Category : Church of England

(Church Times) Philip Barnes–Anglo-Catholic mission: a landscape alive with God’s presence

Those planning the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage give a good deal of thought and attention to the way in which that sacramental life is presented to these young pilgrims. There is a vitality and an energy of delivery which would be beyond the possibility of most parishes churches Sunday by Sunday, and the setting of worship in a Big Top with a vibrant team of musicians does much to engage the imagination and attention of the teenager. It remains the single most important mission event to young Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England. What Catholic mission at a parish level can emulate is its commitment to mission through participation.

In the sacraments, the young participate on the same level as those of us who are older. They are treated as adults, and are extended the same respect, trust, and honour. For most Anglo-Catholic parishes, young people contribute to the parish mass as musicians, servers, and readers. Having a part to play in liturgical worship makes the experience of coming to church far more effective and engaging for most young people. “The candle holds the child, not the child the candle,” as the old Anglo-Catholic aphorism puts it.

Alongside this, good Catholic mission to the young provides opportunities for authentic conversations where they can talk about what is going on in their hearts and lives. One of the striking features of going on pilgrimage to Walsingham is the opportunity to make a sacramental confession. After a thought-provoking act of worship, this year’s youth pilgrims were invited to do just that, and experienced priests were available for them to talk to.

The number of teenagers who wanted to make a confession was remarkable. They knew they didn’t have to pretend that they were better than they are, or something that they were not. This was a context in which what they said would go no further, and they need have no anxiety about admitting fear or failure. They knew they would not be judged or censured, just challenged to grow. They left with a sense of being honoured, that radical for­giveness is possible, and that we are not defined by our faults but by our infinite potential.

This sort of Catholic mission transforms lives….

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Posted in Church of England, Parish Ministry

OneBodyOneFaith responds with a letter to Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, in response to his letter to TEC

Dear Mr Nye,

You will be aware that your previously undisclosed letter to The Episcopal Church has been met with anger, frustration and disappointment by many across the Church of England, on whose behalf you presume to speak. We wish to add the voices of our members to those calling for a more courageous, just and Christ-like response to what has become – we wish it were not so – the issue on which many will judge our church, and find it sorely wanting.

Your letter raises a wide range of issues – about governance and accountability, about process, about how the Holy Spirit might move in the lives and structures of the Body of Christ across generations and nations, about simple pastoral care and concern for those who don’t fit the received ‘norms’ we’ve imposed on people down the years. In particular, your focus on procreation seems to ride roughshod over all those who have ever known the anguish of unwanted childnessness, or the loss of a pregnancy. To them, and to all who bear the human costs of your carefully chosen words, we say: not in our name.

Perhaps we should share something of the response of LGBT people to the developments in TEC, since our voices so often seem absent in your pronouncements. We saw in ECUSA’s brave and costly decision some hope that change might come for us too. We saw our brothers and sisters listening intently to the Spirit speaking through the Body – and having listened, acting with courage, integrity and the determination to keep walking with Christ and with one another. And if it should prove impossible, to know that walking with Christ is our highest calling.

Your suggestion that such a move represents a challenge to our mission could not be further from the truth; our experience is that the inertia and simple refusal to listen which has characterised the Church of England for decades continues to be the single biggest missional disaster of our generation.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Church Times) Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, writes a letter which warns TEC (The Episcopal Church) about same-sex marriage rites

Proposals to incorporate marriage rites used by same-sex couples into the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Episcopal Church in the United States will increase pressure in the Church of England to “dissociate” itself, the secretary general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, has warned.

In a letter to the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, which has produced the proposals, Mr Nye writes that, if the rites — written to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples — are incorporated into the BCP as the only marriage rite, “the pressure to dissociate the Church of England from TEC [the Episcopal Church], in all manner of ways, would increase”. Such a move would also be “potentially damaging” to work in the C of E to create a new teaching document on sexuality (News, 30 June), he writes.

He goes on to warn that, if provision is not made for traditionalists in the Episcopal Church, it would be a “serious blow for interfaith relations, negatively impacting Christians around the world especially in areas where they are persecuted minorities, as well as harming the stringent efforts to reinforce moderation in religious expression in countries like ours which are affected by terrorism”. The Episcopal Church’s promulgation of the new liturgies is, he writes, “at the least, unhelpful to those of us seeking to bring the Church of England’s deliberations to a good outcome”.

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

The C of E’s Statement on the Government’s Integrated Communities Strategy

Following the Publication of the Integrated Communities Strategy, the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council has issued the following statement:
“We welcome this Green Paper as a very positive step towards a national debate and programme of action to make our communities places where everyone – whatever their background – can live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities.

“This aim is entirely at one our vision for the nation, committed to the common good, recognising all as made in the image of God.

“We also warmly welcome the importance accorded in this document to the place of faith institutions in building integration.

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Posted in Church of England

John Stott on Billy Graham–Walking Together to Glory

John R. W. Stott first met Billy Graham in the 1940s, while sharing an open-air meeting at Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park. Their shared concern for evangelism led to a close association during Graham’s 1954 Harringay crusade, which captivated London nightly for nearly three months. Over the next 50 years, the two men’s lives would frequently intertwine, through shared leadership in significant ventures like the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization and in personal friendship. In 2007, Stott offered these unpublished reminiscences:

Integrity. If I had to choose one word with which to characterize Billy Graham, it would be integrity. He was all of a piece. There was no dichotomy between what he said and what he was. He practiced what he preached.

Finance. When Graham first came to London, a considerable group of church leaders was wondering whether to invite him to preach there. They were critical, but he had anticipated their questions. He was able to say that he received a fixed salary, less than most salaries paid to the senior pastors of large churches, and he received no “love offerings” (unaccounted extras). As for crusade finances, they were published in the press during each crusade.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture

The General Synod of the C of E has passed a motion on welcoming transgender people

Members of Synod, meeting in York, supported a call for the House of Bishops to consider preparing nationally commended liturgical materials to mark a person’s gender transition.

The motion also recognises the “need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church”.

It was moved by the Revd Christopher Newlands on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Debating transgender

One of the most difficult debates facing General Synod when it meets in July arises not from the main business agenda, but from a diocesan motion from Blackburn Diocese, which will be proposed by Revd Chris Newlands:

That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

I was approached to discuss this with Chris on last weekend’s Sunday programme on Radio 4, and if you want to see how complex and challenging this debate is going to be, then you can listen to our discussion on iPlayer starting at 30 minutes into the programme. The difficulties start (as is often the case in such debates) with the language; the question here is less about ‘gender’ (that is, socially constructed roles of men and women) but ‘sex identity’ (that is, whether someone is a biological man or woman) as is evident from Chris’ own language. That is why, in informed discussions, the situation we are faced with is described as ‘gender identity disorder’ or more commonly ‘gender dysphoria’. Chris is right to emphasise the serious and distressing nature of the pastoral issue—but unfortunately my agreement with him on this, and my explaining my personal experience of that amongst friends and family was edited out (the discussion was pre-recorded) in order to create a sense of ‘liberal pastoral care’ versus ‘traditionalist dogma’ on the programme. There is no doubt at all that this is how many will seek to configure the Synod debate.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Church Times) Thy Kingdom Come’s ‘wave of prayer’ goes global

Prayer has the power to carry all who are suffering alone towards “healing and renewal” in Christ, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Thursday.

Archbishop Welby was speaking to Christian journalists about the “extraordinary” growth of the Pentecost prayer initiative, Thy Kingdom Come, at Lambeth Palace.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians of many denominations in 85 countries around the world are taking part in the second annual “great wave of prayer” during the ten days between Ascension Day, on Thursday of last week, and Pentecost on Sunday.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England, Globalization

The Thy Kingdom Come prayer reflection from Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England

Anglican Unscripted #282 – The Fight for England

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England

A C of E Response to the ECJ Ruling on Headscarves

In response to the ruling of the European Court of Justice on the wearing of headscarves a Church of England spokesman said:

“This ruling raises significant questions about freedom of religion and its free expression. Whether it be Sikhism and the wearing of turbans and kara through to the wearing of a cross.

“In preferencing ‘freedom to conduct a business” above the free expression of faith the ruling potentially places corporate interest above those of the individual.

Equally troubling is the assumption of “neutrality” within the ruling. The imposition of blanket bans – whilst often seeking honourable outcomes – may represent a worldview based on dogmatic or ideological assumptions which may unjustly limit individual rights.”

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Posted in Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Bp James Langstaff of Rochester: The Bp of Burnley and the Diocese of Sheffield

In its Declaration of May 2014, the House of Bishops made the point that these Guiding Principles ‘need to be read one with the other and held together in tension, rather than being applied selectively’. Thus, while affirming unequivocally that all orders of ministry are open to all without reference to gender, we also assert that those who are unable to receive the priestly or episcopal ministry of women continue to be fully part of the life of our church – and not just for an interim or limited period.

Furthermore, the Declaration (in paragraphs 11 and 12) clearly envisages the possibility of there being diocesan bishops who might not ordain women, and indicates the arrangements which should be made in such circumstances. These arrangements are in a sense the mirror image to the provision made for those unable to receive the ministry of a woman bishop (or indeed of a male bishop who ordains women). It was precisely to meet circumstances such as the nomination of Bishop Philip that we made these provisions.

The settlement which we put in place in 2014 is, I believe, a structural expression of conviction and grace. It has in practice, as is clear from across our own Diocese, enabled us to maintain a high level of fellowship across profoundly held differences of theological and ecclesiological conviction. In this context, my own view is that Bishop Philip’s nomination to the See of Sheffield was entirely consistent with the 2014 Declaration by the House of Bishops. That nomination must also have been made with the agreement of most (perhaps all) of the six Sheffield Diocesan representatives on the Crown Nominations Commission. I note also the number of senior ordained women who have made public their support for Bishop Philip.

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Posted in Church of England

(IB Times) Andrew Sabisky: The C of E has sent a clear message to its conservative churchgoers – you’re not wanted

Reactions from North’s supporters among the clergy run the gamut from horror to outright despair. Rebecca Feeney, an ordinand training for the priesthood at St Stephen’s House, commented that: “There has been consistently misleading and polarising rhetoric about the Catholic position, which has resulted in immense negative press about Bishop Philip – someone a lot of women, myself included, would not have trained or be training for priesthood without. For many, he is a living embodiment of what mutual flourishing means, and in light of this, the treatment he has received is particularly strange and cruel.”

Fergus Butler-Gallie, an ordinand at Westcott House, fired a mighty broadside: “I’d say that any affirmation that involves the personal smearing of a brother or sister in Christ is no affirmation at all and that, if anything, it makes the church look even more like a genitally-obsessed bunch of do-gooding hobbyists than ever before.

“The fact that the highest paid clergyman in the Church of England (Martyn Percy) can use the deanery of an Oxford college as a sniper’s post to take down a convincing advocate for the very poorest in society (with a columnist for the Guardian feeding him his ammunition) will send one message and one message alone – we care more about our own sub-Freudian internal wranglings than we do about the care of God’s people.”

Future prospects for the unity of the church are grim. This episode has sent a clear message to conservative Anglo-Catholics that they are not wanted. The same logic that barred North from his diocesan post will surely be applied to suffragans before long.

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Posted in Church of England

Dean of Exeter Cathedral announces his retirement

In recent months Exeter Cathedral has been on a journey of self-evaluation and change. That process has raised some challenging issues, not least financial. While some progress has been achieved, there are still many challenges ahead.

In that context, and having reached the age of 65 last month, after considerable thought and reflection the Dean, the Very Rev Jonathan Draper, has announced that he will retire at the end of August this year. He and his wife Maggie are on leave this week, and on his return Jonathan will be on sabbatical. He has been Dean for over five years and has achieved considerable change including renewing the outward focus to the city and county, and giving the Cathedral a greater mission focus. His preaching ministry has been greatly appreciated. He has led the huge improvements to the repair and maintenance of this historic building, leaving a legacy for generations to come.

Jonathan has been 34 years in ministry in places as diverse as London and York, in parishes, cathedrals and in theological education. Our prayers and thoughts are with Jonathan, Maggie and their family at this time.

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Posted in Church of England, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Gavin Ashenden–Discrimination and discernment: an exercise in relativist supremacy

….the recent Bishop Philip North episode ought to make us suspicious. The theology of inclusion and equality didn’t apply to +Philip, whose great mistake was to believe what all Christians in all places at all times (until Karl Marx) have believed – about the orders of the Church.

The three-card trick that Professor Percy and his cultural fellow-travellers play is to refuse to exclude anyone except those who don’t agree with them. You only get to be included in the equality stakes once you have accepted their moral and political presuppositions. So, of course, they do actually discriminate between anyone who shares their basic world view and those who don’t.

They pretend they are relativists by claiming that all views are equally legitimate, but become absolutists if you challenge their relativism. In other words, their ideas of equality and relativism are actually practised by placing their value above those who disagree with them, and discriminating against anyone who has the audacity and moral turpitude to dissent.

Meanwhile, they claim the higher moral ground by pretending to be something that they are not – outlawing discrimination while practising it.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England