less defensive."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones