Category : England / UK

(C of E) Bishop Rachel Treweek responds to the Peter Ball documentary

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(C Of E) Response to BBC 2 documentary on Peter Ball

“The powerful BBC documentary Exposed: the Church’s Darkest Secret is a stark and important reminder of the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball against many young men, including Neil Todd who took his own life, and the complete failure of the Church to respond appropriately over a period of many years.

“Both the Gibb Report, An Abuse of Faith, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 2018 IICSA hearing into the case, highlighted our failings and the bravery of those who were prepared to speak out. The documentary brings home in a graphic way the courage of the survivors who shared their story.

“It is a matter of great shame and regret that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball at the time and that survivors were left to fight tirelessly for justice.

Read it all and follow all the links.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

A Telegraph article on the first of a two-part documentary on BBC Two of the Peter Ball case

The disgraced paedophile bishop Peter Ball repeatedly mentioned his friendship with Prince Charles so he would seem “impregnable”, one of his victims has said.

In 2015 Ball, the former bishop of both Lewes and Gloucester was convicted of sexual offences against 17 teenagers and young men – one of whom took his own life. He was released from prison in February 2017 after serving half of his 32-month sentence. He died aged 87 in June 2019.

Speaking in a new documentary, part two of which airs tonight on BBC Two, one of Ball’s victims, Cliff James, who has waived his right to anonymity, spoke of how Ball would boast about his relationship with the heir to the throne.

Read it all.

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

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

The Archbishop of York awarded honorary Doctorate of Divinity by Durham University

Durham University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge said: “We are delighted to award an honorary degree to the Archbishop of York, who so clearly shares our passion for empowering young people and preparing students to transition successfully to the next stage of their lives.

“We take our responsibilities as a centre for learning seriously and, like the Archbishop, we strive to create the opportunities, support and freedom for students to become the best they can, so they can go on to do inspiring and innovative things around the world.

Awarding the honorary degree strengthens the existing relationship between Durham University and the Church of England. A recently renewed partnership sees the University continue in its role as the single validating partner for the Church of England’s ordination training. The scheme, known as the Common Awards, is overseen by a dedicated team from the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

BBC’s London Fireworks 2020

Posted in * General Interest, England / UK

Happy Boxing Day to all Blog Readers!

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, England / UK

The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast 2019

You may find the full text there (click on the “show more” under the video link).

Posted in Christmas, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(DM) George Pitcher–This Christmas, we have a golden opportunity to re-invent our political culture and our economy

If Mr Johnson is to be true to his word and consolidate his northern vote, finance must serve those nearer the bottom of the pile to address our North-South inequality.

It’s apt that this sea-change election fell just before Christmas, the time in our Christian calendar when we trace the start of our narrative – that Nativity story about displacement, refugees, insufficient accommodation, the cruel and casual oppression by a ruling class and a baby born in a stable.

The child we celebrate at Christmas-time would grow up to tell some Pharisees who tried to trick him over Roman taxation policy to ‘render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’.

Christians believe everything belongs to God. So some of the more rapacious models of capitalism we’ve suffered under, which brought about the financial crisis that cost the world so dearly, really won’t do today.

This Christmas we have a golden opportunity to re-invent our political culture and our economy.

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Posted in Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Big Issue) Justin Welby: “We’re not in a crisis, but the direction is not what I want”

The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks of the rise in rough sleeping, foodbank use and increasing personal debt over the last decade of austerity.

He said: “It has got worse over the last nine years. Rough sleeping has gone up. That is a matter of fact. People will argue about the causes but it is a fact it has gone up.

“Foodbank use has risen. There has been a huge rise in the client base of Christians Against Poverty, the debt-counselling charity. Also, people’s tolerance for minorities has gone down. Minority groups have had a much harder time, asylum seekers, immigrants. The use of vitriolic language has gone up significantly. We have had an MP murdered. I am not saying we are in a crisis, I am just saying the direction of travel is not what we want.”

Asked whether he thought politicians realised the damage austerity has done he said: “Yes. Not all of them, obviously. But the vast majority do and they are really concerned about it….”

Read it all.

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

(CT) [For her Feast Day] remembering the unlikely story of Dramatist, Author and Apologist Dorothy Sayers

At the height of her fame, Sayers was asked to write a play to be performed in Canterbury Cathedral for an annual festival. Having spent 15 years writing about a sexually adept aristocrat who entered churches more for aesthetic contemplation than spiritual renewal, Sayers hesitated. She finally accepted the commission, due, most likely, to the prestige of her predecessors in the job, T. S. Eliot and Charles Williams.

However, in writing a play about the 12th-century architect who rebuilt part of Canterbury Cathedral after its fiery destruction, Sayers experienced her own baptism by fire. As though a hot coal had touched her lips, she began speaking, through her characters, about the relevance of Christian doctrine to the integrity of work. Intriguing even professional theologians, her play ends with an angel announcing that humans manifest the “image of God,” the imago Dei, through creativity. After all, the Bible chapter proclaiming the imago Dei presents God not as judge or lawgiver but as Creator: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).

Even more radically, Sayers’s angel suggests that creativity is Trinitarian. Any creative work has three distinct components: the Creative Idea, the Creative Energy “begotten of that Idea,” and the Creative Power that is “the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul.” Indeed, Sayers’s angel says of Idea, Energy, and Power, “these three are one.”

Called The Zeal of Thy House, Sayers’s 1937 play ran for 100 performances, having moved from Canterbury to London’s West End. Audiences valued its unusual communication of Christian belief. Rather than endorsing pietistic practices, it celebrated the sanctity of work; rather than obsessing over sexual sins, it denounced arrogant pride as the “eldest sin of all.” The play’s self-aggrandizing protagonist, a womanizer who believes he alone can make the cathedral great again, is humbled by a crippling fall. Only then does he abandon his narcissistic need for mastery and acclaim, telling God, “to other men the glory / And to Thy Name alone.”

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Posted in Church History, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) British composers have started a new craze for Christmas carols

The peak of the tradition in the 20th century has to be Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, composed in the depths of war in 1942. After the war, the rich stream of carols abated somewhat, though there are some fine carols from the Fifties and Sixties such as Anthony Milner’s Out of Your Sleep Arise and William Mathias’s Sir Christèmas. The real surprise, though, has been the upsurge of carol writing in the past 30 years. This is partly due to the efforts of some far-sighted choirmasters who’ve actually commissioned new carols, such as Andrew Nethsingha at St John’s College Choir Cambridge, and the late and much missed Stephen Cleobury of King’s College Choir.

Cleobury commissioned a new carol for the famous Nine Lessons and Carols every year from 1983 onwards, and persuaded some unlikely people to contribute, including the young Thomas Adès. The plaintive, haunted sideslipping harmonies of Adès’s Fayrfax Carol is absolutely typical of him, proving that composers don’t have to repress their natural musicality to write something appropriately festive or (in this case) rapt and mystical.

Even more striking is Judith Weir’s Illuminare Jerusalem, also commissioned by King’s College Choir. She sets a medieval Scottish poem exhorting Jerusalem to be “illuminated” by the wondrous events happening within its walls, in a way that captures the magic of the scene while obeying the ancient verse form.

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Posted in Christmas, Church History, England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music

(CEN) Wells Cathedral helps in rollout of 5G broadband

A Cathedral is to help the Government roll out 5G. Wells Cathedral has offered its land to Voneus, the superfast broadband specialist, to help roll out rural broadband.

The company recently announced that it has been granted powers by Ofcom that will help it accelerate the rollout of superfast broadband services to hard-to-reach UK rural communities by making it easier for Voneus to construct its highspeed infrastructure on public land.

Recently Ofcom made a decision to make more airwaves available in four ‘frequency bands’ including the 3.8-4.2 GHz band, which supports the latest 5G mobile technology and the 26 GHz band, which has also been identified as one of the main bands for the publicly contested 5G in the future.

“With Voneus’ help, we’re turning Wells into a truly digital cathedral with stronger connections to our local community as well as to people living much further afield,” said the Very Rev Dr John Davies, Dean of Wells.

Read it all.

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

(CT) British Evangelicals Brace for Brexit

Faced with so many unknowns, British evangelicals are trying to remain focused on things that don’t change.

“It is essentially important our attitude to each other remains fueled by love,” Webster said. “As Brexit stumbles towards actually happening, evangelicals should not lose sight of loving our neighbor.”

In the end, the question of “how to Brexit like a Christian” has as many possible answers as the question of “how to Brexit” at all. Friendships have been tested, harsh words said, zealous positions taken.

That is because, John Stevens said, “there is no specific ‘biblical’ position on Brexit.” Stevens believes evangelicals have “to speak wisely and model unity-in-disagreement.”

“This will no doubt become easier once decisions are made and the uncertainty is ended,” he said. “In the meantime we need to keep praying for wisdom and grace, and keep trusting the good sovereign purposes of God. Who will win? At this point God knows. And that is the only true comfort.”

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Be a force for unity despite election landslide, bishops tell PM

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, said on Friday morning: “I was pleased to hear Boris Johnson say that he was determined to use his majority to ‘change this country for the better’. I am sure we will all work and pray for this, watching closely what is offered.

“In particular, I will continue to raise the pressing issues of homelessness and rough sleeping, which are causing misery in many parts of our country. In-work poverty is also likely to be high on the agenda of many people in the poorer parts of our country.”

Dr Innes said: “The new Government faces big issues around economic and social justice, and national cohesion, that Brexit has revealed over the past three-and-a-half years.

“I pray that the new UK Government and Parliament will address these formidable challenges in ways that will unify, not divide, and which will seek to find common ground for the common good.”

Read it all (registration).

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

The November/December 2019 edition of the Eco-Congregation Ireland newsletter is out

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(BBC) Election results 2019: Boris Johnson returns to power with big majority

Boris Johnson will return to Downing Street with a big majority after the Conservatives swept aside Labour in its traditional heartlands.

With just a handful of seats left to declare in the general election, the BBC forecasts a Tory majority of 78.

The prime minister said it would give him a mandate to “get Brexit done” and take the UK out of the EU next month.

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour had a “very disappointing night” and he would not fight a future election.

The BBC forecast suggests the Tories will get 364 MPs, Labour 203, the SNP 48, the Lib Dems 12, Plaid Cymru four, the Greens one, and the Brexit Party none.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Politics in General

The Early Exit Polls Point in a Certain Direction, but we shall need to wait until Tomorrow Morning to see The General Election 2019 outcome

Posted in England / UK, Politics in General

(New Statesman) The Rev Lucy Winkett: It’s always a risk walking around this time of year with a dog collar on. People might ask you things

It’s always a risk walking around with a dog collar on. People might ask you things. A bishop I know carries a list of the 12 disciples in his briefcase just in case someone puts him on the spot (the biblical list isn’t entirely clear). It’s like politicians being asked how much a second-class stamp is. Clergy dread being asked something they probably should know but forgot long ago.

I was once in court as an expert witness, testifying on behalf of a member of our congregation seeking asylum on the basis of conversion to Christianity. The Home Office lawyer was scathing when he couldn’t name six disciples and used this fact to challenge the genuineness of his conversion. In fact, he’d named five, which I thought was pretty good. I asked our congregation the following Sunday. They got as far as Simon Peter, Andrew and John – most remembered Judas – but after that it was a stretch.

“Can you be illiterate and be a Christian’’? demanded the lawyer. I was totally bemused by the question. Of the two billion Christians in the world today, a large proportion are technically illiterate. And for the first four centuries of Christianity, not a whole lot was written down in any case.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

Prayers for the UK General Election This day

Posted in England / UK, Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Jeremy Morris–The cry for self-government: 100 years of the Enabling Act

Just before Christmas 1919, George V signed the Enabling Act into law. This conferred on a National Assembly of the Church of England the power to adopt “Measures” through a Legislative Committee, which would pass to an Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament for scrutiny and rapid progress into law.

This single piece of legislation still forms the bedrock of the Church of England’s modern representative system. It came with a great fanfare of acclaim, led by a pressure group headed by the charismatic future archbishop William Temple. In consequence, it is often seen as a decisive and unexpected leap forward in the Church’s self-understanding.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Enabling Act was a vital piece of legislation for the Church of England, and has good claim to be the most important piece of legislation passed by Parliament for the Church in the 20th century. But it was the result of a long evolution in church polity and ecclesiastical authority, and of the careful development of practical solutions to problems of governance by the Church’s leadership. In its essential conception, it owed little to Temple.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General

([London] Times) A Profile of a Married vicar whose (theology? or) good looks has won him 116,500 Instagram followers

With 116,500 Instagram followers, many more than the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rev Chris Lee has built a cult following with his “60-second sermons”, short selfie videos in which he chats about the Bible and his faith.

He insists fans are drawn more to the power of the gospels than to his good looks, but Mr Lee, 36, who is married and has two young daughters, has been sent messages saying “I love you” by adoring fans. He said: “It’s never a horrible thing to be told you’re good-looking, but I think most people follow me because of my content, because I speak to them on a deeper level.”

Read it all (requires subscription). You may find out more about the parish in which he serves there.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Hundreds of Christians in Nigeria ‘slaughtered’ by Islamist militia this year

More than 1000 Christians in Nigeria have been “slaughtered” by Islamist militia since January.

This is the key finding of a new report, Your Land or Your Blood, from the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), which was presented at the International Organisation for Peace and Social Justice (PSJ) crisis conference in London, last month. The PSJ promotes peace-building and social justice in Nigeria.

Since January, there have been five serious attacks in Kaduna State, in the centre of the country, resulting in an estimated 500 deaths. There were at least another five attacks in the counties of Bassa and Riyom, and more in Taraba State. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram remains in power around the Chad border region, including parts of Borno State in the north (News, 19 March).

More than 6000 people have been killed since 2015.

Baroness Cox, who founded HART to promote and support peace and development groups in Nigeria, has recently returned from a research trip to the country. She explained that the Fulani, a nomadic ethnic group of about 20 million people across 20 West- and Central-African countries, were largely responsible for the new wave of violence. The terrorist group was listed as the fourth most deadly in the Global Terrorism Index in 2016 and 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism

(Theos) Sally Phillips: Human Dignity, Different Lives & the Illusions of Choice

The takeover by stealth of Utilitarian thinking means that we are now a people that thinks the idea of society having winners and losers is inevitable. We measure everything from the number of steps we take to the length of our sleep and how many seven year olds can spell the word ‘turnip’.

As a result, we are losing the ability to talk about the things that cannot be measured. And if the world is governed according to the edict “what gets measured gets done”, we may be neglecting some of the most important things about being human. Like love.

You’re probably thinking ‘I’m not a utilitarian’. Even if you’re not utilitarian, think of what you mean by justice. Usually you mean fairness, you get back what you put in. It is unjust not to be paid what you are worth. I’m just thinking of the BBC gender pay gap.

In a way, some forms of Christianity, certainly the ones that I have been involved in, contribute to this too. The Low Anglican tradition that I love deeply teaches a transactional salvation. We are distinguished from animals by virtue of consciousness, self–reflection, moral capacity, the act of repentance. I have literally no idea if that is right or wrong but it does appear to be a kind of cost–benefit, quid pro quo.

If the point of our lives is what we are capable of doing then the implication must be that a human life lacking in the capacity for purposive action will be worthless, pointless. Those who are involved in the lives of people with disabilities disagree. Our insider experience tells us differently.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Christology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Philosophy, Theology

(Church Times) Gambling ‘is bad for your health’, says bishop Alan Smith of Saint Albans

GAMBLING should be treated as a “major health issue”, like smoking, the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has said. He was speaking after figures were published which suggest that most people in England gambled last year.

The Health Survey for England 2018, published on Wednesday, showed that 53 per cent of people had gambled in 2018, including buying lottery tickets. More men gamble than women: 56 per cent of men against 49 per cent of women.

For the survey, 8178 adults (aged from 16) and 2072 children were interviewed in England.

Dr Smith said: “With almost half the country gambling, it looks as if this is becoming a major health issue, which requires a response akin to tackling smoking in the last century.

Read it all.

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

([London] Times) Rowan Williams–Step back from election chaos: the world is crying out for stability and dignity

In our response to and involvement in the election campaign, as in our actual voting, we should be prepared to look at these global realities as much as our domestic troubles – simply because there is no middle or long term security for us that is not also a secure future for the entire global neighbourhood. And so we need to recognise that planning has to be long-term and patient: the assurances of decisive, transforming action overnight are fantasies – though they are fantasies very much in tune with our feverishly short-term culture and all those pressures that make politics more and more a matter of advertising and entertainment.

Grown-up planning and negotiating take time. We have good reason to be sceptical of reckless promises. Churchill famously promised his electorate ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ – confident that the public he was addressing were strong and adult enough to see that a comprehensive victory would take time and would cost a great deal.

Who are the politicians who take the electorate that seriously? Who genuinely think that there is in this country a capacity for shared heroism in pursuing victory over what seems a massive, sluggish but inexorable destructiveness at work in the world economy, and victory over the deeply ingrained habits that still drive our ludicrous levels of resource consumption in the developed world?

Well, they don’t seem in abundant supply. But the national community is surely still capable of vision.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Yorkshire Post Letters) Our churches are very much open for business says the Bishop of Ripon

From: The Right Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon.

BARRY Ewbank asks (The Yorkshire Post, November 30) “how do we come to a decision as to which churches stay open and which ones close?” Church buildings are both a blessing and a burden to local communities, yet at a fundamental level, and particularly so in rural contexts, these buildings represent a profound commitment to place.

Read it all.

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

([London] Times) Church of Scotland doomed if squabbling doesn’t stop, former moderator and minister John Chalmers says

Radical plans to rescue the Church of Scotland from extinction are at risk of collapse amid rancorous infighting and internal division, one of its most senior figures has warned.

The Kirk registered a deficit of £4.5 million last year and membership is dwindling by an average of more than 100 people a week. It is estimated that the church has lost 80 per cent of parishioners since the 1950s.

In an effort to address its declining fortunes it has approved wide-ranging cost-cutting measures, including merging parishes and closing a number of churches. Earlier this month the Kirk agreed to integrate a number of its policymaking councils and significantly reduce the number of meetings.

The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, a former moderator and principal clerk of the church’s general assembly, urged members to put aside their differences and work together. Speaking of the reforms he said: “If we do not change the way we think of our colleagues or learn to speak well of our brothers and sisters in Christ — even those we disagree — it may all be for nothing. Ours is a culture that needs to change”.

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Posted in --Scotland, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of Sheffield makes a statement in relation to the Franklin Graham Tour for 2020

“I’m afraid I cannot support the Graham Tour mission event at the FlyDSA Arena on 6 June next year, at which Franklin Graham is due to speak, and so will not be encouraging parishes in the Diocese of Sheffield to support it either. Mr Graham’s rhetoric is repeatedly and unnecessarily inflammatory and in my opinion represents a risk to the social cohesion of our city.

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to the Chief Rabbi’s Statement

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Labour antisemitism: Corbyn not fit for high office, says Chief Rabbi Mirvis

Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism allegations makes him “unfit for high office”, the Chief Rabbi has said while warning that the “very soul of our nation is at stake” in next month’s general election.

In an unprecedented intervention into politics, which he describes as “amongst the most painful moments” of his career, Ephraim Mirvis says that “a new poison” has taken hold in Labour “sanctioned from the very top”.

In an article for The Times today, the Chief Rabbi says that the Labour leader’s claim to have dealt with all allegations of antisemitism is “a mendacious fiction” and the way that the party has handled the claims is “incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud”.

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Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Politics in General, Religion & Culture