Archbishop Jonathan Blake

The Most Reverend Jonathan Blake, Presiding Archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church B.A. (Hons), Dip. Pastoral Studies. Mobile: 07767 687711 The Church is a member of The International Council of Community churches and the World Council of Churches. Married and a proud Dad.

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Location: London, Kent, United Kingdom

Gassed Tehran, seized Kabul, helped Mother Teresa, funded TB hospital, priest 1981, went Auschwitz, wrote on Parliament, convicted, began 1st inter-faith NHS chapel, 12 yrs Anglican cleric/vicar - left, baptised 1000's in homes/Mt Snowdon/at circus, wedding underwater, wrote ‘For God’s Sake Don’t Go To Church’, nailed 95 Theses 2 Canterbury cathedral, arrested, co-founded the Society for Independent Ministry, consecrated a bishop, co-founded the Open Episcopal Church, did 1st gay wedding on morning TV, sued Associated Newspapers, co-consecrated 1st women bishops 4 England,Wales,Scotland, accommodated the homeless, posted Mass/took it 2 sex workers, elected Archbishop, arrested 4 climbing with sons,founded ‘When No One’s Watching',made ICV, did Jade Goody's wedding,invited 2 Downing St, wrote 'That Old Devil Called God Again', conviction 4 campaigning against child abuse quashed on appeal, convicted 4 successful blogging 2 stop paedophile. His Christmas Lights raising £79,000 4 Water in 4 Gambian villages. Published "The Tales of Henry the Lovable Hedgehog", the SAFE New Testament + Psalms + radical Book of Common Prayer, ordained priests for UK,US,Thailand,Spain,Ireland

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fr Ed Tomlinson's views on funerals

The last thing most families want or need at a funeral is religious dogma, stylised prayers and archaic biblical readings. People can choose their particular diet of such things during their lifetime, but taking advantage of these intensely vulnerable moments of grief to do some bible bashing or religious promotion is offensive and distasteful.

The funeral service is a time to concentrate on the life of the deceased and the emotional needs of the mourners. It is a time to accompany family and friends through this rite of passage sensitively and with a desire to serve them rather than dictate to them.

The idea that certain prayers have to be said or rituals performed to aid the deceased into the arms of God is so much stuff and nonsense. If God were to open heaven on such an arbitary and vindictive basis we should dismiss such a deity outright.

The only things that are important are the wishes of the family. I go with the flow, wherever it leads. In the course of my ministry this has involved some mourners dancing around the coffin, putting beer upon it, wishing the deceased to be baptised, having the funeral at home, in the garden, around a bonfire, sifting the ashes through their hands, climbing into the grave plot, releasing doves, balloons, fireworks, singing, every sort of music, atheist services, requiem masses, Jewish funerals, just music, just silence. When the family ask can we, I always reply, ' Its your service, you may have or do whatever you want'.

Most of the time though, their requests are modest. Music that has meaning for them and a eulogy that honours and celebrates the life of the deceased with a few personal prayers to bring comfort. In contrast, I listen sometimes at the door of the crematorium as the cleric, just drones out the set prayers with scant reference to the bereaved.

Tomlinson suggests that the main aim of other celebrants is to make money. Doesn't he realise that the main aim of the Church of England in trying to protect their monopoly of the funerals in this country is financial. As one undertaker put it to me recently, the Anglican Church is in crisis. Whereas most funerals were once taken by their clergy, in the Diocese to which he was referring, the rate had now fallen to under 50%.

Why? Because most people regard the repetitive funeral liturgy peddled by the churches as babble and as an insult to their loved one.

Tomlinson gets a thrill from high church religion and its practices. No problem, as long as he keeps his wishes for himself. What is despicable is mocking the choices of others and forcing upon them his subjective pleasures; that is what the Churches have done for too long and that is why they are emptying rapidly.


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