View from a church: the heat is the only big issue

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The Independent Online

The burning issue for the congregation of five parishioners worshipping at St Michael's Church yesterday was not the controversial appointment of Bishop Gene Robinson, but the British weather.

Just before the lunchtime service at the immense, neo-Gothic church built in 1881 in Camden Town, North London, the congregation discussed the topic of the day.

"Europe seems to be on fire. It's absolutely scorching," Peter Deed, 65, a retired school assistant from North London, commented.

But after the Liturgy of the Word had been read and the tea was being served, the conversation turned to Bishop Robinson.

The Ordinand, who had led the half-hour service, stressed the neutral standing of the Old St Pancras parish, to which it belongs, and lay the emphasis on "prayer and unity in the church and the international community". He added: "People should sit down and communicate, whatever decisions are reached."

Beverley Kite, a worshipper and a retired company manager, feared a catastrophic schism in the Anglican community lay ahead.

"I am personally against the ordination of gay clergy but leaving aside my views, there is a wider issue at stake. There are 70 million Anglicans in the world and a quarter of them live in Nigeria, most of who are absolutely against such an ordination. We saw that illustrated when Canon Jeffrey John was appointed the Bishop of Reading. This kind of thing can cause real conflict in the world," she said.

Jeanie Hopper, a fellow parishioner, said she felt dismayed with the Anglican Synod for "permissive" appointments such as the gay bishops. "The church is on a downward spiral. I come here to worship God but I no longer believe in the Anglican church. The Synod is just trying to please too many people and being politically correct. My faith in them has completely gone," said the retired nurse.

But Mr Deed, a parishioner for seven years, said: "Jesus symbolises love, tolerance and caring and we should learn to love our brothers without judgement."

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