Category : England / UK

(CT Christian History) Before ‘Uncle Tom’ Was a Bestseller, He Was Josiah Henson

Upon his return to the plantation, Henson hatched a plan to escape to Canada with his wife, Charlotte, and four sons. He traveled 600 miles—with the youngest two in a knapsack on his shattered shoulders—several years before the Underground Railroad was even established.

Henson’s family joined a freeman settlement called Dawn, (now the site of Dresden, Ontario), near the location of a long-running series of riverside Christian camp meetings. But rather than settle into life as a free man, Henson returned to America again and again and rescued 118 slaves as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

As part of his fight for the freedom of others, Henson spoke and traveled extensively in an effort to raise funds and attention for the abolitionist cause and the work at Dawn. He traveled to the first World’s Fair at the Crystal Palace in London, where he won a bronze medal for the community’s high-quality black walnut lumber.

Through his new British Christian friends, he was given an audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace. Henson’s handlers told him to expect no more than 15 minutes with the second-highest-ranking man in the empire. After more than half an hour, the Archbishop asked, “At what university, sir, did you graduate?” Henson’s answer? “I graduated, your grace, at the university of adversity.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Archbishop of Canterbury, Canada, Church History, England / UK, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(ES) Archbp Justin Welby–This is a time to put aside our rifts, so come pray with us at Pentecost

The Spirit makes real for us, each of us, the reality of the love of God in Jesus. It’s a love which doesn’t just forgive and restore us, which doesn’t just invest us with a value and worth beyond our comprehension, but a love which turns us towards others to truly love them.

For the first time this Sunday, in Trafalgar Square, and thanks to the Mayor of London, thousands of us will gather from dozens of different churches. It’s something that is fairly different and unusual, and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we will get together to pray for a renewing touch of God’s presence with us. Because we need God.

Because we need God to break the barriers down between us, to bring love between people of different backgrounds and opinions, we need God to give us his love and his hope.

The gift of God is for us all. We simply need to ask. This is prayer. Prayer is the simplest yet most profound practice of opening up our hands and hearts and lives to God. And everyone can do it. At any time. In any place. And of all the things we could do, I think this is what we need to do more than ever.

Please join us in Trafalgar Square on Sunday as we pray and wait on the presence of God to set us free — so that we have strength, courage and love to live in the middle of all that occupies us.

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

Remembering D-Day–Winston Churchill’s Speech, June 6, 1944

I have also to announce to the House that during the night and the early hours of this morning the first of the series of landings in force upon the European Continent has taken place. In this case the liberating assault fell upon the coast of France. An immense armada of upwards of 4,000 ships, together with several thousand smaller craft, crossed the Channel. Massed airborne landings have been successfully effected behind the enemy lines, and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time. The fire of the shore batteries has been largely quelled. The obstacles that were constructed in the sea have not proved so difficult as was apprehended. The Anglo-American Allies are sustained by about 11,000 firstline aircraft, which can be drawn upon as may be needed for the purposes of the battle. I cannot, of course, commit myself to any particular details. Reports are coming in in rapid succession. So far the Commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place. It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility, both from the air and the sea standpoint, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy and in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.

There are already hopes that actual tactical surprise has been attained, and we hope to furnish the enemy with a succession of surprises during the course of the fighting. The battle that has now begun will grow constantly in scale and in intensity for many weeks to come, and I shall not attempt to speculate upon its course. This I may say, however. Complete unity prevails throughout the Allied Armies. There is a brotherhood in arms between us and our friends of the United States. There is complete confidence in the supreme commander, General Eisenhower, and his lieutenants, and also in the commander of the Expeditionary Force, General Montgomery. The ardour and spirit of the troops, as I saw myself, embarking in these last few days was splendid to witness. Nothing that equipment, science or forethought could do has been neglected, and the whole process of opening this great new front will be pursued with the utmost resolution both by the commanders and by the United States and British Governments whom they serve. I have been at the centres where the latest information is received, and I can state to the House that this operation is proceeding in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. Many dangers and difficulties which at this time last night appeared extremely formidable are behind us. The passage of the sea has been made with far less loss than we apprehended. The resistance of the batteries has been greatly weakened by the bombing of the Air Force, and the superior bombardment of our ships quickly reduced their fire to dimensions which did not affect the problem. The landings of the troops on a broad front, both British and American- -Allied troops, I will not give lists of all the different nationalities they represent-but the landings along the whole front have been effective, and our troops have penetrated, in some cases, several miles inland. Lodgments exist on a broad front.

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Posted in England / UK, History, Language, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

(Theos TT) Hannah Rich–Never walking alone: the poster boys for public faith

The Egyptian forward represents a public face of Islam which sits in stark contrast with many contemporary media portrayals of Muslims. His characteristic goal celebration in which he kneels on the pitch to perform sujud – the Islamic act of thanksgiving to Allah – has been immortalised in football computer games. Comedian John Oliver recently described him as ‘a better human being than he is a football player and he’s one of the best football players in the world.’ Salah has spoken about his support for women’s equality and the need for cultural change in the way women are viewed in the Middle East. His toddler daughter delighted the crowd at Anfield when she scored a goal in front of the Kop on the last day of the season, before being scooped up and hugged by her hijab–wearing mother. She is named after the holy city of Mecca.

That these are all details rather than the story itself is testament to a normalisation of religious faith among players and fans to which Salah has contributed.

This phenomenon is not limited to Mo Salah and Islam. At full time in Saturday’s final, Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson – a practicing Catholic – took his jersey off to reveal a vest decorated with hand drawn symbols proclaiming, ‘cross equals love’. He subsequently posted a photo of himself holding the Champions League trophy aloft and looking to the sky, with the caption ‘God is love’.

The Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has frequently discussed his Christian faith in public and in media interviews. On the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in his native Germany, he took on the role of Reformationsbotschafter or ‘reformation ambassador’ in a publicity campaign for the Bible in which he cited Martin Luther as one of his role models:

“Luther fought for faith and justice, so people could live their faith in a mature way and without fear… I like Luther because he took the path of the less privileged on the margins. He risked a great deal, so we could have a positive image of God: the loving god in whom I believe, who welcomes everyone regardless of race, background or education.”

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Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sports

(Independent) Humanist weddings rise by 266 per cent across England and Wales

They are weddings that are, officially speaking, not even legally recognised.

But such a small detail, it seems, is not stopping increasing numbers of couples from opting for humanist marriage ceremonies across England and Wales.

Such weddings have risen by more than 250 per cent in the last 15 years, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The massive rise makes it the fastest growing type of wedding in the country – and comes as the number of faith-based ceremonies fell in the same period.

While humanist weddings went up 266 per cent between 2004 and 2016, Church of England weddings fell by 28 per cent, Catholic by 34 per cent and Baptist by 42 per cent.

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Posted in England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(ESPN FC) Liverpool’s latest European Cup win comes on a journey that is far from over

And now, after a 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, it is six European Cups for Liverpool. With Barcelona and Bayern Munich left behind, ahead are Milan — just one away — and then 13-time winners Real Madrid, who have owned the European Cup competition like no others. No club can be separated from its past, but Liverpool, more than most, are marked by what came before, from the sublime to the tragic.

The latest title mirrored those that came before in the sense that it was gutted out and filled with might-have-beens, probably many more than there should have been. That has been the story of Liverpool’s European wins: twice on penalties, twice by a single goal, always with the game in the balance until the final minutes.

So maybe it was apt that after the final whistle, when most of the newly crowned champions had collapsed to the Wanda Metropolitano pitch, felled by equal parts exhaustion, elation and the need for release, the last to get up was Jordan Henderson.

The Liverpool captain stayed down for what felt like an eternity, first with head in hands, then hunched on all fours. Only when substitute Divock Origi put the match out of reach, with three minutes to go, had Liverpool been able to shake a creeping fear that a final marked by errors and fatigue could take a twist against them.

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Posted in England / UK, History, Men, Spain, Sports

Saturday food for Thought from Roger Scruton–What is the strange superstition that has arisen in the Western world?

Posted in Anthropology, Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy

(CEN) Victims of John Smyth ‘exceed 100′

Court papers have revealed that the number of victims of the late John Smyth QC have exceeded 100.

Smyth, who groomed his victims when he was chair of the Iwerne camps from 1975-82, was previously known to have beaten at least 26 young men in the UK.

When his crimes came to light in 1982 the leadership of the Iwerne network arranged for him to move to Zimbabwe to work with a missionary organisation.

Once there, Smyth started his own network of camps, in which boys were routinely beaten for his sexual pleasure. A court case was launched but aborted in 1997, and court papers from that case reveal that as many as 90 boys made formal complaints against him.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, South Africa, Teens / Youth, Violence

([London] Times) Say a little prayer for me: Alexa app helps users to connect with God

In centuries past people went to priests and prophets with questions about the Almighty. Now Christians and the curious are “connecting with God” through Amazon’s Alexa.

Tens of thousands have interacted with the Church of England through the digital assistant since the launch of its own voice-controlled app, or Alexa “skill”, a year ago.

Some 9.5 million Britons use smartspeakers such as Amazon’s Echo to answer questions and control devices and the church said that more than 75,000 engaged with its new service.

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

(CWR) A story of one Anglican community finding a home in the Roman Catholic Church

When Father Christopher Pearson and some of his flock at St. Agnes Church in Kennington, South London, made the decision to come into full communion with the Catholic Church, they had to leave quite a lot behind. A church they loved, with its own particular story—destroyed by bombing in World War II and then rebuilt—and a comfortable role in the local community. The congregation and its networks of friends had a strong sense of belonging. No Remembrance Sunday was complete without Father Christopher in cope and cassock arriving the take the traditional service at the local War Memorial. The church’s annual round of celebrations and processions was well known and appreciated locally.

Leaving all of this was not easy—but the call of Peter was not one that they felt, in conscience, could be resisted. When Benedict XVI issued the invitation, in Anglicanorum Coetibus, to “groups of Anglicans” to join the Catholic Church, Father Christopher invited members of his flock to join him on Sunday following the main service, to pray and ponder.

The result was a decision to follow Peter—which meant, in effect, leaving everything that had become comfortable and venturing ahead in faith. Father Christopher became a Catholic layman—entering the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham carried no guarantee of ordination, but only meant that he could submit an application and apply for training and ordination. The “South London Ordinariate group”—as he and his flock became known—met each Sunday at a local Catholic church for Mass, and during the week for instruction. Good humour and a sense of sharing this whole venture together meant that they simply took things stage by stage.

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

(Church Times) Bishop of Bristol speaks of being ‘silenced’ by ‘tribalism’ in Gloucester Diocese in the 1990s

THE Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, has said that she was “silenced and marginalised” while she was a deacon in Gloucester diocese in the 1990s by the same “tribalism and clericalism” identified by the official abuse inquiry in its latest report.

Bishop Faull was one of a handful of bishops to respond individually to the scathing conclusions published in the latest Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) report, Anglican Church Case Studies: The diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against Peter Ball (News, 17 May).

In both the diocese of Chichester and the wider Church, it states: “The responses to child sexual abuse were marked by secrecy, prevarication, avoidance of reporting alleged crimes to the authorities and a failure to take professional advice.”

This included the Church’s “unwavering support of Peter Ball” — the disgraced former bishop and convicted abuser — during the Gloucestershire Police investigation (allegations about Ball came to light when he was translated from Lewes to Gloucester), and its failure to “recognise or acknowledge the seriousness” of Ball’s misconduct.

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

(Premier) Durham church criticised for offering to cover crosses and host Muslim prayers

A Darlington church is coming under fire after offering to cover up crosses and allow Muslims to say prayers in its building.

St Matthew and St Luke’s had initially invited members of the Muslim community for an event next month to mark Ramadan.

It also offered different rooms to allow segregated worship for men and women.

Upon hearing about the event the Diocese of Durham intervened and told the church it must not hold Islamic prayers in the church building.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(DM) British couples shun church ceremonies in favour of Instagram-friendly ‘farmyard weddings’ – with the number of barn nuptials doubling in 5 years

There are dozens of decisions to be made when planning a wedding including the cake, flowers, dress and all-important venue.

However it seems that British couples are opting to step away from the traditional church location and are instead embracing ‘farmyard weddings’ for their nuptials.

Couples are also shunning rooftops and glitzy urban hotels in favour of Instagram-friendly venues – complete with bridal wellies and glamping guests.

New research by John Lewis revealed the number of ceremonies held in barns or on farms has doubled in five years, accounting for one in eight weddings, compared to one in 15 in 2014.

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

Perspective from the Pages of History–Methodism in Oxford in 1758

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

(Church of England) Statement on IICSA report from members of House of Bishops

From there:

A statement from members of the House of Bishops in response to The Anglican Church Case Studies IICSA report:

“We write on behalf of the whole House following the publication last week of the IICSA report into the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. We recognise that the publication of this report causes most hurt and concern to survivors themselves. It reopens wounds.

“At this week’s meeting of the House of Bishops, Archbishop Justin asked every one of us to read and study the full report in detail and we are absolutely committed to this. The Church has failed survivors and the report is very clear that the Church should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors. We are ashamed of our past failures, have been working for change but recognise the deep cultural change needed takes longer than we would like to achieve.

“We welcome the recommendations.

“The report will now go to the National Safeguarding Steering Group next month so the Church can formulate a detailed response to the findings and recommendations as we approach IICSA’s wider Church hearing in July. The lead bishop for safeguarding has been asked to report back to the House and to General Synod.

“It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report and act upon them”

Bishop Paul Butler
Bishop Christine Hardman
Bishop Peter Hancock
Bishop Sarah Mullally

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

Martin Davie: What should Anglicans make of the new Methodist report on marriage and relationships?

…Secondly, however, they should also note that there are a number of central parts of the teaching of the Bible and the orthodox Christian tradition concerning sexuality and marriage that the report rejects or underplays:

  • God has created his human creatures as male and female and given them a command to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:26-28, Matthew 19:4).
  • God has ordained marriage as a permanent and exclusive relationship between one man and one woman as the sole legitimate context for sexual intercourse and as the appointed means for the procreation of children (Genesis 2:24, Genesis 4:1).
  • It is this form of marriage that bears witness to the love between God and his people in this world and to the eternal relationship between God and his people in the world to come (Hosea, Ephesians 5:21-32, Revelation 19:7).
  • All forms of sexual activity outside of marriage, including same-sex relationships, are types of sexual activity that are contrary to God’s will for his people and exclude people from his kingdom (Leviticus 18:1-30, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
  • A sexual ethic involving sexual abstinence outside marriage and sexual faithfulness within it is an integral part of Christian discipleship (Matthew 5:27-30, Ephesians 5:3-14, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
  • Furthermore, because marriage is something created by God and not be human beings it is not something that human beings can change. What marriage is, is what God has ordained it to be. Consequently, the act of the British parliament in establishing same-sex marriage in 2013 has no validity from a Christian perspective.
  • God is a God of justice and love, but we reflect his justice and embody his love by living according to his will ourselves and encouraging others to the same. To love God is to obey his just commands (John 14:15, 15:9-10). [4]

Because these things are so, the claim in the Methodist report that God is calling the Methodist Church to affirm sexual relationships outside marriage and marriage between two people of the same sex must be wrong. It also has no support from the teaching of John Wesley who held an entirely biblical and orthodox view of sexual ethics.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Methodist Church should allow same-sex marriages, report states

Methodists have recommended that gay couples be allowed to marry in their churches for the first time in a groundbreaking report.

In a document published on Tuesday ahead of the Methodist Church’s Conference this summer, a task force called for a series of recommendations in a bid to modernise the Methodist Church.

The report was drawn up amid changes in society regarding same-sex relationships, cohabition and the delicining marriage rate, the legalisation of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.

It also comes following the Government’s revelation last year that civil partnerships would be rolled out to heterosexual couples and the proposal has been welcomed by the LGBT community.

The recommendation to change the rules to allow same-sex weddings in its chapels was revealed in the publication entitled ‘God in Love Unites Us’, and was drawn up by the Methodist Church’s Marriage and Relationships Task Group.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s William Temple Foundation Annual Lecture–‘Reimagining Britain: Faith and the Common Good’

We need to recognise ourselves in community, not just as atomised individuals, but, as we read in 1 Corinthians 12:27, ‘You are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it’. We may perform different functions with the gifts given to us by the Spirit, but ‘the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

Jean Vanier, who as we know died a week ago, the founder of L’Arche communities, was a visionary who took hold of this – living out the idea that we are strong in our weaknesses and in our human relationships with one another.

As Christians, we must recognise that it is not in our independence but in our interdependence that our strength and humanity is found.

We need to love the whole more than ourselves. There is too much of a tendency in our world, and even in the church, that we would sometimes prefer to rule over the ruins than to serve in the intact structure. As Desmond Tutu wrote, ‘We are different so that we can know our need of one another, for no one is ultimately self-sufficient.’

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

([London] Times) Bp Graham Tomlin–Prayer can help us to produce a better kind of politics

Take the Lord’s Prayer. When I pray, “Our Father in Heaven,” I am acknowledging that there is something, someone higher than me, higher even than the social norms we happen to favour at present, to whom I am answerable and will one day give account. Praying, “Thy kingdom come,” makes me imagine a social order that is more just and fair than the one we have now, yet guards me against any sense that it is solely down to me to bring it about at whatever cost to my enemies, or even my friends. “Thy will be done,” helps me recall that it’s not about what’s good for me — it provokes examination of heart and motive that can help me to recognise when I am on some kind of power trip to advance my own career or glory. When I pray, “Forgive us our sins,” it makes me realise that I can get things wrong and need to be suitably humble with my opinions and convictions.

Prayer reminds me that my opponents are people too, that they deserve respect even if I think they are profoundly wrong. It tells me of my need to forgive those who “sin against us”.

Praying, “Give us this day our daily bread,” gives us notice that we have received so much that we do not deserve, cultivates a vital note of gratitude and a protection against the kind of hubris that thinks we did it all ourselves.

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

(ACNS) Diocese of Egypt teams up with British university to open new archive research centre

A new Research Centre has been opened in Cairo as part of a newly renovated archive facility for the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt. The new Cairo Research Centre has been created by the Diocese of Egypt, part of the Anglican / Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, in collaboration with the UK’s University of Leicester.

The British Ambassador to Egypt, Sir Geoffrey Adams, attended the opening ceremony last week (9 May) alongside the Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, and Dr James Moore of the University of Leicester and Dr Richard Gauvain from the British University in Cairo. They were joined by representatives of the Diocese of Egypt and members of the country’s academic community in what the local Church described as an “exciting event”.

Last week’s ceremony was a significant milestone in a project which began in 2015 with the digitisation of the diocese’s documents and manuscripts dating back to the early 19th century. As part of the process, the archive has been moved to a newly-renovated facility which has been specifically designed to house the materials. The work has been carried out with the technical and financial support of the University of Leicester

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Posted in Egypt, England / UK, History, Jerusalem & the Middle East

(EA Times) Grill a Christian events to be hosted in pub in East Anglia

A Suffolk bishop will be at one of two ‘Grill a Christian’ evenings being held in a Sudbury pub for people to ask questions about life and faith.

The two evenings are being hosted in the White Horse pub in North Street from 7pm to 9pm on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 when a local mission team and ministers will get quizzed.

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Posted in Apologetics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture

(NYT BR) Joseph Ellis reviews Rick Atkinson’s new book on the American Revolution

My old mentor, Edmund Morgan, used to say that everything after 1800 is current events. According to Morgan’s Law, Rick Atkinson has been doing first-rate journalism, enjoying critical and commercial success for three masterly books on World War II, all thoroughly researched and splendidly written. To say that Atkinson can tell a story is like saying Sinatra can sing.

Now Atkinson has decided to move back in time past the Morgan Line, into that distant world where there are no witnesses to interview, no films of battles or photographs of the dead and dying. Visually, all we have are those paintings by John Trumbull, Charles Willson Peale and Gilbert Stuart, all of which are designed to memorialize iconic figures in patriotic scenes, where even dying men seem to be posing for posterity.

Undaunted, Atkinson makes his debut as a historian, determined to paint his own pictures with words. “The British Are Coming” is the first volume in a planned trilogy on the American Revolution that will match his Liberation Trilogy on World War II. It covers all the major battles and skirmishes from the spring of 1775 to the winter of 1776-77. There are 564 pages of text, 135 pages of endnotes, a 42-page bibliography and 24 full-page maps. Lurking behind all the assembled evidence, which Atkinson has somehow managed to read and digest in a remarkably short period of time, is a novelistic imagination that verges on the cinematic. Historians of the American Revolution take note. Atkinson is coming.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces

Congratulations to Manchester City, Premiere League Title Winners for 2019

Posted in England / UK, Sports

(Spectator) The return of the pilgrimage: walking from Canterbury to Rome

A friend of mine is walking to Santiago, the Galician shrine of St James in north west Spain. He’s heading for Sahagun, which means he should be in Santiago in two or three weeks’ time. That means his pilgrimage, along the so called French Way, from Saint Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyranees, will take four or five weeks and he will, by the end, have covered more than 500 miles.

The pace depends on his companions. He met them by chance when they invited him for a beer in one of the hostels along the Camino – drink and sociability is standard on the pilgrimage. He’s a Catholic; his companions include a non-believer and Protestants. People fall in with other pilgrims along the way. Risky, obviously, but another friend of mine, a retired man from Cork, met up with a Finn on his route a couple of years ago, and they’ve stayed friends and visited each others’ families.

What possesses people to go on this gruelling trek, which, while a good deal less dangerous than it was in the Middle Ages, is still tough going (one thing you learn, apparently, is the importance of looking after your feet)? My friend used to work for Transport for London; he’s 47.

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Posted in England / UK, Europe, History, Religion & Culture, Spain

A Guardian Interview with activist the Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain

“In the past decade or so, I have seen and spoken to lots of young people who are trying to reconcile their sexuality and their faith, who end up self-harming, attempting suicide or who suffer with depression and mental illness,” says Foreshew-Cain. “Because if you believe God is condemning you for your essential being and that you have got to be something other than you are, where does that leave you?” He pauses. “Lizzie wasn’t the only one, and she won’t be the last.”

Statements from the most senior figures in the C of E have done little to ease his concerns. Welby, who recently announced that same-sex partners would not be invited to the Lambeth conference in 2020, while heterosexual spouses would, said he was pained by his decision and regretted the conflicts racking the church.

“Honestly, a lot of us in the queer community are very fed up with straight, white, cisgendered men talking about their suffering when they are inflicting it on other people,” says Foreshew-Cain. “It’s a bit like an abusive partner hitting you and saying: ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’”

The picture he paints is one of disorder, barely held together by a carefully cultivated ambiguity among the church’s top brass: bishops who quietly voice support for same-sex marriage behind closed doors vote against any liberalisation towards gay and lesbian clergy in the synod, he claims. Parishioners, tired of the endless debates, are abandoning a church at odds with itself. And young Anglicans, hoping to find acceptance and often succeeding in local parishes, are finding institutional debates about their place the source of intense pain.

Foreshew-Cain is sceptical that much will change – at least not until the conclusion of the next Lambeth conference in 2020. But a reckoning will come, and it seems the point of compromise is long past. “These campaigns are not going to go away. Gay people in the church are not going to go away. And the moral question mark over the integrity of the church is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more intense.”

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

(The Lincolnite) Former Bishops of Lincoln ignored abuse claims, investigation finds

Two former Bishops of Lincoln “turned a blind eye” to alleged abuse cases and did not report them to police until decades later, a BBC Panorama investigation…[revealed yesterday].

A list of 53 Lincoln Diocese clergy and staff was also eventually referred to the police in 2015, eight years after a review into past safeguarding disclosures was announced.

The Church of England Past Cases Review which examined thousands of records in 2008 and 2009, including some child abuse cases, found that some names could have been referred years earlier.

The police investigation that followed resulted in the conviction of three people….

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Spectator) Julie Burchill–Our churches aren’t perfect, but if we lose them we will all be worse off

In Britain, Christianity is merely being disappeared — from the police arresting an elderly African street preacher for ‘breach of the peace’ in London this year (his cry of ‘Don’t take my Bible!’ as a pair of strapping plods handcuffed him was heartrending) to our refusal to give sanctuary to Asia Bibi lest it upset certain Christian-hating ‘communities’.

In France, already the usual suspects are suggesting that the new Notre Dame should have ‘multi-faith’ elements — minarets, to be specific — which I’ll be up for the day I see a new multi-faith mosque.

It would be a shame for all of us if we lost the values of the Reformation — ironically, it would be worst for those who are currently cheerleading for the rise of other more repressive religions.

At the service I went to on Easter Sunday, there was no mention by the vicar of the massacre in Sri Lanka, which made me dislike that turn-the-other-cheek thing even more. But I’ll keep going back, because the churches will go from us if we don’t go to them. And what comes after them will not be better.

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

(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.

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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