The annual witness to the mariolators of the Anglo-Catholic Church, a Romanising grouping within the Anglican Communion, took place on May 30th. This year twenty four turned up to witness, which was six down on the previous year. A number who intended to travel were unable to do so because of illness or car problems. But for these reasons the number witnessing would have been the same as last year.
The number of idolators was well down on previous years. Clergy numbers on the outward procession would be about a third of what would have been processing ten years ago. This would be, chiefly, as a result of defections to Rome over the ordination of women. The latest defections were caused by the vote in the General Synod to appoint women bishops.
The procession did not return by the usual route but went to the parish church and then back into the abbey grounds. Those witnessing were unaware of this turn of events until too late. It was therefore hard to judge the general turnout but numbers were definitely lower than last year.
There was solid, uncompromising preaching for about three hours. Many tracts were given out, including over fifty TBS calenders. Quite a number of solid conversations took place. Results we leave with the Lord.
It was pointed out to the "pilgrims" the irony of the fact that the ordination of women caused many of their number to fly off to Rome while at the same time they have exalted a woman, Mary, to be equal with Christ, a far higher position than any bishop or any other prelate.
This year the police were hostile. They were a different bunch from previous years. The officer in charge did not come to speak with the leader of those witnessing. A request was made for him to come and speak to the leader over the fact that the opposition were using loudspeakers contrary to a previous agreement but he did not appear. Also, contrary to police practice in previous years, the police faced those witnessing rather than the procession. They were very much "in the face" of those speaking before and after the procession. After lunch they disappeared and were observed in the abbey grounds conversing with the clergy. So much for even handed policing!
It was, nevertheless, a very worthwhile witness which, God enabling and allowing, will continue year by year. It is a real blessing to stand up for the truth as it is in Christ Jesus and to exalt Him before those who worship a creature instead. Those who never witness do not know what a joy it is to stand up in public and proclaim the Gospel. Sadly, many sing the hymn "Stand Up For Jesus" with gusto but that's the sum total of their standing up.