Letter: Church put too much faith in commercialism

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The Independent Online
From The Venerable William Paley

Sir: One important lesson the Church of England might learn from recent events surrounding the Nine O'clock Service in Sheffield is that the adoption by church authorities of commercial criteria and business methods has its dangers. The Bishop of Sheffield and the two archdeacons interviewed in the Everyman television programme on Sunday clearly welcomed the NOS as successful. It satisfied consumer demand and filled the building. A recent church advertising campaign suggested that "Come to Church" is what the message of Christmas is all about. If so, the NOS was clearly performing well.

Furthermore, the refusal of ecclesiastical authorities to take responsibility for what happened is breathtaking. The bishop claimed he could not know what was going on in every corner of his diocese. But this was a movement at the centre of his small diocese, which he positively encouraged in many ways.

But why should we expect a bishop to take responsibility for such things, when the Home Secretary adopts an even more flagrant attitude to his episcope?

Yours faithfully,

William Paley

Oxford

27 November

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