Category : Urban/City Life and Issues

Bp Graham Tomlin–Grenfell’s silent protest sends a loud message

People walk silently, some quietly holding placards, faces serious and taut. Occasionally an arm stretches around a neighbour’s shoulder. A few tears are shed. A line of firefighters stand to attention, helmets at their feet while the crowd shuffles past. The predominant colour is green. Every now and again the march comes to a halt as a road is crossed, or an ambulance rushes past, and slowly, the thousands of people wend their way to the base of Grenfell Tower.

On the 14th day of every month since last June, a remarkable event has taken place around the streets of North Kensington. The Grenfell Silent March was the idea, among others, of a young man called Zeyad Cred.

I met Zeyad for the first time a few days after fire destroyed the tower block, when he was one of a group of local people hastily brought together to meet with the Prime Minister so she could hear the concerns of the immediate community around Grenfell.

I remember him then as articulate and thoughtful, with a controlled anger that occasionally broke out into passionate speech. Today, he and a group of others solemnly and expertly marshal the crowd in hi-vis jackets as it wends its way around the streets, stopping for a minute’s silence to view the ruins of Grenfell Tower, before a few short speeches are made and the crowd disperses.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) Bishop of London relishes diversity in the city at interfaith Iftar

At one of her first public engagements since being installed last month (News, 17 May), Bishop Mullally said that diversity in London was something to be proud of.

She was speaking to more than 100 young people, including representatives from schools across London, at an Iftar organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation.

The event, at the St John’s Wood Synagogue, ended with the breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset. The speakers were Bishop Mullally; the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan; the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.

Bishop Mullally said: “One of the great joys of coming back to London is its diversity. There is something in that diversity that we should be proud of. The opportunity of interfaith dialogue is that we can gain an understanding of each other. . . As people of faith, we have an ability to strengthen this city. We hold the opportunity to strengthen a city that is already strong.”

Bishop Mullally praised the young people who were there to talk about interfaith matters, noting that “today itself is a small step, but it has an enormous impact”….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(PD) Gerard Bradley–The city of Philadelphia’s recent decision about Catholic Social Services: Learning to Live with Same-Sex Marriage?

The everyday challenge of Obergefell is whether those of us who hold the “decent and honorable religious” conviction that it is impossible for two persons of the same sex to marry will be accorded the legal and social space we need in order to live in accord with our convictions. The question at hand is whether we will instead be forced to contradict our convictions in word and deed, day in and day out. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in Obergefell:

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples.

Just so.

Catholic Social Services vs. the City of Philadelphia

Last week (on May 16), Catholic Social Services and several foster care parents sued the city of Philadelphia to settle one of those “hard questions.” CSS was recently ranked by the city as the second best of the twenty-eight agencies with which it contracts for foster care placement and support. Its record of finding homes for difficult-to-place children is unsurpassed. On March 15 of this year the city announced that it was nonetheless suspending referrals to CSS. Because the city monopolizes these referrals, its decision was tantamount to closing down CSS’s foster care operation.

The hanging offense? Even though CSS avers in its complaint (prepared by lawyers from the Becket Fund, the great religious liberty firm) that it has never received a complaint from a same-sex couple, it does adhere to Church teaching about marriage. The complaint makes clear enough that CSS would conscientiously refuse to do the work prescribed by law to certify a same-sex “married” couple as foster parents. CSS would, however, refer them to other agencies that would.

Philadelphia is trying to drive these “decent and honorable” people from the field. The mayor is quoted in the CSS complaint as declaring that “we cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against” people in same-sex marriages. “It’s just not right.” The city council professed to be shocked—shocked!—to discover that some contracting agencies have policies, rooted in religious beliefs, that prohibit placement of children with “LGBTQ people.” But the Catholic Church’s position on marriage is no secret. The CSS complaint even points out that the “City has been aware of Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs for years.” For example, the city waived repeatedly for CSS the obligation of city contractors to provide benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Supreme Court, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) Minute’s silence for London Bridge terror attack victims

A minute’s silence has been honoured and a church service held in memory of those murdered in the London Bridge terror attack, exactly a year ago.

Eight died and 48 were injured by three men who drove into pedestrians, then stabbed people in Borough Market.

Their loved ones lit candles at the Southwark Cathedral service, which was attended by the prime minister and members of the emergency services.

An olive tree was planted using compost from floral tributes.

At the cathedral, Dean of Southwark, the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, read the names of those killed in the attack.

He praised the “dedication” of the emergency services and prayed for their “continued safety and protection”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Watch CNN’s ‘1968’ and Relive a Tumultuous Year

The most exciting thing on TV this Memorial Day weekend is the documentary series 1968: The Year That Changed America, produced by Tom Hanks, 61, who besides his movie star gig rivals Ken Burns, 64, as America’s leading historian onscreen. Hanks should get his 16th Emmy nomination for this two-night, four-part, deep dive into a year that outdoes 2018 for tumultuous changes — many of which have a familiar ring.

There’s a controversial game-changer president (Lyndon Johnson) with historically low approval ratings, bloody political riots, a crisis in Korea, a fractured nation at endless war abroad (and also with itself) and an unprecedentedly close — and ugly —presidential election nearly upended by charges of illegal foreign interference.

And it all looked so promising when 1968 began. In the documentary, we hear Johnson crowing about his Medicare and Medicaid programs helping 25 million Americans, and Jesse Jackson noting, “In terms of civil rights, no tree in the forest is as tall as Abe Lincoln, except Lyndon Johnson.” Then all hell breaks loose, cities erupt in flames, George Wallace leads a third-party candidacy that fails (yet also forged the new coalition that now rules America) and Johnson wonders why the people he did so much for turned on him so bitterly.

1968 clarifies why Americans turned on each other in ways that still affect us today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Vietnam, Violence

(Church Times) 30 years after Margaret Thatcher drove in the first pile of the Canary Wharf project, Rebecca Paveley investigates whether the Church missed an opportunity

The Church’s presence in the area over the past decades has shifted and evolved as it, too, has struggled to keep up with the pace of change. There is no physical church space on the Wharf, although there is a multifaith prayer room and a chaplaincy, which came much later in the development (News, 18 February 2000). In a valedictory lecture three years ago, the last Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, who was Bishop of Stepney from 1992 to 1995, described how “sympathy with vulnerable local communities” had resulted in “sustained opposition to major new developments, notably Canary Wharf, where no attempt was made to establish a Christian presence”.

Could the Church have done more to secure such a presence? Bishop Newman says that, even with hindsight, the answer to that question is not clear.

“In the early days, the Church took a prophetic stance, and saw the Wharf as a threat to the local community. Was it short-sighted, or was it principled? The answer is probably both. It may be that by taking a stance we lost out on opportunities to be involved. . . Thirty years ago, the Church was in the twilight of a particular era when it may have had a bit more influence than it has now.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(AJ) Homeless encampment presents quandary for Winnipeg Anglican church

People living in tents next to All Saints’ Anglican Church in Winnipeg, diocese of Rupert’s Land, are being asked to leave after a decision made “with some sadness” by the church’s vestry, says the Rev. Brent Neumann.

Neumann, the priest at All Saints’, says the people living on the property will not be asked to return after vacating the site today, May 30, as part of an agreement to leave the property 48 hours before a wedding scheduled to take place at the church on Saturday, June 2.

The saga of the “tent city” has been ongoing for the past month.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(ABC 7 Chicago) Hard to watch but important–Milwaukee police release Sterling Brown arrest body cam video

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales apologized to Bucks guard Sterling Brown on Wednesday for a January arrest that started with a parking violation and escalated to include use of a stun gun, and said some officers had been disciplined.

Brown responded with a statement that described the incident as “an attempt at police intimidation” and said it “shouldn’t happen to anybody.”

Morales’ apology came as police released body-camera footage that showed how a simple interaction over an illegally parked car quickly escalated. City officials’ concern over the content of the video was apparent earlier this week when Mayor Tom Barrett said he found it concerning.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

The Bp of Manchester’s Sermon today at the Civic Memorial Service at Manchester Cathedral

In the days after the Arena blast, across a range of media broadcasts, I assured the world that Manchester would be there for the victims, for as long as it took. All who were affected have a lasting place in our hearts. You have become part of our story, and we will be part of yours. Yet quite soon it became clear that those most deeply affected by the tragedy were drawn from a much wider area than our immediate city and its surrounds. Only four of the 22 killed lived in the diocese that this cathedral serves. It’s very appropriate that today’s service is being relayed far beyond Manchester, including to cathedrals in other cities such as York, Liverpool and Glasgow. The Arena families and survivors will need the same love and care, over the years and decades ahead, even if they live and work far from this city. Support will need to be there for them in places where what happened on May 22nd 2017 is not part of the shared story of that community. Support will need to be given in villages and towns where the memory of last year will inevitably fade.

Rightly, much attention has been given to the families of those whose lives were lost that night. Theirs is the greatest loss, they are ones from whose arms someone deeply dear has been ripped away. They are the ones who will never see that loved face or hear that voice again. Yet I want us also today to remember those many others, whose lives were spared but who suffered long lasting, often permanent, damage in the attack. Part of the horror of the Arena attack was that it appeared to have been deliberately chosen as a venue that would be full of young people. Today they are one year into living with those life changing injuries, yet with many decades of continuing to do so lying ahead of them. Our society has rituals to mark a death, and to console the bereaved. We lack any equivalent for those who have lost limbs, suffered sensory loss, or will never recover their confidence again. Many of the hopes and aspirations they took with them into the Arena that night are gone. Today we mark and acknowledge their suffering, and pledge to play our part for their future wellbeing here on Earth.

There’s another reason why I’m glad we are gathered today in this particular location. It’s because this cathedral is a place of hope. It’s a very well used building. We host festivals, stage lectures, hold concerts, show films, serve dinners, as well as maintain the rhythm of the Church of England’s worship, day by day and week by week. When our ancestors planned and constructed these buildings, they knew what they were doing. You can’t be in this place very long, whatever event you’re attending, before your eyes are drawn upwards. And that’s deliberate. We may be engaged in our work on Earth, but we must never forget the Heaven beyond us.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(ACNS) National memorial service held on anniversary of Manchester Arena bombing

The 22 people who died when a bomb exploded at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester last year were remembered today in a sombre service in Manchester Cathedral. The national commemoration was attended by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and by Prince William and senior politicians across the political divide, including Prime Minister Theresa May. The service – held a year after the explosion – was relayed to other cathedrals, including York Minster, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool, and the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland cathedral in Glasgow; and was also shown on large outdoor screens in the city.

Speaking in advance of this afternoon’s service, Archbishop Sentamu said that he would be at the service “standing alongside the Bishop of Manchester and many other leaders from a great city in shared grief at the loss of so many young lives.”

He continued: “we will stand together in shared solidarity and commitment to peace and the wellbeing of all. This is a time for communities to hold together, to care for one another, to respect the privacy of those carrying this grief, and to hold on to the truth that: ‘Love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.’ May God give us his peace and blessing.”

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device in a foyer of the Manchester Arena just after 10.30 pm on 22 May 2017 as thousands of people were leaving a concert by the US-based singer Ariana Grande. The 24-year-old singer is very popular amongst young people and 10 of those killed were under the age of 20: the youngest victim was eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos. The oldest was a 51-year-old woman. More than 800 people were injured.

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Posted in England / UK, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

My favorite story from last week on a program matches immigrant and refugee families that are new to Pittsburgh

Posted in America/U.S.A., Immigration, Urban/City Life and Issues

The Bishop of London’s Installation Sermon

Today as I respond to the Call of Christ to a new ministry I recall my first calling to follow Christ; to know him and make him known to the world. In the words of St Augustine ‘For you I am your bishop but with you I am a Christian’. Whether in London, Salisbury, or Crediton, or London again, my calling is one and the same.

At the heart of Christianity is a relationship. Not a project or a structure or a theological debate but a relationship, a being known by name. As Mary stood weeping at the tomb it was only when Jesus called her by name ’Mary’ that she recognized him. Peter on the sea shore encountering Christ was asked by name, ‘Simon son of John do you love me?’ Our epistle reading tells us that we are chosen and loved not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done through Jesus Christ.

By chance today is International Nurses day – it is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Florence was an epidemiologist, a statistician, a social reformer, theologian and nurse. She has inspired generations of nurses. At the heart of what she did was to use the ordinary skills we all possess and can use if we are brave enough, the skill to build human relationships. If we want to improve public health today, if we want to improve the life chances of those who are still left behind and failed by our education system, if we want to reduce the horrifyingly high number of young deaths from knife and gun crime occurring in this wonderful city, we have to build relationships, and if we want to see more people transformed by the love of God then we have to reach out, to build relationships.

After the Great Fire of 1666, the only statue to survive in this Cathedral unscathed was that of the poet John Donne who reminds us that no one is an island entire of itself; every one is a piece of the continent a part of the main.

And how should we establish such relationships? With compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience; bearing with one another, forgiving one another and above all clothed with love which binds everything together in unity.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Diocese of London) Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project scoops European award

The Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project is a partnership between Cloudesley (an Islington based charitable trust), the Diocese of London and the Islington Deanery. It is the first time these three partners have worked together so closely to deliver a joint project. It was initiated by Cloudesley’s Trustees as part of Cloudesley’s 500th anniversary year.

The Sustainable Church Buildings Project has four parts; environmental audits of 24 of Islington Deanery’s Church of England churches; Energy-saving Benchmarking carried out by the Diocese of London; a dedicated Cloudesley grant fund of £440,000; and a learning programme to raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues and how to apply this to their buildings.
As a result, Islington Church of England churches are now applying to Cloudesley for grants to undertake a variety of energy-efficiency measures, such as LED lighting, solar panels and draught-exclusion.

Rev’d Jess Swift, the Islington Area Dean, says:

“The Sustainable Church Buildings Project is brilliantly placed by being both visionary and inspirational in promoting environmental responsibility, and also facilitating churches into being able to take practical action. It has revitalised our churches’ commitment to prioritising global sustainability and their own local environmental impact. We are so grateful to be a part of this project.”

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Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) Manchester Arena attack: Silence to mark first anniversary

A minute’s silence will mark the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack, the government has announced.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured when Salman Abedi detonated a home-made bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May.

All government buildings will observe the minute’s silence at 14:30 BST on 22 May. Other organisations may follow suit, the government said.

A service at Manchester Cathedral and a communal sing-along are also planned.

The Manchester Together – With One Voice event will take place on the same day and bring together choirs from the city and beyond.

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Posted in England / UK, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Bloomberg View) Stephen Carter–The Ugly Coded Critique of Chick-Fil-A’s Christianity in a recent New Yorker article

If we look beyond the liberal West, we see that another Christian revolution, quite different from the one being called for in affluent American suburbs and upscale urban parishes, is already in progress. Worldwide, Christianity is actually moving toward supernaturalism and neo-orthodoxy, and in many ways toward the ancient world view expressed in the New Testament: a vision of Jesus as the embodiment of divine power, who overcomes the evil forces that inflict calamity and sickness upon the human race. In the global South (the areas that we often think of primarily as the Third World) huge and growing Christian populations – currently 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia, compared with 260 million in North America – now make up what the Catholic scholar Walbert Buhlmann has called the Third Church, a form of Christianity as distinct as Protestantism or Orthodoxy, and one that is likely to become dominant in the faith. The revolution taking place in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is far more sweeping in its implications than any current shifts in North American religion, whether Catholic or Protestant. There is increasing tension between what one might call a liberal Northern Reformation and the surging Southern religious revolution, which one might equate with the Counter-Reformation, the internal Catholic reforms that took place at the same time as the Reformation — although in references to the past and the present the term “Counter-Reformation” misleadingly implies a simple reaction instead of a social and spiritual explosion. No matter what the terminology, however, an enormous rift seems inevitable.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Urban/City Life and Issues