One Church, several cultures: the composition and cultural reproduction of the contemporary Church of England.
As amended from:
One Church, Two Cultures: the composition and cultural reproduction of contemporary Anglicanism
Part 1) Introduction: Towards a research question.
Part 2) Literature Review:
a) Secularization Studies i) General ii) In Britain
b) Sources of Church studies
c) A recent history of the Church
d) Churchmanship Studies.
Part 3) Methods and Work Plan
Part 4) References
Abstract: This project report aims to outline the rationale, background, methods and work plans for a study of the Church or England according to its “churchmanship” groups. These are the groups and sub-groups based around the Church’s traditions of Evangelical, Catholic, Liberal, and Charismatic. In recent years it seems that outsiders largely hear about Church by way of such sub-cultures. This is in part due to high profile disputes reported in the media, such as ones over homosexuality that have divided along Evangelical/ Liberal lines, and also marketing campaigns such as Alpha, which, although flexible, promotes an essentially Charismatic Evangelical style of Anglicanism. In my study I aim to see whether outside perceptions of the Church really are divided according to churchmanship lines and ask whether the Church can be grouped this way at local leadership and congregational levels.
Part 1) Introduction: Towards a research question.
This study aims to analyse and compare public (principally media) perceptions of the Church of England in relation to the beliefs and practices of parish clergy and their congregations. In particular it employs the concept of “churchmanship” as the category of analysis
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines churchmanship as the “attitude, belief or practice of a churchman”. It is a concept that whilst it applies to differences in any church is in many ways an especially Anglican phenomenon. Since the earliest days of the post-Reformation Church of England, the Church has existed in a state of tension between various tendencies or ethos cultures. This feature of the Church of England and Anglicanism - its rival traditions, including those sometimes called High, Low and Broad, or as the C of E website puts it, Catholic, Evangelical and Liberal -are explored in the many histories of the Church (cf J R D Moorman’s A History of the Church in England (1980) or Mark Chapman’s A Very short History of Anglicanism (2006)). Specific studies dedicated to churchmanship have also tended to start from the perspective of the historical traditions of the Church. Churchmanship is not a well defined term, but at the very widest applies to the broad traditions (High Low and Broad) and at the most specific one of a number of organized parties within the church with specific beliefs and practices. The academic literature indicates a split between those who prefer to see churchmanship as a position in a multi-axis spectrum and others who prefer to conceive of it as belonging to any one of a number of tribes or parties, traditions and sub-traditions. In this study we will be using both approaches.
Although churchmanship groups relate to Church of England and Anglican identity, their presence highlights the fact of division in a way that “identity” does not. Division has been very much the focus of the media depiction of the Church of England and Anglican Communion over the past decade.
Randall writes: “The Church of England has been pictured as torn apart by divisions – behind many of these divisions lie sharp differences between Anglicans, which are collected together under the shorthand term, churchmanship” (Randall 2005 p ix). The divisions he refers to come from a media picture that has the Church split almost to the point of schism along churchmanship lines by fierce rows over attitudes to homosexuality and female leadership with Conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics seen to clash with Liberals and Liberal-Catholics.
Of course Anglican identity can be explored through unifying beliefs and practices and institutions of the Anglican Communion. Avis (2000), Podmore (2005) and Sykes (1987) give various expositions of this and Mark Chapman (2006 p120), explains the unifying Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral established in 1888, which spelt out the four cardinal instruments of union. Yet, last year in 2008 one of the prime institutions intended to uphold and reflect these instruments, the Lambeth Conference, was challenged by the establishment of a rival conference, GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) which threatened to undermine Anglican unity. With the divisions in the Anglican Communion so prominent it is easy to see why the points of division now seem more urgent than the unifying aspects of the communion.
Within the Church of England we see the same story. Whereas commentators may and do analyse the Church according to points of unity - Martin Davie’s “Guide to the Church of England “(2008 pp59-74 and 80-106), for example, discusses governance, establishment and doctrine – there is a real sense of crisis in public discourse, which suggests that to understand the Church we may need to concentrate on the discord. For example, approximately a year ago the Times ran a front page headline “Church in meltdown over Women and Gays” (Ruth Gledhill (16/6/08) ), and around this time a dissenting group modeled after GAFCON, called FOCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) was been established. From media reports at least, it seems that it is the groups at the centre of these rows are as important to understanding the C of E as the overall system that keeps the groups together in the one church.
Existing churchmanship studies have predominately been through samples of clergy and there has been little work to date on how these groups shape outside perceptions of Anglican identity and character, nor on how the churchmanship groups apply to the identity of congregations – both their self identity and how they might be categorized. It is here that I wish to fill a gap. The core of my study is a comparison between outside perceptions of the Church, as seen in public media discourse, as compared with empirical analyses at congregational and local leadership levels. These studies will deal with identity issues according to churchmanship categories.
As I am intending to compare perceptions against empirical study and reality, the first logical step in my study is to interrogate outside public perceptions, using a combination of discourse analysis (of written texts and broadcasts) and empirical research Thus I wish to question whether the portrayal of the church as divided between traditionalists and liberals over matters of female leadership and homosexuality does in fact constitute “common understanding”, within or outside of the church? The second step is to conduct an analysis of the sub-culture types in the church, to establish a system of churchmanship groups grounded in existing studies and in my own research. Here I wish to analyse, both in respect of how outsiders see “churchmen” and congregations, and how the latter groups see themselves. Thirdly I intend to conduct a qualitative, largely ethnographic, study of a reasonable spread of the Church sub-cultures, selected according to sub-culture to give the congregations’ “views from the pews” (i.e to be as typographically if not numerically representative as possible).
There are various audiences to whom I believe such research will be of interest. To begin with, with so much recent talk of schism within the Church, there seems to be great interest in current Church trends amongst many in the Church (and related parties). Secondly, from a larger sociological perspective, information relating to beliefs and practices of the English established Church, may be of interest to analysts of civil society – the Church represents a considerable volunteer force, and moral lobby. (cf Herbert Religion and Civil Society 2003). However within the field of the sociology of religion, the value of this material may be most significant in the area of secularization studies – the dominant area of study in the sociology of religion.
Secularization studies look at religious trends, and such studies are currently split as to whether this Britain is becoming increasingly secularized (cf Bruce 1995) or only appearing to become increasingly secularized as religion becomes “privatised” (cf Davie 1994). Several scholars have noted that religion in the UK seems to be shifting generally to the “right” (cf Bruce 1995 p67-70, Davie 1994 p8 Beckford 2003 p55) – which would mean in terms of my churchmanship analysis, a predicted relative success in vitality of forms of conservative evangelicalism. However, secularization studies are largely dependent on a limited supply of statistics and other indicators such as broadcast media and literature. Congregational studies are particularly sparse, although there are a number of clergy studies (cf Daniel 1967, Towler and Coxon 1979. Randall 2005) There are also studies such as the European Values Study (Barker, Halman, Vloet 1992) that survey general public attitudes.
There are three levels of analysis in which I intend to engage. The first is the national media, which, at the headline level at least, between 1998 and 2008, has presented a narrative of the Church of England as one of division between three groups at odds over issues of female leadership and attitudes towards homosexuality. Secondly, there is the local leadership level, whose discourses seem to be served by trade media – Church newspapers and the like - as supplemented by “new media” (internet blogs etc). This is the level that internet message boards and, existing clergy studies indicate might be the most fully divided into a well-defined series of between six and nine sub-cultures. The last and the hardest to ascertain is the actual beliefs of concerns, beliefs and attitudes of congregations. Here I shall be especially interested to see how appropriate churchmanship categories are in discussing the beliefs and practices of Church of England congregations and how they shape churchgoers’ self-identity.
One proposed research question, following directly from the above, and thus emphasising the aspect of displacement between perceptions at the macro level and realities at the micro level is:
How do public perceptions of the divisions within the Church of England match local leadership beliefs and attitudes and how do these in turn match the views of the congregations?
The issue of sub-culture and how it relates to perceptions and self perceptions in the C of E is so central, however, another way of expressing the question might be:
How does the concept of churchmanship relate to perceptions and self perceptions of the C of E at national leadership, local leadership and congregational levels.?
The second formulation is preferable in that it unifies the project under a single overarching frame of interrogation – that of churchmanship.
Part 2) Literature Review:
There are four areas I wish to cover in the literature survey. The first is secularization theory, about which I want to outline the key concepts and the local application. Secondly I wish to critically outline what sources are available to build up a picture of the contemporary church, (and to explain where my research would fit in). Thirdly I will give a brief recent history of the Church which will contextualise the fourth and final review, that of existing churchmanship studies
Norris and Inglehart (Norris, Inglehart 2004 p1) tell us:
The seminal social thinkers of the nineteenth century ……… all believed that religion would gradually fade in importance and cease to be significant with the advent of industrial society. …. The death of religion was the conventional wisdom in the social sciences during most of the twentieth century; indeed it has been regarded as the master model of sociological inquiry.
However secularization theory, that theory that religion would decline, has attracted widespread criticism and challenge in recent years. If it was once the master model of sociological inquiry it would seem for many to be a model that is truly outmoded. It seems that the passage of time, the spread of sociological enquiry across the globe, and the increasing sophistication of sociological methodology has simply created too many counter examples. Herbert puts the problem thus:
here is the source of the confusion: modernization is held to cause secularization, and modernization is a worldwide process. Yet religion is not in decline everywhere. On the contrary.. Rather, there are many signs of both new and continuing vitality.(Herbert, 2003 p6)
But, it is not simply the case that evidence of continuing vitality challenges the idea that religion is in decline. It is also the case that existing data is often insufficiently clear and unambiguous to be able to read the trends. Nowhere is this more apparent than Britain where two key theorists, Steve Bruce and Grace Davie interpret the same data and indicators to opposite conclusions (cf Bruce 1995 with Davie 1994). Insofar as my study contributes to secularization data, I will be aiming to add an understanding of media discourses, and to add to the existing statistical data by adding an extra layer of analysis to the category of churchgoers: That is to say I will be distinguishing between those people who are statistically lumped together as practising Anglicans but who sociologically might be substantially different creatures.
Already within secularization studies there is some sense of churchmanship sub-culture analysis insofar as there exist various findings that evangelical and charismatic forms of Christianity fare better than moderate forms. (cf Bruce 1995 p67-70, Davie 1994 p8 Beckford 2003 p55). However although such studies may indicate relative fortunes, we do not find much analysis of what is entailed in being a member of a particular churchmanship group.
The literature also shows an awareness of the particular unique significance of England’s established Church (cf Beckford 2003 p55, Davie 1994 139-159), yet we do not know a great deal about its composition or the levels of understanding amongst the congregations about the churchmanship to which they seem to belong. Nor do we know within the Church, whether it really is the style of religious interpretation that attracts church members to one particular expression of Anglicanism, rather than factors such as location, successful marketing or the provision of community facilities, or even of childcare facilities?
Before positioning the work I intend to undertake within the canon of British secularization studies, I would like to briefly recap some key concepts within a general historical framework.
Amongst the classical thinkers, referred to by Norris and Inglehart,(2004 p1) Max Weber’s thinking on secularization (1930 reprint 2007) has left the most enduring legacy. (Furseth and Repstad 2006 p34-37, Giddens 1989 p538). For Weber the success or otherwise of religious ideas was linked to the general plausibility of such ideas in the context of other religious and scientific ideologies. It was his belief that in the long term, religion would diminish in terms of its plausibility as science increasingly produced alternative explanations of various phenomena. Specifically Weber provided an account of how rationalization – the adoption of scientific explanations – squeezes out religion.
But what exactly is meant by secularization? In the broadest terms secularization is the removal of religious influence. Bryan Wilson puts it, “that process by which religious institutions, actions, and consciousness lose their social significance” (Wilson 1966 p 14). The three main cluster of ideas surrounding pro-secularization theories are, differentiation, societalization, and rationalization. These are seen as sub-divisions of modernization. This is a process seen as starting at the reformation and accelerating after the enlightenment (Herbert 2003 p 27) Differentiation refers to the separating out of different areas of social function; for instance government, legislature, education and medicine which were once all under the control of the overarching religious system. Societaliztion refers to the changing patterns of community living, from local to urban and from neighbourhood to national identification. Rationalization is the adoption of scientific methods and standards as the general arbiter of truth. It may be seen to challenge religion directly and indirectly: directly when new ideas are thought to “disprove” old ideas, indirectly, when new ideas make old ones redundant (Herbert 2003 p27-30).
Some more recent thinkers have concentrated on contemporary factors. In order to contain this summary to the British position, I am not going to expand on ideas such as “deprivatization” (Casanova 1994) or other theories that reflect predominately on the global stage. However I will briefly outline some theory that whilst it falls outside of the key positions on which I will be concentrating, still relates to British sociological religious studies.
Rational Choice Theory (RCT) revolves around two central concepts. Firstly, that the existential condition of humankind creates a constant demand for religious explanations, and secondly, that when the supply side responds to that demand, then we will see increasing religious behavior. There is plenty of supply in our modern times and RCT theorists such as Rodney Stark find plenty of evidence for religiosity too. (Herbert 2003 p32) The work of Stark has been extensively counter-argued by Steve Bruce (e.g 2002 pp5, 42, 62-63), who considers Stark’s statistics and indicators unreliable.
Some thinkers have also looked at changing religious patterns through the lens of post-modern analysis, notably Richard Inglehart and Zygmunt Bauman (Herbert 2003 p 33). Inglehart finds post-modern conditions of changing meta-narratives and global communications bad for traditional forms of religion and more fertile for newer forms of religion and spirituality (Inglehart 1997 from Herbert p34). Bauman feels that postmodern conditions allow fundamentalist beliefs to allow believers to enjoy the benefits of modern society without paying the price (Bauman 1998;p74). Insofar as there may be an overlap between Bauman’s fundamentalist categories and the conservative churchmanship groups that both Bruce and Davie (Bruce 1995 p67, Davie 1994 p 8) identify as faring disproportionately well, such an analysis may give an alternative explanation for this phenomenon.
Bruce and Davie two of the best known commentators on patterns of religious behavior and decline in the UK currently writing, have contrasting opinions. Bruce is known as a proponent of “classical secularization theory” (Davie 2003 p13), and in this regard largely follows in the tradition of Weber (Bruce 2002 p2). Davie is best known for her analysis of religious behaviour in the UK as being “vicarious religion” or “believing without belonging” – that is to say that religious behavior has declined at the institutional level, but that there is still significant evidence for continued religious vitality at the private level. (Beckford 2003 p53-55) We might also describe this as religious metamorphosis. In other words the notion that, religious behavior doesn’t disappear; it merely becomes redirected. Such an idea of metamorphosis is echoed in the work of Heelas and Woodhead (Heelas and Woodhead 2005) who see the contemporary situation as providing conditions for a shift from objective religious systems that concentrate on individual obligations, to spiritualities that concentrate on subjective fulfillment. Grace Davie’s work is also associated with the related ideas of vicarious religion and inherited religious memories (Beckford 2003 -53-55 Davie 1994, 2003). European churches, Davie argues, are able to carry out vicarious religious duties successfully as they are repositories of a second concept, that of inherited religious memories. 
Bruce claims that there exists a close relationship between modernization and secularization. He says modernization will result in irreversible secularization except “where religion has other work to do for cultural defense and where there is cultural transition going on “(Bruce 2002 p37). His definition of religion is:“beliefs, actions and institutions which assume the existence of supernatural entities with powers of action, or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose” (Bruce 1995 ix), which excludes what for him are quite specious ideas of continued religious vitality outside of conventional religious observance (Bruce 1995 46-60). His analysis of the decline of British religiosity uses available statistics, and supplements this with a number of other possible indicators. Amongst his statistics and indicators (Bruce 1995 pp31,32,35,38,41,42-44,55), there are areas that I believe could benefit from further analysis according to churchmanship: For instance he looks at “religious observation” statistics which are not further analysed into churchmanship categories even though he acknowledges a “shift to the right” (Bruce 1995 p67). He also counts media accounts (both print and broadcast) amongst his religious indicators (1995, pp 55-57, 2002 p 167), without critically analyzing the media picture.
Davie’s approach separates out extrinsic and intrinsic indicators of religion. She lays this out in her survey of the European situation where she discusses five indicators she finds from the EVS (European Values Study) and EVSSG (European Value System Study Group) (Davie 2001 p266) . She then divides the indicators into two groups, those that represent feelings and experience, and the “more numinous” indicators of religious belief, and secondly “the orthodoxy, participation and attachment”, saying that it is the latter which is declining and the former which proves more resilient. (Davie 2001 p266). This approach, the separation of these categories, will be kept in mind during the empirical congregational study part of my research, and may help guide questionnaire composition.
In her “Religion in Britain since 1945”(Davie 1994), which specifically deals with the local situation, Davie uses the expression “common religion” (also known as “privatized religion” ) (Davie 1994 p75-76) to denote religious behavior separate from active participation or membership of a religious institution. Her arguments for the case for enduring religious sensibility in the United Kingdom include the following sub-arguments: Firstly she includes an historical analysis, that helps inform and explain her examination of the contemporary situation (Davie 1994 p29-44). Secondly she provides an interpretation of statistics that indicate that extrinsic religious observance has declined (Davie 1994 p 45-72). Thirdly she gives an interpretation of statistical and ethnographic material that supports her belief that religious belief exists in a privatized form (Davie 1994 p74-84). Fourthly Davie enters into a discussion of the role of the Church of England as an established church. At the time of writing Religion in Britain since 1945 (1994) this came with a question mark over the future of the Church of England, in relation to the controversies in the 90’s over female clergy. (Davie 1994 139-159).
Many of Davie’s indicator’s for religiosity intersect with my churchmanship analysis – Her questions about established religion for instance overlap with my concerns and she expresses opinions about the media as an expression of “believing without belonging” (Davie 1994 pp112-113). Furthermore she devotes most of chapter 8 of Religion in Britain since 1945 (1994 139-159) to a discussion of the role of the Church of England as an established church.
However, although I see a case for my work possibly augmenting a pool of data to which the theories of Bruce and Davie might be applied, I am not specifically engaged in trying to add to their work - I offer the relationship of what I am engaged in and these theorists merely as an example of how my work might be applied. To further decouple my research from specific theorists, it will be helpful to look at their work objectively and see what I consider to be their strengths and weaknesses.
Where Bruce and Davie agree is with the interpretation of statistics and indicators of external religious behavior: These indicate that external signs of religiosity, such as church membership and participation are in decline. I have found this echoed in the media discourse. They also seem to agree that conservative and charismatic expressions of religiosity are faring better than moderate and liberal expressions. They differ insofar as Bruce considers this to be the entire picture, whereas Davie believes that there is still evidence of a significant degree of meaningful subscription to Christian and other religious values which are privatized or to use her expression, examples of “common” religion. She sees religious institutions as declining no more rapidly than other voluntary institutions, and sees them as repositories of religious symbolism that we see accessed on various occasions, notably witnessed at times of public tragedy such as the Hillsborough tragedy or the death of Princess Diana (Davie 1994 p88-91 2002 p19).
Beckford (2003 p53), describes Davie’s position as odd insofar as it admits the declining statistical significance of religious institutions whilst still arguing that they occupy a significant public role. He identifies three major criticisms (Beckford 2003 p54). Firstly he says that the indicators simply don’t support Davie’s claim of a readjustment of believing and belonging. Secondly he rejects her claim that belonging to the church matches similar drops in membership of other voluntary groups, and therefore that public secularization just maps a change in attitudes to institutional belonging. He counter-argues that religious groups, and here one must consider the Church of England as a prime example, often have special privileges that artificially resuscitate them, so therefore the actual position in these institutions if they were otherwise on a par with comparable voluntary institutions would be far worse. Thirdly, and again of direct relevance to my criteria of churchmanship, he says that uncritical use of this theory could lead to a downplaying of the phenomenon of success amongst charismatic and conservative evangelical groups.
Bruce’s position has the benefit of providing a simple and clear account of a situation of undeniable decline in church-going behavior in Britain. In fact the British position provides the strongest support for his theories. As classic secularization theory falters in the face of counter-indications, Bruce suffers similarly. So, for instance, on a worldwide level, he is criticized for failing to account for the increase of religious behavior in, for example, the US, which he sees as an “exception”.(Furseth and Repstad 2003 p88) His US statistics disagree with those of RCT theorists such as Stark. (e.g 2002 pp5, 42, 62-63). However in the UK, the accuracy of statistics and indicators he uses are not generally disputed. One might question however whether he defines religion so closely that he automatically discounts one major point of interest – to wit: whether disenchantment with public religion is matched by a decline in private religiosity. He warns against discovering religion by definition (Bruce 1995 46-60, but one could equally question whether he is in danger of eliminating religion by definition. Where, and if possible, I intend to attempt to incorporate some indication of the relative attitudes towards public and private religion in the different churchmanship groups – for example by asking how important they feel church membership and attendance to be.
Callum Brown, who comes to the field of the sociology of religion from the perspective of an historian, takes a different approach to the analysis of Church history during the period 1800 – 2000. He utilizes cultural theory and makes considerable use of discourse analysis of personal histories to make sense of other statistical data. In “The Death of Christian Britain” (Brown 2001) he sets out his major themes, which are returned to in “Religion and Society in Twentieth Century Britain” (2006)
Brown’s themes are, firstly, that Britain did not in fact undergo a period of secularization from 1800 to the 1960’s; secondly that the major change in religious behavior came in the 1960’s as the result of major changes in social discourses (Brown 2001 p21); thirdly that these changes were inextricably tied up with the lives of women who were the prime “carriers of the discourse” (Davie (critiquing Brown)2002 p20), and lastly that the true measure of religiosity in a society is how much it is tied up with the cultural norms of that society.(Brown 2001 pp12-14)
Brown uses statistics in combination with his personal testimonies to underpin his controversial view (Brown 2001 p14). These run, as Brown himself indicates, contrary to conventional statistical interpretation. And Brown also indicates that the heart of the thesis comes from his discourse analysis. A difficulty with Brown’s heavy use of personal testimonies is the question of how far one can generalize from them. Given his emphasis on shared discourse one might have also expected his thesis to have had more reliance on the development of broadcast media in the sixties, and his accent on female discourses is criticized by Davie as being too strong (Davie 2002 p21).
Like Davie I remain unconvinced by the stress Brown puts on the role of women, to the exclusion of almost all other factors, and I am suspicious of statistical and other indicators he uses to support his timeframe for secularization. However I am interested both in the greater role he gives to qualitative analysis – I too will be employing extensive use of discourse analysis in my study – and in the prominence he gives to public discourse as a measure of religiosity. I hope that my study of the media and new media discourses will prove instructive to others who wish give similarly high value to public discourse as a measure of secularization.
In summary, we have seen that the concept of secularization was once considered to be paradigmatic in the social sciences, but that the notion that religion loses its normative grip and many of its functions as time passes, has in time been challenged and replaced by a number of secularization theories that give competing accounts of how the function and place of religion change in time in various geographical locations. Such theories are rooted in a limited pool of data, the interpretation of which is not always clear and various theorists occupying varying theoretical terrain interpret the same data in different ways. In Britain two key theorists Bruce and Davie interpret the available data – including, church statistics, general values and attitudes surveys, public discourses and the social standing of church related institutions in competing ways, with Bruce seeing them as examples of how religion loses influence, and Davie arguing that they simply illustrate how religion moves into the private sphere. Callum Brown uses an analysis of public discourses to argue that British society has become secularized, but essentially only since the 60’s, which is a radical departure from other theorists - most secularization theories occupy a timeframe beginning at the reformation and accelerating after the enlightenment (Herbert 2003 p27).
We have seen that both Bruce and Davie explicitly comment on the relative success of conservative expressions of religion compared to liberal and moderate expressions (Bruce 1995 p67-70, Davie 1994 p8 Beckford 2003 p55). There is only limited academic literature on the comparative fortunes of different expressions of Christianity in the UK (e.g Percy 2006) but the Church of England with its juxtaposition of conservative, liberal and moderate churchmanship groups is undoubtedly especially fertile territory for such studies, and in my methods I shall remain aware of the possibilities of my research to help illuminate the reasons behind the relative fortunes of the different churchmanship groups.
Some of the questions I intend to keep in mind whilst preparing my congregational fieldwork, and which derive from this survey of secularization studies, are: Is liberal Anglicanism too close to general society in terms of beliefs,( which in Davie’s scheme, “believes without belonging “anyway), to provide any incentive to opt into it? Does conservative Christianity fare well because it helps with the uncertainties of the “postmodern” condition (cf Bauman in (Herbert 2003 p 33)), or is it the case that the “market conditions” are better suited for conservative religion (cf Rational Choice Theory). And, is conservative religion seen as a distinctive “religious market option” because its authority structure requires separation out from the norms of society (e.g the rejection of metropolitan liberal values seen in the homosexuality row), or is it just successfully and distinctively marketed (a thesis put forward in Robert Beckford’s 2003 documentary film – God is Black)?
Irrespective of how my research might help shed light on such questions, my main aim is simply to add to the pool of existing religious sociology data by providing more data and analysis of public discourses, the styles of religion practiced in the C of E and perceptions and self understanding according to the category of churchmanship which should provide useful material for secularization theorists to use in any number of ways.
Sources of data for secularization theory and recent Church history:
Secularization studies and churchmanship studies are rooted in history (e.g Davie 1994, Randall 2005). The categories of available sources that one can use to construct a recent history of the Church are: statistics, histories, and discourses and recent history as provided by media and new media.
The available statistics relevant to the Church of England come from various sources many of which are listed in Bruce’s Religion in Modern Britain (1995 pp71-72). Some of the most comprehensive statistics come from Peter Brierley whose Christian Research, Religious Trends surveys also make some effort to differentiate between churchmanship groups (Brierley 1991, 1997,1999,2001,2003, 2005,2006, 2008). Data on very recent church history comes largely from discourses in the media.
Of all the available sources of church data it seems that media discourse is the one most sparsely covered in the literature. It is my intention to conduct a three part empirical media analysis and discourse analysis, whose methods and timescales are discussed in the methods section of this report. Initial impressions, however, show a narrative where “conservatives” – usually sub-divided into Anglo-Catholics and Conservative Evangelicals – are pitted against “liberals”, with the points of division being the church’s attitude towards homosexuality and the ordination of female bishops.
I have completed a series of interviews amongst broadsheet religious affairs correspondents ( Clifford Longley (ex-Times/Tablet), Ruth Gledhill (Times), George Pitcher (Telegraph), Jonathan Petre (ex-Telegraph/ Mail), Victoria Combe (ex-Telegraph/Tablet), Jonathn Wynne Jones (Telegraph), Stephen Bates (Guardian), Andrew Brown (ex-Independent/Guardian), Andrew Carey (Church of England Newspaper) In this empirical research my findings were as follows (please note that whilst a brief indication of individual opinion is given in brackets, a full breakdown is available on request):
Firstly I found a decline in media interest (GP, CL, AB, and VC all explicitly commented). More specifically it was collectively acknowledged that a lack of interest in the C of E as the established church exists throughout the tabloids. The “Red Tops” interest was often characterised as being simply interested in “naughty vicar” stories (AB GP VC SB RG JW agreed explicitly; JP and CL by implication). It was universally felt that the Mail had an interest in religion but only outside of Church affairs and as it impinged on the lives of their readers ( GP, VC, SB, AC, JWJ, JP, AC agreed; CL and AB implied) . Correspondents felt that Church of England affairs were only extensively covered by the Times, Telegraph and Guardian (CL and AC explicit agreed; all others implicitly agreed).
Secondly, among the broadsheets there was a strong feeling that the Times covers religion and the C of E as news more extensively than any other paper (all but AC agreed, AC not asked). It was thought that it feels that its readers are interested in the Church as establishment (all but AC agreed, AC not asked). It was further perceived by some that the Times makes more of stories than other papers and that by some that the paper has biases that vary with time and story(AB, GP, SB, JWJ, JP, CL, AC explicitly agreed; VC implied agreement).
Thirdly, (and leaving aside the tabloids), I found that with respect to possible liberal bias, there exists among the correspondents a general assumption that the Independent and the Guardian would have a consistently socially liberal stance on homosexuality and gender equality (AB, GP, VC SB, JWJ, JP, CL, AC all agreed). It was felt however that the Times and Telegraph although substantially socially conservative on certain issues (RG, JWJ, GP agreed ) – such as sexuality – could not be relied on so to be, and often followed progressive metropolitan values (CL and VC commented strongly so)
Fourthly, it was agreed that the coverage has been dominated by schism stories but that some papers are losing interest in this story (CL JWJ and AB specifically). Within these “division” stories about conflict between churchmanship groups have been generally fairly reported (JP, JWJ, SB remarked so; SB, GP AB offered explanations of how the mechanics of news reporting can present a lop-sided picture). Moreover, it was considered that that the story about the internal church disputes doesn’t necessarily reflect sentiment in the pews.
Finally it was thought that the use of labels may be crude but it is done with the best intention to relay a complex picture (JP felt the broad-brush use of labels was sometimes “inevitable”, JWJ, GP and SB agreed that the use of labels was a way of simplifying a complicated picture). For example while certain evangelical groups have a clear line on certain issues, we may find that liberal groups are less well organised and defined and so we may still question whether we should talk of people being liberal as per issue, as much as talk about liberal, as a group (AB, GP, VC, SB, JWJ, JP, CL, AC remarked accordingly).
Over the last couple of years “new media” forms – internet blogs, message boards etc – often user generated, have supplemented traditional media forms. The emerging importance of blogs and other new media is currently becoming evident in many spheres of activity. In the recent political past we have seen that blogs caused the resignation of aide to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Damian McBride. This was seen as a significant rite of passage in the “blogosphere”, by media commentators (e.g “Political blogs thrown centre stage by email 'smear' row” April 11 2009 Iain Dale Telegraph). The impact of blogs on religious discourse was the subject of a recent Radio 4 documentary, by Robert Beckford (God.com radio 4 February 9 2009 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00hc2cx ). I am intending to conduct a literature survey and media analysis of blogs at a future point, which will attempt to answer questions of who they are written by, who they are written for, their scope in subject, and their scope in numbers. However a cursory review reveals a number of user-generated Church of England related Blogs such as, Thinking Anglicans (liberal), Inclusive Church (liberal), Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream ( conservative evangelical) The Ugley Vicar (conservative evangelical parody) Fulcrum ( open evangelical), Anglican Mainstream (conservative evangelical), Stand Firm (conservative evangelical), and that production communities are keen to keep pace with their own interactive “faith blogs”, which correspondents and editors told me were very popular.
Print and internet discourses are well archived which makes research straightforward. Researching broadcast material is currently more problematic, although the situation is made easier as increasing amounts of material become available on internet archives and DVD. There is also a limited amount of literature on religious broadcasting which I am still in the process of assimilating. That being said I have some early stage findings of the way in which broadcast material informs the public discourse on the Church of England.
As noted by Steve Bruce (Bruce 1995 p 55), religious worship programming has declined in recent times. (This is interpreted differently by Davie 1994 p112-114 as “Believing without belonging par excellence”) In 1995 however Bruce noted that there were fewer services broadcast live on Sundays and ITV has lost Highway, its rival to Songs of Praise. On Sunday mornings, during the past decade, this pattern seems to have continued. BBC’s broadcast service gave way to the Heaven and Earth show (that dealt with religious and ethical issues from either a non or multi partisan fashion) which gave way to The Big Issues.
Outside of specific “God slots”, documentary output covers a fair degree of religious broadcasting. The BBC’s and Channel 4’s religious output are discussed on specific websites (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/ and http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/index.html ) Documentary output has remained reasonably consistent over the last 25 years and although documentaries rarely seem to interrogate the C of E head on, they do deal with large religious issues, frequently via a personality or big current issue. Channel 4 has just finished a multi-part celebrity driven exploration of “Christianity”, which gave a range of opinions. Twenty five years earlier, in 1984, the BBC commissioned Cambridge theologian, Don Cupitt to make a multi-part documentary that deconstructed and reinterpreted Christianity. This inspired a radical liberal churchmanship group in the Church of England.
In the nineties The Alpha Course, an influential expression of evangelical and particularly charismatic evangelical Church of England Churchmanship, was given a sympathetic treatment in ITV’s – Alpha: Did it change their lives, presented by Sir David Frost. In recent years there has been a series of documentaries inspired by the hit novel “The Da Vinci Code”, which attempted to deconstruct Christianity: Channel 4 commissioned The Hidden Story of Jesus and The Secret Family of Jesus, and most recently The Secrets of The Twelve Disciples, all fronted by theologian Robert Beckford.
In Beckford ‘s God is Black (broadcast 2003) he approaches the subject of the division of the Church of England ( between liberal and conservative) via the impact of African Christianity. In 2008 there were other attempts by Channel 4 to look directly at the Church, presented as the personal views of the presenters. These documentaries took a skeptical view of the Christian right of conservative evangelical church groups.
The caption for Rod Liddle’s “Dispatches “The New Fundamentalists”” (2008) on the Channel 4 website, in particular played up churchmanship divisions in the Church of England. It read:
The mainstream of the Anglican Church, comfortably familiar to Radio 4 listeners and those who pray only at Christmas and Easter, is in decline. But the evangelical wing is growing. It is targeting and recruiting young people and, says middle-of-the-road Christian Rod Liddle, could make up half the congregation of the Church of England within five years.
In David Modell’s (2008) recent documentary “In God’s Name”, looking at the rise of Fundamentalism in the UK well – known ex Anglican (now Assemblies of God) extremist (Stephen Green) is portrayed to be in close working relationship with current Anglican Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship. The pattern was the same – Modell was present in his own film and the subject matter was unlikely to be supported by many. BBC2’s Battle of the Bishops (broadcast Spring 2008) looked at the breakaway evangelical conference GAFCON, in a moderately unsympathetic manner. A more sympathetic take on evangelical and evangelical Church of England beliefs was presented on Channel 4’s “Make me a Christian” (broadcast 2008)
Church affairs seem to be treated on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky news simply in relation to their position in the mainstream news agenda.
Of course religious output is not limited to factual programming. In the same way that public discourse is carried in novels so it is carried in drama. In British Broadcasting there seems to be a tradition in straight and comic drama of portraying Church of England vicars in a nostalgic and mild manner. In recent years perhaps the most resonant portrayal of the C of E on TV was BBC’s hit comedy, the Vicar of Dibley, now frequently rerun on satellite channels. Dawn French portraying one of the new breed of women vicars, still managed to perfectly capture a sense of nostalgia for passing rural English community cemented by a gentle liberal pastoral presence. The Vicar of Dibley was taken into the nation’s hearts as not only a symbol of the changing C of E, but as a symbol of a rural idyll. Rebecca Fowler wrote in the Telegraph (Women Priests and their continuing Battle 12/11/2007), with respect to the plight of women vicar
Perhaps the single greatest sign of acceptance was the success of The Vicar of Dibley, the comedy series in which Dawn French's Geraldine Granger ran a country parish. At its peak, it attracted 15 million viewers - an audience the Church could only dream of seeing in the pews.
Callum Brown discusses the role of satire in the 60’s in Death of Christian Britain (Brown 2001 p178), in undermining authority including church authority. A similar wave of satire arose in the 80’s -for example the C of E came in for some particularly acerbic satirizing during the 80’s, in the satirical sketch show Not the Nine O’Clock News, which followed one sketch – Are You A Gay Christian ?, the next week with Mel Smith portraying a liberal vicar asking the question, The Devil – is he all bad ?
And of course religious broadcasting is not limited to the television. Radio 4 still includes a live Sunday service and a daily service on its am frequency. Religious commentators get an outlet on Thought for the Day, and Start the Week and Midweek. In particular Roger Bolton presents a religious affairs programme, Sunday. Radio 4’s religious output is often perceived as liberal and intellectual. Anthony Jay characterizes it as “media liberalism” in his 2007 Sunday Times piece “Confessions of a BBC liberal” (August 12 2007)
In David Hendy’s piece in the New Humanist ( “God Slot” October 2007) he notes how
Historically, much of the burden of implementing this (he is referring here to Reith’s desire for the BBC to maintain moral and religious values) religious mission has fallen most heavily on Radio Four – the direct descendant of the old Home Service…..y, the station has never quite dispelled – nor wished to dispel – what one of its producers described as a “vague moral Christian aura”.
But tellingly, then goes on to discuss how close Radio 4 has got to allowing atheists to contribute to Thought for the Day, and implies that that day might not be far off. A perception of Radio 4 religious programming is given in the Channel 4 online comment about Liddle’s Dispatches programme, The New Fundamentalists;
In addition to these sources from which we may piece together a history of the Church there are a number of straightforward histories of the Church. These include Grace Davie: “Religion in Britain since 1945” (1994) , Brown: The Death of Christian Britain (2001) , Brown: Religion and Society in Twentieth Century Britain (2006), Bruce: Religion in Modern Britain (1995) , Hastings A History of English Christianity (1986), and Beeson “Round the Church in 50 years: An intimate journey”(2007). Post-millenium history is covered in a highly personal form from Michael Hampson, in his “ Last Rites” (2006), and the former Guardian correspondent Stephen Bates has recent an openly polemical and politicized account of recent Church history in “A Church at War”(Bates 2005). Using all the sources available I offer the following sketch of the postwar church from which I hope a picture of the dynamics of the church and the context of the current disputes is made clear.
Recent History of The Church of England.:
Hampson (2006) tells us that “by the mid 20th” century the liberal centre of the C of E had become more Catholic, the Catholic wing more liberal and Protestant Evangelicalism more isolated and separated. He claims that one churchmanship group, the Liberal Catholic had achieved a consensual dominance and that a rival group, the Evangelicals were cast into the “role of loyal opposition. “(Hampson 2006 p64).
It is not clear exactly what he means by mid 20th century, but one can only conclude he means the forties or the sixties or both but not the fifties. Brown (2001) , Davie (1994) , and Hastings (1986) all indicate that the dominant characteristics of the fifties were post war austerity and an accompanying sense of piety, evangelical piety (Brown 2001 170, Davie 1994, Hastings 1986: 444).
Hastings, like Brown emphasises the phenomenon of the “crusades” of American evangelist Billy Graham to Britain. He adds that this alone may have been less significant if it hadn’t been supplemented by the appointment of John Stott in 1950 as the Rector of All Soul’s, Langham Place. Hastings (1986 p455) tells us
from then on (Stott) must be counted one of the most influential figures in the Christian World, standing at the point of intersection of the Evangelical movement and the Church of England.
His influence was longstanding. Bates in 2005 described him as the “high priest of Evangelical Anglicanism”, and speaks of his continuing importance (Bates 2005 p12).
As with many areas of society conservatism in religion was turned upside down in the radical sixties. Historians have analysed religion in the sixties in different ways but although the challenge to the Church of new secular ideas and social attitudes is historically important it is the challenge to the Church of new theologies, both liberal and Pentecostal, that is primary relevance to churchmanship studies. So although the sixties saw radical changes to public attitudes towards gender , sexuality, authority, youth culture, and media; regarding the Church specifically, the sixties brought two particular additions to the Anglican landscape. Firstly it brought new “liberal” theology out of the domain of academia, and into the general purview of the Church. Secondly “charismatic” Pentecostal expressions of Christianity arrived in the Church of England. Regarding the first, one event in particular is associated with the popularizing of liberal theology: the publication in 1963 of Honest To God by the Bishop of Woolwich, John Robinson. Although this received a great deal of attention in the media at the time and is extensively noted by historians (e.g Brown 2001, p186, p190, Davie 1994 p 34), the longer term influence on the Church is moot. The ideas it brought to a more mainstream audience were complex, suited to academia but unpopular in churches, and although these ideas would later be re-popularised in the eighties by the then Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins and Don Cupitt the extent to which these beliefs permeated into the wider religious constituency of the country is less well established.
The introduction of Charismatic evangelicalism certainly did take root in the Church of England. Hastings comments on how there was initial skepticism amongst Evangelicals who distrusted the idea of authority coming from the Holy Spirit as well as the Bible (1986 p557) Superficially similar to the informal and emotional styles of worship found in Charismatic Evangelicalism but not to be confused was the proliferance of guitar based liturgies that attempted to keep pace with the musical tastes of the era. (Hampson 2006 p66) – popular songs included Lord of the Dance and Kum Ba Yah. Hastings tells us about the interplay between liberal Anglo-Catholic leadership (1986 p532),and developing Evangelical “movements”( 1986 p554). Combining Hastings , Brown and Hampson we get a picture of the sixties’ Church as comprising distinctive Evangelicals (associated with John Stott), emerging Charismatics, Liberal Anglo-Catholics (associated with the Archbishop of Canterbury), and Liberals interested in the “new theology” (associated with John Robinson).
The seventies like the sixties saw religious decline in the UK. (Hastings 1986 p702) ( Brown 2001 p189). However the picture was nuanced. Although the general pattern was of decline, religion did display some signs of growth. For example Hastings (Hastings 1986 p619) talks of the growth of house churches, the flourishing of Evangelicalism (Hastings 1986 p615), and the continuing influence of John Stott (Hastings 1986 p615-617). The Evangelical, Donald Coggan had a relatively brief tenure from 1974 to 1980 as Archbishop of Canturbury, which marked a shift away from the liberal catholic mood of Ramsey’s reign.
In terms of numbers during the eighties the Church of England declined only slightly less badly then during the seventies. (cf Bruce 1995 p40).Robert Runcie, from the Anglo-Catholic centre became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1980 (Hastings 1986 p 613). The eighties was a time when certain liberal voices reached a mainstream audience. David Jenkins, a controversial figure who publicly espoused some radical theology became the Bishop of Durham in 1984 . His radical attitudes towards the virgin birth and the literal resurrection are discussed in Beeson’s Round the Church in 50 years (Beeson 2007 p207-208).That was also the year that the BBC commissioned the radical liberal theologian Don Cupitt to make the series “The Sea of Faith” (http://www.sofn.org.uk/pov/pearse_editorial.html). The Church also adopted a socially liberal stance, which brought it into conflict with the Conservative government. (Beeson 2007 p200, 201, 214).
According to Hampson and Davie (2006, 1994), the real change during the eighties was not in the liberal attempts to merge with the secular, it was in the groundswell of Evangelical Anglicanism. Michael Hampson claims that the eighties was the time when Charismatics and Evangelicals joined forces ( Hampson 2006 p90-91), and Beeson notes the rise of the “evangelical” Holy Trinity Brompton and Bishopsgate churches(Beeson 2007 p204-206).
This revival of evangelicalism can only have been helped by the appointment of evangelical George Carey as archbishop of Canterbury in 1991. And Holy Trinity Brompton’s Alpha course was one of two particularly visible developments in the Church of England in the 1990’s, the other being a particularly “liberal “development, the ordination of women as clergy.
Hampson proposes that by the mid-nineties the Church was divided into “liberal and fundamentalist”, and that (Hampson 2006 p102-105) the existing power balance between churchmanship groups was upset when the ordination of women caused a lot of traditionalist Anglo-Catholics to defect to Rome, giving a disproportionate amount of power to Evangelicals. It is worth noting that Hampson’s book is as much personal testimony and polemic as conventional history – he is a former gay priest who left the Church because of his opposition to Evangelical attitudes (Hampson 2006 p3-4) –and so many of his observations may be coloured or skewed. Nonetheless the success of his book (http://www.michaelhampson.co.uk/ ) indicates he is speaking from a wider platform than simply himself.
The ordination of women was also significant in its precipitation of interest groups with certain ideological beliefs. Reform, an uncompromising Evangelical group was set up in 1993, with a covenant that explicitly rejects the appropriateness of women priests. Forward in Faith, an Anglo-Catholic group was set up in 1992. Its website describes it thus: “Forward in Faith is a worldwide association of Anglicans who are unable in conscience to accept the ordination of women as priests or as bishops.” A contrasting group, Affirming Catholicism was set up in 1990, and soon counted prominent liberal Anglo-Catholics Jeffrey John and Rowan Williams amongst their number. A number of newspaper reports demonstrate their early commitment to supporting the role of women as priests. (e.g The Times November 16, 1992, Monday “Carey plays down danger of mass defections by priests”By Louise Hidalgo, “Christians accused of politicking” The Times November 2, 1992 (Ruth Gledhill), LETTER: God, Women and a Brighter Future, The Guardian (5-3-94))
Regarding the Alpha course, statistics in 2004 showed that Alpha’s Holy Trinity Brompton attracted 6000 people each Sunday. At that point over 6,000,000 people had completed the Alpha course. There is evidence that Alpha is the church’s biggest recruiting sergeant. (cf Middle Class Heaven – Saturday Times Magazine 3/7/04 Hilary Rose.) Alpha had its roots in The Toronto Blessing Movement, a Charismatic event that occurred in the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church in 1994.
My initial newspaper discourse analysis suggests that the period between the 1998 and 2008 Lambeth Conferences was dominated in the public eye by two areas of controversy. These came together in the summer of 2008 when rows over female leadership and attitudes towards homosexuality lead to dissent. The most provocative act of opposition was as the formation of a rival to the Lambeth conference, GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference). GAFCON was a rival evangelical conference set up to oppose certain liberal tendencies in the church. It had a Church of England counterpart - 800 clergy and lay readers met at All Souls Langham Place on July 1st, in the first steps towards what the Times called a “church within a church” (Times 2/8/08), FOCA.
The GAFCON conference was the latest in a series of battles between liberal and conservative Anglicans over gay clergy, which have had at their heart two major flashpoints. The first serious incident in the gay dispute came in 2003 when celibate homosexual Canon Jeffrey John was put up for the position of the (suffragan) Bishop of Reading. The main players were the pro-gay liberals and anti-gay conservative evangelicals. As Alex Kirby (BBC Online) wrote at the time:
A gay bishop from Wales is facing a new attempt by conservatives and evangelicals to block his promotion to a senior church role. (20-6-2003)
Kirby’s piece goes on to explain that the “attempt” started with a letter from nine evangelical bishops and ended with protests with placards and evangelical churches threatening to withhold diocesan quotas.The Gene Robinson controversy involved an openly gay Episcopalian in New Hampshire being consecrated an Anglican Bishop in 2003, causing a wave of condemnation by evangelicals in Britain, and the so-called Global South.
The arguments over female episcopal leadership have mainly been a concern of Anglo-Catholics represented by Forward in Faith, and whilst the gay issue may run on for a while, the row over women bishops looks like it is about to reach its conclusion. Synod eventually voted on the evening of 7th July 2008 to press ahead with female bishops with minor concessions. One can trace back the media narrative on women bishops to that of women priests, and the lobbying that took place prior to 1994. This was reignited about seven years ago when a working party on women bishops was set up. Despite the success of female vicars (cf Telegraph 12/11/07) it soon became clear that this was going to be divisive as that issue had been in 1994.(cf “Church prepares the way for women bishops” Telegraph (29/06/01)
In April 2008 the Times reported about the mooted “Gender Havens to avert split in Church” (29/4/08) and the front page headline of Tuesday 1 July 2008 ran “Clergy plan mass exit over women bishops”. Within, Ruth Gledhill wrote, “the Church’s moderate centre is being pressurised as never before by evangelicals opposed to gays, and traditionalists opposed to women’s ordination”.
But since the synod vote six days later there has been little further news coverage on the story.
In addition to stories concerning the rows within the church that have prompted talk of possible schism, there have been two other significant areas of recent history that impact on churchmanship groups in the contemporary church.
The first is a response to the various statistics that are generated, and is directly related to the study of secularization. This is the ongoing story of declining levels of religious observance. For example in recent years the Telegraph has reported “Baptised Anglicans are now a minority “ (Telegraph V Combe 26/09/2001), has asked “In 18 years, will there still be a Church of England ?” (Telegraph J Petre 24/07/2003) and charted the overall change in the religious map in “The changing face of British Christianity” (Telegraph, J Wynn-Jones O Craig,26/12/07).The Times has similarly told us that “Anglican Church attendance has stabilized” (Times reporter 23/12/07), but also that “Over half of Britons claim no religion” (Times R Gledhill 21/2/08).
The effect of these stories can be to underscore the fact that it is the “broad” and “liberal” churchmanship groups that are failing;( those are the styles of Anglicanism implied in these articles). The impression that many may then get is that the Church is being taken over by a more hard-line version of Anglicanism. This impression comes from stories such as reports about Richard Turnbull of Wycliffe Hall, “The Man who says we are all going to Hell” (Independent A Mcsmith, 25/05/07), and on the proposal for a disciplinary structure to reunite the church, “Church to impose “rule book” of beliefs” (Telegraph J Wynn-Jones, 03/06/07), and reports about the outspoken remarks from the Bishop of Rochester (Sunday Times Shiraz Maher “Muslim Britain is becoming one big no-go area” 1/13/08)
The other story is more relevant to the politics of the church and the battles between churchmanship groups. Reports of threats by evangelical groups to withhold funds in protest to the proposed appointment of Jeffrey John, appeared in many papers, and is reported by Stephen Bates in “A Church at War” (Bates 2005). Michael Hampson develops this into a theory. He tells us only a generation ago the clergy were funded almost entirely by ancient endowments (Hampson 2006 p167), but in the final decades of the last century the church looked instead to lay people in the pews. These are known as diocesan quotas. Hampson opines:
With the financial situation so desperate – and those at the top in each diocese so fearful – those large churches with large quotas have a phenomenal leverage over the leadership. …. Limited withholdings have begun…the precedent is clear: the bishop now does what the fundamentalists say, or the whole diocesan edifice will come crashing down. (Hampson 2006 176-177)
In summary we have seen evidence from the available historical and media sources that churchmanship groups have become particularly consolidated and political in the post-war period leading to a situation last year where there was acute division between Evangelicals and Liberals over homosexuality and Anglo-Catholics and Liberals over female bishops. (In both instances there is no clear understanding of what is meant by “Liberal”). This raises certain questions. Are these tensions within the Church, for example, part of a cyclical process that derives from the Church’s historical roots in both Evangelical and Catholic traditions (There have been plenty of historical precedents for tensions between churchmanship groups in previous centuries)? Or maybe in the latter part of the last century, conditions have been such that liberal expressions of Anglicanism have begun to lose ground in the (dwindling) religious market place to more conservative expressions? It also seems possible that tensions in the church derive from liberal churchmen’s adoption of aspects of secular society’s attitudes towards gender and homosexuality in a manner that more conservative Anglicans feel compromises the inherent integrity of the religion. Whatever may be the explanations for the current rifts, the situation seems to be exacerbated by politicization, whereby organized groups representing certain beliefs, for example Reform, and Forward in Faith have arisen. These last points have been explicitly explored by Bates (2005) and Hampson (2006), and in media coverage. However news reports are driven by the need to provide the starkest top line and those other works mentioned as much offer personal opinion as attempt to be unbiased historical accounts. This may cause us still to ask the question of why certain churchmanship groups seem to have become entrenched in warring camps, and, more pressingly, where the boundaries of these groups are? For whilst there can be no doubt that politicized groups exist in the church, a question still remains whether, outside of events that have been covered in the press, they exert a significant influence on churchmen, both local clergy and their congregations?
An historical survey of the traditions of the Church of England is the starting point for several of the studies into churchmanship groups that appear in the literature – e.g “The Comparative Strength of Evangelical and Catholic Anglican Churches in England”, Francis and Lankshear (2003), Evangelicals etc Randall (2005), and Fate of the Anglican Clergy ,Towler and Coxon (1979). These remind us that the Church or England is often claimed to be both Catholic and Reformed. Ever since the English reformation there has been tension within the C of E between “Biblical” Protestant theology on the one hand and a continuing commitment to the episcopacy and sacraments on the other (Edwards 1983: Avis 1989).
From an historical perspective we see, from the time of the English Reformation, the existence of Catholic, and Protestant; in the Elizabethan era the addition of the Via Media or middle way; in the seventeenth century a division between Puritans and royalist-influenced Catholics; in the late seventeenth century came liberal “Latitudianarians” and the influence of reason; during the eighteenth century the great Evangelical (Protestant) awakenings arrived; and the Victorian age saw the birth of Anglo-Catholicism ( Oxford Movement) and the influence of liberal Bible scholarship. In the twentieth century we add the existence of Charismatic Anglicanism.
Churchgoers might notice evidence of the different churchmanship groups in the materials and liturgies used in different churches, and non-churchgoers in media discourse. Ordinands studying to be clergy will be aware of the churchmanship style of their theological college (cf Runcie Report 1970) Further indicators of the churchmanship groups comes from the advertisements placed in the Church Times for clergy (as noted in the Rural Church Report (Randall (2005) pp52-53) ), and the tradition that exists to alternate the office of archbishop of Canterbury between Catholic and Evangelical (cf http://www.archbishopofyork.org/154?q=recognized ).
However even within the churchmanship traditions of Evangelical and Catholic, there are various subgroups. It is the divisions within divisions that studies of churchmanship have tried to illuminate. Towler and Coxon make the point that such groups are hard to grasp “because they are so deeply embedded in the Church’s long and sometimes obscure history” (Towler and Coxon 1979 p106). Furthermore the picture is more complicated than a simple Evangelical/Catholic “continuum”. For example, since the sixties we have seen the emergence of two groups that don’t necessarily fit on this continuum - Charismatic Anglicanism, and “new” or Liberal” or “progressive” theology (cf J.A.T Robinson’s Honest to God 1963).
In fact even on the Evangelical - Anglo-Catholic “continuum” there is a problematic group in the middle that is sometimes called “centrist” and sometimes “broad”. The question remains whether these churchgoers are a churchmanship at all, as they seem to be better defined by their reluctance to be in a group, as by any kind of consolidated identity. This group also demonstrates a problem with terminology. To wit: broad Anglicans are sometimes called Liberal Anglicans (cf Brierley pp49-67 ) But what is Liberal? Liberal also denotes the so-called liberal theology, described John Robinson’s Honest to God? And what about liberal Anglo-Catholics, theologically and liturgically orthodox but socially liberal, and whose views on female leadership and homosexuality frequently have them identified with the “Liberals” we encounter in the media narrative? (Cf The Times November 16, 1992, Monday “Carey plays down danger of mass defections by priests”By Louise Hidalgo, “Christians accused of politicking” The Times November 2, 1992 (Ruth Gledhill), LETTER: God, Women and a Brighter Future, The Guardian (5-3-94)). As in political circles where social and economic liberalism, for example, can lead to differing ideologies, the ambiguity in the type of liberalism being referred to in Church groups may be a possible cause of the lack of terminological clarity.
One way of appreciating the range of sub-groups in the Church is through the interest groups that represent them, groups such as Reform, Fulcrum, Affirming Catholicism and Forward in Faith. However whilst these groups no doubt help define the beliefs of their members and shape media and internet discourses, they fail to provide an objective classification system onto which observers may place them. However the quite detailed positions that are articulated in their materials and literature do correlate to churchmanship typologies in common usage: Conservative Evangelicals are represented by the groups “Reform”, “Anglican Mainstream” and “Church Society”. Open (or liberal) Evangelicals are represented by “Fulcrum”. Charismatic evangelicals are represented by “New Wine”. Liberals (in the progressive theology sense) are represented by a new group called “Affirming Liberalism”. Liberal Anglo-Catholicism is represented by the group “Affirming Catholicism”. “Forward in Faith” is a single issue group that represents traditionalist Anglo-Catholics opposed to the inclusion of women in church leadership.
“Inclusive Church” is a group dedicated to making minorities including gays and lesbians, and women equally included in the C of E. It has about 40 churches in its online directory. Significantly, although, it seems to be largely comprised of liberal Anglo-Catholics, it does not ostensibly fit into any category in existing typologies for churchmanship, yet is a significant entity in Church politics and discourses. There are no groups that represent the centre ground of “broad Anglicans”.
Anecdotally, it is my experience that many people with a centrist or Broad position claim to dislike the use of Church labels, and in conversation with the C of E press office I was told, the Church on an organizational level does not encourage use of “labels” and does not analyse itself according to churchmanship groups. However one does see various indicators of the existence and nature of churchmanship groups within Church of England literature, and in Church media. For instance, the Church of England website talks about the traditions of Evangelical, Catholic and Liberal, and further mentions the newer style of Charismatic worship. (http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/history/ )
In this section I wish to argue that we should try to understand the positions and beliefs of the interest groups, which will help us understand how many in church leadership see themselves, how certain sub-groups self-identify and will help us guide our church selection. However I wish to also argue an objective scale based on but not limited to the existing research, with which to compare their positions and the beliefs of their congregations. The latter will help us especially with churchgoers whose beliefs are less well defined than those in leadership, and with the many churches who don’t consider themselves to be from a particular churchmanship.
Existing research on churchmanship has taken one of two basic approaches, the first of which is a labelling approach, and the second an orthogonal approach – that which attempts to codify by using dimensions, or scales like axes on a graph.
Such research has also been largely focussed at leadership levels, with studies of clergy (Towler/ Coxon,1979 Daniel 1968, Coneybeare 1853,Rutledge 1993, Randall 2005), lay members of synod (Ransom, Bryman, Hinings) and churches as accessed by responses returned by the church leadership (Francis/Lankshear – various – see Francis references).
One of the earliest attempts to label churchmanship styles came from W J Coneybeare in 1853. Coneybeare noted that the simple categories then in use of High, Low and Broad were insufficient, and proposed that each broad party could be sub-divided in three giving a total of nine groups which he later revised down to 8 (Randall 2005 p44) . Towler and Coxon in 1979 made a study in which they offered the clergy sampled a choice of 6 categories: Anglo-Catholic, Prayer Book Catholic, Centrist, Modernist, Liberal Evangelical and Conservative Evangelical.
Francis and Lankshear in their 1996 study of the comparative strength of Catholicism and Evangelicalism, used a simple labelling scheme of Catholic, Evangelical and Middle way. They were later to adopt an orthogonal scheme that preferred dimensions to groups. The Runcie Report in 1970 looked into theological colleges and ascribed to them the labels, Evangelical, Tractarian (Anglo-Catholic), and Other. Ransom, Bryman and Hinings in 1974 conducted a study of lay members of synod. Their basic scheme was an Evangelical-Catholic axis ( that would give points on a graph on which people might be placed), however they also included a recognition of progressive modernist ideas that broke out of this continuum. This left them with Conservative Evangelical, Liberal Evangelical, Centrist, Prayer Book Catholic, and Anglo-Catholic on the Catholic-Evangelical axis. Outside of this they offered Modernist and New Theology (both representing progressive thought), and another category, being simply, “other”.
Peter Brierley has conducted a number of surveys (Brierley 1991, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008) in which he invited respondents to tick the following boxes: Broad, Evangelical, Low Church, Liberal, Charismatic, Anglo-Catholic, Orthodox, Radical. This was then put into the categories Anglo-Catholic,Broad,Catholic, Evangelical (sub-categorized as Mainstream, Broad, and Charismatic), Liberal Low Church and others. Brierley’s research gave an indication of how people saw themselves, but possibly also indicated how little understanding they had of churchmanship, with contradictory answers like Anglo-Catholic Methodist appearing. This also indicated how the beliefs of congregations might defy neat churchmanship categories.
Other uses of labelling have been the Rural Church Report (between 1998 and 1990), where options given were: Conservative Evangelical, Open Evangelical, Traditional Catholic, Modern Catholic and Central. The first person to try to plot churchmanship on overlapping graphical axes was Daniel in 1967. His scheme plotted Church and Catholicism against Evangelicalism and Bible on one dimension and conservatism and tradition against liberalism and reason on the other (giving a graph with four quadrants). Whatever other shortcomings this approach may have had, along with all the other approaches above mentioned (bar Brierley ), it failed to accommodate the Charismatic dimension .This is something Francis Lankshear and Jones tried to address in their 1998 study.
Randall (2005 p61) moved on from this to propose a 3 dimension scheme with scales being Liberal/Catholic, Liberal/Conservative, and Charismatic/non-Charismatic. Randall (2005 p57) makes mention of the various interest groups that members of the Church may join, such as Reform and Forward in Faith but says that he is not interest in pursuing this as a way of designating churchmanship as it would simply show an extrinsic membership to an organisation and not be an indicator of an intrinsic position. His study aims to move from a definition of this intrinsic position to relate this to other positions, e.g. social beliefs, and characteristics, e.g. introvert or extrovert personality types. However, for my purposes, I consider that analyses of these groups will not only provide a method of analysis but indicate the merits and deficiencies of any orthogonal scheme that may also be used.
All of the above studies have relied on people’s self categorization. Although the designations involved are widely used that does not mean that everyone means the same thing by them. Randall explains the complex history behind the styles of Churchmanship, Towler and Coxon (1979 pp106-107), and Ransom, Bryman and Hinings (1977 p42) and Francis et al (1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000) offer brief explanations of what we might find at the polarities. Towler and Coxon (1979 p106-107) for example say that an Anglo-Catholic might look to Rome for guidance, a prayer book Catholic would be more cautious and not stray from what was prescribed in the book of Common Prayer (interpreted in a Catholic way), a Conservative Evangelical would be strongly committed to the supreme authority of scripture and the importance of a Christian having a personal experience of conversion, and a liberal evangelical would have a more moderate stance on these but still dislike strong church authority, preferring individual commitment. Ransom, Bryman, and Hinings (1977 p43) refer back to Coneybeare for their basic Evangelical and Catholic positions but point out that what they refer to as Modernism and New Theology and which are sometimes now simply referred to as liberalism do not fit on the Catholic/Evangelical scale. (Ransom, Bryman, Hinings 1977 p43)
Daniels refers to the Catholics’ insistence on the use of sacraments and Evangelicals’ insistence on the emotion generated psychological crisis and the precisely placed conversion (1968 p118). For him definition is less important as he is placing Catholic and Evangelical on a four way scale of Church, Bible, Reason and Tradition (Randall 2005 p48). Daniel points out, interestingly that almost all liberals have a catholic past (Daniel 1968 p118). This is interesting as the majority of the “liberals” identified by the media, seem to be Liberal-Catholics (and identified with the Liberal Anglo-Catholic group Affirming Catholicism) as opposed to Liberal-Evangelicals, or simply “Liberals” 
Francis and colleagues' scheme of what makes an Evangelical, and Catholic is tied up in his questionnaire material which is not available in the published papers.
From my preliminary research into Churchmanship, including trips to seven churches representing a range of churchmanship, interviews with a “Liberal” Theologian, Keith Ward and “Liberal Catholic” Vicar and media commentator, Giles Fraser, and nine interviews with religious affairs correspondents, and conversations with Simon Barrow of Church think tank, Ekklesia, I have formed a sense of contemporary Churchmanship that broadly informs the following observations of the existing research, and which I wish to keep in mind and test in my ongoing research.:
Firstly I have a concern that insufficient attention has been paid to the practices and beliefs involved in “Evangelical “and “Catholic” identity. Although this is made easier with various efforts made to define evangelicalism and various statements of faith used by Evangelicals, this is not the case with Catholics. Secondly I note that studies have tended to look at where people place themselves “on the candle”. Daniels (1968) offers us a scale bookended with the opposites of, for Evangelical, allegiance to the Bible and, for Anglo-Catholic, and allegiance to the church. But we have the problem that the Church of England doesn’t have dogmatic orthodoxy like the Roman Catholic Church. In fact as Towler and Coxon (1979) point out, the church of reference for many Anglo-Catholics is the Roman Catholic Church. Towler and Coxon (1979 p107) suggest that we use the type of “prayer book catholics”. This however seems a very one-dimensional category. Thirdly I have a concern that we are unclear about what we mean by liberal. Is it to mean a moderate/ centrist position or is it to refer to the New Theology/ Modernist/ “liberal theology” position proposed by Ransom, Bryman, and Hining? Fourthly I consider that there has been a lack of acknowledgement that the Charismatic tendency is vastly more prevalent in Evangelical circles and that a large amount of Charismatic evangelical liturgical material and literature from Alpha, and from the New Wine network, which co-ordinates churches with similar ethos. The Anglo-Catholic Charismatic network lists 8 churches (http://www.anglocatholiccharismatic.org.uk/ ). The partner churches of Holy Trinity Brompton, the Charismatic Evangelical church where Alpha originated number 13 alone, and New Wine the organisation that co-ordinates charismatic evangelicalism in the UK, which is not limited to Church of England churches, but which emerged out of Anglican Charismatic Evangelicalism numbers 900 of which approximately 70 per cent are Anglican.
And finally I believe there should be an acknowledgement that there is a formality/ informality distinction that goes beyond the Catholic/Evangelical distinction..
From the above points we might immediately propose an increase of Randall’s axes from 3 to 4: Evangelical-Catholic; Theologically Liberal- Theologically Orthodox; Formal – Informal; Charismatic – Non charismatic.
And as we saw above, Randall dismisses the interest groups in the C of E as merely representing another level of extrinsic membership above that of the Church itself, which he says is not what he is interested in. His interest is analysing clergy according to an objective churchmanship scale and then making comparisons between churchmanship and other characteristics. (Randall 2005 p57)
My interest however is in perceiving churchmanship as points of belief coalescence that shape public discourses and opinions – and that is exactly what the church interest groups do – and to match these to beliefs amongst the leadership and then to compare these to the intrinsic religious beliefs/ social attitudes/ church habits of the congregations.
And so for these purposes it will be highly instructive to study the beliefs and characteristics of those groups both insofar as they are reference points for the media/new media/ leadership/ activists and as they give anchor points for the various points on the possible scales/dimensions, used in an orthogonal scheme. I intend to analyse these groups through a combination of discourse analysis of their materials and by interviewing leading figures about what they believe their group’s central beliefs are and what they think the other groups’ central beliefs are.
To clarify, in addition to giving us indications of what these groups stand for, and where they stand with regard to existing typologies, this exercise should reflexively inform us about the key beliefs involved in being an Evangelical, Catholic, Charismatic or Liberal. And this should help us refine our objective scales of measurement for congregations (here I am proposing a slightly amended form of Randall’s (2005) scheme, to be fully explained in a written essay in progress) This is especially likely to be true of the centrist position which Francis and Lankshear (1996 p13) suggest may constitute up to 60% of Churches.
In summary, churchmanship studies over the last 150 years have argued that the C of E can be broken down into more groups than High Low and Broad. Each of these groups can be sub-divided and on top we have groups such as Charismatics and Modern Liberals who do not naturally fit into the scheme.
Analysts have both used orthogonal “dimension” approaches such as axes with Catholic (authority in Church) to Evangelical (authority in Bible), Liberal (use of reason) to Orthodox (use of authority), or Charismatic to Non-Charismatic on them (e.g Randall 2005 p 61); and “labelling” approaches that endeavour to characterise the different parties in the Church.
In my research I intend to use both approaches. “Labelling” to understand the major organized groups that, de facto, exist and the orthogonal scheme that can be used to describe these groups and people who fall outside of them.
Part 3) Research Proposal: Methods and Work Plan
Table 1, below, explains my working thesis chapter outline, with the methods used to achieve each stage of the research particularly highlighted. A discussion of how these plans might be implemented, and problems that might be encountered, appears after.
Provisional thesis Chapter Outline is as follows:
Ch 1 Introduction
Research question – How does the concept of Churchmanship relate to perceptions and self perceptions of the C of E at national leadership, local leadership and congregational levels. Explore further the perceived “crisis” in C of E.
An outline of how the various secularization and related theories might interpret the current situation and what predictions they might make
Other virtues/vales of this study ( as per in sections one and two of this project report)
Ch 2 Literature Review:
Scope and context of study. A summary of current knowledge/thinking in secularization studies, relevant related studies (such as religion and civil society, or Church of England studies),religion and media studies, church history.
Ch 3 Methodology
Empirical Study 1: Media perceptions
i) Discourse analysis – papers, broadcast media, new media
ii) Analysis from semi-structured interviews with members of the broadsheet religious affairs community
iii) Focus group analysis
Empirical study 2: Analysis of Churchmanship categories at local leadership level.
i) Discourse analysis from new media/Church press/ Church materials to see where boundaries of church sub-cultures are.
ii) Analysis from semi-structured interviews amongst leaders and opinion formers of Church groups representing sub-cultures.
iii) (brief) mention of the proposed refinement to Randall’s (2005 p61) orthogonal churchmanship scheme to provide datum points for empirical data
Empirical study 3 Analysis of churchmanship categories within candidate churches .
i) Explanation and justification of who the churches are/ why they have been chosen and why this represents a suitable cross section to allow observations/ findings to be made about how the concept of churchmanship works/applies at this level. These churches will represent a cross section of the types if not the numerical composition of the church.
ii) Empirical study within the churches.(to include leadership and congregation)
(i) Participant observation
Ch 4: Findings from study 1
The media story – one of division.
An analysis of how the media depicts the Church of England, which is anticipated to show a picture of a Church divided into three camps, split over matters of authority, teaching on sexuality and the place of female leadership.
Consideration of media production biases, and empirical study amongst production communities and audience communities, to establish how the media engine drives public/ common perceptions, and to question whether the way in which stories are generated leads to necessary simplification.
Ch 5: Findings from study 2
The composition of the Church – a church of how many sub-cultures ?
This will include various analyses that establishes, 1) recent church history, 2) a history of how the traditions have developed in the Church, 3) an identification of the traditions as currently practiced, 4) an analysis and comparison of existing classifications and typologies of churchmanship. 5) an argument for why I wish to use both church interest groups and an independent classification scheme in my study, including clarification of what is involved with both.
Ch6 Findings from study 3
The longest of the chapters, which will be subdivided according to church, with a section analysing the results at the end
Ch 6 Findings from other sundry other sources, tbc, and not yet included in the methods section.
I may supplement my findings with information from media figures, commentators and prominent figures within the church that have occurred during the research phase.
Ch 7 Conclusions:
Overall – how the category of churchmanship can be seen as helpful in analyzing the Church of England at national, local leadership and congregational levels.
What were the public discourses of the churchmanship groups and their concerns and objectives according to analysis and how did they match the way in focus groups actually understood them? How did these match the churchmanship sub-groups of the church as identified through interest groups at local leadership level? How do congregations fit into the pattern, how might we understand their “churchmanship”, and how, in our sample, do they relate to the “churchmanship” of their church ?
So far I have completed one substantial of empirical work which looked at media discourse analysis according to production communities. This was presented at the BSA sociology of religion study group on 31st March 2009, and is available on request. Of particular interest to me in presenting this piece of work was to get feedback from the academic community on the strengths and weaknesses of my approach. G Lynch (Birkbeck) and J Beckford (Warwick), commented that the research was interesting and original, but that it would be important to see it in context with both the proposed discourse analysis and even more particularly the proposed focus group study that would demonstrate the impact of these public discourses.
I have also become aware of other media discourse analysis work currently being undertaken. A team headed by K Knott, in Leeds is looking at certain print and broadcast media representations, and J Blain at Sheffield is supervising a PhD project that looks at broadcast representations of religion in the media. As with the Leeds project I will be conducting quantative, qualitative and focus group analysis. As my time frame of analysis is long – 10 years – there needs to be an iterative process of refining the keyword codification, and newspaper sample. This will be guided by the research already undertaken. I already have empirical research to show what newspapers have an interest in the Church of England as establishment, and which authors were involved. I also have begun to refine the codification process by appreciating what keywords to identify to isolate whether a story is, for example, concerned with schism, and which churchmanship keywords to look for. The process is made considerably easier by the way in which the online archive, Nexis, presents data, and using desktop search programs to pick up key words on the downloaded data.
The way in which new media tends to be archived online means similar analyses shouldn’t present substantial problems. In fact the interactive nature of “new media” gives the advantage of having data on the impact of the media built in. My supervisor, David Herbert has already conducted one substantial “new media” study, and I will be discussing this with him for methodological advice. Broadcast media, may prove more problematic in terms of gathering and codifying data. I shall be contacting those involved in such studies for advice on their experiences
Regarding my research amongst opinion formers and leaders of churchmanship groups, I intend to conduct semi-structured interviews of a similar length to those conducted with newspaper journalists. The purpose of these is to provide an academically sound characterization of the churchmanship positions of all the main groups to which members of the church might belong. I have already conducted two pilot interviews (Keith Ward of Affirming Liberalism, and Giles Fraser of Inclusive Church), in which I presented to them my characterization of their position and those of the other possibilities, and asked for them to comment. These provided interesting data but I feel that possibly I could have left more space for them to comment more generally and freely on the place of churchmanship groups within the framework of the Church In other words those interviews may have been too structured and closed. The church group characterization that these interviews are intended to generate is to form part of my two part churchmanship classification system. The first part is by tribe/group/party, and the other is using an orthogonal scheme similar to Randall’s (2005 p 61).
These proposed semi-structured interviews with members of churchmanship groups (prominent figures in groups such as Reform, Forward in Faith, Affirming Catholicism etc) will, in all likelihood, comprise my next piece of empirical research. The media aspects of my research have no particular time pressures on them, but the relationships with the churches with whom I have started links need to be kept live, and a methodology for how to categorize and finally select the churches, is a necessary precursor to that stage of work.
A list of churches with whom, I currently have a relationship (i.e where I have been granted access, and with whom I have discussed my project) is available on request. I developed relationships with these churches during an extensive period of networking amongst people connected with the Church, and am still refining my selection process in order to give as representative a sample as possible. There is, for example, no “centrist” church or churches, in my working list and the Liberal Anglo-Catholic church that I refer to is led by such a singular personality that it is questionable how well it relates to any churchmanship type(The shortlist selection of the churches is intended to be broadly as typologically if not numerically relateable to the Church at the macro level as is appropriate to an ethnographic study). The last part of the selection process will be a process of “church selection” justification to academic, think tank and church contacts with whom I have built up a professional relationship during the course of this project.
My local church and congregational studies will probably be the final and certainly will be the most detailed part of my empirical work. This work will include semi-structured interviews with key members of the church and questionnaires. The success of these will however be dependent on my relationship with the church, and I am ever mindful of the need to maintain relationships – to this end I attend churches in my shortlist where possible, and make efforts to network in Church circles. These structured pieces of empirical data gathering will be used as part of general “Verstehen” approach, as a participant observer. Following Cicourel’s four way scheme of participant observer types, it is my strategy to occupy the ethnographic stance of participant-as-observer (V Cicourel, Method and Measurement in Sociology p 41) Although I have a strong affection for the Church, and Christainity, I am, outside of this project, not a regular churchgoer, and therefore cannot claim the insight of an “insider”. I have, however, been immersing myself in the Church affairs, and my background as a former Religious Studies teacher and my degree in Christian theology gives me an advantage over a complete” outsider”.
Participant observer ethnographies have proved successful in Church congregation studies including James Stevens’, Worship in the Spirit (2002), which looks at Charismatic worship in the Church of England, and James Heards’s PhD thesis (2008) which looked at the Alpha course. Both studies give a detailed evaluation of the theoretical and methodological issues related to applying this ethnographic style to their research and the particular problems they encountered (Steven 2002 p37-54 Heard 2008 p87-106) and I will be looking closely at these and other examples prior to engaging in this activity. Heard has kindly offered to give me the benefit of his experience of conducting congregational studies as has Helen Cameron whose “Studying Local Churches” (2005) is one of the few guides in this field.
The approach of mixing interviews with ethnographic observations was also used successfully in Georgina Born’s study of the BBC, Uncertain Visions (2004).
The number of “formal” visits I will be making to the churches hasn’t been considered yet, nor the system of codification that I will use.
The formulation of my interview structures and questionnaires will attempt to match congregation members intrinsic “churchmanship” (if any, and according to a scale) to the extrinsic churchmanship of the church they attend. In light of research completed ahead of this part of the study the precise focus of my interviews will no doubt change. But I predict that I will be looking at issues of concerns on certain key issues of sexuality and female leadership, in keeping with current disputes; broader social concerns; how much the respondents occupy a solely religious or religious/secular integrated world; factors that influence parishioners interest in the church, such as religion, community and childcare; and the ways in which parishioners attempt to pass their religious tradition on.
The degree to which I can make definitive statements about any individual churchmanship group will of course be limited by the sample numbers I shall be working with (which are small, in keeping with my ethnographic approach). In this regard I have explained how I intend to ensure that my example churches are as broadly representative and relateable as possible. Clearly with the sample sizes involved I will not be attempting detailed descriptions of each churchmanship category but rather seeing as far as possible how the concept is used and is useful in analyzing the Church. Thus I will not be characterising Evangelicals or Liberals as such, but rather making comment about how the concept of churchmanship seems to be useful at the various organisational levels. If, as may well be the case, my sample indicates that a particular churchmanship group behaves in a particularly interesting way, or that members were attracted to a church for a surprising reason other than churchmanship, this will indeed make for interesting reading. Such findings will however be cause for further investigation rather than be conclusions in themselves.
Steven makes an interesting observation in his ethnographic study of Charismatic worship (Steven 2002 p37) about relating congregational studies in the micro to the macro. He says he follows the lead of Bassey in highlighting the importance of the quality of “relateability” as opposed to generalizability. Following this I might say, my sample cannot claim to be a microcosm of the Church, but that every Church must relate to a feature of churchmanship groups, or to a group perceived to have certain characteristics by generators of media discourse that is specifically being tested or investigated.
Throughout I will also be drawing on the experiences of my earlier work to inform the ongoing fieldwork. Both my review of churchmanship studies and media fieldwork, for instance, has raised an awareness that special attention should be paid to what we mean by liberal churchmanship groups; and that I should also be aware that a large percentage, possibly a majority of people in the Church of England do not want to belong to a churchmanship group, and are very possibly less vocal than those who do, especially at congregational level.
Finally, if appropriate, I intend to include sundry interviews and pieces of data that have come about during the course of the research where they help illustrate or amplify the objectives of the project.
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Wilson, B (1966) Religion in Secular Society Pelican, London
Wooffitt R (2005) Conversational Analysis and Discourse Analysis, Sage, London
 For clarification – my study is strictly on the Church of England, although I refer to Anglicanism where I feel it to be the relevant point of reference for a Church of England matter or point of identity.
 cf literature review section on churchmanship studies where we see that there at least nine groups representing sub-cultures within the church and that scholars have also grouped the church into anything up to nine groups.
 Anecdotal evidence.
 cf the literature review of churchmanship studies section in this report
 This is linked to the work of Danielle Hervieu- Leger. (Furseth and Repstad 2006 p 59)
 denominational allegiance, reported church attendance, attitudes towards the church, indicators of belief, and “some measurement of subjective religious disposition”
 Currently the subject of a study by D Davies at Durham University
 cf Steve Bruce’s Nostalgic Images section in Religion in Modern Britain (1995) p. 45
 Perceived by RC in conversations with Simon Barrow of Ekklesia and Revd Giles Fraser of St Mary’s Putney and the Guardian
 it was preceded by the Jeffrey John and Gene Robinson rows, the Windsor Report and the Tanzania Primates meeting
 Particular outrage came from the Primate of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola.
 Cf findings from correspondent interviews and churchmanship literature review
 For Church histories see Moorman (3rd ed 1980) Chapman (2006)
 For instance in my interview with Ruth Gledhill 28-01-09
 My interviews with Keith Ward and Giles Fraser in particular highlighted a common confusion between the concept of liberal theology and the position of liberal Anglo-Catholics who are liberal in terms of being open to a diversity of opinion, and may be socially liberal, but who are essentially theologically orthodox when compared to progressive liberal theologians. The picture is further muddied by the fact that a majority of liberal theologians seem to be Catholic in their liturgical preferences. It is also made more unclear by the fact that early anecdotal evidence would suggest that liberal theology/ modernism/ new theology as referred to in Towler and Coxon/ Ransom, Bryman and Hinings and Daniels, has declined to extremely low numbers.
 The expression “On the Candle” is a colloquial use of a Catholic/Evangelical axis scheme whereby the top of the candle is meant to signify Anglo-Catholic and the bottom Evangelical cf Brierley 2006a pp49-67 “Halfway Up the Candle” (Churchmanship Analysis)
 Statistics given to me over the phone from the press office.
 The term Verstehen meaning understanding is used by Weber and is also used with reference to Weber by James Steven in his study of Charismatic Worship, Worship in the Spirit (2002).
 M Bassey, “Pedagogic Research: on the relative merits of search for generalization and study of single events” in Bell et al, Small Scale, 103-22