June 22, 2013
The Church of England is trying to recruit pagans and spiritual believers as part of a drive to retain congregation numbers.
Crowds gather at dawn amongst the stones at Stonehenge in Wiltshire for the Summer Solstice
The church is training ministers to create “a pagan church where Christianity [is] very much in the centre” to attract spiritual believers.
Ministers are being trained to create new forms of Anglicanism suitable for people of alternative beliefs as part of a Church of England drive to retain congregation numbers.
Reverend Steve Hollinghurst, a researcher and adviser in new religious movements told the BBC: “I would be looking to formulate an exploration of the Christian faith that would be at home in their culture.”
He said it would be “almost to create a pagan church where Christianity was very much in the centre.”
The Church Mission Society, which is training ministers to “break new ground”, hopes to see a number of spiritual people align themselves with Christianity.
Andrea Campenale, of the Church Mission Society, said: “Nowadays people, they want to feel something; they want to have some sense of experience.
“We live in reflective England where there’s much more of a focus on ourselves. I think that is something we can bring in dialogue with the Christian society.”
The Church Mission Society’s webpage advertising their pioneer training scheme states: “Wherever in the world the mission of Jesus goes on, the church needs pioneer mission leaders to break new ground.”
The news comes as spiritual seekers celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge today.
Pagans and druids will gather to watch the sun rise following the longest day of the year, celebrating at the historic monument.
The new move could see famous druids such as druid leader Arthur Pendragon move to Anglicanism.
More than 20,000 people gathered at Stonehenge today ahead of a £27 million transformation of the site.
The huge gathering of people marked the event in a "positive, friendly atmosphere" as they waited for the sun to come up, but cloudy skies prevented them from basking in a beautiful sunrise.
Superintendent Matt Pullen from Wiltshire Police said: "Solstice 2013 has been a great success with approximately 21,000 people celebrating in the positive, friendly atmosphere as they waited for sunrise.
"The weather held but unfortunately the cloud cover was too dense to see the sun come up."
Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge director at English Heritage, said that although Stonehenge never failed to impress visitors, the setting of the stones had marred people's appreciation and enjoyment of the site.