A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Give us the money!" Church demands

I have always thought the Church of England is a law unto itself. When Henry VIII decided that the Pope wasn't listening hard enough, he took it upon himself to do two things. Firstly, reorganise the cashflow and second to imprint his understanding of the Catholic Faith on people. With the latter, he caused so much upset, that his desire to put a stop to such things as monks selling sheep's blood as the actual Blood of Christ to poor ignorant peasants was severely overshadowed. His puny son saw to it that the Church was riddled with protestant sycophants. So it is that both catholics and protestants have sat, uneasily at times, side-by-side in the State Church.

On the financial side, Henry ransacked the monasteries for cash. He also came up with the idea that wealthy landowners should pay for the upkeep of their local churches. Now wizzbang into the 21st century and we find Coventry diocese digging deep into old glebe laws. Ho-ho, they go. We've got a likely candidate for paying off our debts and keeping the church in order. Not far from me is the village of Aston Cantlow. Here Gail and Andrew Wallbank have a house which also has glebe land. Now the law has caught up with them. The law in question dates back to medieval times, when the parishioners had a duty to repair the nave - the part of a church in which the congregation sits to worship - while the rector had a responsibility to repair the chancel end. A rector would pay for his share of the repairs using income from land attached to his rectory - 'glebe land' - as well as from tithes. After the dissolution of the monasteries, that land was dispersed but never separated. Hence the Coventry coffers are rattling. The clue for me was the farm being called Glebe Farm. However....

What I find rather detestable here is that people professing to be Christians are hellbent in obtaining money from people who haven't got it. The churchwarden says, "Oh, they've got the money". How does she know? Very nicely put, I'm sure! Then on top of her remarks comes Canon Mervyn Roberts, director of communications for the Coventry diocese. He says, 'Once I took on responsibility for a church, I saw another world of pain - that of the church wardens who aren't paid a penny for what they do, but carry the weight of responsibility. I've had it through the neck with people who ask, "How can the Church of England do this to this poor couple?", and I feel like saying, "Look, there are no winners."' No winners indeed!!

For those who don't know, the Coventry diocese is very liberal in its understanding of the Faith. So it comes as no surprise to me to see liberals behaving so illiberally.

The law lords have had their say. The Wallbanks must now find the money. Selling Glebe Farm at its true market value (which in 2007 was estimated at £2million) in order to raise it is not an option as long as the chancel repairs liability remains, since any purchaser would (understandably) be unwilling to take on such an open-ended commitment.

As the canon says, "No winners". What a world!


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