Fast-forward a few decades, Its 2050, and there’s a small family, just finished their supper and about to sit down for an evening watching ‘strictly’, with former footballer Marcus Rashford and queen of pop, now in her 6th decade Miley Cyrus trying to ear a bit of cash on the now 47th series of the programme, when the child of the house, begins the conversation with the following;
‘Mum, Dad – can you sit down for a bit – theres something I need to let you know, that Ive been wanting to say for a while ?’
A pensive set of parents sit slightly closer together on the couch, abating a deep breath
‘I am hoping that, you know, well whatever i say I am still your little boy/girl, still me in all this?’ is that right?
Parents sort of nod, slightly trying to wonder whats coming next, though Mum pipes up; ‘yes of course you are’ hiding what might be a reaction later on
‘Well its something thats been troubling me for a while, but i thought you may have guessed by now, i think I might be–‘
‘Pregnant’? interrupted Dad, ‘I guessed it, youve been going out alot lately, evenings and al that, I knew it, youve been meeting boys down the park, thats what it is, I never thought id be a Granddad at 48 but Ill have to get used. to__’
Dad, Dad, stop it, im not pregnant, no not all all
‘Are you sure’, pipes up Mum hoping at least for scientific certainty on this matter, ‘Yes im sure’
Well then, what is it?
Slightly taken aback, the young person starts again, ‘Well ive been often wondering about who I am, especially since I started to think about relationships, and you know the being devoted to that someone, and something just hasnt felt normal for quite a while, and well, I think I might be- ‘
‘Gay?’ Mum interrupted this time ‘ Mum and Dad, looked at each other, a small tear in one of their eyes, a smile on one of them, and a deep breath in another, I sounded like relief, strangely . Mum went on, ‘We did sort of guess, the way you didnt have a boyfriend, the way in which you were dressing quite sensibly, and of course we’ll love you, and help you through this, and help you be the person you feel you are, and support you in the relationships you have..’
‘Mum, im not gay’ and there was almost a gasp of disappointment from Mum…
‘What do you mean you’re not gay?’ if its not that what is it?
This is going badly thought the young person, she was going to have to come straight out with it, and try for a third time
‘Mum, Dad, I really hope I am not a disappointment to you, but i think I have become an Anglican’
A WHAT? ‘bellowed Dad’ AN ANGLICAN? – ‘No daughter of mine is going to become an anglican, what will the neighbours think? , what will you tell grandma? it will change you life? he sobs.
Mum, sobbing; ‘But darling, you’ll lose all your friends, no one will speak to you, and it will be so difficult to get on in life, people will bully you, Its just not, not right, I didnt think I had brought you up this way, I blame your father’
Dad Are you sure, I mean , its not just a phase you’re going though?’
‘Yes Im sure, Its been confirmed, I am an Anglican’
Dad, still trying to keep it all together; ‘Well , we’re not happy, not at all, Its going to take a whole load of getting used to, I dont think there is another anglican in the village, and we will have to get used to being parents of an anglican, and all the questions and all that, I heard of Jim down the road, he said his son was a Baptist, but they soon got over it, so I think we will just have to deal with it’
‘Is there support groups for people like you’ suggested Mum, can you go somewhere to talk about being anglican, and all the things you Anglican types do?
‘Im not sure, I think there might be, something in the next village, theres another Anglican there, and Im sorry, but, and you’re going to hate me for this, I havent been out sneaking to the park to see boys, but ive been going to church, without telling you, Im sorry, but I just had to’
A revelation to Dad, and Mum took this better, ‘Really, Church?‘ thats so, well, so, not for people like us, I am disappointed, and Im not surprised, theres more people, you know, like that, in the next village, but not here, no not here’ – she couldnt say much more…
So, Dad continued; ‘What about the media, they’re all against Anglicans, and people will stare at you in the street? ‘
‘I know Dad, Ill try and keep it quiet, but I will need to start telling people, getting people used to what its like to actually be an Anglican, not just what they hear in the press, and its not as if the press is true anyway, is it?‘
Mum and Dad, just sort of waited a while, calmed a bit and said – ‘Well we are a little taken aback, but thinking about it, we knew you were different, and acting strange for a while, but never for a moment did we ever think you were becoming Anglican, yes of course we’ll love you still, but it will be strange for a while, while we get used to it’
With the news that only 2% of young people in the UK are professing to be Anglicans, this kind of coming out might be needed. Though it might be like Tory voters, who don’t show their true colours until the actual votes and not in the opinion polls, there may well be a while load of secret Anglican young people out there. To be young, and christian might be as challenging, might, as being young and LGBT, especially when, in the few scenarios that it isn’t the same world view or belief as the young persons parents. It could easily feel as alienating, and probably does. As Parents – what are you supposed to do, when your child have become, well, one of them, an Anglican?
Lets face the reality, and I jest. This isn’t about 2050 at all. Its happening now. So what response might there be from those who might have influence over these matters – will there be money where the mouth is in regard to teenage faith experiences in the church? Or – might an underground movement of secret anglican young people be needed to take on the world..?
Theres far too much already on this site about the church, young people, mission and youth ministry, nothing in these statistics in any way is new, the only call to make whether it stirs anyone in power, with finances to action. There are heaps of ideas in these pages on how to start connecting with young people, developing mission and engaging in conversations, by all means bookmark a few articles and come back later. All i can say is that whilst childrens and youthworkers are underpaid and thus undervalued, then a situation where children and young people do not feel valued and connected in churches is no surprise. Coming out as an anglican, might soon be as traumatic in a few decades as coming out as gay.