21 July 2021, The Tablet

Anglicanism and mission

Anglicanism and mission

John McGinley: ‘We can release new people to lead and new churches to form’


The Gregory Centre’s ‘Myriad’ project is dividing the Church of England with its lay-led ‘release’ agenda. Should the CofE abandon costly buildings and clergy to survive?

My father is a priest in the Anglican Church of Australia. Once, while he was on extended sick leave, his parish treasurer took the opportunity to educate the parish about “rector debt”. This is apparently the debt that a parish accrues when it has an incumbent. As far as I could make out, rector debt has a lot in common with the inefficiencies that tend to arise, Yes Minister-style, in hospitals that admit patients.

The Church of England is currently dealing with a bit of a storm-in-a-sherry-glass over some related terminology. The key phrases this time are “key limiting factors” (church buildings, ordained clergy and theological education), “release” (which can happen for laypeople when key limiting factors are dispensed with) and “passengers” (laypeople who choose not to be released in ways that are mission-effective).

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