Category : England / UK

(Church Times) Safeguarding amendments to give Synod motion ‘more teeth’ are rejected

Survivors of clerical abuse welcomed amendments to next week’s General Synod motion on safeguarding, in a letter to members that laments that the Church has made “no progress at all” in caring for victims and survivors. It was ruled on Wednesday, however, that the amendments were out of order and could not be moved.

“We need you to acknowledge that you do not have the competence or the right to clear up your own mess,” the ten survivors write. “We need independent people we can go to to report abuse and find support; people who are not part of the Church, and don’t wear the same uniform that our abusers wore. We need you to use your power as a Synod to establish a properly funded scheme for support, compensation and redress for victims of church abuse.”

The existing motion, to be debated on Wednesday morning, endorses the Archbishops’ Council’s response to the five recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in May (News, 9 May 2019).

“Is that all?” the survivors ask. “We believe that you should go much further. . . The motion before you is anodyne, but the amendments we have seen seem to have some teeth.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Archbishop Justin Welby launches the Church of England’s first ever Green Lent campaign

Thousands of people will take action to help tackle Climate Change as part of the Church of England’s first ever official green Lent campaign, launched today by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Environmentalists, activists and climate experts gathered at Lambeth Palace for the official launch of LiveLent 2020 a set of 40 daily reflections, actions and prayers.

It comes on the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially launched the UK’s COP26 strategy ahead of the crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow in November, alongside Sir David Attenborough, climate expert Lord Stern and the outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

Those attending the launch were invited to add personal climate commitments to a ‘pledge-tree’, before a panel of expert climate academics, influencers and activists was chaired by the Archbishop.

#LiveLent 2020 is based on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, Saying Yes to Life, by Dr Ruth Valerio.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lent, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Church Times) Priest speaks of community’s ‘resilience’ after Streatham knife attacks

The Rector of St Leonard’s, Streatham, the Revd Anna Norman-Walker, has praised the “resilience and neighbourliness” of the diverse south-London community, after a suspected terrorist stabbed two people just metres from the rectory before being shot dead by police, on Sunday afternoon.

The man, named as Sudesh Amman, aged 20, was wearing a fake suicide vest when he stole a kitchen knife from a general store and stabbed a man and a woman on Streatham High Road. He was chased by plain-clothes officers before being shot several times by uniformed police.

Ms Norman-Walker was arriving back at the rectory, at about 2 p.m., when she heard gunshots. “My daughter and I just got back from the church brunch, and we heard gunshots,” she said on Monday.

“We thought it was a car back-firing, but it was five consecutive bangs. Suddenly, people came down our road, just off the High Road, and very quickly — within minutes — police cars were blocking the road, cordoned tape went up, and helicopters came down. It was quite extraordinary.”

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

(Express) How Christian persecution overseas is set to become UK priority

A religious literacy programme will be rolled out to ensure that civil servants and diplomats are no longer ignorant of the dire threats facing Christians around the world.

Sir Desmond Swayne, a leading Conservative campaigner for religious liberty, said: “This is all part of global Britain… This is us now reaching out with our soft power, using our diplomacy to defend religious freedom.”

The new training package will also give Government staff a crash course in the importance of religion to billions of people – and it may make damaging diplomatic blunders less likely.

There was embarrassment in 2018 when Britain’s most senior diplomat had to apologise for calling one of the holiest Sikh sites a mosque.

Research by the campaigning charity Open Doors suggests the persecution of Christians is getting worse, with “an average of eight Christians” killed for their faith every day last year, and 23 were “raped or sexually harassed for faith-related reasons”. It found North Korea was the country with the worst record on persecution, followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Pakistan.

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

(Christian Today) David Baker–Dear C of E Bishops, please stop traumatising your clergy

But then we had a significant number of Bishops coming out and criticising their own statement with a kind of passive-aggressive, pseudo-spiritual language that is actually very disingenuous. Oh yes, they don’t overtly reject the statement per se – it’s just the way it came out, the timing of it, the wording that was used – as though introducing a few swirly flower motifs in the margins, changing the font from ‘Times New Roman’ to ‘Comic Sans’, and sending the whole thing out in a gift-wrapped presentation box with a free Parker pen was all that was required to satisfy them.

But this doesn’t fool anyone, does it? We all know that what many, probably most, of these objecting Bishops really mean is, ‘We don’t support that statement.’ In other words, they disagree with their own church’s teaching (not to mention that of most other denominations also). And thus the scene was set for a reportedly somewhat ‘lively’ meeting of the College of Bishops last week.

Out of that came a second statement – about the first statement – in which the Archbishops of Canterbury and York apologised for any ‘hurt caused’. The words used were of such wonderfully ambiguous Anglican-speak that the Church of England media office apparently had to spend most of its time and energy making it clear to media outlets that, no, they were not retracting their original statement, and, no, nothing had changed. Except whatever it was that had. Or hadn’t. Or something.

I scarcely need to spell out what this does for the morale of many clergy on the ground. And heaven help our watching parishioners. So what are we to do? The New Testament would seem to recommend expelling those who contradict established church teaching on moral issues (1 Corinthians 5). But this somehow seems to have been supplanted in recent years by Justin Welby’s assertion that ‘we don’t chuck out those we disagree with’. It’s a lovely sentiment, redolent of the touchy-feely era in which we live. But I can’t really relate this to apostolic teaching on church discipline at all.

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

(NYT) George Steiner, Prodigious Literary Critic, Dies at 90

George Steiner, a literary polymath and man of letters whose voluminous criticism often dealt with the paradox of literature’s moral power and its impotence in the face of an event like the Holocaust, died on Monday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by his son, Dr. David Steiner.

An essayist, fiction writer, teacher, scholar and literary critic — he succeeded Edmund Wilson as senior book reviewer for The New Yorker from 1966 until 1997 — Mr. Steiner both dazzled and dismayed his readers with the range and occasional obscurity of his literary references.

Essential to his views, as he avowed in “Grammars of Creation,” a book based on the Gifford Lectures he delivered at the University of Glasgow in 1990, “is my astonishment, naïve as it seems to people, that you can use human speech both to love, to build, to forgive, and also to torture, to hate, to destroy and to annihilate.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, France, History, Judaism, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Ruth Perrin–How faith survives the turbulent twenties

On the one hand, young adults are losing faith and leaving the Church; others are searching for meaning and belonging, and finding it in Christian communities. What is going on?

My research focuses on millen­nials, which I define as those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s: they are now in their mid-twenties to late thirties. Sociologists suggest that this cohort is not par­ticularly hostile to religion: rather, they are the inheritors of a century of religious decline. The mechanisms that reinforced a Christian world-view in the UK have been eroded, leaving most with no understanding of the basic tenets of Christianity.

Professor Grace Davie, of the Uni­­versity of Exeter, is correct: religious belief has become an option rather than an obligation — something that individuals may embrace if they are interested. But most young adults are not. They are also not interested in pretending to be something they are not. Authenticity is highly prized.

Professor David Voas, of the UCL Institute of Education, argues that, on average, people experience little change in their religious beliefs and practices once they reach their early twenties. He writes that “Church­goers in their twenties will probably continue to attend for the rest of their lives” (Features, 12 January 2018).

My research suggests, however, that millennials and “Generation Z” (those under 25) continue to explore faith for longer. Professor Jeffrey Jen­­sen Arnett coined the phrase “Emerging Adulthood” to describe the lengthening of adult identity-formation among today’s young. Many spend much of their twenties trying to work out who they are and what they believe, and so both convert and reject faith later than in former generations.

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Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(CEN) Church of England to go carbon neutral by 2045

General Synod is to be asked to set a target date of 2045 for the Church of England to become carbon-neutral.

The motion will be moved by the Bishop of Salisbury when the Synod meets in London next month. The Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam pointed out that combating climate change was one of the five Anglican ‘marks of mission’.

To help parishes and other church bodies to work towards the net-zero target this week the Church launched an energy ratings system similar to those used for household appliances to help monitor the carbon footprint of its almost 40,000 buildings.

The Bishop said: “The problem is that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. And it’s not only the church that is struggling with that, the climate change committee in Parliament’s been having to think about the same issue.”

However, some were unhappy about the target date of 2045.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CEN) Bishop Alan Smith wants inquest law to focus on gambling

The Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill 2020 received its first reading in the House of Lords last Thursday.

“I have introduced this common-sense piece of legislation so the Government can begin to get a handle on the consequences of gambling-related harm,” Bishop Smith told the House of Lords.
“This new legislation will mean, for the first time, each instance where gambling is a factor in suicide coroners will record it in conclusions.

“I have met far too many families whose lives have been destroyed by the loss of a loved one, often young adults who have their entire lives ahead of them.

“As there is no accurate, up-to-date, data linking gambling with suicide, their desire to get the Government to take action has often been stymied,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Gambling, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Suicide

(Guardian) The power of celibacy: ‘Giving up sex was a massive relief’

In a world where you can get a sexual partner faster than a pizza delivery, it has never been easier to play the field. Yet, despite all that swiping right, a surprising number of people are not having sex at all – not for religious reasons, or because they can’t get a date, but because they find that celibacy makes them happier.

Some have never had much interest in sex, while others are taking a break to address personal problems, recover from bad dating experiences or change the way they approach relationships.

Catherine Gray, the author of The Unexpected Joy of Being Single, gave up sex for a year in 2014. “Between the ages of 16 and 34, I hadn’t spent more than a few months single,” she says. “I felt incomplete without a plus-one and constantly hunted approval. I reached rock-bottom after being disproportionately crushed by the failure of a six-month relationship, so I decided to give up sex and dating for an entire year.”

Although deleting her dating apps felt like “giving up a drug”, celibacy turned out to be a huge relief. “Instead of doing what my boyfriend wanted to, I discovered what I liked, developing a love for yoga, photography and travelling. I dressed differently and no longer cared about attracting men. I started to see myself as a person – rather than a girlfriend or a sexual plaything.” The period of celibacy changed how she approached dating; she is now in a healthy relationship. “I realised that I had an anxious attachment style and that, if I started dating again, I would need to change who and how I date. If I feel insecure in the early stages of a relationship, I know it’s because I’m dating someone who is emotionally unavailable, so I back away, rather than persist.”

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Posted in England / UK, Sexuality, Young Adults

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–What is going on in the Bishops’ comments on Civil Partnerships?

Marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children.

This is what you would hear if you attended any marriage service in the Church of England. And the statement last week does indeed have many virtues, as (slightly surprisingly) Jeremy Pemberton points out:

The latest pastoral guidance by the Bishops of the Church of England is designed to address the change in the law in England and Wales that has now opened up Civil Partnerships to opposite sex couples as well as same sex ones.

In the guidance they have provided, the bishops make one or two things clear:

  • Sex is for heterosexual marriage and nowhere else
  • That civil partnerships are a form of friendship
  • That they should be sexually abstinent, whoever is in the CP

Let’s look at the good things first. First of all, this is clear guidance. No one can be in any doubt about where the bishops stand over the question of sexual relationships. Secondly, at least it does not discriminate further against LGBT people – it takes precisely the same stance over the sexual lives of heterosexuals as well. Thirdly, there is a certain bravery about offering guidance that is so massively at variance with the mores of the time. According to a recent survey, only 4% of British people now think that sex should wait until marriage in all cases.

All three of these things are important, not least the fact that the statement treats people of different sexuality in precisely the same way. It is worth noting that, if the bishops had decided to call the Government’s bluff at this point, and said ‘Look this is a duck!’, in other words, that the legal differences between CPs and marriage were in fact negligible, then they would have needed to withdraw the previous statement, and ruled that same-sex clergy couples could not now be in CPs. No-one appears to have noticed this, and I wonder what the response to that would have been, especially at this stage in the Living in Love and Faith process?


This leads us into the question of the responses and criticism. The first common one was about the timing; why make this statement now, given all that is going on? The simple answer is that the Government changed the law, and this created a gap in the previous statement. Better say something now, before a clergy couple entered a CP and something had to be done retrospectively. Some complained about the closeness to the reporting of the Peter Ball affair—but that is completely spurious, as there is no real connection between establishment protection of a someone who abused young men, and the idea that marriage is the right place for sex. If anything, the latter is an appropriate response to the former.

But, secondly, there were loud howls of protest that a statement was being made whilst the Living in Love and Faith process was underway—howls based on a bizarre misapprehension. LLF has never involved suspending the current doctrine of the Church on marriage and sexuality—after all, weddings are continuing, and the liturgy continues to express that doctrine! In fact, LLF is not even designed to be a process that revises the doctrine of the Church on marriage.

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Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) C of E Bishops in disarray over ‘sex for married straight couples only’ rule

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, said that she was “deeply frustrated and saddened” by the way the statement was published. She continued: “I recognise that it has fanned into flame unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that.”

In their document, published in response to the introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships, the House of Bishops said last week: “For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.”

It added: “Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings. The introduction of same sex marriage… has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships.”

But Bishop Treweek said: “The word ‘love’ emanating from the generous love of God is one that needs to be heard and lived and I am extremely sorry that it has not been heard in the publication of the House of Bishops statement.”

She was supported by the Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox, who on Twitter described her statement as “very helpful comment”. The Bishop of Gloucester’s statement was also retweeted by the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, and the Bishop of Edmonton, Rob Wickham.

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

(Metro UK) Simon Butler–As a vicar I know it’s time the Church stopped telling people to be abstinent

Last week, bishops of the Church of England, issued a statement on the new opposite-sex civil partnerships.

All they could say, when it boiled down to it, was: ‘no sex before or outside marriage.’ They added that those in same or opposite sex civil partnerships should live their lives as ‘sexually abstinent friends’ and those in same sex marriages should not be having sex. The bishops of the Church are, in my experience, thoughtful, wise and compassionate women and men. But many of us are embarrassed and angered by the tone of what we read. The response of many clergy in the Church was to, metaphorically, shout at the telly.

I think it’s wrong and naive to ask for and to expect abstinence from couples. It’s wrong because there is no evidence that sex in other forms of committed relationship are harmful: the texts of the Bible assume a very different meaning to sex than it currently possesses….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all and follow all the links.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBC’s London Fireworks 2020

Posted in * General Interest, England / UK

Happy Boxing Day to all Blog Readers!

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, England / UK

The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CT) British Evangelicals Brace for Brexit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all (registration).

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in England / UK, Politics in General

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

Posted in England / UK, Politics in General