Thursday, 26 May 2011

Archbishops haunted by a voice from the grave...

So now we know what really happened.
A bad tempered Archbishop shouting and losing his temper; mature, professional people being reduced to tears; back room deals or ecclesiastical arm-twisting in the toilets; all to exclude a gay priest and a pro-gay priest from being appointed to a top job.
It is hardly the atmosphere that one would expect to find amongst the Church of England’s spiritual leaders as they met to choose the next Bishop of Southwark – one of the most senior appointments in the CofE.
Before yesterday, many of us who were concerned by reports and rumours thought that we knew.  But last night The Guardian published a damning account of the last year’s secret meeting by one of the main participants – the late Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Colin Slee.
I knew Colin during my years working in Southwark Diocese.  He was a complex character – sometimes brash and bombastic – at other times deeply pastoral – but always a man of huge integrity.  He said what he thought, and told it like was, all through his ministry.  The Church of England has been lessened by his untimely death last November.
But it appears that he has left one last parting to gift to the church that both inspired and frustrated him – the gift of his account of the 2 days last year when the Archbishops and the Crown Nominations Commission met to choose a new Bishop for South London.  And now, following continuing disarray in the House of Bishops on the issue, his daughter has made the courageous decision to make the account public.
His account is not news to Lambeth Place.  It is the same account which Colin gave to the Archbishops’ enquiry which was investigating the leaks which brought this shameful process out into the open.  What is new is that ordinary church members and the public at large can now gain a glimpse behind doors that are usually guarded with such secrecy.
It is not a pretty picture.
When I first read the article last night, I posted a link to it on Twitter with the words “homophobic bullying” partly because I had also just seen a video account of such bullying that led a 15 year old to take his own life last year.  The Guardian article smacked of ecclesiastical bullying, with the Archbishops at the helm.  I also know some of the other people at the meeting.  They are strong, self-assured and mature individuals, and the thought that any of them could be reduced to tears shows be how thoroughly unpleasant the atmosphere must have been. 
But as I have reflected, I have realised how the reality is so much more complex than that.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is not homophobic.  Nor, I am sure is the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.  Therefore by definition, they cannot be accused of being homophobic bullies.
So where did this all come from?
The real issue is the homophobic bullying that goes on day in and day out in the Church.  Jeffrey John has experienced this throughout his ministry and particularly following his abortive appointment as Bishop of Reading in 2003.  Other gay people have been systematically told that their ministry is not welcome in the church - or they have been told to keep quiet about their sexuality and relationships – to live a lie or face the consequences.
Even straight Christians such as myself, have been told that we are unfit for ministry and are wrecking God’s Church– just because we are advocating the acceptance of same-sex relationships in the church.  Once at General Synod, an Anglican Church leader who really ought to know better, implied to me in public that I should be careful about my salvation (a thinly veiled threat if ever I heard one) and should remember the reality of hell.
If I, a mere nobody in the structures of the Church of England, can be on the receiving end of such pressure, what must it be like for Archbishops whose private views are so at odds with the repressive policies they feel they have to uphold.
And there is the heart of the issue.  As a church, we have allowed homophobic bullying to become part of our institution – and allowed that institutional homophobia to corrode our leaders, our policies, our public statements, and our private decisions.
In the same way that the Steven Laurence enquiry came to the land-mark conclusion that the police were ‘institutionally racist’, so any independent enquiry into the Church of England would conclude that we are ‘institutionally homophobic’, and Colin Slee’s account of those 2 days last year proves it.
We have allowed the voice of institutional homophobia in the church to turn good people and gifted leaders into bad tempered bullies, desperate to defend the status quo, whatever that takes.  
It reminds me of a quote which I came across last year when I was doing some research before a speaking engagement.  It said,
"Considering all the evil that exists in the world, the fact that all of religion's condemnation is focused on expressing disapproval of two people loving each other proves just how evil religion is."   
Until we make a determined decision to be less ‘religious’ and more Christian – to be less concerned with upholding our corrupted institutions, and more concerned with following Jesus Christ, we will continue to allow our church to act like a bad tempered bully instead of embodying the loving God who sent his Son so to bring us life in all its fullness.
It is time for change.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Enough is enough ...

There is very little that needs adding to this video of a father talking about the suicide of his son following homophobic bullying.

I think his words put it best ...

"What I'd ask is that you share this video with your friends and ask them to share it too. If you are a teacher or work with young people feel free to share it in your school or wherever. If you are a young person feel free to take it school and share it through an assembly or a PSE lesson. If you work for a local authority use to raise bullying and teenage suicide as safeguarding issues. You don't need to ask my permission. Thanks. Roger"

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

That was awkward ...

So says the new American billboard advertisement, following the no-show of Judgment Day last weekend.

Harold Camping is undaunted however, saying that his predictions have been right, except that his interpretation was more literal when it should have been spiritual.

"Judgment Day on May 21 did come", said Camping. However, he clarified that the Judgment Day arrived in a spiritual sense rather than manifesting physically.

"On May 21, this last weekend... is where the spiritual aspect of it really comes through. God again brought judgment on the world. We didn’t see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world."

Personally, I would go with the new billboard ... but hope that no-one spends $10m on the follow-up advertising campaign (like Harold Camping did before the 'big day').  I think that there are much more deserving causes in the developing world for that kind of money.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Doomsday and Dylan - something for the weekend..

With 2 world-changing events scheduled for the week ahead, I thought it would be good to have something lighter for the weekend.

The first is the end of the world as predicted by Harold Camping - US Christian radio guru.  This is the second attempt at predicting judgment day for the 89 year old, but undeterred by the embarrassing lack of action back in 1994, he is going for broke this weekend, predicting a world-wide earthquake, followed by the rapture as all true Christians fly up into the sky to meet the Lord.

The second event is Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday - who would have ever thought that he would make it this far?  Mind you, if Harold Camping is right, he won't - because his birthday isn't til Tuesday.

But if we all make it to Tuesday intact, this is the song I will celebrate his birthday with.  It's from the infamous 'Slow Train Coming' album back in 1979, when he sang and wrote about his new-found Christian faith in the same uncompromising way in which he wrote protest songs.

It's the last song on the album, and is suitably titled, 'When he Returns' (click to listen on Grooveshark)

The last verse says it all...

Of every earthly plan that be known to man, He is unconcerned
He’s got plans of His own to set up His throne
When He returns
Amen Bob - and Happy Birthday!

(Full lyrics are available here)

(Video's are hard to come by for this 1979 song so but if you don't mind the blurred image, give this one a go...)

Monday, 16 May 2011

An unfinished work ...

I was very struck by my Bible readings for today.  The first was from Acts 11 where Peter returns to Jerusalem after baptising the first non-Jews into the Christian faith - and wow, was he in trouble!

In the version I was reading from, it was particularly well put, "News came to the Apostles and the bothers & sisters in Jerusalem that even foreigners had received the Word of God"
Peter faced a barrage of protest on his return and he was accused with the words - "You went to the home of uncircumcised people and ate with them!"

This was a big issue for a 1st century Jew - even a Christian one.  It was simply not done - it made you unclean - it crossed a line that it was not permitted to cross - it went against the Word of God!   And more than that, Peter hadn't just eaten with them, he had baptised them!  How could he possibly defend himself?
I began to think about this, and unless I am wrong, I can't think of any time when Jesus is recorded to have gone to the houses of Gentiles (foreigners) and eaten with them.

So the Apostles, brothers and sisters in Jerusalem had a point.  I can almost hear them now saying "Jesus didn't go and eat with foreigners.  You are not following His example. How could you do such a thing?"

And the facts speak for themselves.  Jesus' relationship with 'foreigners' was ambivalent at the best of times.  When he healed the Centurion's son, he did it at a distance.  When he talked with the woman of Samaria, it was outside the town.  When a Phoenician woman begged him to heal her son, he replied that it is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs!  (But he did heal him, just in case you don't know the story).

Surely Peter should have limited himself to following the example of Christ?

Peter, of course did try to limit himself in such a way.  It took God a fair amount of work to open Peter to the possibility of 'foreigners' becoming part of the Church.  Three times, we are told that God showed him a disturbing vision, telling him to kill and eat unclean animals.  Three times Peter said "No Lord!"  (a contradiction in terms).

But there was more to learn about the inclusive love and purposes of God.  More than Jesus could teach in those 3 brief years of ministry.  More than Jesus' hearers could bear to listen to in their culture bound vision of God and the world.  More than the early church was ready to accept, even after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Reaching out to, and welcoming in foreigners was the first step made by the Church in the completing the unfinished work of Christ.  There were many others to follow.

Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch;  Pauls mission to the Greco-Roman world; Thomas' journey to India which must have seemed like the 'ends of the earth'  to him as he continued that growing understanding of what it meant to "Go and make disciples of all peoples".
There were pointers of course, like that final command to go - but we can always find ways to interpret these things in the way we want to.  I can imagine the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem thinking "Yes but Jesus didn't really mean all people - he meant all people like us!"  It took the continuing work of the Holy Spirit to break open what remained firmly closed.

The truth is that there is an unfinished work of Christ.  Paul referred to it when he said, "and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church."  (Colossians 1:24).

Our understanding of the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus is not yet complete.  There are boundaries that we have not yet crossed.  There are people we have not yet embraced.  There is yet more to do, to bring in the Kingdom which Jesus talked about in parables and riddles - because it is beyond our understanding.

Peter did get the message, even though 3 times in his vision he refused to do what God told him to do.  He did go to those outside - to those beyond the pale - to those considered not worthy of the grace of God.
And we still have our boundaries to cross - to complete the unfinished work of Christ.  He may not have eaten with foreigners - but we can.  He might not have appointed women as Apostles - but we can.  He might not have publically embraced gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people - but we can.

The Gospel reading for today had one of those pointers which the early church was slow to understand - "I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also."

The work of Christ is not set in stone - it is there for us to complete.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Life in a Sex Mad Church

“The trouble with Evangelicals” someone said to me recently, “is that you can’t stop them talking about sex!”.  Surely not, I thought.

I've had 2 articles published in the Church of EnglandNewspaper recently.  The first was at the beginning of March about moving towards the acceptance of gay-marriage.  The correspondence ever since has been both intense and constant.  Every week there have been letters and articles in favour or (mostly) against the argument I put forward.  We are now 2 months on and still not a week goes by without something appearing in each edition.

The second was potentially no less controversial.  It was an article advocating a radical change in the culture of the CofE – from that of custodian for the historic buildings and treasures which it holds, to a policy of selling off whatever is not fit for purpose today, and using the proceeds to fund ministry, mission and evangelism!  If we did this, it would release us from having to raise millions of pounds each year for maintenance, repairs and insurance, as well as providing millions for new ministry.
But what response has this article elicited?  Nothing, zero, zilch.

Both were full page feature articles; both had the potential to arouse deep passions;  both would cause controversy if they were implemented in parish churches.  And yet the one the one which had the potential to completely transform the culture and ministry of the CofE appears to have one vital ingredient missing – SEX!
Perhaps my friend was right…  If you want to provoke controversy, you have to include sex.

I remember when I was at Theological College 20 years ago, there was a book on the bookstall by Joyce Huggett entitled “Life in a sex mad society” (pictured).  It was one in a very successful pastoral series where the author challenged much of the pervading obsession with sex in society.
Also at college with me was Joyce Huggett’s son, Kevin – and I remember the day when someone with considerable artistic talent did a wonderful spoof book cover  which he placed around the book on the bookstall.  At first sight it was difficult to see any difference.  It was identical in every way except one – the title.  Instead of being titled “Life in a Sex Mad Society” by Joyce Huggett” he had transformed it into “Life with a Sex Mad Mother” by Kevin Huggett!  We all laughed – including Kevin.

Perhaps we need a new book today, “Life in a Sex Mad Church”.  I am sure that it would sell millions, because it had the magic ingredient – SEX!
When are we going to get over our preoccupation with sex, I wonder?  When are we going to start thinking about love rather than sex?  When are we going to devote our time and energy to things that might really make a difference - rather than focussing on what people do in bed.

Last weekend I heard a pro-gay friend tell the story of an encounter with a sceptical evangelical who said that one of the problems he has with gay relationships is that he could not imagine what it would be like for 2 men to have sex together.  My friend replied without hesitation, “So please stop trying!”
Say no more..?

Friday, 13 May 2011

A good day in Minneapolis ...

Yesterday in Minneapolis USA, the Twin Cities Presbytery voted to remove a ban on openly gay ministers. The vote was decisive - 205 to 56 with 3 abstentions.

What's so amazing about that?

The significance of the vote is that the Twin Cities were the 87th presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the USA to vote 'yes' to opening up the ministry of pastors, deacons and elders to gay candidates. And that in turn, is a majority in this denomination of 2.3 million members and 11,000 congregations - which means that the Presbyterian Church (USA) has become the latest mainstream denomination to accept the ministry of Christians in same-sex relationships.

Minneapolis has been the setting for a number of such momentous votes in recent times.

It was In Minneapolis in 2003, that the Episcopal Church voted to confirm the appointment of Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop.

Then in 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted in Minneapolis to welcome gay clergy - and Minneapolis was also the venue last year for the Presbyterian General Assembly which voted to set the current changes in motion.

So perhaps it was a kind of divine coincidence that saw the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul provide this decisive moment for Presbyterians?

The road to this land-mark decision has not been quick or easy - the debate has taken 33 years, and will still cause some to rejoice and some to weep, as the church's website acknowledges. That long debate is summarised the book by leading Presbyterian, Jack Rogers - "Jesus the Bible and Homosexuality" - in which he charts his own journey from active opposition to advocate for change.

Rogers, who is Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and was a Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary for 17 years, writes:

"It seems to me that the church and every person within the church is faced with a choice: to witness to an ancient Near Eastern cultural bias of male gender superiority, or to witness to Jesus Christ and his redemptive life and ministry. The best methods of biblical interpretation, from the Reformation on down through today, urge us to reject narrow historical bias and instead follow Jesus' example. The purpose of the Bible is not to weld us forever to an ancient culture. The purpose of the Bible is to tell us the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection." (2nd edition, page 106)

Yesterday the Presbyterian Church took his advice and voted to replace the requirement that all ministers, elders, and deacons live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” with the requirement that they simply live in "submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ". In doing this they have removed a clause which was inserted into their constitution in 1997 to exclude church members in same-sex relationships from ministry.

The decision is not being welcomed by everyone however, and already comments on the Presbyterian Church's website give clear expression to the ongoing range of views on this new chapter in the life of this denomination. While some have rejoiced, others have reacted with anger, prophesying the demise of the Presbyterian Church as punishment for 'rejecting the Word of God'.

Such divisions have, in the past, led to formal splits amongst Presbyterian, most notably in the lead up to the Civil War. Then Presbyterians, along with Baptists and other evangelical denominations, formally divided into North and South over issues of slavery and racial equality. In that debate, the opponents of change were also convinced that such innovation went against the Word of God. The passage of time has shown who was right in that debate, to the extent that almost all Christians now accept, without question, that equality and inclusion in that area of human rights are an integral part of following Jesus Christ.

To quote Jack Rogers again,

'Those who choose to witness to ancient cultural bias will always be able to find certain passages, taken out of context, and turn them into church laws that benefit them and discriminate against those whom they dislike. Those who choose to follow Jesus will see Jesus as the centre of the biblical story and interpret each passage in the light of his ministry. Using this Christ-centred approach enriches our understanding of the gospel and brings us into a closer relationship with God and our fellow human beings.'

There are others in the Presbyterian Church who are pointing out that this renewed emphasis on the Lordship of Christ should be the central issue for all Christians, whatever side of this debate they are on. One web comment states,

'Submitting to the Lordship in Jesus Christ is covering all that it means to be a Christian - repenting, and being Christ like in our community. What this action does is remove the judgment of humans to what sin makes us fallen and therefore not worthy of God's Grace. We are all fallen (no matter the sin) and yet also worthy of our Lord's Grace. Dear Father in Heaven please forgive us our brokenness and help us to live in community to spread the Gospel. Amen.'
So what is the right response to yesterday's vote, among those of us who pray for such things? Celebration - certainly, but also openness and humility. Perhaps the prayer at the end of the today's announcement puts it best. It is not triumphalist or sectarian, but rather calls us all to continue to listen to each other and to God.

'May your Spirit of peace be present with us in difficult decisions, especially where relationships are strained and the future is unclear. Open our ears and our hearts to listen to and hear those with whom we differ. Most of all, we give thanks for Jesus Christ, our risen Savior and Lord, who called the Church into being and who continues to call us to follow his example of loving our neighbor and working for the reconciliation of the world. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.'
We, in the Anglican Communion, could certainly learn from that prayer. And if the Presbyterian Church can find a way to live out that prayer, then a good day in Minneapolis could become a great day for Christians everywhere.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Uganda - Urgent Action Required ...

Difficult as it is to believe, the notorious anti-homosexual bill in Uganda which includes the death penalty for some offences and life imprisonment for others,  has restarted its passage through parliament!
More than that - it could be put to a vote in parliament this week.
The bill which would strengthen the current laws against homosexuals, introducing the death penalty for 'serial offenders'  and prison sentences for not informing on homosexuals, stalled last year following waves of international condemnation.
But according to Associated Press and others, a parliamentary committee has held two days of  hearings on the bill, and it could go to parliament in the next 72 hours.
After the bill was stalled last year, a Ugandan magazine began publishing manes, addresses and photographs of people they claimed were gay with the message - 'Hang Them!'  Then in January this year, leading gay activist David Kato  was murdered and his funeral marred by the minister using the sermon to attack homosexuality.
The Anglican Church on Uganda's official position on the bill is to support the strengthening of anti-gay laws in the country while stopping short of supporting the death penalty.  Many in Uganda and around the world however, believe that the Christian Church is colluding with those who encourage a climate of hatred and fear.
International protest has proved successful in the past.
To join the protest today sign the on-line petition at
Please act now ...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Church Schools - Ethos or Admission?

Interviews given by the Bishop of Oxford over the Easter period have highlighted the fact that there are 2 very different visions emerging for the mission and aims of Church of England Schools.

On one side of the debate, the historic approach currently adopted by the many Governing bodies – that Church Schools should prioritise providing education for Christians, preferably Anglicans.  Those whose parents attend church are propelled up the admissions list, and the larger proportion of Christians associated with the school helps to maintain a distinctive Christian ethos.

On the other side of the debate, the line taken recently by the Bishop of Oxford, proposing a much more open approach to admissions, and calling for faith based admissions to be cut to a maximum of 10%.

The vision behind these proposals is that Church Schools should be part of the mission of the Church of England reaching out to all rather than providing a special service to the faithful few.

Having been in parish ministry for almost 20 years, I must admit that there have been times when I would be very relieved to forego the annual tide of letters and references requested in support of applications to Church Schools – often by people I had rarely, if ever seen in church.

But the future direction of Church Schools deserves a more objective analysis.

In defence of the status quo, are parents and governors anxious to see enough places maintained for ‘Christian families’ – i.e. people like them.  They point out that church schools are permitted by law to set their own admission policy; that church schools provide financially towards capital projects, and that academic results are often higher than comparable schools in the same area.

Those who call for change point out that the education provided at church schools is still paid for by the state, so they should be open to all on a level playing field; they assert that the way in which church schools sometimes ‘cream off’ the best pupils makes it more difficult for other schools to get top results; they allege that non-church families can feel discriminated against or excluded from good schools on the basis of religion.  As one comentator put it recently, "How would Anglicans feel if they could only receive treatment at 80% of NHS Hospitals?"

But what of the concerns of many church schools that the very ethos which makes the school so attractive would be somehow watered down or lost if admission policies were changed?   If practising Christians were not given a priority & places were offered equally to all in an increasingly secular society, would the Christian ethos suffer?

The school which my 2 children attend in Dorset is a Church of England Middle School, providing 500 places to 9-13 year olds from a wide rural area.

Over the last 4 years, the governing body of St Mary’s Middle School in Puddletown has gone further than the Bishop of Oxford has suggested.  It has removed all reference to faith from their admissions policy, not even reserving the 10% of places which he suggests.  The admissions policy which it has adopted is now almost indistinguishable from the local authority schools in the area.  Practising Christians are given no preference.

Yet at the same time, the Christian ethos has improved dramatically.  In the Church (SIAS) inspection that follows Ofsted, the assessment has gone from barely ‘Satisfactory’ in 2007 to ‘Outstanding’ three years later.

To quote the inspector in last year's report, “St Mary’s has embraced its Christian character with enthusiasm and joy and firmly placed Christian principles at the heart of the school. The school is a community where faith and belief are a natural part of life and where children enjoy the opportunities to talk about these things freely.

This has been made possible by a joint effort by governors, head teacher, senior management team and staff after having identified developing the Christian ethos of the school as one of the top priorities.

The RE and Collective Worship co-ordinator was given a place on the Senior Management Team.  A chaplaincy team of local clergy and lay leaders was established to take responsibility for weekly assemblies and link to year groups.   Most importantly, the concept of developing a spiritual journey for pupils during their 4 years at the school was established.

During their first term at St Mary’s, all year 5’s (age 9) are prepared to be admitted to Communion, and preparation for Confirmation is offered in their final year at school for those who feel ready to make this formal Christian commitment.  In between, the pattern of collective worship and provision of RE aims to present faith in an active and dynamic way providing opportunities to engage in a wide variety of faiths with Christianity at the centre.  Wherever possible enthusiastic members of churches and other faiths are used to express their faith in a passionate and open way.

Around 50% choose to be admitted to Communion and regular Eucharistic services are held for the whole school which many parents also attend. A few of these come to us from a background of involvement in their local church, but most do not.  Engagement in the wider world is expressed in annual projects such as fundraising for Oxfam unwrapped.  These are enthusiastically embraced by children and staff alike.

This co-ordinated approach has created an atmosphere in which "The culture of the school encourages students to develop their spirituality" and where "students respond to this with enthusiasm and confidence" (SIAS report 2010).

Neither have academic standards fallen.  In common with other Middle Schools around Dorchester, almost all pupils leave with their attainment a whole year ahead of the expected level, and this has continued.

Of course St Mary's is not unique, and doubtless the same story could be told in many church schools up and down the country.  But what this demonstrates is that it is clearly possible both to open up school admissions and to develop the school's Christian ethos for the good of all.

If church schools are to provide a truly Christian ethos, then that ethos must include following Jesus’ example of ministry of those outside the religious establishment.  Our schools provide a unique opportunity to engage in the development of spirituality in each new generation.  Parents of all kinds of faith backgrounds (and none) are making active choices to apply for places in church schools.  If we choose to squeeze them out with admission policies which put them at a disadvantage, we shut a door which may never be re-opened in their lives.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

AV or AV ?

In the UK we are gearing up to vote on how we vote.
Yes – really – we are about to vote about how we elect our members of parliament.  If we vote ‘Yes’ our traditional ‘first past the post’ system will be replaced by AV – the Alternative Vote system where we will place 1 next to our first choice candidate, 2 next to our second choice and so on…
The ‘No’ campaign has been energetic in their objections to this new innovation.  It will be confusing, complicated and too difficult for ordinary people to understand.  And because it will be too difficult to understand, it will put ordinary people off voting at all.
But the bottom line for many in the No campaign is a simple unwillingness to embrace change.  They want things to stay the way they are, even if something new might just be better.
The irony is - there is another AV, which is much loved by people who like things to stay the way they always were – loved by the kind of people who hate change.   This AV is being celebrated this year for its 400th anniversary.   But this AV is genuinely confusing for some, difficult for most, and has a habit of putting people off.
This AV is, of course, the Authorised Version of the Bible – authorised that is, by King James in the year 1611.
Not surprisingly, the English language has changed a bit since then.  Words have changed.  Sentence structures have changed.  Nuances and idioms have changed.  The language is still beautiful to those who have learned to love it, but most people find it obscure, difficult to follow, and generally off-putting.
I remember a elderly member of a congregation who completely stunned me one day when she defended the Authorised Version saying, "I like to hear the words that Jesus actually spoke."  While few would be that confused, why not survey a few people around you to see if they know what these words mean:
‘Bewrayeth’       ( Matthew 26:73 )
‘Bolled’                ( Exodus 9:31 )  – no it doesn’t mean boiled!
‘Choler’                ( Daniel 8:7 )
‘Incontinent’     ( 2 Timothy 3:3 ) –  where incontinent people are a sign of the end times
‘The price of a dog’ ( Deuteronomy 23:18 )
‘Redound’           ( 2 Corinthians 4:15 )
‘Spikenard’         ( Song of Songs 1:12 )
‘Or in the woof’  ( Leviticus 13:49)

So how did you do?
Why do some people still insist on using the AV in church?  Perhaps it is because they want no-one else to understand – because they don’t want ordinary people to get involved.  Perhaps it is because if you can’t really understand the message, it can’t challenge you too deeply.
In the battle over AV, we do need to keep the message clear, not so much in our method of voting, but certainly in the Word of God.