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What can the Twenty-First Century Church of England Learn from the Victorians? *

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Present-day Anglicans have an ambivalent attitude to the Victorians. There are, however, as illustrated by a recent project in the diocese of London, important ways in which critical engagement with the past can inform constructive thinking in contemporary churches. In particular an understanding of patterns of church attendance in the nineteenth century provides context for evaluating more recent statistics, while knowledge of the circumstances leading to the building of Victorian churches can inform decisions about their present-day use. Awareness of the sometimes bitterly divided Victorian church helps to set current internal Anglican tensions in proportion, while a long historical perspective can be of assistance in the setting of realistic expectations in the present.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, The Open University,


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