Parishes of The Society
Colin Podmore encourages parishes to affiliate to The Society.
The Society has been formed, under the patronage of S. Wilfrid and S. Hilda, to provide ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’. One of the ways in which it does this is by welcoming priests as Priests of The Society. They are priests from whom we can receive the sacraments with confidence, because we know that they have been ordained by a male bishop, who stands in the apostolic succession of bishops at whose ordination a male bishop presided. Priests of The Society are in a relationship of full communion with a member of the Council of Bishops of The Society.
But how will people know that the church in which they worship is one that is served by such priests? How will laypeople know that they are in full communion with a member of the Council of Bishops of The Society and indeed with all the other parishes who receive pastoral and sacramental ministry and oversight from those bishops? When people are travelling, how will they identify a church where they can worship with confidence, without having to worry about whether the priest who stands at the altar was ordained in the historic succession that we recognise?
To answer these questions, the Council of Bishops of The Society has now invited parishes to affiliate to The Society. A mailing about this, and about passing a Resolution under the House of Bishops’ Declaration, has gone out widely. (It will of course be for the parish priest and the lay officers of the parish to decide the best time for the PCC to consider these issues.)
Affiliation is open to parishes that are under the episcopal oversight of a member of the Council of Bishops of The Society
- as their diocesan or area bishop, or
- because they passed ‘resolution C’ under the Act of Synod and that resolution remains in force during the two-year transitional period, or
- because of a Resolution under the House of Bishops’ Declaration.
Affiliated parishes will pay a fee of £60 each year (by annual, quarterly or monthly standing order). This will make a small contribution to the cost of running The Society, and the fact that they are paying each year will tell us that they still wish to be part of The Society.
Society parishes will receive a laminated ‘porch card’ for display, proclaiming that they are affiliated to The Society. They will also be listed on the Society website (www.sswsh.com), with the postcode of the church building, a link to their entry on www.achurchnearyou.com and a link to their own website if they have one.
Parishes that are affiliated to The Society will (optionally) be able to register in addition as Forward in Faith parishes at no extra charge. This will enable them to send representatives to the National Assembly of Forward in Faith (which elects the Council of Forward in Faith), and to receive discounts on advertising in Forward in Faith publications and on its website (www.forwardinfaith.com).
There will be no process for laypeople to become ‘members of The Society’, because The Society is not a club or a membership organisation, but part of the Church. People belong to the Church not because of signing a form or paying a subscription, but because they have received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy communion. All baptised Christians who receive the sacraments in a parish of The Society or from a Priest of The Society will belong to The Society.
But running The Society costs money, just as running a parish does. The fact that there is no membership fee for belonging to a parish doesn’t mean that there is no need for people to contribute to the cost of running it. Those who to support the aims of The Society are to help with the cost of running it by joining Forward in Faith – the membership organization which finances and supports The Society.