Faiths lift low spirits

20.11.37: AFTER DECADES OF bitter debate and recrimination, the inevitable has finally become law: the Church of England will cease to exist from the beginning of next year.

In its place will be a loose-knit ecumenical body, the United Churches of England and Wales. Leaders of the leading religions and denominations will be invited to sit in the upper chamber. A finely balanced committee, including representatives from smaller but significant 'other faiths', will give guidance on ethical and spiritual matters to King William, who will act as its nominal head.

According to many, these reforms are being made decades too late. The Church of England came close to being disestablished in 2012, as part of the Upper Chamber Reform Bill. But the then Archbishop of Canterbury was able to make a last-minute deal with the government in return for a promise of support on other key aspects of the bill.

Since that time the church has suffered a steady decline in attendance. Many blame this on its 'terminal trendiness' - the introduction of workplace vicars, lunchtime religious teach-ins, online spiritual counselling and Eastern meditation techniques in services. Hugh Lacy, the last Archbishop of Canterbury, says the Reformed Anglican Church, as the C of E will be known, will be a sterner, more sensible affair. MF