Some of last week's papers recorded the shocking story of a church in Sevenoaks, Kent, where a curate (apparently) preached on marriage and the role of women. It was, say the unbiased, godly newspapers, reviled as a medieval sermon - or worse - by many of the women in attendance, some of whom have cancelled their direct debit mandates (I think they mean 'standing orders' - can a church set up a DDM?) And some of the women - and even their husbands (doing as they're told, I suppose) have vowed never to enter the church again.
The church's rector says:
At the heart of all the press coverage is the very ordinary fact that at St Nicholas Sevenoaks, as in many other evangelical churches up and down the country, we engage in an expository preaching ministry which requires both preacher and people to engage humbly with God's word, the Bible.
Radical, eh? Several things are worth noting in the press coverage:
- first, the press's surprise than anyone should preach on marriage rather than 'giving an uplifting message' as Valentine's Day approaches
- second, the press's surprise that not everyone believes the liberal media's view of relationships is all it's cracked up to be
- third, the very careless attitude to truth that the press shows - look at what the Mail says the church did and what the Rector says they didn't do. It ranges from the trivial (the Rector wearing his kilt to church) to inaccuracies at the very heart of the story :
Still, let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story on an otherwise quiet (!) weekend. And let's not notice either that the church is growing - so much so, apparently, that they're having to start another congregation. If only they'd compromise; if only they'd preach what society and the Daily Mail wants them to. Then they could quietly die like other Anglican churches.