Category : England / UK

(Patheos) Rick Snedeker–Nonreligious surge hits already deeply secular United Kingdom

Citizens of the United Kingdom, already generally far more secular than their American “cousins,” have grown exponentially even less religious in the past few years, according to a new report from the Humanists UK.

In its April 9 newsletter, the organization reported that the number of Britons — citizens of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — “increased by a staggering 46 percent over the past seven years, making non-religious people the fastest growing group in the country.”

The newsletter said nearly 8 million more Britons today claim no religious affiliation than did in 2011, quoting new data from the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Because the data is unsummarized, it’s difficult to double-check and verify the accuracy of Humanists UK’s report, but the organization’s recent newsletter claims track trends confirmed in other reputable reports in recent years.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Beth Allison Barr–History lends plenty of hope for the resurrection of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral

Henry VI of England was crowned also king of France here, a mostly empty title for him in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War. More than 300 years later, Napoleon Bonaparte would crown himself emperor of France here, a title which meant a bit more, at least for a short while. Here, the bells would ring the end of World War I and World War II.

As I watched the flames engulf the 19th-century spire, I could almost see the medieval world. Fire was an ever-present reality for both the timber frames of medieval towns and the inner frames of buildings like cathedrals.

Just this past summer I was studying a manuscript at the Weston Library in Oxford, a medieval liturgical book belonging to St. Chad’s, one of the four parish churches in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. A small note written on the bottom of one of the folios describes a 14th-century tragedy: “a fire burnt the whole parish of St. Alkmund’s starting at daybreak on the eve of Pentecost….anno. 1312.”

The comment was written without much fanfare, but as I watched the fiery spire of Notre Dame crumble and collapse into the burning building, my thoughts strayed to the desperate medieval bodies who would have worked tirelessly on that holy night in 14th-century Shrewsbury. They would have struggled to bring water from the River Severn, snaking silver around their town, trying to contain a fire quickly consuming the heart of their town and endangering the lives of their families and friends. Just like the fire of Notre Dame, they would only be partially successful. They would save the town at the cost of a parish.

Stories of catastrophic fires fill the pages of medieval and early modern history.

In 1174, a fire spread from a nearby cottage in Canterbury, England, to the wooden roof of Canterbury Cathedral. The heat was so intense that it melted the roof and caused significant damage to parts of the cathedral. St. Paul’s Cathedral in London burned at least three times in its long history, the most famous of which was the Great Fire of 1666.

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Posted in Church History, England / UK, Europe, Police/Fire

(ITV) Archbishop of Canterbury: We must have Brexit but it will take years to heal

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said the UK must leave and that the divisions caused by Brexit will take years to heal.

He also said people at Westminster were under “appalling pressure” while MPs debate what he called “the most difficult peacetime decision in more than 100 years”.

Mr Welby is a Remain-voting archbishop while opinion polls found his congregation was Leave-supporting.

He said: “We voted to leave, we have got to leave, and we’ve got to leave in a way that looks after the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

“I wouldn’t like a second referendum. I would hope that Parliament comes to a conclusion that unites the country and gives us a firm foundation for reconciliation.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Sunday Telegraph) Professor quits Royal College of Physicians over new assisted suicide stance

Professor Weale, emeritus professor of political theory and public policy at University College London, said he saw no reason why the RCP’s governing council had decided to abandon its previous position, which stated the organisation could not support changing the law on assisted suicide.

“There seems to be no chain of coherent reasoning leading to the council’s own position – a situation I regret deeply,” he said.

He also attacked the handling of the survey of doctors which led to the change in stance.

The poll asked doctors if the RCP should be for, against or neutral on assisted suicide; 43 per cent voted for opposition, 32 per cent backed changing the law, and just 25 percent voted for neutrality.

But unlike previous polls on the same question, the RCP’s council had decided in advance they should automatically switch to neutrality unless any of the three options was backed by a super-majority of 60 per cent.

As a result, the RCP announced last month it would be neutral on the issue, despite only one in four doctors endorsing that position.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General

(Mirror) Demand for donated uniforms spikes as ‘two million school pupils hit by poverty’

Two million children in England have been sent to school in dirty, ill-fitting or incorrect uniform, a children’s charity has said.

A Mirror probe has uncovered a surge in cash-strapped families who rely on handouts from uniform banks for school kit, including basic essentials such as coats, shoes and even underwear.

Figures last month revealed 4.1 million children are in living in poverty and 70% of those are in working families.

An estimated 13% of UK children live in families who are getting into debt to pay for school kit, with 17% cutting back on basic essentials, including food, to dress children for school, according to Children’s Society research.

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Posted in Children, Education, England / UK, Poverty

Church of England bishops welcome introduction of online safety laws

Church of England bishops today welcomed the publication of a Government White Paper including plans to impose substantial fines against social media companies that breach their duty of care towards the vulnerable.

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, who in 2016 launched a campaign (#liedentity) to encourage a safer online environment, said: “The new plans unveiled today are an encouraging sign that the online world will start to be regulated to protect people like Molly Russell, 14, who tragically took her own life. We know that her family believe that social media was partly responsible for their daughter’s death.

“Research tells us that 4 in 10 people feel that tech firms fail to take their concerns seriously when they complain.

“It’s about time that social media companies are held responsible for their content and are accountable for their actions. No other organisation in the ‘real’ world has that freedom. We manage to regulate electricity, water companies, broadcasters, shops etc through consumer bodies, yet for years social media companies have been allowed to self-regulate. These new clear standards, backed up by enforcement powers will hopefully be the step change to start really protecting our children and young people online.”

The White Paper, which includes plans to hold individual executives personally liable for failings, follows the publication of a House of Lords Select Committee report on Communication.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(C of E) More than 900 reports of potential modern slavery recorded through app

Drivers using a pioneering app to gather information on modern slavery in hand car washes made more than 900 reports of potential cases over a five-month period, according to research published today.

The Safe Car Wash app, which allows drivers to respond to a check list of key factors that may suggest modern slavery or labour exploitation in hand car washes, has been downloaded 8,225 times since its launch by the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales last year.

Between June and December 2018 there were 2271 completed entries using the app, with 41 per cent, or 930 reports, where after responding to a number of questions, users were told there was a likelihood of modern slavery at the hand car wash. They were then asked to call the Modern Slavery Helpline and their anonymised findings were shared in real time with police and the Gangmasters’ and Labour Abuse Authority.

Analysis by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab in a new policy report released today showed that nearly half of reports, or 48 per cent, commented that workers did not have access to suitable protective clothing such as gloves or boots, despite many hand car washes typically requiring their workers to use potentially harmful chemicals such as hydrochloric acid.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Finding a new equilibrium after Christchurch won’t be easy

In response to all this, Muslim representatives frequently stress that the problem of Islamophobia (a term that remains contentious in many countries) is by no means confined to a far-rightist fringe. They insist that an anti-Muslim climate has been created by politicians much closer to the respectable centre-right, or in the French case by zealous advocates of the century-old doctrine of laïcité, or strict secularism.

At Birmingham Central Mosque, one of the leading places of Islamic worship in Britain, the initial reaction to New Zealand’s horror was one of inter-faith solidarity. Representatives of all local creeds gathered to offer sympathy and support. But mosque leaders say their people live daily with abuse, spitting, jostling and in the case of women, attempts to grab their scarves. Nassar Mahmood, a mosque trustee, says social peace in the city is challenged on many fronts. Reduced levels of policing (because of budget cuts) lead to a rise in petty crime that, he fears, may be blamed on Muslims. “We could very easily face attacks similar to those in New Zealand that would destabilise our social harmony,” he says. In the early hours of March 21st, five mosques in Birmingham were attacked with sledgehammers.

Salma Yaqoob, a local politician of the left who may be Birmingham’s best-known Muslim woman, has been adamant that the problem goes far beyond an extremist white-nationalist fringe. Her response to the New Zealand massacre was to “call out” mainstream Tory politicians who in her view played to the gallery with anti-Muslim innuendos.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Australia / NZ, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Scotsman) Majority of Scots back assisted suicide according to poll done by group which favours the practice

Nearly nine in 10 people in Scotland support legalising assisted dying, according to a new poll. The Populus survey, commissioned by campaign group Dignity in Dying Scotland, found 87 per cent backed the move for terminally ill people with less than six months to live, with medical approval and safeguards. Just 8 per cent of people were opposed while the remainder said they did not know. The results, from a survey of 1,057 adults last month, were released as the campaign group starts a national advertising drive calling on people to help legalise assisted suicide. Campaigners want the Scottish Parliament to legislate to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to have the choice of an assisted death.

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Posted in --Scotland, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) On what should have been Brexit weekend, churches and cathedrals open their doors for prayer and dialogue

The first weekend after the UK was supposed to leave the European Union, churches and cathedrals are offering spaces for conversation and prayer on Brexit.

Many churches across the country are holding prayer vigils this weekend on what should have marked the start of a new post-Brexit era for the UK.

But after another week of votes and debates failed to break the deadlock on Brexit, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting people to come together in dialogue and prayer as part of five days of prayer for the nation and its future relationship with the European Union.

Cathedrals across England have answered that call. On Friday, Leicester Cathedral hosted a prayer vigil led by the Bishop of Loughborough, Guli Francis-Dehqani, Chair of the European Council of Churches, while Wakefield Cathedral has been inviting members of the public to come and write down their prayers for peace and for each other on prayer cards.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Man arrested after gun incident at St Paul’s Cathedral

A suspected gunman attempted to shoot security guards inside St Paul’s Cathedral before being arrested by firearms police as he fled.

The suspect, who has not been identified, is said to have also levelled the weapon at staff and pulled the trigger but no bullets were fired, the BBC reported.

He was spotted by security staff inside the cathedral’s crypt, which has a café and is generally busy with tourists. Elsewhere in the crypt lie the tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who designed the rebuilt cathedral after the original structure was all but destroyed in the Great Fire.

He fled towards an exit but was intercepted by firearms officers from City of London Police.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

(Mirror) child poverty figures released this week are a ‘national scandal’ as 4.1million kids are hit

Tory ministers are accused of presiding over a “national scandal” after damning new figures revealed 4.1million children are in poverty.

Stagnant wages and the cruel benefit freeze mean the huge total refused to fall – despite Theresa May’s pledge to fight “burning injustices” on her first day in Downing Street.

Annual Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show 4.1million children were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2017/18, around the same as the year before.

More than 2million (53%) are under five, up from 51% a year earlier. 700,000 children in “severe” poverty, up from 600,000. And the number of children in absolute poverty, a different measure, rose by 200,000 to 3.7million.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said: “It is surely wrong, in a just and compassionate society, that so many children are growing up in poverty.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Poverty

(BBC) Manchester Arena attack memorial site revealed

A permanent memorial to the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing will be located close to the scene of the attack, the council has confirmed.

A site between Hunt’s Bank and Deansgate, near the city’s cathedral, has been “earmarked” after consultation with families, a spokesman said.

Prof Malcom Press of the Manchester Memorial Advisory Group said choosing a location was a “significant step”.

He added that the design had not been decided upon and would “not be rushed”.

The location was announced as plans for a “more intimate” commemoration of the second anniversary of the 22 May 2017 attack were revealed.

Read it all.

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

(Tablet) Jesuit Refugee Service has accused the Home Office of demonstrating a “shocking illiteracy of Christianity” in its recent Action

Sarah Teather, Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK said: “This is a particularly outrageous example of the reckless and facetious approach of the Home Office to determining life and death asylum cases – they appear willing to distort any aspect of reality in order to turn down a claim.

“This case demonstrates the shocking illiteracy of Christianity within the Home Office. But the distortion of logic and reckless approach to asylum seeker’s lives is a common feature. Here at JRS, we routinely encounter cases where asylum has been refused on spurious grounds. Some of these cases require more legal knowledge to recognise than this bizarre misquoting of the Bible.

“As this instance gains public attention, we need to remember it reflects a systematic problem and a deeper mindset of disbelief within the Home Office, and is not just an anomaly that can be explained away.”

Mr Stevens said that the Home Office subsequently agreed to withdraw their refusal and to reconsider the man’s asylum application. He later released details of a second case, in which a Christian woman who fled Iran fearing execution had her asylum claim rejected because the Home Office considered her belief in Jesus to be “half-hearted”.

Read it all.

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

The University of Kent issues a statement on the Partial Lambeth Conference to be held there in 2020

The University has become aware that proposals relating to the Lambeth Conference 2020, which is due to be held at the University, raises serious issues at the heart of these values.

The Lambeth Conference is, of course, a remarkable event and has been held at the University since 1978. When the organisers of the Lambeth Conference 2020 came to the University seeking to work with us again, we were happy to engage. Bringing this gathering of spiritual leaders, from across the globe, to meet, celebrate, debate, learn and reflect, supports our vision of the kind of welcoming, inclusive, civic university we stand for and formal agreement relating to the use of University facilities was reached in August 2018.

It subsequently came to the University’s attention that, on 15 February 2019, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion made a public announcement on the Anglican Communion News Service website ‘that it would be inappropriate for same sex spouses to be invited to the conference’.

The University was concerned by this announcement, as it does not accord with our values, and determined it would seek further information and discuss the issue at its next meeting of University Council, the University’s governing body. The University has since received a large number of concerns raised by staff, students, and members of the public, about hosting the conference. While we currently understand that the Lambeth Conference may be permitted by law to rely on exemption under the Equality Act 2010 for religious organisations, we also believe there are significant ethical concerns raised. These were discussed at the meeting of University Council on 22 March 2019.

Council members were clear that exclusion of same sex spouses, on grounds of orientation, would be contrary to the values of the University. Council determined that the University shall ensure that accommodation will be available on campus for those spouses affected by this decision who wish to be in Canterbury with their partners during the conference period. The University welcomes them and affirms its belief in, and commitment to, diversity and inclusivity.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Brexit shows Britain is no longer able to imagine a “common good”

Democracy rests on a presupposition that is not often made explicit. Popular consent implies that everyone’s view and interest, without restriction, is worth taking into account in the running of a society – which is why the principle on which democracy rests is the same principle that affirms the rights of minorities and the need to continue testing the strength of popular consent. Any search for a permanent resolution of social issues that is declared to be beyond argument or challenge is a move away from the fundamental principle.

In other words, two salient aspects of a consistent democracy are that we go on arguing, and that our freedom to do so is protected. The law defends us from coercion and forcible silencing. Without these, we have naked populism, a reversion to the situation where the powerful (in numbers, wealth or status) determine what is “right”. Genuine politics gives way to suppressed or threatened violence.

In genuine politics – if there is no overwhelming consensus, and if the people who disagree with us are not going to oblige us by simply going away, and if coercion is not an option because of our legal settlement – we are committed to argument and negotiation. And this entails a readiness to suspend belief in the unqualified rightness of our own interests and to try to imagine a state of affairs emerging that could be manageable both for us and for those who do not share our ideas or priorities.

So to find ourselves – as we now regularly do – in a situation where opposing groups each regard the other’s agenda as the worst outcome imaginable is a dire situation for democracy. Not because it is not nice to be so rude to each other, but because it indicates a disturbing loss of any sense that there might be common goals that we can only discover through a process of argument and scrutiny; a loss of any willingness to think around the corners of the definitions we started with.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology

(C of E) Response to Home Office letter regarding Iranian asylum seeker from Bp Paul Butler

“I am extremely concerned that a Government department could determine the future of another human being based on such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities. To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a violent religion is like arguing that a Government report on the impact of Climate Change is advocating drought and flooding.

“It is good that the Home Office has recognised that this decision is inconsistent with its policies and that its staff need better training, but the fact that these comments were made at all suggests that the problem goes deeper than a lack of religious literacy among individual civil servants and indicates that the management structures and ethos of the Home Office, when dealing with cases with a religious dimension, need serious overhaul.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Iran, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Church of England invites parishioners to “tea and prayer drop-ins” as Brexit deadline nears

The Church of England has called for communities to join together in conversation and prayer as discussions over the UK’s departure from the European Union reach a pivotal point. The debate is splitting communities in the UK. The UK Government and the EU have reached a withdrawal agreement; but this has twice been rejected by the country’s Parliament. Today, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that the government could only bring it back for a third vote if the motion was “substantially different”. Britain risks leaving the European Union without a deal on 29 March unless the other 27 EU member countries agree to a British government request for an extension.

Churches are being encouraged to host “informal café-style meetings” over the weekend of 30 March “to bring together people of all standpoints and encourage open discussion.” The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have today backed newly-commissioned resources to invite people to “get together and chat over a cup of tea and pray for our country and our future”.

Under the slogan “Together”, the packs include specially-chosen Bible passages, prayers and questions designed to prompt conversations. The introductory notes urge participants to have “respect for the integrity of differently held positions, encouraging communities which feel the same about the issues to use their imagination to consider the viewpoints of those who feel differently.”

“As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to demonstrate that love for God and for each other, along with compassion, solidarity and care for the poorest, are our defining values”, Archbishop Justin said. “These values have been the bedrock of our national life for many centuries. They are not simply our history: they are also our best hope for the future.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Patrick

Almighty God, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Posted in --Ireland, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

ResearchLive talks to the Reverend Richard Coles–Politics, Pop And The Church Of England

When asked whether the Church of England was a brand and whether companies could learn from it, Coles said no, though said there was temptation to “make sure we give the right kind of message” to address the haemorrhaging of numbers.

“Someone said we needed a mission statement,” he said. “But what we do is so different to our [wider] culture values. We have problems, and I kind of like that. I like that we’re seen as hopeless and bumble around; that we’re not afraid of failure.

“Mary Magdalen went to the graveyard expecting a body in the tomb but she found a life transformed. That’s really what we’re for and I don’t think that that is something we can easily articulate.”

In a similar vein he cautioned against a drive to bring more young people into the church. Instead, they should go out and live life to the full – the church will be there for them later, as it was for him.

“As a vicar I spend a lot of time with older people but recently I have spent a lot of time with young people and they are stimulating in a different way. Younger people don’t know their limits yet. It makes them exciting, risky and bold.”

Read it all.

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

(BBC) Could Saint Boniface become patron saint of Devon?

A monk credited with bringing Christianity to Germany could become the patron saint of Devon.

St Boniface, who lived in Crediton before travelling around Europe, was born in the 7th Century and killed by a mob aged around 80 in what is now the Netherlands.

The patron saint plan was put forward by a county councillor and is supported by the bishops of Exeter and Plymouth.

Devon County Council is due to discuss the motion later.

County councillor Nick Way, who represents Crediton, described St Boniface as a “significant historic figure”, and said making him Devon’s patron saint would be “important for the county’s identity and tourism”.

Read it all.

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

Bp Stephen Cottrell–Regulation: Saving the internet from itself

The ‘digital world’, that is an environment composed of digital services facilitated by the internet, plays an ever-increasing role in all aspects of life. It is the internet that makes the world go round today. It is the internet that that provides heat and light. The trouble is that as the control of this world settles in the hands of a few very dominant players, there seems to be more heat than light.

In the past year many of us have woken up to this. Our data is the currency with which Facebook makes its billions. We thought we were the customer; we have discovered we’re the product. Darker still, all sorts of inappropriate and illegal material are available to anyone who has a smart phone in their pocket, whatever their age: from on line bullying to do it yourself advice on how to self-harm, things that would not be tolerated offline flourish in the online environment. Parents in particular feel anxious and out of control. At the same time fake news, the misuse of personal data and abusive and hateful speech diminish and toxify our democracy and our public life.

For Christians and people of faith this is a particularly important issue. Jesus reserves his most stinging opprobrium for those who make life difficult for children. And it is children who are most at risk from an ineffectively regulated internet. Equally important, a faith perspective maintains that human flourishing requires the foundations of a strong and agreed ethical framework. It is this that is lacking online.

When other things that are wrong in our society and people demand that something must be done. With the internet, people are aware of the problem, but feel powerless. They don’t think anything can be done.

But it can.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Church of England calls for Government action on problem gambling

A motion overwhelmingly passed by General Synod, the Church’s Assembly, on Saturday called for a reduction in gambling advertising, and to introduce a levy for gambling firms to help fund research and treatment programmes to combat addicting.

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith (pictured) who has campaigned for gambling reform, introduced the item by telling the Synod that 55,000 children were problem gamblers, and were being ‘groomed’ by gambling adverts.

The story of Jack Ritchie, a young man who killed himself after fighting gambling addiction, elicited many stories from members of Synod of their personal experiences of problem gambling as well as those of loved ones.

Nick Land, of York Diocese, identified himself as having formerly had a problem with gambling, warning that for reformed addicts, “every advertisement is a temptation.”

Read it all.

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

(BBC) A key Moment in History Remembered today–Sheffield bomber crash: Flypast on 75th anniversary

Thousands of people cheered a flypast honouring 10 airmen who died when their plane crashed in a park 75 years ago.

The US bomber came down in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield on 22 February 1944, killing everyone on board.

A campaign for a flypast started after a chance meeting between BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Tony Foulds, who tends a park memorial.

A tearful Mr Foulds was given a rousing round of applause as the planes flew over. He said: “This is unbelievable.”

Relatives of the aircrew and thousands of people from across Britain paid their respects as the planes roared over the memorial at about 08:45 GMT.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Denmark, England / UK, Germany, History, Military / Armed Forces

Albert Mohler for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–“God Made Me for China:” Eric Liddell Beyond Olympic Glory

“God made me for China.” Eric Liddell lived his life in answer to that calling and commission. As Duncan Hamilton explains, Liddell “considered athletics as an addendum to his life rather than his sole reason for living it.”

Eric Liddell ran for God’s glory, but he was made for China. He desperately wanted the nation he loved to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe. David J. Michell, director for Canada Overseas Missionary Fellowship, would introduce Liddell’s collected devotional writings, The Disciplines of the Christian Life, by stating simply that “Eric Liddell’s desire was to know God more deeply, and as a missionary, to make him known more fully.”

Christians must remember that Olympic glory will eventually fade. There will be medalists for all to celebrate. But, will there be another Eric Liddell? At the very least, his story needs to be told again. The most important part of his story came long after his gold medal arrived by mail.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, China, Missions, Sports

More for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–The Second Life of the Man Who Wouldn’t Run on Sunday

Liddell lived life to the hilt, but not in the modern “I am tenaciously dedicated to my own hedonic brand” kind of way. Liddell’s vision of an all-out life was to assess his options, count the cost, and then take the most risky step in the name of Jesus Christ. The calculation was a simple one: “Each one comes to the cross-roads at some period of his life,” Hamilton quotes Liddell as preaching, “and must make his decision for or against his Master.” This Christocentric logic made great sense to Liddell, even if it made little sense to the world. Liddell faced fierce skepticism for his attempts to live out his faith, whether in his famous decision not to run on Sundays or his withdrawal from competition in order to answer the missionary call.

This example can help inform contemporary engagement for believers. Much effort is made today by younger evangelicals to get the cultural backflip just right, to strenuously befriend unbelievers while never offending them with over-stressed Christianity. Liddell’s was a more straightforward approach. Drafting off of the Sermon on the Mount, his favorite section of Scripture, he stood for his convictions without flinching while loving his neighbor without hesitating. The resulting model of Christian witness is as simple as it is inspiring.

Liddell was not a perfect man, of course. Hamilton covers his lengthy separation from his family with a clear eye. Married in 1934 to the untiring Florence, Liddell fathered three children. He loved his wife and kids, but as Hamilton notes, his first priority was the work of missions. This meant lengthy periods of separation as Liddell worked in Siaochang and later Tientsin. The work was always grueling, and China in the 1930s and 1940s was a very fearsome place indeed. Liddell was often robbed, frequently hungry and dirty, and regularly accosted by officials seeking to impede his work.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Missions, Sports

Meir Soloveichik for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–Finding God in the Olympic Footrace

While Americans rightly exult in the achievements of U.S. medalists, “Chariots of Fire” also serves as a reminder that athletics and even patriotism only mean so much. When Liddell is informed that a qualifying heat takes place on Sunday, his Sabbath, he chooses not to compete in that race. The camera cuts from athletes at the Olympics to Liddell reading a passage in Isaiah: “Behold the nations are as a drop in the bucket . . . but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” David Puttnam, a “Chariots of Fire” producer, wrote me that the verses were “specifically selected by the actor, the late Ian Charleson, who gave himself the task of reading the entire Bible whilst preparing for the film.”

The Isaiah passage is liturgically important for Jews: Parts of it are declaimed in synagogue on the Sabbath when we read God’s command to Abraham to leave the center of civilization and found a family, and a faith, in a new land. Isaiah reminds Jews that Abraham’s children have encountered much worse than what Harold Abrahams experienced. While most nations now rest on the ash heap of history, the biblical Abraham’s odyssey continues. The countries competing in today’s Olympics come and go, while those who “wait upon the Lord” endure.

“Chariots of Fire” also offers a message for people of faith who have grown troubled by the secularization of society and the realization that they are often scorned by elites. Like Liddell, we may be forced to choose religious principle over social success. Hopefully, however, we will be able to use our gifts to sanctify this world. As Liddell’s father told his son in the film: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Missions, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

Stephen Lynas on what will be discussed this week at the Church of England General Synod

Officially, the chief focus of the week is evangelism. But, as ever, there are other, unofficial currents flowing through the week, and so the other prominent thread will be human sexuality – both the work under the title ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ (long-term, official) and the ongoing rows about liturgy to be used with people who have undergone a gender change (current campaigning, unofficial).

We’ll get to the transgender row in a minute. But first of all, note the time being given to evangelism-related debates this week:

  1. On Wednesday, three contributions from Anglican leaders from elsewhere – North India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya.
  2. Thursday is an evangelism-free day. But on Friday we have three major items – Evangelism and Discipleship, evangelism on estates, and the Growing Faith debate on ministry among children and young people.
  3. On Friday we return to the subject with a Private Members Motion from Church Army’s Mark Russell about encouraging youth evangelism.

Read it all (and follow the links). Also, there is a good link to the General Synod papers there. As ever, the main General Synod page is there.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CEN) Peter Brierley–Understanding midweek attendance figures

The Church of England publishes both its Usual Sunday Attendance (USA) across its 15,600 churches and also the Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) which is higher (5 per cent in 2017). It also publishes the weekday attendance across a church’s various activities, and, since 2013, separately the number who attend weekly school services in church. All are broken down between adults and children.

In a sentence, these various numbers may be summarised as “Sunday attendance is dropping; weekday attendance is increasing.” The increase in weekday just about compensates for the decrease in Sunday attendance, though the change in total attendance between 2013 and 2017 is slightly down, having dropped -2 per cent. It is also true that the total number of adults attending church is declining while the total number of children is increasing!

It may readily be seen that the total adult numbers at school services increased a little between 2013 and 2015 but has been much the same between 2015 and 2017. Adults at the weekday services have dropped a little since 2015, down from 121,000 to 115,000. Children’s school services participation, however, has increased very markedly in this period, weekday total rising from 103,000 in 2013 to 151,000 in 2017 – a 50 per cent increase.

Read it all (subscription).

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