Category : England / UK

(Church Times) Bishop of London relishes diversity in the city at interfaith Iftar

At one of her first public engagements since being installed last month (News, 17 May), Bishop Mullally said that diversity in London was something to be proud of.

She was speaking to more than 100 young people, including representatives from schools across London, at an Iftar organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation.

The event, at the St John’s Wood Synagogue, ended with the breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset. The speakers were Bishop Mullally; the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan; the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.

Bishop Mullally said: “One of the great joys of coming back to London is its diversity. There is something in that diversity that we should be proud of. The opportunity of interfaith dialogue is that we can gain an understanding of each other. . . As people of faith, we have an ability to strengthen this city. We hold the opportunity to strengthen a city that is already strong.”

Bishop Mullally praised the young people who were there to talk about interfaith matters, noting that “today itself is a small step, but it has an enormous impact”….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

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 * Economics, Politics, England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces

Archbp Justin Welby–Christian Presence and Witness in Europe An address to the Assembly of the Conference of European Churches

Europe is not in danger of falling. And there is no sense in which I suggest that Brexit or other crises currently around will derail the European Union or bring about the downfall of
Europe. To suggest that would be akin to the old English saying that when there is fog in the Channel then the continent is cut off. But Europe, like other parts of the world, is in a
fragile phase. Current geo-political uncertainty is unsettling. In my part of the continent there is a nation attempting to leave the EU, on the other edges of the EU such as here there are countries and peoples keen to get in.

For Augustine the fall of Rome showed the specious nature of putting faith in the earthly city. For Augustine the benefit of being a Christian is citizenship of an eternal city. This
comes through faith in Christ.

That cannot lead to complacency. The fact that Christianity survived in Europe does not indicate that it is indestructible, but that God protects the Church that he created and loves.
Christian survival within Europe is not an objective of the Church, rather it should be for the Church to be obedient to the pattern of Christ, to be Christ’s hand, mouth and love in this
world today.

Jesus told his disciples that they were to be salt and light (Matthew 5: 13-16), both the means of preserving the society in which the Church exists and also the source of illumination that reveals both shadow and truth, that unveils what seeks to be hidden, and illuminates what inspires.

For the Church to be effective and to continue to be blessed by God, it must speak truth to the societies that it sees around it and act in a way that is consistent with the truth it
speaks….

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, England / UK, Europe, History, Religion & Culture

Remembering D-Day–General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Speech

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

Read it all (audio link also available).

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

(Archbp Cranmer blog) Adrian Hastings–When did Transgenderism supplant Anglican orthodoxy as a qualification for Holy Orders?

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Minute’s silence for London Bridge terror attack victims

A minute’s silence has been honoured and a church service held in memory of those murdered in the London Bridge terror attack, exactly a year ago.

Eight died and 48 were injured by three men who drove into pedestrians, then stabbed people in Borough Market.

Their loved ones lit candles at the Southwark Cathedral service, which was attended by the prime minister and members of the emergency services.

An olive tree was planted using compost from floral tributes.

At the cathedral, Dean of Southwark, the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, read the names of those killed in the attack.

He praised the “dedication” of the emergency services and prayed for their “continued safety and protection”.

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

(Church Times) Bp Philip North–The spreadsheet or the cross — time to choose

The first Christians dealt with their wealth in so daring and counter-cultural a way that it proved powerfully attractive (Acts 2.44). Property and income was pooled so that there was no distinction between rich and poor, slave and free.

Yet this was no crypto-Marxist, hippy commune. Resources were shared because this was a community founded on the sacrificial love of the cross. Those dependent on Christ’s sacrifice knew that they were dependent also on each other. Those whose lives had been saved by the freely offered love of the cross could live only to the same values of generosity, gift, and grace.
It is interesting to see how far we have fallen. Anglican leaders (me included) love to rail against social inequality and the ever growing divide between rich and poor. Yet any analysis of the data shows that, across our own diocesan structures, we graphically model the inequality we so freely condemn.

The heart of the issue is that each diocese is its own independent charity, and that some have inherited vast historical assets, whereas others have not. While direct comparison is difficult because of the different accounting methods employed by different dioceses, the broad picture is so striking as to be unarguable.

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

(The Tablet) Ruth Gledhill–NT Wright on why the West faces catastrophe if it fails to reconnect with its Christian roots

“We lack a clear idea of what a modern civil society ought to look like. And that’s dangerous. Europe has torn itself apart twice in the past hundred years. I don’t think we can say that secularism is the great gospel that is necessarily going to triumph. On the contrary, it seems to me that secularism, if you’re not careful, leads to a pretty dark place. It’s the same dark place that much ancient philosophy was in before the arrival of Christianity. Because, basically, secularism is a modern form of Epicureanism.”

[Tom] Wright, the attentive teacher, sees that I am struggling. I’m brought up to speed. Epicurus, he explains, was the ancient Greek philosopher who believed that pleasure was the greatest good. “And here’s the interesting thing,” Wright continues. “Epicureanism says, if the gods exist, they are a long way away; they don’t bother about us so we don’t need to bother about them. What we have to do is just make ourselves as comfortable as we can. And that’s fine if you are reasonably well off and have got good slaves and a nice little vineyard. But for most people, life is very different.”

“Western Europe and North America has been an Epicurean society for the last 200 years,” Wright goes on. “Thomas Jefferson said, ‘I am an Epicurean.’ The Epicureans were never a majority in ancient Greece, but they have become a majority in the Western world. And, as Benedict pointed out, we have been living on borrowed time, feasting on the fruits of other people’s labour. But the worm has turned. Now the people who we have exploited and ignored are – quite literally – being washed up on our shores. It is becoming clear that our freedoms and our sophisticated modern comforts have been purchased at a terrible cost for people in many other parts of the world.

“We simply have no narrative to make sense of this,” Wright tells me. When the Arab spring happened, there was an assumption among some in the West that all that was needed was to topple a few dictators and then a tolerant, liberal democracy would somehow spring up automatically. “The last seven years have shown that that’s simply not how things work. Life is more complicated than that.”

Then I witness one of the deft connections Wright is celebrated for making between a contemporary problem and an almost forgotten solution. “Unless we reconnect with the ancient Christian narrative,” he says, “we will never understand what is happening, let alone to come through to the other side.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, England / UK, Europe, Religion & Culture, Theology

Congratulations to Real Madrid for Winning the 2018 Champion’s League Final

Posted in England / UK, Europe, Spain, Sports

(AC) Rod Dreher–Christianity For Iceberg Time

Here’s the part of the [Pete Sanlon] piece that I think is most valuable for Evangelicals. The reality it describes in the UK is nearly our own in the US, and becoming more so every day. Earlier in the piece, Father Sanlon describes the situation for Christians in the West as being like the Titanic‘s. So many people perished, says Father Sanlon, because far too many people assumed that the ship was too big to sink, and because they ignored warnings. So too is it with the church today. Here’s Father Sanlon:

I believe that the iceberg that has sunk the way we live as Christians in the UK is actually a concoction of attitudes and social-spiritual realities, that have frozen together.

The first part of the iceberg has arisen from the fact that Christianity once had a deep hold on the consciousness of the UK. When a culture has rejected Christianity, it tends to then despise it. That creates a more volatile situation than before the culture has ever heard the gospel. (This phenomena of hostile rejection is described in Mark 4 at the personal level, and Romans 1 at the cultural level.)

The second part of the iceberg is the joining of government authoritarianism to enforced celebration of unbiblical views of humanity – especially in the area of sexuality. The story of how the 1960s vision of free love developed in the UK through the individualist 1980s and entertainment focused 1990s is a complex tale. What is proving to be the twist of the knife is the willingness of our governments (local and national and European) to use (or abuse) their powers to enforce celebration of views that were only a short time ago viewed as eccentricities.

The third part of the iceberg has formed because almost everything about how British Christians have done church over the past 70 years has depended upon a very high degree of cultural acceptance of our activities and beliefs. Consider how many churches advocate friendship and workplace conversations as key for evangelism. Well that becomes very difficult under current HR guidelines. Consider how many church plants rent space for meetings from councils or schools – we are already seeing that become more difficult due to holding beliefs that are not culturally acceptable. Many churches view their buildings as a hub for local community events — this is thought of as a bridge to the local community. But how does this work when the next generation views people who are Christians as evil — homophobic, transphobic — and worse? Some continue to argue for setting up Christian schools — but they must be regulated by a government that is increasingly hostile. Others promote social helps of various stripes – but these usually must exclude what is derisively termed ‘proselytising.’

Over the past few weeks an Independent Enquiry into horrific sex abuse cases in the Church of England has heard witness statements suggesting that traditional Christian beliefs made leaders more likely to ignore abuse. As such views are increasingly accepted by the next generation — and reinforced by the media — the Church will find its model of building bridges, making cultural connections for outreach – impossible to sustain. Already it is proving very unfruitful – but many press on with it, unable to admit the ship has been holed beneath the waterline.

 

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

Irish Times exit poll projects Ireland has voted by landslide to repeal Eighth Amendment

Ireland has voted by a landslide margin to change the constitution so that abortion can be legalised, according to an exit poll conducted for The Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI.

The poll suggests that the margin of victory for the Yes side in the referendum will be 68 per cent to 32 per cent – a stunning victory for the Yes side after a long and often divisive campaign.

More than 4,500 voters were interviewed by Ipsos/MRBI as they left polling stations on Friday. Sampling began at 7am and was conducted at 160 locations across every constituency throughout the day. The margin of error is estimated at +/- 1.5 per cent.

Counting of votes begins on Saturday morning at 9am with an official result expected to be declared in the afternoon.

However, the size of the victory predicted by the exit poll leaves little doubt that, whatever the final count figures, the constitutional ban on abortion, inserted in a referendum in 1983, is set to be repealed.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Want to know about God? Just ask Alexa

The Church of England has launched an “Alexa skill” that provides answers to questions about faith and prayer, and can find a church to attend on the basis of the user’s location.

Launched on Wednesday night, the skill is compatible with all Amazon Echo and Alexa devices. Users can ask questions such as “Who is God?” and “How do I become a Christian?” besides making the device read specific prayers or prayers for different situations or periods of the day.

The skill is similar to an app on a smartphone or tablet, and is one of the “first significant faith-based resources” for Alexa, the C of E’s head of digital, Adrian Harris, says.

It works alongside the website A Church Near You to help users find their nearest church events and services.

Users can launch the C of E skill on Alexa by saying “Alexa, open the Church of England.” A full list of commands is available online.

 

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Economist) Alexa, who is God? A new app aims to win over agnostics

Amazon’s voice-controlled smart speakers, which answer to the name Alexa, are used to being asked about the weather or upcoming calendar appointments. From now on they will be fielding deeper questions. On May 24th the Church of England will launch an app for the Alexa platform that allows users to pose metaphysical queries to the speaker on their kitchen counter. The app can also find the nearest place of worship, explain how church weddings work and recite the Ten Commandments.

Most of the 28 questions programmed into it are aimed at non-believers, who nowadays make up more than half of British adults. Curious agnostics can quiz Alexa on how to pray, what Christians believe and who the Archbishop of Canterbury is. The aim is to use new technology to “bring people into a relationship with God”, says Adrian Harris, head of digital matters at the church.

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

The Bp of Manchester’s Sermon today at the Civic Memorial Service at Manchester Cathedral

In the days after the Arena blast, across a range of media broadcasts, I assured the world that Manchester would be there for the victims, for as long as it took. All who were affected have a lasting place in our hearts. You have become part of our story, and we will be part of yours. Yet quite soon it became clear that those most deeply affected by the tragedy were drawn from a much wider area than our immediate city and its surrounds. Only four of the 22 killed lived in the diocese that this cathedral serves. It’s very appropriate that today’s service is being relayed far beyond Manchester, including to cathedrals in other cities such as York, Liverpool and Glasgow. The Arena families and survivors will need the same love and care, over the years and decades ahead, even if they live and work far from this city. Support will need to be there for them in places where what happened on May 22nd 2017 is not part of the shared story of that community. Support will need to be given in villages and towns where the memory of last year will inevitably fade.

Rightly, much attention has been given to the families of those whose lives were lost that night. Theirs is the greatest loss, they are ones from whose arms someone deeply dear has been ripped away. They are the ones who will never see that loved face or hear that voice again. Yet I want us also today to remember those many others, whose lives were spared but who suffered long lasting, often permanent, damage in the attack. Part of the horror of the Arena attack was that it appeared to have been deliberately chosen as a venue that would be full of young people. Today they are one year into living with those life changing injuries, yet with many decades of continuing to do so lying ahead of them. Our society has rituals to mark a death, and to console the bereaved. We lack any equivalent for those who have lost limbs, suffered sensory loss, or will never recover their confidence again. Many of the hopes and aspirations they took with them into the Arena that night are gone. Today we mark and acknowledge their suffering, and pledge to play our part for their future wellbeing here on Earth.

There’s another reason why I’m glad we are gathered today in this particular location. It’s because this cathedral is a place of hope. It’s a very well used building. We host festivals, stage lectures, hold concerts, show films, serve dinners, as well as maintain the rhythm of the Church of England’s worship, day by day and week by week. When our ancestors planned and constructed these buildings, they knew what they were doing. You can’t be in this place very long, whatever event you’re attending, before your eyes are drawn upwards. And that’s deliberate. We may be engaged in our work on Earth, but we must never forget the Heaven beyond us.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(ACNS) National memorial service held on anniversary of Manchester Arena bombing

The 22 people who died when a bomb exploded at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester last year were remembered today in a sombre service in Manchester Cathedral. The national commemoration was attended by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and by Prince William and senior politicians across the political divide, including Prime Minister Theresa May. The service – held a year after the explosion – was relayed to other cathedrals, including York Minster, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool, and the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland cathedral in Glasgow; and was also shown on large outdoor screens in the city.

Speaking in advance of this afternoon’s service, Archbishop Sentamu said that he would be at the service “standing alongside the Bishop of Manchester and many other leaders from a great city in shared grief at the loss of so many young lives.”

He continued: “we will stand together in shared solidarity and commitment to peace and the wellbeing of all. This is a time for communities to hold together, to care for one another, to respect the privacy of those carrying this grief, and to hold on to the truth that: ‘Love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.’ May God give us his peace and blessing.”

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device in a foyer of the Manchester Arena just after 10.30 pm on 22 May 2017 as thousands of people were leaving a concert by the US-based singer Ariana Grande. The 24-year-old singer is very popular amongst young people and 10 of those killed were under the age of 20: the youngest victim was eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos. The oldest was a 51-year-old woman. More than 800 people were injured.

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Posted in England / UK, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence