Now that schism within the CofE looks inevitable, it's important to do it properly so that every major 'faction' can flourish on its own terms.
These are the six groups which are naturally emerging, and this my dream of how they might flourish...
- The Cathedral Group. Strapline: 'Celebrating the beauty of holiness since 597.' The chosen home for many historic abbeys, chapels, retreats, and churches – all of which unite around shared commitment to history, beauty and ritual. This branch is flourishing, with areas like bespoke weddings, funerals, festivals, arts events, and national rituals all in demand. It also makes money as an international consultant for large ritual events.
- The Heart of England Group. Strapline: 'The heart of the local community.' A lot of rural congregations opted to join this branch of the franchise, along with some urban ones. They have turned churches and halls into welcoming spaces for everyone, and host all sort of activities from Messy Church to creative writing groups. Many are now lay led.
- The Alpha Group. Strapline: 'Freely exploring discipleship.' The umbrella for congregations of an evangelical-charismatic hue. Its genius for organisation, professional management and innovative teaching products – combined with its offer of personal growth through discipleship – has allowed it to consolidate and expand effectively, and it has established a significant international presence.
- Faith First. Strapline: 'Strengthening the Faith.' This part of the franchise is held together by its commitment to Biblical authority, family values, and counter-cultural Christian witness. It retains a sense of being a gathered community at odds with the drift of mainstream Western church and society. It remains small in England, but with strong links to Anglican and other churches elsewhere, especially in parts of Africa.
- Justice and Peace. Strapline: 'Tackling poverty together.' It cares more about social than personal improvement. Most of its member churches are happy to be labelled “Christian anti-capitalist.” Many focus on community organising, and there’s been co-operation with the RC Church since it returned to social teaching under Pope Francis.
- Open Church. Strapline: 'Go deeper.' Spiritual seekers and doubters have kept Open Church buoyant. It sits lightly to the 'baggage' of religion but tries to engage with the whole breath of the Christian tradition – and other religions. Its emphasis on authenticity and its refusal to prescribe lifestyles has proved popular with young people.