Is the Church of England Desperate or Just Confused about Paganism?

With the obvious news peg of summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, the Telegraph reports on a rather odd initiative from the Church of England. The article begins,

The church is training ministers to create “a pagan church where Christianity [is] very much in the centre” to attract spiritual believers.

Ministers are being trained to create new forms of Anglicanism suitable for people of alternative beliefs as part of a Church of England drive to retain congregation numbers.

Reverend Steve Hollinghurst, a researcher and adviser in new religious movements told the BBC: “I would be looking to formulate an exploration of the Christian faith that would be at home in their culture.”

He said it would be “almost to create a pagan church where Christianity was very much in the centre.”

To which I can only ask, what are they talking about? Is this Christianity with mistletoe and pentacles? Do they think that they can attract the “party Pagans” to drum circles in the parish hall? The article continues,

The Church Mission Society, which is training ministers to “break new ground”, hopes to see a number of spiritual people align themselves with Christianity.

Andrea Campenale, of the Church Mission Society, said: “Nowadays people, they want to feel something; they want to have some sense of experience.

There is that.

Related: a Church Mission Society article on “being the light of Christ” at a Pagan festival in 2012. They gave free henna tattoos and did card readings with the “Jesus Deck.”

UPDATE: An Anglican priest involved says that the Telegraph’s article overstated what was going on.

i do not believe that a Christian church could adopt Paganism and remain Christian nor that a Pagan group (or individual) could adopt Christianity and remain Pagan. i do think that Paganism has much to say and offer to the world today and much that Christians can adopt – for instance whilst Christianity isn’t polytheistic, the Trinity does include the divine feminine as well as the divine masculine and those, including Pagans, who have criticized an apparently male lone christian deity are right to do so, and we as Christians need to acknowledge that and recover out own tradition of the divine feminine. similarly Pagans have often put Christians to shame when it comes to the environment when St Paul time and again talks of Jesus not saving people from the world but wanting to set the whole of creation free from suffering – we need to recover this ecological vision. i could go on but i hope you get the idea – that is what i meant by saying a Pagan church – on reflection i think i should have said a church in Pagan culture or one that learnt lessons from Paganism.

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