Guest Post: At Home Among the Dissenters – John McLuckie

The Rev John McLuckie is about to return to Scotland following several years working in England. In this guest post he reflects on his experience of the Church of England. Do feel free to respond to what John has written below in the comments and check out his blog at

On the weekend of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee, I decided that I wasn’t in the mood for the kind of civic religion I knew I would find in my local Church of England parish so I went to our local Quaker meeting instead. I enjoyed it so much that I have been going there regularly ever since.  I enjoy the silence and the gently mystical instincts of Friends, but also their testimony to simplicity, equality and peacemaking.  As an Anglican priest, this seems like a slightly irresponsible thing to do, but I think that this choice says a lot about how I perceive the differences between the context and ethos of the church in which I was ordained – the Scottish Episcopal Church – and the one I currently belong to – the Church of England.

In fact, I don’t work for the Church of England but for the NHS as a chaplain in a specialist cancer hospital.  I recognise that this is a privileged position in at least two ways: firstly I feel privileged to work in a place where I can explore matters of the spirit with people who would not normally have anything to do with a church, including people of other world faiths; secondly, I am, in part, able to occupy this position by virtue of the privileged relationship with the state enjoyed by the Church of England.  I have no doubt that this relationship is changing, but am not skilled in the arts of predicting the future so would not dare to hazard a guess as to how it will look in a generation’s time.  What is clear to me is that the C of E takes its public role very seriously and I deeply respect the skill and intelligence with which so many of its members, lay and ordained, interact with society at all its levels, civic, cultural and communal.  However, it is also clear to me that the C of E is not alone in this commitment, even if it does sometimes imagine that it is.  The truth is that there is another story about the place of Christian faith in English life and culture and my sojourn with the Society of Friends gives a clue about it.
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