Category : Church of England (CoE)

(Church Times) A C of E Priest quits for a GAFCON church plant

A vicar in the diocese of Truro is stepping down after 17 years to plant a new church community under the auspices of GAFCON, it was announced on Sunday.

The Vicar of Fowey, the Revd Philip de Grey-Warter, who is also Priest-in-Charge of Golant, said on Tuesday that he had “wrestled” with the decision since December, when the House of Bishops issued guidance on using the liturgy for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith to mark a person’s gender transition (News, 14 December 2018).

“We have been very clear that we are making this move in conscience and not telling anyone else what they ought to do,” he said. “We hope some people will come and plant with us, and there will be others who continue in the parish church. We want to ensure good relationships are maintained.”

In a letter for the parish newsletter, published last week, he wrote: “The General Synod and the House of Bishops of the Church of England currently seem less concerned to stick with the Bible than they are to appear ‘relevant’ by changing the message to suit our increasingly secular culture. . .

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), GAFCON, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) Hilary Mantel and Diarmaid MacCulloch–‘Make something of me’: creating Thomas Cromwell

HILARY MANTEL: There has always been a mismatch between what Thomas Cromwell has meant to historians and what he has meant to the general public — and that’s the case whether they’re novel-readers or theatregoers or filmgoers. For some academics in the past, Cromwell has been nothing but a cynical hatchet-man: clever but destructive. There is a far more interesting, vital, creative figure that the great Tudor historian Geoffrey Elton uncovered — or, some people say, created. . .

There are several problems with a biographer, which the novelist also shares. Cromwell’s early life is mostly off the record, and it exists as a set of interesting traditions and almost folk tales rather than a set of verifiable facts. And, in the second phase of his life, when he’s working for Cardinal Wolsey, he begins to come on the record; and then, in the third phase, as secretary to the King, and in effect Henry VIII’s first minister for almost a decade, he doesn’t just come on to the record, he is the record: his work is everywhere; his eye, his hand are everywhere.

Paradoxically, that makes it difficult, because it’s too big to pin down. He ranges across every department of government. Accordingly, biographers have tended to think of him in compartments; so, there’s Cromwell and the Church, Cromwell and finance, and Cromwell and Parliament. And you readily see what happens. You can’t section a human being like that. So, a sense of a man being in there vanishes.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE)

(Northern Echo) Prayer spaces in schools ‘encouraged positive mental health’

Prayer spaces in schools have helped encourage positive mental health in young people, according to pupils who have been involved in a project promoting them.

Four Church of England secondary schools in the Diocese of Durham were involved in the “reservoirs of hope” project, which started in February.

The prayer spaces were set up in The Venerable Bede Church of England Academy in Sunderland, Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy in Stockton, Whitburn Church of England Academy in Sunderland and St Aidan’s Church of England Academy in Darlington.

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

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell: “Shabby and shambolic” – the CofE still conspires against truth and justice in historic sexual abuse

In a church that has nominally (if belatedly) embraced “Transparency and Accountability”, rejected clergy deference and pledged to “put the interests of the victim first”, it is surely not asking too much for a full and frank response to be issued to these important and prima facie legitimate concerns about the way the review is being handled. One of the problem areas also identified by the survivors lawyers at IICSA is the Church of England’s “Byzantine procedures”.

In this case, it is by no means clear who is driving the decision to limit the terms of the review. Is it the Archbishops, the House of Bishops, the Archbishops’ Council, the National Safeguarding Team, the National Safeguarding Supervisory Group, the acting National Safeguarding Director, the incoming National Safeguarding Director, the Lead Safeguarding Bishop, or the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary General of the General Synod? Is the decision administrative or executive, individual or collective? One only has to list the potential decision-makers to illustrate the lawyer’s point. Grappling with this organisation and its confusing structures is extraordinarily difficult for an aggrieved individual. It should not be like this.

It is therefore legitimate to pose three simple and direct questions:

1) Who in the Church of England has the power to change these decisions?

2) Who will accept responsibility for not changing them if we want to challenge these matters in detail at the next meeting of the General Synod?

3) How do we change the decision-maker if access to justice is denied?

I do, of course, refer to justice to accused and accuser alike, which can only emerge from fair and independent process. In short, if the shabby and shambolic behaviour continues, who carries the can?

Read it all.

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

(York Press) Archbp John Sentamu to lead delegation to London in October to Lobby for One Yorkshire

John Grogan, Co-Chairman of the One Yorkshire Committee, has issued a statement along with his fellow co-chairman Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, stressing the need for devolution.

In the statement they reveal that the Archbishop, Dr John Sentamu, will lead a delegation to London in October to lobby for One Yorkshire.

It says: “The One Yorkshire Committee has been created to campaign for the One Yorkshire Devolution Agreement proposed by council leaders of all parties from across the county. This would involve the election of a Mayor for Yorkshire supported by a cabinet of council leaders. The committee brings together business, trade union, academic and political leaders and has now met seven times. The committee has received a grant of £32,500 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd to support its work and is launching a website today.

“The lack of progress on devolution is hurting the people of Yorkshire. The economic case presented to ministers shows that One Yorkshire devolution would result in a £30 billion boost to our economy – up to £5,400 extra growth per person, per year in the Yorkshire economy.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Vigil to be held for Christine Ford, a 71-year-old woman who was killed in a village where she was known for tending the church garden

Villagers said she was a regular at the church and often tended its gardens, paying special attention to the peach roses growing outside the entrance.

Mrs Ford had lived in the village for about 10 years, having moved there from the Isle of Wight.

She came to Flamstead to be near her family and was offered one of the four almshouses, which were built in the 1600s.

The almshouses are run by a trust and are for people who have local connections and need affordable housing.

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

(IPE) Church of England eyes private equity after 2.6% loss in 2018

Poor performance across all markets during 2018, particularly the last quarter, meant the £2.4bn (€2.6bn) Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) slumped to a 2.6% investment loss for the year.

The loss was published in the board’s annual report this morning, and compared with a 9.4% gain in 2017.

CEPB’s public equities allocation lost 6.9%, and the board – which runs assets on behalf of four church pension schemes – cut its exposure to 65% of its £2bn return-seeking portfolio. The long-term target allocation is 35%.

Within its public equity allocation, the CEPB has also continued to reduce its allocation to UK equities, now 6% of the return-seeking pool.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, Stewardship, Stock Market

(Telegraph) Tim Stanley–Putting a mini-golf course in a cathedral is an act of desecration

Emptiness can be rich with meaning. When the Romans captured Jerusalem in 63BC, or so says Tacitus, Pompey marched into the inner sanctum of the Jewish Temple and found it empty. No idols, no treasures, just God. To be in His presence was the greatest bounty.

If Pompey besieged Rochester Cathedral today, what would he find inside? A miniature golf course. No joke. Located in the nave, this summer installation consists of nine holes with models of bridges – justified by the kind of silliness that parts of the Anglican Church have become famous for. “We hope,” says the Rev Canon Rachel Phillips, “while playing adventure golf, visitors will reflect on the bridges that need to be built in their own lives and in our world today.” Because contemplating the brotherhood of man is what we all do when playing mini-golf at the sea side. I believe Karl Marx composed Das Kapital at a Butlins in Skegness. No mean feat when trying to putt with one hand and eat a raspberry ripple with the other.

But Rochester isn’t alone! If Pompey’s pagan army is travelling north, it’ll feel right at home at Peterborough Cathedral, where they’re doing “Creative Yoga” under a giant model of the planet Earth, titled “Gaia”. Or kick off your sandals at Norwich Cathedral which is installing a 50ft helter skelter that “aims to give people the chance to experience the Cathedral in an entirely new way and open up conversations about faith.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Entertainment, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

(AH) Rodney Hacking–St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Renewal of the Anglican Episcopate

Ignatius offers a fascinating insight into the heart of a true man of God given over to His will. It is tempting to want to leap from his example and vision of episcopacy to its practice within our own Church at this time, but such a leap needs great care. A bishop in the first decade of the second century cannot fairly be compared even to one of 250 years later let alone in the Church of today. The three-fold ministry was still in an early stage of its development. Even though Lightfoot has cogently argued that a case can be made for regarding episcopacy as being of Apostolic direction, and therefore possessing Divine sanction, long years of evolution and growth lay before it. At this stage too the Church across the Roman Empire faced the daily possibility of considerable persecution and martyrdom. That demanded a particular kind of shepherding and witness.

On the other hand a bishop at the beginning of the third millennium might profitably and properly ask (or be asked) whether endless committees and synods are really the way in which their lives are to be laid down for their flock? An institution requires administration, but in the New Testament list of charisms, administrators are quite low in the order of priorities, and of its pastors at this time the Church has other, more pressing, needs. Rather than imposing upon an already disheartened clergy systems of appraisal (mostly copied from secular models of management) it would be good for parish priests to experience bishops as those who were around so much that they could afford regularly to ”˜drop in’ and just be with them. It is hard to expect the parish clergy to make visiting a priority if their fathers in God do not set an example.

In some dioceses the more obviously pastoral role has sometimes been exercised by a suffragan but as more and more diocesan bishops, at least within the Church of England, are being selected from the ranks of the suffragans the temptation is for those who are ambitious to prove their worth more as potential managers than those given to the ”˜Word of God and prayer’ (Acts 6.2). If the communities within which the bishops are to exercise their ministry of unity and care are too large for them to do their work has not the time come to press for smaller dioceses and for bishops to strip themselves of the remnants of the grandeur their office once held and be found, above all, with their clergy and amongst the people, drawing them together into the unity for which Christ gave himself?

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Posted in Church History, CoE Bishops, Theology

(Premier) Holy in one: Rochester Cathedral opens crazy golf course

[The] Rev. Phillips said she hopes that these events will lead to more people hearing about Jesus’s message.

“We hope that we’ll reach more people with the message the good news that Christians have to bring that Jesus came to bring peace,” she said.

“He said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers that people might find ways to build bridges in their own life.'”

The Church of England recently announced that Cathedral attendance is bucking the national trend with 37,000 people attending every week.

Anglican leaders have planned a number of ‘seeker-friendly’ initiatives across the country, including a fifty-foot tall helter skelter inside Norwich Cathedral and a gin and prosecco festival at Peterborough.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Entertainment, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

(Church Times) ‘Incredible storyteller’ wins Sermon of the Year

In her descriptive winning sermon, Dr Masters, who has been preaching in her village church in Kent for ten years, reflects on Luke 8.40, in which a synagogue leader, Jairus, asks Jesus to heal his dying daughter. On the way to the house, Jesus heals a woman who had been “bleeding for 12 years” when she touches his cloak. He then raises Jairus’s child from the dead.

“If this was a television episode of Casualty,” Dr Masters begins, “the episode would have opened with a 999 call-handler: ‘Nearest unit divert to Church Lane, paediatric emergency at the vicarage: 12-year-old girl unconscious, breathing irregular. Hello? Are you still there Mr Jairus? Stay on the line, please, there is an ambulance on the way to your daughter.’”

Jairus would wait nervously on the drive for the ambulance, she said, only to see it flagged further down the road by a “pale and unkempt” homeless woman. This woman, an outcast, has spent all her money on unsuccessful gynaecological treatment, Dr Masters says — a detail from St Mark’s Gospel omitted from St Luke’s Gospel. “For 12 years, she has lived on the edges of society.”

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(C of E) The Importance of Collective Worship in Schools

From there:

Following reports of a judicial review granted by the High Court, the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders writes:
“We live at a time when children feel besieged by social media, weighed down by pressure and report poor mental health. Collective worship offers ten minutes in a day for children to pause and explore the big existential questions such as ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘How then should I live?”
“Offering this in the context of authentic Christian worship is not ‘religious indoctrination’ but a simple chance for children of all faiths and none to develop spiritually and gain perspective in an otherwise crowded day.

“There is much evidence of the value of collective worship to children and young people which is why thousands of community schools also have strong partnerships with local churches and faith groups. What happens in schools must be evidence-based and should not be in response to secular pressure group campaigns.”

(From a letter to The Times, 30/7/19)

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(FT) Exploring churches with Diarmaid MacCulloch: ‘I love a locked door’

On a high-summer morning in Oxford city centre, entering the calm, cool interior of the church of St Michael at the North Gate offers relief from both the crowds and the heat. A moment later, through the tiny souvenir shop, comes Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the church at the University of Oxford and author of many books — most recently a biography of the nation’s favourite Tudor, Thomas Cromwell.

MacCulloch is a star in the history world, knighted in 2012 for services to scholarship. His is a familiar face from TV series including A History of Christianity (and its accompanying book) and Sex and the Church. But today he’s not talking about Cromwell, he’s introducing me to his favourite hobby: a “church crawl”.

For the uninitiated, this is like a pub crawl, but we are refreshing ourselves by visiting places of Anglican worship. It has been MacCulloch’s passion since his “very happy” childhood in rural Suffolk. His father was a village parson and would drive young Diarmaid around to look at churches. Now 67, MacCulloch reckons he has visited “6,000 or 7,000 so far — and several more than once”.

Oxford has an extraordinary number of churches. It is also home to St Cross, a postgraduate institution where MacCulloch has been a fellow for 25 years, and which is within an easy walk of them all. Today he has picked three for us, beginning with St Michael’s because it is the official city church of Oxford, and lies “at the North Gate”, one of the lost entrances to the early walled city.

Read it all (subscription).

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

(Church Times) Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG) planned to persuade bishop ‘to take a less active role’ in claimant’s pastoral care

The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG) planned to pressure a bishop to withdraw pastoral support from a survivor of abuse because it might prejudice a claim, redacted documents seen by the Church Times suggest.

The survivor, Julian Whiting, alleges that he was abused by a pupil and two housemasters of the Blue Coat School in Birmingham. Neither adult was a cleric. Several years later, in 2012, Mr Whiting approached the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, who is President of Blue Coat, for pastoral help.

In a letter to a redacted recipient dated April 2013, the casualty-claims employee for EIG in Manchester states: “I feel we may need you to help persuade the Bishop of Birmingham to take a less active role in his pastoral care of a claimant which we feel could have a knock-on effect to the current outstanding abuse claims we have for a Julian Whiting.”

He then says of the Blue Coat allegation: “Importantly, he [Julian Whiting] has never pursued a formal claim. There has been a lot of email traffic, but the position is that until the claimant properly formulates the claim, we have rightly shown little interest in the matter.

“What has recently complicated matters is that the Bishop of Birmingham in his role as Blue Coats [sic] School President has met with Whiting to hear his story. Whilst I fully understand the position taken that there is a pastoral care aspect here, my concern is that a continued dialogue with the Bishop and Whiting could prejudice the positioning we have taken in respect of the two claims.” (Mr Whiting was also pursuing a claim that, in 2009, he was groped by a church employee at a social event at Lambeth Palace.)

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

(Eastern Daily Press) A Profile of Jon Norman, Norwich City Football Club chaplain

However, being Norwich City chaplain is not his main job. Jon is full-time pastor of the huge Norwich Soul Church – which regularly welcomes 1,500 to its Sunday services on Mason Road, Catton Grove. And sometimes, sitting among the regular congregation, there are footballers there too.

Jon grew up in Taverham, near Norwich. A keen footballer, he played in goal for Taverham High School, for Mount Zion church in the Norfolk Christian Football League, and for Norwich United. A Christian from childhood he went on to train as a church leader with the Australian-based international Hillsong Church.

Six years ago Jon and his wife Chantel returned to Norwich after helping lead a large church in Cape Town, South Africa. They launched Soul Church, Norwich in 2014.

A friend had become club chaplain at Leeds and Jon wondered whether Norwich City had a chaplain. He discovered it did, but he was about to retire. Jon’s name was put forward by the national organisation in charge of sport chaplains and he is now about to start his fifth season as Norwich City chaplain.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sports

(Church Society) Lee Gatiss–What is Spiritual Abuse?

The Church of England has some very helpful online resources for safeguarding. They even have some courses that can be taken by anyone involved in church at their Safeguarding Portal, and you can get “badges” and certificates to prove you’ve passed the course if that is of use in your context. I got a couple of foundational certificates and also did two very helpful and informative training courses on modern slavery and human trafficking, while looking into this recently.

Whilst checking out some of these very well-presented resources, I was struck by the definition given of “spiritual abuse” — something which has sadly become topical of late, and something which many of us are now wrestling with, and trying to understand or come to terms with. It starts by admitting that unlike physical abuse, sexual abuse, or modern slavery for example, “spiritual abuse” is not a category of abuse recognised in statutory guidance. It is a matter for great concern, however, both within and outside faith communities, including the Church of England. It was, for example, discussed and defined in Protecting All God’s Children (2010), a Church of England document which can be found online here. There it is said that:

“Within faith communities, harm can also be caused by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice. This can include the misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries. Any of these could result in children experiencing physical, emotional or sexual harm. If such inappropriate behaviour becomes harmful, it should be referred for investigation in co-operation with the appropriate statutory agencies. Careful teaching, supervision and mentoring of those entrusted with the pastoral care of children should help to prevent harm occurring in this way. Other forms of spiritual harm include the denial to children of the right to faith or the opportunity to grow in the knowledge and love of God.”

This I think was the working definition in the case of the Revd Tim Davis who, it was reported in 2018, subjected a 15 year old boy to intense prayer and Bible sessions in his bedroom. The teenager described the mentoring he received as “awful” and all-consuming, but never felt able to challenge the minister. Davis was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk of holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority.”

Read it all.

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

Sam Wells–Citizens of Heaven: Identity, Inclusion and the Church

I suggest second, that such an argument as this is won by the side that tells the more compelling story. It’s no use to protest that treatment of certain identities has been unjust, unfair, heartless, cruel and sometimes criminal and worse. This is true, but it has the truth of lament rather than of aspiration. It leads to authorities and those of diverging convictions making grudging acknowledgements, procedural claims and evasive promises. It seldom changes hearts and minds;on the contrary it often wearies and antagonises, as the phrase ‘Are you calling me a bigot?’ illustrates. I told the story of the dementia and faith evening because it’s one of the most inspiring and amazing things I’ve ever experienced in a lifetime of involvement with the church, and I want to make the case that these are the epiphanies you open yourself up to if you recognise that God is giving the church everything it needs but the church too often finds itself unable to receive that abundance. You just have to open your heart and transform your habits and you will find such miracles a regular occurrence. This is what I mean by a more compelling story.

And I suggest, third, as a combination of the first two points, that there’s an important role for personal narrative, the sharing of the pain of exclusion, the grief of talents wasted, identity scorned, gifts neglected and hurts endured. There’s a place for feelings of injustice, calling-to-account for thoughtless, prejudiced and inhuman remarks and actions, protests against inexcusable disrespect, wilful ignorance, wrongheaded doctrine and distorted exegesis, and campaigns for changing language, liturgy, rules and conventions. But in the end this has to be not so much about me and my need to be noticed, appreciated, valued and cherished, as about the church’s need to have a full and joyful understanding of God. The secular discourse of rights, justice and identity can be a good companion to Christians and can help clarify terminology and disentangle hurt from harm, difference from wrong. But it has no capacity for depicting a genuinely shared, glorious and worshipful future that we don’t achieve but God brings us as a gift. In the kingdom there can’t in the end be freedom for one that’s not freedom for all. In the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.’ The most convincing argument the inclusive movement has in the face of contrary views has to be, ‘My understanding of God has room for you; but your understanding of God doesn’t seem to have room for me.’ Such a view can go on to say, ‘Isn’t the tragedy of our human life that so much of the time we don’t have room for God; but yet the gift of the gospel is that, however difficult we make it and however reluctant we are, somehow God always has room for us.’

One day, we’ll look back on this debate in the church and realise that this was the moment when we truly discovered what lay in store for us in the kingdom of God, and how we had the precious invitation in the power of the Spirit to model that beloved community now. One day we’ll realise that this was the moment we finally recognised our calling as the church was to imitate the glorious breadth of the heart of God. One day we’ll appreciate that this was when our limited understanding was made to be swept up by the joy of God’s boundless imagination. May that day soon come.

Read it all.

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

(Yorkshire Post) Canon Tony Macpherson talks about the changing face of the church as he leaves Wakefield after four decades

Tony recalls his first pastoral encounter in 1980 when he had been called to carry out a funeral for a twin that had lived less than two hours. “I remember accompanying her mum to the chapel of rest to look at her baby, and the raw grief of that situation was palpable.

“People might not be overtly Christian but they have suffered a massive trauma, and they just want you there to sit beside them, to listen, and to pray sometimes. Pastoral ministry is a great privilege. Whether it’s the closure of the pits or the day- to-day pastoral situations of visiting the sick or being alongside people who have had a tragedy. It’s all the same.

“People can come into the Cathedral with a great amount of brokenness, anxiety, pain. A lot of what I do is sit, listen and pray. Some will come back and some won’t ever come back. But so be it.”

The Church of England has come a long way in the last four decades – there have been undoubted improvements in people’s understanding of diversity and inclusivity.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Ian Paul’s full letter to the Editor of the Church Times in response to the misleading previous article on some C of E evangelicals and the marriage statement

(Please note that the first three sections of this letter to the editor WERE published in the Church Times, but not the last two; it is included here with Ian’s kind permission–KSH.

From the Revd Dr Ian Paul–First, no ‘senior members’ of the group resigned. You do mention two archdeacons, who might be styled ‘senior’ in terms of ministry, but they had no seniority within the group. The committee and leadership of EGGS were unanimously agreed on the proposed changes.

Secondly, the group was in no sense ‘split’. Of those who did vote against, a number agreed with the statement, but were not sure whether the timing was right. The fact that you can name only three people who have resigned from a membership of around 140 gives some indication of how united the group was.

Thirdly, you quote Ven Gavin Collins claiming that the new statement was a ‘very narrow formulation’. In fact, as was mentioned repeatedly in the debate at which Gavin was present, the statement did nothing more than restate the current teaching of the Church of England in its canon law and liturgy, and was in line with the stated view of the Anglican Communion. It is a strange day when an archdeacon can believe that the current teaching of the Church is ‘very narrow’.

Jayne Ozanne asks ‘Who is speaking for young people?’ She might want to note that members of the group include leaders from the churches with the largest youth ministries in the Church of England, as set out in an answer given during Synod questions that immediately preceded the EGGS meeting.

The fact that the vote was so clear offered an example to the Church of people finding unity in the truth, just as Jesus prayed in John 17. Many in the Church of England are desperate to hear someone in leadership in the Church actually speak up for the Church’s understanding of marriage and sexuality, and they will be heartened to read of the clarity of the EGGS position.

IAN PAUL
Member of General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council
Nottingham

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

An unfortunately misleading Church Times Article–‘Evangelicals on [General] Synod split over marriage statement’

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Church Times) Secretary-General William Nye–We are neglecting mid-sized churches

Mid-sized churches — defined as worshipping communities of between 20 and 60 — have been overlooked by the national church institutions, the secretary-general, William Nye, said this month.

Speaking before a panel convened earlier this month to discuss the beauty and the challenges associated with the “middle third”, Mr Nye described how, “without meaning to, a lot of the time, we, the national church institutions, just default to thinking about bigger churches, because a lot of people’s picture of the norm of the church is a vicar and about 100 people on a Sunday morning.

“We have overlooked this middle third. Lots of staff at Church House, lots of bishops, come up through bigger churches, worship in bigger churches; bishops have led bigger churches.”

There was a need to think more about how national programmes might work in churches of this size, he said. Some did not connect “terribly well”, such as planting and the creation of resource churches. Others, such as digital campaigns, did. “We are trying to get away from the idea that we are interested only in planting and replicating churches of 300 people.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

A Wokingham Today Profile Piece on the New Bishop of Reading, Olivia Graham

She pledged to work with churches to help they understand what those words would mean and how they should relate to the communities around them. And in a week where it was revealed that the number of people who call themselves a Christian is declining, the bishop-designate said that there is still a hunger for the spiritual.

“I don’t agree that society’s getting more secular,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that people don’t have faith or curiosity or a gap in their lives where religion might be, that they aren’t living with huge questions.

“I think that is an open door because the churches have got the tools and the ability to be able to connect with those people. That it’s a big challenge; that’s what we are going to need to be working on.”

And as part of this, she is keen to see the borough’s churches get more involved in social action.

“I know that 70% of our churches are involved in social action outreach,” she said. “That means that 30% aren’t.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

An Introductory Film on the New Bishop of Reading Olivia Graham

‘The Queen has approved the appointment of Olivia Graham as the next Bishop of Reading. In this special filmed edition of the ‘My Extraordinary Family’ Podcast, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft talks with Olivia about her Christian formation, her ministry since ordination and her hopes for the role she is about to take on.’

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Church Times) C of E to back up government guidance on LGBT lessons

The Church of England is to provide support for its schools to help them deliver new relationship education required by the Government by next year, including teaching on LGBT relationships and families.

The new government guidance on Relationship and Sex Education for primary-age children comes into force in September 2020, although some schools are beginning it earlier.

A course in one school, Parkfield Community School, Birmingham, sparked weeks of angry protests from mainly Muslim parents at the school gate.

The Government’s counter-extremism commissioner, Sara Khan, criticised the Department for Education in a BBC Panorama investigation this week for its lack of support for the school, and for the assistant head teacher, Andrew Moffatt, who devised the school’s programme, “No Outsiders”.

A Church House spokesman said this week that it was considering how best to support Church schools in delivering the new relationships education.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Yahoo News UK) Jonathan Chaplin–The Church of England needs to speak out about Brexit – here’s why

Central to the Church of England’s understanding of itself as the established church is its vocation to be a “church of the nation” – a public institution ready to bring a theological voice to the national debates of the day. The trauma of Brexit confronts the four nations of the United Kingdom in different ways but – given the centrality to the debate of a resurgent English nationalism – it is most painful for England, which is where the Church of England’s mission is primarily directed.

Since 2016, several individual bishops, some in their capacity as “Lords Spiritual” have sought to contribute to this debate, often with balance and insight. Yet – unlike both the (Anglican) Scottish Episcopal Church and the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland – the Church of England has so far been unable to bring any authoritative collective voice to the national conversation.

No debate on Brexit has taken place in General Synod (the Church of England’s governing body), either before or since the 2016 referendum. While the House of Bishops was able in 2015 to produce an unusually substantial statement before the general election – Who is my Neighbour? – it has so far delivered no formal public statement on Brexit at all.

One obvious explanation for this official silence suggests itself. A referendum exit poll conducted by Greg Smith and Linda Woodhead revealed that English Anglicans are as divided on Brexit as the general population, with 66% reportedly having voted Leave. Since almost all bishops were Remainers, a collective intervention on Brexit could have proved incendiary.

But this cannot be a sufficient account of the church’s institutional reticence. The Church of England has at times been prepared to risk significant controversy in its public interventions. Acrimonious divisions among Anglicans did not prevent the leadership defending its traditional but highly controversial stance against same-sex marriage in 2013.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

Bishops’ intervention set to extend gambling protections across the UK

Gambling rules in Northern Ireland could be brought into line with tighter standards in the rest of the UK following an intervention by the Church of England.

An amendment tabled in the House of Lords by the Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, opening the way for possible alignment in gambling regulation between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain has been accepted by the Government.

The amendment adds gambling legislation to a number of areas on which the Government would be required to produce a report by September as part of moves to restore the devolved executive in Northern Ireland.

The Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman, who spoke to the amendment in the House of Lords, told peers that the current inconsistency meant that reforms introduced in mainland Britain – such as the cap on the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) – do not apply in Northern Ireland.

“The anomalies and confusions abound,” she said.

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Posted in --Ireland, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Politics in General

(FT) Emma Howard Boyd–Climate change: is your equities portfolio too hot to touch?

Understanding green finance can be challenging, add in the prolix greenwash that pours on to the internet every day and no wonder many people decide it is all too difficult.

But it isn’t. The Committee on Climate Change’s recent reports showed that the world urgently needs to reduce emissions and take action to prepare for physical impacts that will get worse in just 11 years.

To prosper in this new reality, investors have to focus on whether their investments address these two basic points. That is green finance in a nutshell.

Helping investors obtain good information to do that is why the Environment Agency Pension Fund and the Church of England National Investing Bodies set up the Transition Pathway Initiative in January 2017.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

A North Norfolk News Profile of The Rev Canon Andrew Beane–Minister who almost doubled church’s numbers is leaving a Norfolk Church to go to be Archdeacon in Exeter

The church has become a community hub, hosting regular events such as after-school games, crafts and activities, a toddler group, holiday activity days, a food bank and a Monday market.

They have also been holding ‘interactive’ services where parishioners move around and talk to each other, and even trailled a mobile phone app where people could give live feedback about the service they were sitting in.

Mr Beane said of the app: “That’s a sign of how we like to experiment. We’ve been trying to blend contemporary and traditional worship together.”

He said they had also created a group of 18 rural churches, and this “collaborative model” meant some of the rural parishes could now have full-time clergy.

Mr Beane said he had presided over almost 1,000 funerals in his time at the church, as well as hundreds of christenings and weddings.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CEN) Clergy Care Covenant divides Church of England General Synod

Speaking during the debate, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, spoke about the covenant’s potential impact on clergy terms of service.

“The proposals in here do suggest that you would have to amend the Terms of Service Measure.

“When the ordinal, which is what we signed up to, is replaced by role descriptions, when capability becomes micro-management, and when licensing services become places where we spell out all the things we are going to do for our clergy, then worry, because our most litigious clergy, and there are a minority of them, will say, ‘At my licensing service you promised to do this so I’m taking you to an employment tribunal’. “I don’t think the covenant will help us, I think the covenant is actually a bad mechanism is order to build good practice.

“If we must do it, we must do it, but I think there’s a worry… moving away from common tenure and moving towards employment and contract culture.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

Archdeacon of Berkshire Olivia Graham named next Bishop of Reading

Olivia’s early career was spent in teaching and international development, including a period working for Oxfam in Somalia. Ordained in 1997, she has served all of her ministry in the Diocese of Oxford, becoming Archdeacon of Berkshire in 2013.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft said; “One of the things that was apparent when we were listening and consulting about the new bishop was that people wanted somebody who really knew what it is like to be in ministry in this part of the world. Someone who knew what the pressures and challenges are. In this and many other areas, Olivia brings just what we need at this time. I am very excited about what Olivia’s appointment means for the Diocese.”

Olivia will succeed the Rt Revd Andrew Proud who retired from the role at the start of May this year. She will be consecrated in a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on 19 November.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops