Pondering their meaning

No amount of ecclesiastical masonry can make you love a God, but walk the tracks and paths of this tiny part of Sussex and visit its tiny churches and examples of early Christian worship and I will challenge the most robust of heathens to leave without pondering their meaning.

The appointment of a new bishop in any area is an exciting time; there will be much speculation about what he will be like, what are his views, is he a moderniser or a traditionalist?

There will be controversy whatever he is.

The appointment of the Rt Rev Martin Warner is more controversial than most, coming as it did shortly after the vote by the General Synod not to allow women to become bishops.

The news Warner was one of those who voted against it should be met with dismay by all.

I am no great modernist, far from it, I am not one to advocate what is crudely labelled ‘happy clappy’ modern-day Christianity.

No singing hallelujah wearing Hawaiian shirts, whilst hanging from the organ pipes for me.

Remember the fuss when in the heat of moment our prime minister said ‘Calm down, dear’ to a lady MP?

The Church of England, by its actions, not its words, has said to all women: ‘You have a place in the church but not at the top’. The church and the new bishop have told us all to ‘Calm down, dears – we know best’.

I hope when Bishop Warner dons his finery and stands before his flock, he will pause for a moment and look into the eyes of all us and regret his badly-chosen views.

He could do worse than visit the tiny churches of this area, the ones without electricity, drains and a resident clergy.

He should sit for a while and ponder, Christianity is not about great spires and massive cathedrals, it’s not about teeth-rattling organs and flying buttresses.

It is about the children, the men and, yes shocking as it may be to those immersed in ecclesiastical academia, women as well.

It is a sad day for the Church of England, it is a sad day for women and a sad day for Chichester.

Jonathan Fulford