Category : Religion & Culture

(AI) Archbishop Beach writes to the Diocese of the South about some recent developments

Commemoration of Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna Martyr, 156

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing today to address a letter which was put out yesterday via social media. A group led by aspirant, Pieter Valk, has put out a letter entitled, Dear Gay Anglicans, in response to the College of Bishops’ pastoral letter on identity. If you have not seen the letter, you can find it HERE.

While it says they are not undermining our Pastoral Statement, they actually are. Replacing “gay Christian” with “gay Anglican” is pretty much in your face. My immediate reaction to the letter was that it was pretty benign and wasn’t going to change anything about what we teach.

However, it has already had international ramifications. I have had to deal with two provinces already (actually now three as of a few minutes ago) — and this is just the first day. In many of our partner provinces, the practice of homosexuality is against the law, and to make matters more difficult, they usually don’t understand the nuances of the word “gay” or “homosexual attraction” — they just hear the practice of same-sex immorality.

In the province, the expected hard rhetoric is coming from both sides in reaction to this. I find our lack of charity in the province a serious blind spot we need to address. Many of our bishops, and rightly so, feel this is an attempt to undermine our roles as guardians of the Faith and teachers of the doctrine of the Church. Some individuals have expressed that we are now TEC 2.0. Some think this is going to break the ACNA apart — one quote I received tonight: “If I had to guess what might fracture the ACNA I would’ve said women’s ordination. I never would have thought it would be homosexuality. We gave up everything to take a clear stand on this. It is disheartening to have it being taken away.” I could go on, but you get the point.

This is serious enough, however, that I am writing this at 1:15 am.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PRC) Three-quarters of Black Americans say Black churches have helped promote racial equality

Though primarily places of worship, Black churches have long played prominent roles in African American communities, offering services such as job training programs and insurance cooperatives, and many of their pastors have advocated for racial equality. Today, around three-quarters of Black adults say predominantly Black churches have done either “a great deal” (29%) or “some” (48%) to help Black people move toward equality in the United States, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

That is lower than the share of Black adults crediting civil rights organizations a great deal or some (89%) but higher than the share who credit the federal government (55%), predominantly Black Muslim organizations such as the Nation of Islam (54%), or predominantly White churches (38%).

Majorities of Black adults, irrespective of the racial composition of their house of worship or whether they attend one at all, say predominantly Black churches have done at least some to help Black Americans. Even 66% of Black Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” – hold this view, according to the survey of 8,660 Black American adults conducted Nov. 19, 2019, through June 3, 2020.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Star-Telegram) Supreme Court ends 12-year Fort Worth legal battle over $100 million in church property

In the Fort Worth case, the Episcopal national church argued that church law — specifically a rule known as the Dennis Canon — dictates church property is held in a trust for the national church, and does not belong to the congregations themselves. In 2018, a Fort Worth Appeals Court agreed and sided with the group that remained loyal to the national church.

However, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the decision in May and ruled that Texas law allows a trust to be revoked, and Texas law supersedes canon law. The opinions also differed because the Texas Supreme Court applied the law as if the church were a corporation.

The Rev. Ryan Reed, the current leader of the Fort Worth diocese belonging to the Anglican Church in North America, wrote in a press release Monday that the decision “marks a turning point for us as a Diocese.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Alan Haley–TEC Diocese in Fort Worth loses its Appeal to the US Supreme Court of a Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Ruling Against them

With its denial of certiorari (review) this morning to two of the Episcopal Church in the USA’s (“ECUSA’s”) groups in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States Supreme Court has put to rest the multiple adverse claims made for the last twelve years against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. All of those various claims, and the stages of their ups and downs, have been chronicled on this blog, which began just before the legal disputes emerged. It is gratifying, therefore, to report that this blog has managed to outlive, along with (retired) Bishop Jack Iker and his faithful flock, the Machiavellian intrigues of the schemers at 815 Second Avenue to hound and intimidate them into surrender of their properties.

Denial of review of the May 2020 decision by the Texas Supreme Court puts finally to rest ECUSA’s dogged attempts to enforce its notorious and one-sided Dennis Canon in Texas. The brazenness of that Canon, which attempted unilaterally to impose (after the fact) an enforceable, perpetual trust everywhere on all the parish properties of its members in ECUSA’s favor, ran directly into long-standing Texas trust law, which requires the consent of a property’s owner to place it into a trust, and which also requires express language to make a trust irrevocable. The Dennis Canon failed the test on both of those grounds.

Nor could ECUSA succeed by giving its successor group the same name as Bishop Iker’s Diocese, and then pretending to assume its identity. The Texas Supreme Court saw through those machinations, and held that the majority controlling the Diocesan corporation, and not ECUSA’s minority faction, were the true successors under Texas corporate law to the group that founded the original Diocese in 1983. In that respect, the Texas courts were far more perspicacious than the feckless courts in California, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere who simply allowed ECUSA’s attorneys to pull the wool over their eyes, and pretend that the newest kid on the block was actually the oldest, who (they claimed) had been there the whole time.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(EF) An interview with Salah Chalah, President of the Protestant Church of Algeria

Q. How was the year 2020 for Protestant Christians in Algeria?

A. From October 2019 to today, Protestants in Algeria feel wronged in their constitutional right to worship in public and freely. 2020 was a very difficult year for us Protestants, who have been deprived of our places of worship – until today.

We have sent three letters of complaint to the President of the Republic, but so far there has been no response. What is difficult for us is the absence of the fraternal communion in our weekly prayer meetings, Bible studies and, especially, our times of common worship (the Saturday meeting).

What encourages us is to see that despite this situation, Christians organise themselves into small groups in houses for communion. It also encourages us to see new conversions; and baptisms in rivers, at sea, in houses. We cannot stop the Spirit of the Lord, God continues to touch hearts.

Read it all.

Posted in Algeria, Religion & Culture

Churchwarden Patrick Kidd Expresses Some Concerns about recent C of E leadership amidst the Pandemic

Take the time to read it carefully.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Bishops and church leaders target Covid vaccination misinformation

With the UK’s vaccination programme this week reaching the 16 million dose mark, bishops and church leaders in the Church of England have been speaking out amid warnings that misinformation and low uptake among some communities poses a risk to the programme’s effectiveness in protecting the whole population.

As part of the NHS-backed #GiveHope campaign, launched last week, bishops and church leaders have joined together in sharing video messages encouraging communities to seek accurate information on vaccines, hold local conversations, and to encourage one another to take up offers of vaccines.

While uptake of the vaccine so far has met Government targets, significant numbers indicating mistrust, including in some UKME communities, mean that some people in younger age-groups may be less likely to take up the vaccine than the groups targeted to date.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

(CS Monitor) No pew? No problem. Online church is revitalizing congregations.

All that changed last year, however, when joining another church became an option – a church 2,000 miles away.

Ms. Schultz began worshipping at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, one of many making room during the pandemic for new “virtual members” who attend only online. She watches services on YouTube in her bathrobe, attends social gatherings on Zoom, and is glad to be rid of what she calls “the judgment factor” that she’s too often felt when visiting churches in person. So when Wilshire Senior Pastor George Mason started inviting online attendees to join the congregation, no matter where they live, she eagerly signed up.

“It’s nice to be seen, noticed, and welcomed when you show up alone,” says Ms. Schultz, who tithes to her faraway church and sometimes has a speaking role during worship. “It feels like less pressure when you’re behind a screen. You don’t have to talk, but you can talk when you’re ready to talk.”

It’s a pandemic shift no one saw coming at the start of 2020. Churches that had long assumed their members would live nearby are no longer resigned to geographic constraints. As congregations have gone online to maintain ministries while social distancing, new worshippers from other regions have been showing up. Now some are getting even more involved. They’re becoming part of the fabric of church life as members, regular donors, and active participants in a host of church activities.

“Online really is a way to reach people that maybe we couldn’t reach in a local setting because some people wouldn’t come into a church building,” says Gary McIntosh, professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Biola University in La Mirada, California, and author of 23 books on church growth. “But they will observe a worship service online, and they will get involved in a small group online

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Spectator) The Archbishops of Canterbury and York–the Church in changing times

You can imagine our shock, then, when we read in the media about what is supposedly happening to our beloved church. That the parish system, with its beautiful vision of serving every inch of the country and every person in it, is being systematically dismantled. That clergy are being made redundant. That there are plans to somehow centralise everything and for services, even beyond Covid, to be online rather than in person.

So let us try to set the record straight. There are no plans to dismantle the parish network. We are committed to our calling to be a Christian presence in every community.

Throughout our history, some churches have closed and others have opened. We weep at the former and rejoice at the latter. But it is not new. The untold story is that in recent years the Church of England has planted or renewed at least 100 new congregations and churches.

Far from withdrawing from the poorest areas, there is a huge effort towards growing congregations and supporting ministry in those areas — including rural areas, where we invest £10 per head of population compared with £6 per head in urban areas.

Meanwhile, the suggestion that all we do is cut back clergy numbers is not only untrue and unhelpful, it creates unnecessary anxiety. We need more clergy and they are coming forward in record numbers. And where dioceses are saving posts, it is usually through retirements.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) C of E’s carbon footprint calculated for first time

The carbon footprint of Church of England buildings has been calculated for the first time. The estimate is that parish churches use about 185,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

The data has been gathered by the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT), an online calculator built by the statistics team at Church House, Westminster, which allows parishes to input their energy usage and discover how much carbon-dioxide equivalent they are using (News, 4 September 2020).

Once churches have entered their data, the tool offers advice for how they could cut their energy usage, and a simple comparison on how they are doing compared with churches of similar size.

It is hoped that wider usage of the EFT will help to push the Church towards meeting its target, set by the General Synod, of reaching net-zero emissions by 2030 (News, 14 February 2020)

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, the C of E’s lead bishop on the environment, said that the 2030 target had inspired Anglicans everywhere to “pick up the pace”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Eleanor Parker on the Feast Day of St Julian the Hospitaller, patron of wayfarers and pilgrims

The author’s discussion of the three kinds of model which a holy person can follow – pilgrim, dead man, sufferer on the cross – is based on a sermon by Bernard of Clairvaux, but the saints’ names here are his own addition. James, Giles and Julian were the three saints most closely associated with pilgrimage in the thirteenth century – James in particular, the archetypal pilgrim with his scrip and cockle-shell. St Julian was known instead as an accommodator of pilgrims, as a result of the legend about his life which grew up in the thirteenth century. There’s a useful overview of his story here. According to the Golden Legend, Julian learned as a young man that he was destined to kill his parents. Trying to escape his fate, he fled his home (that never works, Julian!) and settled in a distant country. He got married, but one day when he was away from home his parents arrived at his house and his wife, fatally hospitable, gave them her own bed to sleep in. When Julian returned and saw the sleeping couple, he thought it was his wife in bed with another man, and so he killed them both. In penance for his sin he built hospitals and lodgings for travellers, and ferried pilgrims across the river – on one occasion, as depicted at the top of this post and below, he ferried Christ in disguise as a leper, and was told by him that his sin was forgiven.

St Julian therefore became a patron of pilgrims and travellers, a byword for hospitality – Chaucer says of his Franklin, who loves sharing the pleasures of the table and keeps open house for half the neighbourhood, that ‘an housholdere, and that a greet, was he; Seint Julian was he in his contree’. And so in Ancrene Wisse ‘St Julian’s house’ is heaven, the destination of wayfarers, a permanent lodging-place for those who pass as strangers and pilgrims through this world. Pilgrims travel to their ‘home in heaven’, but that journey is best made, Ancrene Wisse argues, not by travellers but by anchorites, who seek God in one fixed and steadfast place. In that dwelling, as a later English anchorite – another Julian – wrote, they find the union with God which means he becomes infinitely intimate, homely, with the soul: ‘for in us is His homeliest home’.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Religion & Culture, Travel

(BBC) How religious services have been changed by Covid

“Radio 1 Newsbeat has caught up with four to see how they’re adapting, as well as what they’re hearing from those who want to pray.”

Watch it all (jusdt over 4 minutes).

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture

The Church of England House of Bishops Meeting, 9th February 2021

The Archbishop of York then addressed the House in his capacity as head of the Vision and Strategy workstream. In his address, the Archbishop drew on feedback from Regional Bishops’ groups on Vision & Strategy and spoke about the integration of the Vision & Strategy work with the Five Marks of Mission and Missionary Disciples; the House took note of the work so far.

The Bishop of Durham and the Diocesan Secretary of Sheffield then addressed the House as Co-Chairs for the working group – Younger and more Diverse, setting out the issues, barriers and opportunities to creating a younger and more diverse church. In discussion groups, bishops discussed the proposed approach, aiming to direct feedback into further work of the Vision and Strategy Group.

A similar process was followed with the Bishop of Dunwich speaking to the House as co-chair of the Mixed Ecology the Norm, a subgroup of the Vison and Strategy workstream.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Conspiracy theories shake up Protestant churches

Having reached the vice president’s chair in the U.S. Senate, the self-proclaimed QAnon shaman, UFO expert and metaphysical healer removed his coyote-skin and buffalo horns headdress and announced, with a megaphone, that it was time to pray.

“Thank you, Heavenly Father … for this opportunity to stand up for our God-given inalienable rights,” proclaimed Jake “Yellowstone Wolf” Angeli (born Jacob Chansley), his face painted red, white and blue, and his torso tattooed with Norse symbols that his critics link to the extreme right.

“Thank you, divine, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent Creator God for filling this chamber with your white light and love,” he added, in a prayer captured on video by a correspondent working for The New Yorker. “Thank you for filling this chamber with patriots that love you and that love Christ. … Thank you, divine Creator God, for surrounding and filling us with the divine, omnipresent white light of love and protection, of peace and harmony. Thank you for allowing the United States of America to be reborn. Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists and the traitors within our government.”

Many phrases in this rambling prayer would sound familiar to worshippers in ordinary churches across America, said Joe Carter, an editor with the Gospel Coalition and a pastor with McLean Bible Church near Washington. But the prayer also included strange twists and turns that betrayed some extreme influences and agendas.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

Time Magazine talks to Russell Moore

Often Moore has to tap-dance around the gap between his church’s beliefs and its behavior. He dismisses as a “manufactured controversy” the criticism of six SBC seminary presidents who in November released a public condemnation of critical race theory. “I don’t find any postmodern theory motivating those who are concerned for racial reconciliation and justice,” says Moore. “I find that what motivates such things is the Bible.” And while Moore has set himself apart from those who support the President, he declines to condemn those who opted to vote for Trump because they believed in the platform, not the man.

Moore thinks reports of the death of American Christianity are overblown. But as increasing numbers of Americans tell pollsters that they are not affiliated with any kind of religion, and in the wake of Trump, he wants the church to take a harder look at its priorities. “The biggest threat facing the American church right now is not secularism but cynicism. That’s why we have to recover the credibility of our witness,” he says. It’s one thing to dismiss the teachings of his faith as strange and unlikely, he notes, but “if people walk away from the church because they don’t believe that we really believe what we say, then that’s a crisis.” This is what he fears will be the legacy of an era in which people of faith put so much faith in a President. “There is an entire generation of people who are growing cynical that religion is just a means to some other end.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Post-Gazette) Farmers’ anger melts thanks to co-op that’s bridging Amish, modern worlds in Clarion County

Among the 35 or so people who showed up for a meeting that November day in 2019 were about 15 Amish farmers, many of them angry over $100,000 they said they were owed.

Aaron Schwartz, an elder member of the rural Western Pennsylvania settlement where those Amish lived, hosted that meeting at his simple frame home, even though he was owed much less than other farmers.

“Maybe somebody could salvage this thing,” the 62-year-old Mr. Schwartz remembered thinking.

It wouldn’t be easy. Those owed money were resolute about dealing with Penn’s Corner. “All of us farmers said, ‘No more produce,’ ” Mr. Schwartz said. “It could’ve gotten a little messy.”

Meanwhile, his wife, Prisciolla, was busy serving the crowd — chicken, mashed potatoes, homemade maple ice cream with raspberry preserve topping. Mr. Schwartz opened the meeting by reciting from memory a child’s poem from the 19th century.

Tension in the room eased.

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Posted in Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

(C of E) The paramedic who finds ‘hope’ in prayer on the Covid-19 frontline

Simon Linton is a Paramedic Team Leader for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. Despite having Covid-19 and battling increasing work pressures, Simon’s faith has actually been strengthened.

He said: “Prayer is such an effective and powerful blessing which I am so blessed to have. I find prayer to really focus my mind during such difficult times which gives me hope that my future is safe in God’s hands.

“This has given me such an increased level of peace. I would say that Covid has deepened my faith as it has challenged me to read His Word more and I have had a greater understanding about his promises for me.”

Unwell for three weeks in March-April last year, Simon has seen increasing numbers of patients needing help.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Bishops lead churches’ call to take up Covid vaccine

Church of England Bishops have joined an NHS-backed campaign calling on congregations, communities and individuals to play their part in encouraging everyone who is offered a Covid-19 vaccine to take up the opportunity, and to have access to accurate information.

With concerns over misinformation and significant numbers indicating mistrust, including in some UK BAME communities, the bishops were speaking as part of a united churches campaign called Give Hope, which launched on Sunday.

The Archbishop of York, together with the Bishops of Dover, Durham and Truro added their voices to a video which was launched on Sunday, together with members of other churches and groups.

It is hoped that faith communities will use their networks to share trustworthy information about vaccines, helping to bust myths and reassure those who have been offered a vaccine of the true levels of associated risk.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

(CT) Mexican Census: Evangelicals at New High, Catholics at New Low

The Catholic majority in Mexico is slipping, as Protestants surpassed 10 percent of the population in the country for the first time ever.

According to recently released data from Mexico’s 2020 census, the Protestant/evangelical movement increased from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 11.2 percent last year.

The Catholic Church has historically dominated the religious landscape across Latin America, but especially in Mexico, which ranks among the most heavily Catholic countries in the region. Today, though an overwhelming majority of Mexicans still identify as Catholic, declines are accelerating.

It took 50 years—from 1950 to 2000—for the proportion of Catholics in Mexico to drop from 98 percent to 88 percent. Now, only two decades later, that percentage has slipped another 10 points to 77.7 percent.

National church leaders attribute the boom in Protestantism to a range of factors, from the influence of Americans and fellow Latin Americans in the country to effective evangelical outreach in indigenous areas.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Mexico, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sociology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

No, the Church of England is not on the brink of collapse But it does need to be on the brink of making some courageous and radical decisions if it is to have an effective ministry in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

([London] Times) Clergy eased out as Church of England puts its faith in managers

As a volunteer for 25 years, she has taught at Sunday school, led the choir, run the food bank, served the tea and — crucially — paid £50 a month by direct debit to keep the village church alive.

The congregation has shrunk to 25. The pressure is on those left to stump up the £30,000 that is required every year, through personal donations and fundraising, to pay for the upkeep of their church and the privilege of a vicar split between four other parishes.

So when the volunteer, who asked not to be named, heard that the Church of England intended to “prune” the clergy and recruit middle managers with elaborate titles and salaries of more than £50,000 to do some heavenly thinking on how to revive its flagging fortunes, there was anger in the ranks.

The church says that dwindling numbers and financial pressures leave it no choice but to abolish posts when clergy retire. It moves some vicars out of struggling parishes and into bigger communities, for example in inner cities or suburban housing estates where there may not have been a church before, in an effort to survive.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(RNS) Funeral directors survive ‘surreal’ year with creativity and faith

There are no signs in front yards hailing the men and women who sometimes wryly call themselves “last responders.”

But for funeral directors across the country, like medical professionals, this has been a year like no other.

“There is no way to explain it,” said Stephen Kemp, 61, director of Kemp Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Southfield, Michigan, which borders Detroit. “I will never forget it as long as I live. In terms of sheer volume, it was surreal.”

In a normal month, Kemp estimates, he handles arrangements for about 30 bodies. In April, said Kemp, he did 152, mostly African American men. Now, even as his monthly toll has settled to about 40, he’s seeing people with comorbid conditions succumbing to the long-term effects of the disease.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

William Nye, Secretary General, Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England , pens a Response to an article in this week’s Spectator

In response to a cover story in the Spectator:Holy Relic – The Church of England as we know it is disappearing’ published 4 February 2021, William Nye, Secretary General, Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England has responded with the following Letter to the Editor (for publication). The letter reads as follows:

Sir,

As a longstanding and loyal reader of the Spectator, I was disappointed in your cover story about the Church of England.

I was amazed to read the ludicrous claim that the parish system is being dissolved like the monasteries, repeated without even a cursory check on whether this could possibly be true. We read of a supposed central take-over of independent dioceses and an imaginary national plan to roll out cuts and sell assets to fund more managers. The old canard that the Archbishops decided to suspend public worship last year at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, rather than the Government, did not even get a rudimentary qualification.

No one from the Spectator called the Church of England to ask whether any of these things were true.

This matters because truth matters. It matters because this kind of misinformation is damaging and demoralising to clergy and laity in every corner of England who have been worshipping God and serving their neighbours in extraordinary new ways, despite the restrictions we have all faced during this pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Media, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Reuters) U.S. ‘deeply disturbed’ by reports of systematic rape of Muslims in China camps

The United States is “deeply disturbed” by reports of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region and there must be serious consequences for atrocities committed there, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

A BBC report earlier on Wednesday said women in the camps were subject to rape, sexual abuse and torture. The British broadcaster said “several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organized system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.”

Asked to comment, a State Department spokeswoman said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.”

The spokeswoman reiterated U.S. charges that China has committed “crimes against humanity and genocide” in Xinjiang and added: “These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(CEN) Set legal targets for plastic, urges bishop of Chester

In particular, the Prime Minister is being urged to ensure that long-term and interim targets for cutting plastic pollution are included in the government’s flagship Environment Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

Bishop Mark said: “We know that global warming, rising sea levels, and plastic pollution are all issues affecting our world; we hear about these things through the news all of the time. By putting targets in place, written in law, together we can really begin to achieve something and change the way we’re treating our planet. As Christians, we understand that life is a gift from God and to see his creation under threat should be a cause for sadness.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(BBC) ‘Their goal is to destroy everyone’: Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

Read it all.

Article content may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Guardian) Denmark sermons law could stifle free worship, warns C of E bishop

A range of European churches have also voiced their concerns, including the Evangelical Lutheran church in Denmark, the Lutheran World Federation, the Roman Catholic Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and the Conference of European Churches.

Innes said there was a worrying trend towards impinging on minority groups across Europe. “There is a wide sense of concern about this. I am genuinely concerned at what I detect to be a growth of an anti-liberal government legislation and freedom of religion threats in Europe as a whole.

“This is not an isolated incident. I do think that we need to be alert to the encroachment on our freedom to practice our religions. Little by little, minority groups are being treated with increasing suspicion.

“For example, in Switzerland our clergy have been informed that they can’t work part time, they can only work full time, because there is a suspicion at what they might be doing in the other half of their time. In France, minority religious groups are required to have their accounts subject to a particularly invasive investigation and to re-register as religious associations every five years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Denmark, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Switzerland

(NPR) ‘Manage The Best We Can’: Latino Church Adapts To New COVID-19 Reality

Over the summer, Angel and Diana decided to restart in-person services. They were determined to do it safely but didn’t know how.

“We didn’t have any guidelines from our local government on how to do this,” Angel said. “So, we kind of had to figure it out on our own.”

They chose to follow guidelines from neighboring Larimer County.

In mid-June, Mosaic Church began worshipping again in person at a greatly reduced capacity while continuing to stream services online. They removed every other row of chairs and asked people to leave space between families.

“We ask everybody to wear masks. We bought gallons of hand sanitizer,” he said. “We’re just trying to manage it the best we can.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Chichester Observer) Bishop of Chichester reflects as UK passes grim milestone of 100,000 Covid deaths

In an interview on BBC local radio on Wednesday, Dr Warner said that the nation ‘will obviously want answers to some of the pressing questions’ posed by the death toll so far but said it was also a day ‘to thank God for those who have kept us going’.

It came after the UK recorded a total of 100,162 deaths with Covid-19, becoming the first European nation to pass the grim milestone.

The Bishop paid tribute to NHS staff, those working in schools and universities, shopkeepers and workers and all those good neighbours who had stepped up to the plate to help others.

Read it all.

Posted in CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Coronavirus: Archbishops invite nation to pause, pray and remember 100,000 people

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are issuing a call to the nation to pause and reflect to remember the more than 100,000 people across the UK who have died after contracting Covid-19 and all those who know and love them.

In an open letter, Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell invite everyone across England – whether they have faith or not – to pause, reflect on the “enormity of this pandemic” and to pray.

Death, they insist, does not have “the last word”, and the Christian faith promises that one day “every tear will be wiped away”.

God, they write, knows grief and suffering and “shares in the weight of our sadness”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture