LETTER:C of E: united but not uniform

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The Independent Online
From Canon John Inge

Sir: Jonathan Glancey (26 January) writes of the Church of England:

How could any architect of any real quality pin down the formal, functional and decorative essence of a church that appears to believe so many contrary things and no longer has a common book of prayer (or, if it does, has largely abandoned it in favour of customer oriented facility versions of the original)?

One might reply that the Church of England "appears" to believe so many contrary things largely because of prejudiced views, such Mr Glancey's, that are propagated in the press. The Church of England is as united now in matters of doctrine and liturgy as it has been in most periods of its history.

What other organisation would be criticised for allowing its members, if they prefer, not to use books written in 17th-century English? The Church of England does have a Book of Common Prayer. It also has an alternative service written in modern English. Both are widely used.

Mr Glancey concludes by telling us that a new C of E Church might as well look like the Pompidou centre as Guildford cathedral. Having berated the Prince of Wales, earlier in his article, for having special preferences in architecture, why impose uniformity of style on the C of E?

Different styles are appropriate to different settings and some need to be avant-garde.

I am privileged to work in one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring churches in the land. Thank goodness Mr Glancey was not in an influential position when the building of the Octagon of Ely Cathedral was proposed.

Yours faithfully,

John Inge

Ely Cathedral

Ely, Cambridgeshire

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