Category : England / UK

(Pzephizo) Ian Paul–Is Britain no longer a ‘Christian’ country?

The census was of ‘religious attitudes‘, and not religious practice, so there was no question here about any kind of attendance. This leads to some key observations.

First, there is a large disparity between those identifying as ‘Christian’ and actual regular attendance at churches, on Sundays or midweek. C of E regular attendance is around 850,000, and (according to the work of Peter Brierley) this represents around a quarter of all attendance, which would then be 3.4 million, or just under 6% or the population. That attendance figure is a small part of the 27.5 million identifying as ‘Christian’.

(An interesting comparison is football viewing and attendance. In 2020/21, a record breaking 26.8m people or 40% of the population watched a live Premier League match at some point during the year. During football season match days, total attendance at matches of the first four divisions is 720,000—so the Christian faith is still far more popular, in terms of commitment and affiliation, than football!)

So the question is, what did people mean by saying they identified as Christian? For some, they will be aware of the heritage of Christian values which has shaped our culture—but I suspect for most, particularly those who are older, the term is effectively equivalent to ‘decent’, ‘moral’, ‘respectable’, or even ‘traditional British’.

This is very different from any reasonable working definition of ‘Christian’. In the gospels, it is clear that the core of Jesus’ message is ‘The time has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand—repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1.15). We might express this in contemporary terms: ‘the kingly, ruling presence of God is on its way; change the direction of your life, and trust your life to me.’ St Paul sums up Christian commitment as confessing that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Rom 10.91 Cor 12.3), that is to say, it is to Jesus we owe the faithful allegiance of our lives as we receive the forgiveness, hope and confidence that he offers through his life, death and resurrection. As an ordained Christian minister, I confess I am much more concerned with how many people are Christian in this sense, than how many tick a box on a census form!

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

(BBC) Cost of living: People in Cardiff ‘eating pet food’

Mark Seed now runs a community food project in Trowbridge, east Cardiff.

BBC Wales analysis of new Census data suggests six of Wales’ most deprived communities are in the city.

A charity warns that struggling households do not just appear in areas long associated with poverty and policy needs to focus on people not places.

Trowbridge lies in what Mr Seed calls an “arc of poverty” from east to west of the Welsh capital, with issues endemic in his area.

“I’m still shocked by the fact that we have people who are eating pet food,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in --Wales, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

Martin Davie–The Bishop Of Southwark’s recent Presidential Address – An Intial Response.

Allowing clergy to be in same-sex marriages would also involve a change in the Church’s position. In line with the Bible and the Christian tradition the Church of England has always held that clergy need to live lives of visible holiness so as to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ,’ [4] and that this means, among other things, that their sexual conduct must be in line with the biblical principle of either sexual faithfulness within heterosexual marriage or sexual abstinence outside it. What the bishop’s suggestion would mean is either the Church saying that the sexual conduct of the clergy simply does not matter, or that same-sex sexual relationships are acceptable to God, neither of which the Church of England has authority to say.

It is also not something that is required on ‘ecumenical or Anglican inter-provincial grounds.’ There is nothing in the Church of England’s ecumenical commitments or in its membership of the Anglican Communion that means that the Church of England needs to allow clergy to be in same-sex marriages. This is a complete red-herring.

If the Church of England were to adopt either or both of the bishop’s suggestions this would mean that it had ceased to uphold Christian orthodoxy with regard to sexual ethics. At this point orthodox Anglicans would have no choice except to visibly differentiate themselves from the Church of England’s position and the only way this could be done would either be through the formation of a province within the Church of England that continued to uphold orthodox Christian teaching and practice with regard to sexual ethics, or by their leaving the Church of England to join another Anglican jurisdiction that had remained orthodox in this area.[5]

The fundamental problem with the bishop’s address is that he is not acting properly as a bishop. As he rightly says, bishops are called to be ‘principal ministers of word and sacrament’ and ‘chief pastors’ However, as the 1662 Ordinal makes clear is that this means that bishops are called to ‘teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine’ and ‘banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.’ [6]

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Christians now a minority in England and Wales for first time

Christians now account for less than half of England and Wales’ population for the first time in census history, government figures reveal.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) results show that 46.2 per cent of the population (27.5 million people) described themselves as ‘Christian’ in 2021. This marks a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3 per cent (33.3 million people) in 2011.

The census data also shows that every major religion increased over the ten-year period, except for Christianity.

Despite this decrease, ‘Christian’ remained the most common response to the question about religion. ‘No religion’ was the second most common response, increasing to 37.2 per cent (22.2 million) from 25.2 per cent (14.1 million) across the ten-year period.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sociology

([London] Times) Queen Elizabeth II biography reveals stoic monarch in final days

According to the Right Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, she was in “fantastic form” on the weekend before she died.

He told Brandreth that she was “so alive and engaging”, and how they spoke about her childhood, her horses, church affairs and her sadness over the war in Ukraine. “Her faith was everything to her. She told me she had no regrets,” he said.

Brandreth wrote: “Her Majesty always knew that her remaining time was limited. She accepted this with all the grace you’d expect.” The biographer claimed he “heard that the Queen had a form of myeloma — bone marrow cancer,” which he wrote would explain the tiredness, weight loss and mobility issues that were spoken about during the last year of her life.

Her death certificate stated that she had died of old age.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on any of the claims in the book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

(ESPN) United States make a valiant effort in a draw with England at the 2022 World Cup

The United States was dominant in attack but could not find a way past England as it was held to a 0-0 draw in their second 2022 World Cup game on Friday.

The U.S. was the better side in a game lacking in clear cut chances. The closest threat came when Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar with a ferocious effort midway through the first half, but neither side was able to break the deadlock.

The result leaves head coach Gregg Berhalter’s team third in Group B with two points from two games, needing a victory in their final group match against Iran on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stages. Meanwhile, England will qualify as long as it avoids a three-goal defeat in their match to Wales.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Sports

Church aims to double number of UK Minority Ethnic Head Teachers in England

The ‘Leaders Like Us’ scheme, which is now open for applications, aims to equip UKME teachers with the skills for headship, and has funding to train more than 450 teachers by 2027.

Around one in every three students in schools in England are from UKME backgrounds, but there are fewer than 400 headteachers from the same backgrounds in total, out of more than 20,000 schools.

Research shows that the impact of teacher and school leader representation on students is significant; their attainment and likelihood of progressing to tertiary education is exponentially higher when students see leaders like them. Their exclusion and suspension rates decrease and future aspirations are also measurably lower.

However, data shows that teachers from UKME backgrounds are much less likely to progress to senior positions within their schools than their white peers, becoming increasingly under-represented the more senior the role. A recent report from the National Foundation for Educational Research showed that rather than improving over the last few years, there has in fact been a decline in representation.

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

(1st Things) Dan Hitchens on Richard Henry Tawney (1880–1962): A 20th Century Prophet

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a cult. Browsing in a secondhand bookshop, I picked up R. H. Tawney’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism and, remembering a vague resolution to read it one day, took it to the counter. The fresh-faced student at the cash register was delighted. “It’s . . . amazing,” he said reverently. A few days later, finding myself in full agreement, I emailed a writer in whose work I perceived some Tawney-like themes to ask whether he knew the book. “I read it fifty years ago,” he replied, “and it changed my life.”

In recent decades, membership of his fan club has declined—too Christian for the socialists, too socialist for the Christians—but at one time Richard Henry Tawney (1880–1962) towered over British intellectual life. To his contemporaries he was a legend, “the greatest living Englishman,” according to the historian Sir Michael Postan. The Guardian declared in 1960 that his writings “will be read with delight as long as the English language is spoken.” Surveying Tawney’s contributions, not just as a historian, but as a writer, activist, teacher, and mentor, someone suggested to Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple that what Britain needed was “more men like Tawney.” The archbishop replied: “There are no men like Tawney.” To a generation that had run out of faith in free-market capitalism, he appeared to be that unusual thing, a prophet who actually knew what he was talking about.

Deeply earnest, prematurely bald, self-deprecating to the point of masochism, Tawney nevertheless exuded an unmistakable charisma that can still be experienced today in the texture of his prose—its beautiful cadences, smash-and-grab satirical raids, elegiac melancholy, pin-sharp analysis, metaphorical exuberance, and spiritual clarity. The supreme example is Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, based on the Holland Memorial Lectures he delivered at King’s College, London in 1922. The bestselling history book in interwar Britain, it owed its success partly to a widespread feeling that the reigning economic system had failed, partly to the national weakness for nostalgia: Tawney was one of those writers who located his ideals in a consciously romanticized past, and the book is above all a lament for a lost moral order.

From the twelfth through the sixteenth century, in Tawney’s telling, money was, at least to an extent, governed by Christian moral norms. Feudal lords might be merciless, guilds might be ­monopolistic, the papacy might be corrupt, but late-­medieval society still shone out with, in ­Tawney’s characteristically memorable phrase, “a certain tarnished splendour.” Widespread cruelty and oppression could not wholly extinguish the idea of social solidarity, of a world that made eternal salvation its ultimate goal and thus put money-­worship in its place. Peasant and lord, craftsman and merchant knew their duties to each other, and the strong were regularly prevented from exploiting the weak. In the institutions that fed the hungry and provided credit to the financially insecure; in the ecclesiastical or civil courts where usurers were excommunicated and fined; in the pulpits where avarice was denounced as a deadly sin, and in the confessionals where middlemen would have to repent of overcharging customers or not sharing their goods with the poor, medieval man was prevented from destroying his own soul and his neighbor’s livelihood.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Bishop Smith condemns human-rights abuses in China

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has condemned the “wide range of human-rights abuses” committed in China against Christians and other religious groups.

He was speaking in a debate that he initiated in the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on Thursday.

Dr Smith said that he had been almost reluctant to call the debate because of his long-held admiration for China and its people. “Yet I feel I cannot remain silent in the face of such a wide range of human-rights abuses,” he said.

There was “a vast cultural gulf” between the UK and China, he continued, which was laid bare in President Xi’s speech last month to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in which the President had said: “We will . . . continue to take the correct and distinctively Chinese approach to handling ethnic affairs. . . We will remain committed to the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt to socialist society.”

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Posted in Anthropology, China, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(BBC) UK faces biggest fall in living standards on record

The UK faces its biggest drop in living standards on record as the surging cost of living eats into people’s wages.

The government’s forecaster said that household incomes – once rising prices were taken into account – would dive by 7% in the next few years.

It also expects the number of people who are unemployed to rise by more than 500,000.

It came as the chancellor said the UK was already in recession and set to shrink further next year.

But Jeremy Hunt said his Autumn Statement – which unveiled £55bn of tax rises and spending cuts – would lead to a “shallower downturn” with fewer jobs lost.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, England / UK, Personal Finance

A very hard winter for many: Some C of E bishops respond to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement

“Ahead of today’s statement one of our key concerns was to see benefits keep pace with inflation. So we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment in this regard but continue to call for the end to the two-child limit on Universal Credit, which hits some of the poorest families hardest.

“This is going to be a very hard winter for many. Our churches, in communities across the country, are already reporting alarming rises in demand for foodbanks and other services which have become a lifeline.

“It is heartbreaking to hear of people who just a year ago were donating to foodbanks but are now using them themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(C of E) How words of familiar prayers or hymns help people with dementia

Residents at Westview House in Totland Bay, on the Isle of Wight might be living with dementia – but they could remember the words to the Lord’s Prayer.

As Anne Powell started to lead the informal service in the care home, several seemed initially confused about what was going on.

But when Anne started to lead them in the words of the Lord’s Prayer, something amazing happened. Long-term memories kicked in, as many of them recited the words they had learnt decades ago. Something similar happened as they started to sing ‘All things bright and beautiful’.

This is the kind of ministry that Anne Powell offers regularly, as an ‘Anna Chaplain’.

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Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(ITV) NHS nurses union announce first ever UK-wide strike in its 106 year history

NHS nurses are to strike over pay after members of the union representing close to half a million nurses across the UK were balloted.

More than 300,000 members were urged by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to vote for strike action in the union’s biggest strike ballot.

The walkout is the first UK-wide strike action in the RCN’s 106-year history.

Industrial action is expected to be held before the end of the year at some of the country’s biggest hospitals, including Guy’s and St Thomas’ opposite Parliament, the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, University Hospital Wales and Belfast’s Royal Victoria.

The results of the ballot come amid a growing threat of strikes across the health service.

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Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(BBC) Church group from Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland urges denominations to share spaces to tackle poverty

Churches are being urged to share buildings regardless of denomination for lunch clubs and worship.

The Churches Together group that covers Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland said it was reacting to “rising energy bills and worsening poverty”.

It said it had taken the “unprecedented step” of writing to every church to urge them to “work more closely at this critical time”.

“This has to be what we have to talk about,” a spokesman said.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Charities may have to stop helping hungry and homeless, as they are struggling themselves, Theos reports

FOODBANKS and charities have replaced social security and Universal Credit as the last line of defence in the cost-of-living crisis, but the faith and voluntary sectors are themselves in a precarious state, says an 89-page report from the religion-and- society think tank Theos, published on Monday.

In a foreword to the report, A Torn Safety Net: How the cost of living crisis threatens its own last line of defence, the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams write that compassion is not running out, but that money is, to the extent that some who have donated to foodbanks are now themselves relying on them.

They warn: “The shocking reality is that this winter, we are likely to see charities being forced to stop feeding the hungry so they can help the starving, cut back on support to the poorly housed so they can focus on the fast rising numbers of homeless, and give up on helping the down-at-heel because their priority has to be the destitute.”

The report was written by Hannah Rich and informed by a series of 48 interviews, conducted between January and August this year, in Cornwall, Glasgow, Wolverhampton, and the London Borough of Newham. It speaks of a real danger that churches and other faith groups will close “because they cannot afford to keep the lights on or find enough volunteers to sustain their social action”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Poverty

(Pzephizo)–Andrew Atherstone–New Anglican Bishops for England and Europe

It was a great privilege to journey from Oxford to Yorkshire last Friday (21 October) to witness the consecration of two of our distinguished Wycliffe Hall alumni as new Anglican bishops. There was a buzz of excitement in the air at the inauguration of their new ministries, and exhilaration at the gospel bonds which draw together the global Anglican family. In a variation to the usual liturgy, the new bishops were doffed on the head with a Bible and exhorted, “Remember that you are always under the Word of God.” We weren’t gathered, however, in the Gothic glories of York Minster, but in a converted warehouse on an industrial estate in Hull, lent for the occasion by a local Vineyard church. This was not the Church of England, but a much younger ministry, the Anglican Network in Europe.

Global leaders in the Anglican Communion, associated with Gafcon, gave the consecration their full backing. Archbishop Laurent Mbanda (primate of Rwanda) preached the consecration sermon, on the Great Commission in Matthew 28, while Archbishop Henry Ndukuba (primate of Nigeria) presided at Holy Communion. They both declined invitations to the Lambeth Conference in summer 2022, but believed this event sufficiently important to make the long trek to Hull. There were also video greetings from Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba (primate of Uganda), Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit (primate of Kenya), and Archbishop James Wong (primate of the Indian Ocean), among others. The chief consecrator was Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), chair of the Gafcon primates’ council. Other bishops joining the consecration were Jay Behan (New Zealand), Julian Dobbs (USA), Charlie Masters (Canada), and Owen Nwokolo (Nigeria). These are impressive Anglican leaders, people of wisdom and stature. The platform was a wonderful global array.

The Gafcon movement brings together a multiplicity of Anglican theologies, from high church catholics to low church evangelicals. On this occasion, Archbishop Beach agreed to tone down the usual ritualistic frills, for the sake of evangelical sensibilities. There were no large pectoral crosses, or episcopal rings, and not a mitre in sight. The liturgy was taken not from ACNA’s 2019 prayer book but from Church Society’s 1994 English prayer book, though Beach did smuggle in one sacerdotal ritual during the Veni Creator Spiritus, by anointing the new bishops’ hands with oil – likely to give English evangelicals palpitations, and not in the published liturgy! Clergy in the congregation were asked to wear their dog collars, which was visually impressive, though it was strange to see Church of England evangelicals in collars that they would never normally wear on Sunday. Gafcon celebrations often embrace this incongruous mix of theological cultures from different sides of the globe, jostling together in kaleidoscopic union.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, England / UK, GAFCON

(Church Times) Reasserters in Oxford reject their Bishop’s endorsement of non-celibate same-sex unions

Canon Roberts writes: “In describing the negative fruit of traditional teaching, Bishop Steven seems close to accepting the assumption of many in our contemporary culture that normal people cannot live healthy, happy lives without sexual intimacy.

“This means, in his portrayal, a range of unattractive alternatives for all but the few gay/same-sex attracted Christians who are able to embrace and live out a call to celibacy: marriage to someone of the opposite sex, a double life, or reluctant and miserable singleness. There are no doubt many who do fit within his categories, but there is a serious lack of nuance in his analysis of this fruit, which is too negative in its portrayal of celibacy and singleness.”

Canon Roberts goes on to write that Dr Croft is correct to acknowledge the “missional challenge” caused by cultural shifts in society, “but there is, of course, nothing new in the Church experiencing such dissonance within and hostility from its surrounding culture. . . In the history of the global Church down the ages a gap between it and the society it inhabits has been normal.”

He continues: “Surely what is needed in the face of the disjunction between Church and society is not accommodation, but rather a winsome, confident re-presentation of the riches of Christian teaching about sex and marriage.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Martin Davie–What Should The Bishops Decide To Do After Living In Love And Faith?

All this (being interpreted) means that presbyter-bishops will engage not only in the teaching of the truth, but also in the repudiation of error… Both our Lord and his apostles did not shrink when necessary from the task of exposing and overthrowing false teaching ….If we sit idly by and do nothing, or if we turn tail and flee, we shall earn for ourselves the terrible epithet ‘hirelings,’ who care nothing for the sheep. Are we to abandon God’s flock to the wolves, as defenceless sheep without a shepherd? Is it to be said of the Church of God today: ‘so they were scattered because there was no shepherd: and so they became food for all the wild beasts’ (Ezekiel 34:5)? ’ [2]

For bishops in the Church of England today what the calling to be a faithful shepherd protecting the flock from the wolves involves is combatting all form of teaching which are contrary to: ‘the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness.’[3]

There are many forms of such erroneous teaching, but there are three forms which have become particularly prominent in the Church of England in recent years and which there is strong pressure for the Church of England to officially adopt. These are:

–The teaching that men and women can rightly adopt a form of personal identity that is not in accordance with their biological sex;
–The teaching that it is legitimate for people to have sexual intercourse with members of their own sex;
–The teaching that marriage can be between two people of the same sex.

These teachings are erroneous because they go against the teaching of both Scripture and the universal tradition of the Christian Church that people’s identity as either male or female is determined by their biological sex, that marriage has been ordained by God to be between two people of the opposite sex and that sexual intercourse should only take place with marriage.

Given that this is the case, what should the Bishops decide to do in their forthcoming meetings? I have given an answer to this question in my book Bishops Past, Present and Future which was published earlier this year…and in the rest of this paper I repeat what I said there and what I still think is the right approach for the bishops to take.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Bishop of Oxford says church should marry same-sex couples

The Bishop of Oxford has said Church of England clergy should be able to bless and marry [same-sex] couples.

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft said he was sorry his views on same-sex marriage were “slow to change” and had “caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain”.

In an essay, he said clergy should also be allowed to marry a same-sex partner if they wished.

By law no Church of England minister can bless or marry [same-sex] couples.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Archbp Justin Welby praying as bishops meet to discuss what’s next for Living in Love and Faith

LLF is an extensive dialogue taking place across the Church of England about marriage, gender, relationships and sexuality.

It has been underway since 2017 and parishes have spent the last two years in a process of discussion using a suite of resources prepared by the LLF team – a group formed of Anglicans from a wide spectrum of beliefs around these issues.

Feedback submitted by parishes and published in September found that comments in support of the acceptance of same-sex marriage outnumbered those against.

The College of Bishops is meeting this week to consider proposals for a way forward.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(CC) Samuel Wells–Understanding our dependencies

Consider three dimensions of dependency. There’s everyday dependency. I rely on a laptop and a phone, but I’m powerless without the people who make and repair them. I go outside, and there’s a whole network that makes my life possible. When things go wrong there are doctors, opticians, dentists, and a host of systems that exist to put things right. Our whole society relies on client economies to service it.

Then there’s cosmic dependency. There’s a planet, whose ecosystem we’ve woken up and realized is more fragile than we thought. There’s my parents, without whose existence there would have been no me in the first place. There’s weather and crops and livestock and transport and food processing, and on a grander scale there are a bunch of meteors that haven’t yet struck the earth but could blow us all apart one day.

But there’s also divine dependency. We have no idea what it cost God to make all things. But we can see what it cost God to be with us in Christ. The cost of our living with God forever is a cost we could never afford, astronomically beyond our capacity or ability to pay.

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Archbishops’ Council pledges £2 million to house vulnerable people

The Archbishops’ Council has pledged £2 million of its £25-million Social Impact Investment Programme to a fund that delivers supported accommodation across the UK, it was announced on Tuesday.

The second Social and Sustainable Housing Fund (SASH II), which is managed by Social and Sustainable Capital, allows charities and organisations to acquire and own portfolios of property to provide high-quality housing and targeted support to vulnerable people.

A first SASH fund in 2019 deployed £64.5 million to 20 organisations. SASH II aims to pool £125 million to help more than 30 organisations purchase 1000 properties, which it says would provide homes for 10,000 people over the life of the fund, including people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, experiencing mental illness or substance addiction, ex-offenders, asylum-seekers, and young people leaving care.

Current estimates suggest that as many as 200,000 people in the UK are living in temporary, transitional housing.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Independent) Religious leaders back our campaign to urgently extend free school meals

Religious leaders have backed The Independent‘s call for free school meals to be extended to more children living in poverty and urged the government to make it one of its priorities this winter.

Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, said: “It is heartbreaking to think of children living in poverty facing this winter without free school meals and the impact this will have on their health, wellbeing and educational outcomes.”

Our Feed the Future campaign, in partnership with the Food Foundation and a coalition of charities, calls on the government for free school meals to be extended to all children living in families that rely on universal credit.

Mr Butler, who is lead bishop for the Church of England in the House of Lords on welfare issues, added: “The Independent has shone a light on the heroic efforts of schools to step in and support their pupils and struggling families through initiatives such as school food banks but it really should not be down to them to fill this gap. I have long held that all children in families in receipt of universal credit should receive free school meals and I urge the government to give this priority in their spending plans.”

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Education, England / UK, Islam, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Hard-up church-school head turns to his family to fill staff gaps

Spiralling costs and staff shortages have forced the head teacher of a church school in Devon to ask his mother to help out as a lunch supervisor and to rope his sister in to do the cleaning.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has warned that schools are “cut to the bone”. The association has released data from a survey of its members, suggesting that 90 per cent of schools will go into deficit in the next academic year, and half expect to go into the red in the next 12 months.

The general secretary of the NAHT, Paul Whiteman, told the Observer on Sunday. “There are no easy fixes left. This will mean cutting teaching hours, teaching assistants, and teachers.”

Last week, Steve Hitchcock, the head teacher of St Peter’s C of E Primary School, in Budleigh Salterton, told the APEX news agency that there was nothing left to cut. The school was “constantly asking parents for money, constantly asking local groups, constantly trying to get money from any source”.

The school’s energy bills had doubled in the past six months, he said, while real-terms income had fallen by nine per cent in the past decade. Rising costs and diminishing income has left the catering budget £38,000 in arrears, and meant that the school was unable to give catering staff a pay rise in line with inflation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Education, England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) C of E Pensions Board joins fight to force VW to open its books on climate lobbying

The Church of England Pensions Board has joined five other pension funds to bring legal action against Volkswagen AG (VW), after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate-lobbying activities.

The funds, four Swedish and one Danish in addition to the C of E board, are all part of the Institutional Investment Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Climate Action’s 100+ initiative. These have asked the company repeatedly to clarify its lobbying position. VW discloses trade association memberships, but does not disclose how the goals of these associations align with its own climate goals.

The boards wanted to table an agenda item at VW’s AGM, seeking publication of a report setting out how the company’s lobbying of policy-makers matched its stated ambition to support the Paris Agreement goals by becoming a net-zero company. VW refused to table the item.

The investors say that they tried over several years to get information before tabling the amendment. The case, supported by the legal charity ClientEarth, will test whether VW has the right to refuse the agenda item.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Pensions, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Church of England Pensions Board begins legal proceedings against German car manufacturer VW

The Church of England Pensions Board, together with Swedish public pension funds AP7, AP2, AP3, AP4 and Danish AkademikerPension, has filed a case against Volkswagen AG, after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate lobbying activities.

This is the first time investors have started European litigation on a climate-related matter. The case was filed this week.

The case will test whether VW has the right to refuse to include an item on the company AGM agenda proposed by VW’s shareholders at the 2023 AGM having previously refused investors shareholder resolutions. The group of investors are represented by German law firm Hausfeld Rechtsanwälte LLP and supported by legal charity ClientEarth.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Church Times) Evangelical opponents of [non-celibate] same-sex relationships outline their proposals to the Bishops

Groups opposed to the introduction of same-sex…[relationships] in the Church of England have had meetings with bishops as the College of Bishops ponders what to present to the General Synod in February.

A meeting in Lambeth Palace on Tuesday of last week was attended by representatives from the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), the Evangelical Group of the General Synod (EGGS), the Church Society, and Junia, a group for ordained women in the Evangelical tradition.

A representative from Living Out also attended the meeting. Living Out is an organisation that describes its mission as “to see Christians living out their sexuality and identity in ways that enable all to flourish in Christ-like faithfulness”.

All the groups hold that marriage is the only acceptable context for sexual relations, and that a marriage can be only between a man and a woman. They met the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, and the Bishop of Grantham, Dr Nicholas Chamberlain.

Dr Chamberlain is the only openly gay Church of England bishop. At the time of his appointment, he confirmed that he was living in accordance with the House of Bishops’ guidelines, which state that gay clergy cannot be in sexually active same-sex partnerships.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Poor countries need to be rescued from choke hold of debt, say charities

Christan Aid is among a consortium of agencies who are calling on the Government to support programmes for debt relief and restructuring to reduce the “choke hold” that sovereign debt has on countries in the global south….

The statement by Christian Aid was timed to coincide with the International Monetary Fund’s annual gathering of economic leaders. At the meetings, held in Washington last week, the Zambian finance minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, was one of several leaders who called for more action on debt relief and restructuring.

At the…[partial] Lambeth [gathering]…in August, six Anglican Primates added their voices to a call to the UK Government to cancel sovereign debt owed by Zambia and other low-income countries (News, 2 August).

The Primate of Central Africa, the Most Revd Albert Chama, said that servicing the debt put such strain on public finances that cuts had to be made to public services. The debt meant that “ordinary Zambians lose out on health care, education, and development projects which would give them a fair chance to thrive and build futures.”

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

(BBC) ‘Exploited’ foreign doctors worry about risk to UK patients

Doctors recruited from some of the world’s poorest countries to work in UK hospitals say they’re being exploited – and believe they’re so overworked they fear putting patients’ health at risk.

A BBC investigation has found evidence that doctors from Nigeria are being recruited by a British healthcare company and expected to work in private hospitals under conditions not allowed in the National Health Service.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has described the situation as “shocking” and says the sector needs to be brought in line with NHS working practices.

The BBC has spoken to several foreign medics – including a young Nigerian doctor who worked at the private Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital in 2021.

Augustine Enekwechi says his hours were extreme – on-call 24 hours a day for a week at a time – and that he was unable to leave the hospital grounds. He says working there felt like being in “a prison”.

The tiredness was so intense, he says, there were times he worried he couldn’t properly function.

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Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Nigeria

(Church Times) Irish bishops express sympathy for bereaved after Creeslough explosion

Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland have joined Pope Francis in offering prayers for those killed in an explosion in Creeslough, County Donegal, on Friday.

On Sunday, Irish police released the names of the ten people who were killed in the explosion. The victims included three children, among them Shauna Flanagan Garwe, who was five years old.

The blast destroyed a petrol station and a shop, and damaged surrounding buildings, in the village, which is in the north-western part of the Republic of Ireland.

On Saturday, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, released a statement with the bishop of Derry & Raphoe, in whose Church of Ireland diocese Creeslough is situated.

“On behalf of Church of Ireland people across this island, we wish to express our sympathy to all who have been bereaved,” the statement read. It continued: “Our hearts also go out to those who have been injured and to their families, along with the assurance of our prayers in the weeks to come.

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Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic