Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
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The State We're In

Fewer Clergy:

According to the Church of England's website, in 1990 there were 11,076 full-time stipendiary Anglican priests. By 2000, the figure was down to 9,412 and by 2008 this had reduced still further to 8,346 (though if part-time, non-stipendiary and ordained local ministers were included this increased to 11,945). On 28 October 2010 it was announced that in 2009 this number of full-time clergy had risen slightly to 8,591 (although the total including part-time, non-stipendiary and ordained local ministers had reduced to 11, 658).

Even were the numbers of applicants to increase in the future, the financial situation means that this steady decline is unlikely to be reversed. No longer can each church boast its own 'Vicar of this Parish'.

More Lay Involvement:

The Church is increasingly turning to the laity to take non-Eucharistic services as well as assisting them in pastoral work. 'The laity' means not just established Lay Readers (in 2009 there were 7,682 Readers and Church Army officers - down from 7,857 in 2008) but also other long-standing Christians who are now being called upon to help (as they were committed at baptism), often with only minimal further training. On this website these are called "lay worship leaders" (without capitals) to distinguish them.

In at the Deep End:

It can be exhilarating for new lay worship leaders to be thrown in at the deep end, but the church's structures and relationships are being strained, sometimes to breaking point, while adjusting to the new realities: one cleric, when asked whether there were plans to introduce lay worship leaders in his Deanery, said 'Well, we may be forced to', and another expressed the fear that the Church might 'descend into Congregationalism' as the proportion of laity leading worship increases in relation to the ordained.

The Good News:

The Church is having to look again at the way the early church operated with the idea of remodelling itself along these lines: but we are also being offered a marvellous opportunity for regeneration!

Almighty and everlasting God,
who alone workest great marvels,
send down upon our bishops and curates,
and all congregations committed to their charge,
the healthful spirit of thy grace;
and that they may truly please thee,
pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing.
Grant this, O Lord,
for the honour of our advocate and mediator, Jesus Christ. 1Amen.

1 Book of Common Prayer, 'A Prayer for the Clergy and People' from Morning Prayer

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