Category : Church of England (CoE)

God knows our Dying From the Inside

Jesus dies. His lifeless body is taken down from the cross. Painters and sculptors have strained their every nerve to portray the sorrow of Mary holding her lifeless son in her arms, as mothers today in Baghdad hold with the same anguish the bodies of their children. On Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve, God is dead, entering into the nothingness of human dying. The source of all being, the One who framed the vastness and the microscopic patterning of the Universe, the delicacy of petals and the scent of thyme, the musician’s melodies and the lover’s heart, is one with us in our mortality. In Jesus, God knows our dying from the inside.

–The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Holy Week, Theology

God in Private and Public: A Bishop Tom Wright Maundy Thursday Sermon

Because the newly public message which is the good news of Easter is at one and the same time so obvious – the message of new creation, which answers the deepest longings of the whole cosmos – and so utterly unexpected that if we are to announce God in public in these terms, as Paul did so spectacularly at Athens, we need the preceding private stillness to rinse our minds out of preconceived notions and make ready for God’s startling new world. Note, by the way, that it is the public truth of Easter – the dangerous, strikingly political truth that the living God is remaking the world and claiming full sovereignty over it – that has been for two hundred years the real objection, in western thinking, to the notion that Jesus rose bodily from the tomb. Western thought has wanted to keep Christianity as private truth only, to turn the Lion of Judah into a tame pussy-cat, an elegant and inoffensive, if occasionally mysterious, addition to the family circle.

And part of the point of where we are today, culturally, socially, politically and religiously, is that we don’t have that option any more. We face a dangerous and deeply challenging future in the next few years, as the demons we’ve unleashed in the Middle East are not going to go back into their bag, as the ecological nightmares we’ve created take their toll, as the people who make money by looking after our money have now lost their own money and perhaps ours as well, as our cultural and artistic worlds flail around trying to catch the beauty and sorrow of the world and often turning them into ugliness and trivia. And we whose lives and thinking and praying and preaching are rooted in and shaped by these great four days – we who stand up dangerously before God and one another and say we are ready to hear and obey his call once more – we have to learn what it means to announce the public truth of Easter, consequent upon the public truth of Good Friday and itself shaped by it (as the mark of the nails bear witness), as the good news of God for all the world, not just for those who meet behind locked doors. Every eye shall see him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they realise the public truth of his Easter victory. But we can only learn that in the quiet privacy around the Lord’s Table, and the humble stillness where we lay aside our own agendas, our own temperamental preferences, in the darkness of Holy Saturday. When we say Yes to the questions we shall be asked in a few minutes’ time, we are saying Yes to this rhythm, this shaping, of our private devotion to our Lord, our private waiting on him in the silence, in order to say Yes as well to this rhythm, this shaping, of our public ministry, our living out of the gospel before the principalities and powers, our working with the grain of the world where we can and against the grain of the world where we must.

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Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Holy Week, Preaching / Homiletics

Archbishops of Canterbury and York ask cathedrals and churches to toll bells Tomorrow for Notre Dame

From there:

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are today encouraging, where possible, all cathedrals and churches across England to toll a bell for 7 minutes at 7pm this Thursday, as a mark of solidarity following the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. This initiative has been suggested by the British Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn, and it is hoped that many will take part.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), France, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire

Canon Deborah Sellin Announced as the New Bishop of Southampton

Debbie is currently the Vicar of St John the Baptist, Wonersh with Blackheath in the Diocese of Guildford and is also the Area Dean for the Deanery of Cranleigh. She was ordained 12 years ago after spending time working as a Family and Children’s Worker in a Church of England parish in Guildford, and as a Manager in the NHS. She succeeds the Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost who moved on to become the Dean of York in January after over eight years of service as the Bishop of Southampton.

The Bishop of Southampton is a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Winchester and works alongside the Bishop of Basingstoke to support the Bishop of Winchester in the Diocese, with a particular focus on serving the areas of Southampton and South Hampshire, and Bournemouth and East Dorset.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Law+ Religion UK) New campaign launched for recognition of same sex marriage in the Church of England

Equal, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England, seeks to ensure that the official policy of the Church properly respects and protects the conscience of all its members on these matters of deep human importance. It is not a membership organization; there are no membership fees, no complicated structure, no committee to join and no local groups to support. It states:

“The Church of England’s current official position is that only opposite-sex couples can marry in its churches. Same-gender couples cannot marry in church. They cannot even officially receive a blessing after a civil marriage. Christians who have married their same-gender partner are discriminated against in the ministry of the church, both lay and ordained”,

and lists its aims as belief that:

  • same-gender couples should be able to be married in Church of England parishes.
  • people in such marriages should have the same opportunities for lay and ordained ministry in the Church of England as anyone else.
  • the consciences of everyone should be protected – no member of the clergy should be forced to conduct a marriage they disagree with. No member of the clergy should be prevented from celebrating a marriage involving a same-gender couple.

It is seeking signatures to an Open Letter to the House of Bishops, and free resourcesare available to download and print. Those with IT, publicity, media or campaigning skills, or are willing to join a demonstration or to write letters are may contact the campaign.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

First national Director of Safeguarding appointed for the C of E

Melissa Caslake, Executive Director of Children’s Services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster, has been appointed as the Church of England’s first permanent Director of Safeguarding. She takes over from Sir Roger Singleton who took up an interim role at the beginning of the year.

Melissa has a strong professional background in adult and children’s services over a 20-year career, with particular experience of child protection and safeguarding, and a track record of leading good and outstanding children’s services in local authorities.

As executive director she has overseen the Bi-Borough response to non-current child sexual abuse and been the London lead Director of Children’s Services for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, working with Government departments to develop a stronger national response. Melissa has overseen the provision of support for children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, also reporting to the Government’s Taskforce.

Prior to her current role she was Director of Family Services for the City of Westminster where she led the service to an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rating in 2016. She was formerly a divisional director in the London Borough of Harrow and Director of Children’s Social Care and Youth Inclusion in the London Borough of Merton.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(CA) Stephen Noll–“Living in Love and Faith”: Tree or Billboard?

A colleague sent me a link to the “Living in Love and Faith” report to the General Synod of the Church of England, which is meeting later this month. For the uninitiated, the “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) project is a massive exercise by the Church of England to tackle the thorny issue of human sexuality. The general supposition is that the LLF results will be forwarded to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, to be discussed in table groups (indaba), which in turn will conclude that Anglicans have a mixed bag of views on sex and marriage and that they have agreed to disagree. Such a result will in effect nullify the clear teaching of Lambeth 1998, which has been a touchstone for the Global South churches….

Despite its likening a book to a tree trunk, the entire report manages to avoid quoting the Book, the Bible, anywhere. Instead we get vague allusions to “creativity” and “hermeneutical understandings” and “situatedness of the gospel” and “ecclesiology in the context of difference.” The report makes no reference to Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality and suggests that it will produce a deeper understanding of the interplay of “inherited teaching” on marriage and singleness with “emergent views.” (The word “deep” seems a favorite of the authors, reminding me of this ditty from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience: “If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”)….

It seems that the current controversy in the Anglican Communion and Lambeth 2020 comes down to branding rights. On the one hand, I would commend the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality (300 words), the 2008 Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2400 words) and the 2018 Gafcon “Letter to the Churches” (2500 words) as clear and concise statements of biblical teaching in the Anglican tradition. On the other hand, we have the ponderous Windsor Report (93 pages), the 2008 Lambeth Indaba (44 pages) and we are looking oh-so-so forward to the weighty multi-layered Oxbridge-endorsed LLF Project. Which of these “brands” will be fruitful for the future of the Gospel and mission of Christ to the nations?

The LLF likens its work to a tree. Well, it is a good metaphor. God’s Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18), and as noted in Joyce Kilmer’s verse: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

But somehow, given this present update, I doubt the final Living in Love and Faith Report will be lively, lovely, or faithful. I suspect it may function more like the billboard in Ogden Nash’s “Song of the Road”:

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Church of England bishops welcome introduction of online safety laws

Church of England bishops today welcomed the publication of a Government White Paper including plans to impose substantial fines against social media companies that breach their duty of care towards the vulnerable.

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, who in 2016 launched a campaign (#liedentity) to encourage a safer online environment, said: “The new plans unveiled today are an encouraging sign that the online world will start to be regulated to protect people like Molly Russell, 14, who tragically took her own life. We know that her family believe that social media was partly responsible for their daughter’s death.

“Research tells us that 4 in 10 people feel that tech firms fail to take their concerns seriously when they complain.

“It’s about time that social media companies are held responsible for their content and are accountable for their actions. No other organisation in the ‘real’ world has that freedom. We manage to regulate electricity, water companies, broadcasters, shops etc through consumer bodies, yet for years social media companies have been allowed to self-regulate. These new clear standards, backed up by enforcement powers will hopefully be the step change to start really protecting our children and young people online.”

The White Paper, which includes plans to hold individual executives personally liable for failings, follows the publication of a House of Lords Select Committee report on Communication.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Church Times) Review calls for C of E oversight of diocesan safeguarding to be centralised

The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) has rejected an independent review’s recommendation to centralise safeguarding nationally and strip diocesan bishops of oversight of diocesan safeguarding advisers.

The suggestion that safeguarding be made a solely national responsibility came from a new report by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), which has recently audited each dioceses’s safeguarding procedures.

Its report, published on Thursday, is broadly positive. Its diocesan audits concluded that there had been a “major improvement in the safeguarding resources, national policies and training courses” since 2015, which was clearly trickling down to the dioceses.

But the report also describes how the work of diocesan safeguarding advisers (DSAs) is managed by diocesan bishops and their staff “without any requirement to have safeguarding knowledge and expertise”.

This lack of a “command and control structure” from the national Church means that inconsistencies in the way parishes and dioceses deal with child abuse are inevitable, the SCIE concludes.

But the NSSG has decided against employing diocesan safeguarding advisers nationally. A senior C of E official said that cultural change was the priority, and, therefore, each bishop had to maintain control over diocesan safeguarding and remain personally invested in the work.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(Chester Standard) Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) lodged against Bishop of Chester Peter Forster

A formal complaint of serious misconduct has been lodged with the Church of England against the Bishop of Chester, it has emerged.

Known as a Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM), it was brought against Dr Peter Forster by Sir Roger Singleton, interim safeguarding director at the Church.

A spokesman told the Standard that permission is currently being sought to bring the CDM ‘out of time’.

This is because under C of E rules there is a 12-month time limit between the date of the alleged misconduct and the lodging of the complaint.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(Reuters) Shell to leave leading U.S. refining lobby over climate disagreement

Royal Dutch Shell Plc on Tuesday became the first major oil and gas company to announce plans to leave a leading U.S. refining lobby due to disagreement on climate policies.

In its first review of its association with 19 key industry groups, the company said it had found “material misalignment” over climate policy with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and would quit the body in 2020.

The review is part of Shell’s drive to increase transparency and show investors it is in line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement’s goals to limit global warming by reducing carbon emissions to a net zero by the end of the century….

Shell’s review was welcomed by Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board, which invests in Shell and led discussions with the company over its climate policy.

“This is an industry first,” Matthews said.

“With this review Shell have set the benchmark for best practice on corporate climate lobbying not just within oil and gas but across all industries. The challenge now is for others to follow suit.”

Read it all.

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

The C of E Response to Royal College of Physicians announcement on assisted suicide

From there: Speaking following the Royal College of Physicans’ announcement of the adoption of a ‘neutral’ position on assisted dying The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, said:

“We note the RCP’s decision, and welcome the President’s assurances that the RCP will not be focusing on assisted dying, instead continuing to champion high-quality palliative care services, an emphasis that the Church of England shares and has always encouraged.

“We also recognise that fewer than one third of RCP members wanted the College to support a change in the current law prohibiting assisted suicide while fewer than a quarter said they would participate in assisted dying should the law change.

“The Church of England’s position remains to affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected.”

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

In the House of Lords the Bishop of St Albans asks about problem gambling related suicides

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of Gambling disorder, increased mortality, suicidality, and associated comorbidity: A longitudinal nationwide register study, published in November 2018; and in particular its finding that problem gamblers are 15 times more likely to take their own lives.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: Preventing suicide is a priority for Government, and we take new evidence on this matter very seriously.

Read it all.

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

Highways England give £3.9m grant to make Hull Minster a hub for city’s history, heritage and community

A £3.9m grant to complete the transformation of Hull Minster into a hub for the city’s history, heritage and community has been announced today following funding from Highways England.

The investment comes from a dedicated fund which is designed to protect historic features in areas near to major roads, helping them to be harmonious with their surroundings. The Highways England Environment Designated Fund will safeguard the Minster’s heritage for future generations and create a sustainable future for the church as a magnificent place of worship, focal point for the community and magnet for visitors.

With work set to start this Spring, the majestic Minster can now be restored, renovated and extended to fulfil its rich potential. The grant is linked to the proposed A63 Castle Street scheme, which passes just 100 metres from the church. This major project is designed to improve access between the Port of Hull and the national road network via the city centre.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

([London] Times) Man arrested after gun incident at St Paul’s Cathedral

A suspected gunman attempted to shoot security guards inside St Paul’s Cathedral before being arrested by firearms police as he fled.

The suspect, who has not been identified, is said to have also levelled the weapon at staff and pulled the trigger but no bullets were fired, the BBC reported.

He was spotted by security staff inside the cathedral’s crypt, which has a café and is generally busy with tourists. Elsewhere in the crypt lie the tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who designed the rebuilt cathedral after the original structure was all but destroyed in the Great Fire.

He fled towards an exit but was intercepted by firearms officers from City of London Police.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Mirror) child poverty figures released this week are a ‘national scandal’ as 4.1million kids are hit

Tory ministers are accused of presiding over a “national scandal” after damning new figures revealed 4.1million children are in poverty.

Stagnant wages and the cruel benefit freeze mean the huge total refused to fall – despite Theresa May’s pledge to fight “burning injustices” on her first day in Downing Street.

Annual Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show 4.1million children were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2017/18, around the same as the year before.

More than 2million (53%) are under five, up from 51% a year earlier. 700,000 children in “severe” poverty, up from 600,000. And the number of children in absolute poverty, a different measure, rose by 200,000 to 3.7million.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said: “It is surely wrong, in a just and compassionate society, that so many children are growing up in poverty.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Poverty

(BBC) Manchester Arena attack memorial site revealed

A permanent memorial to the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing will be located close to the scene of the attack, the council has confirmed.

A site between Hunt’s Bank and Deansgate, near the city’s cathedral, has been “earmarked” after consultation with families, a spokesman said.

Prof Malcom Press of the Manchester Memorial Advisory Group said choosing a location was a “significant step”.

He added that the design had not been decided upon and would “not be rushed”.

The location was announced as plans for a “more intimate” commemoration of the second anniversary of the 22 May 2017 attack were revealed.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Keble

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage that which thou givest us to do, and endure that which thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

(CI) Phil Bishop makes a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral–to see the scaffolding

It is not just the frequent stand-down for prayers that makes this a different kind of job for All Access. The crew – of about 15 at peak but more usually less than half a dozen – is working cheek by jowl with the tourists, pilgrims and worshippers. They have to phase work not just around church activities – nearly 2,000 services a year – but also other events such as university graduation ceremonies.

And then there are all the fragile artefacts – stained glass windows and crystal chandeliers, some literally priceless – that a stray steel pole could easily encounter in this environment. So far, says Matt Butler, quickly lunging to touch the nearest piece of wood, no such untoward event has occurred.

Both the massive nave platform inside the vaulted roof and the external scaffold structures are scheduled to come down in summer 2021, more than two years away yet.

Most of the scaffolding on the cathedral has been purchased by the cathedral, since a five-year hire would have been prohibitively expensive. The deal is that All Access will buy back most of it, if not all, on completion – giving it a healthy inventory of kit for future projects.

More importantly, for a company established only 10 years ago, it is a powerful reference project for All Access to have.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

St Mary Aldermary–The Gorgeous London Church That’s Also A Coffee Shop

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) Lords will break silence on betting, says Bishop of St Albans

The announcement of a new House of Lords special inquiry into gambling has been welcomed by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith.

The new Lords committee, which will examine the “social and economic consequences” of the gambling industry, was announced last Friday. It will begin its investigation later this year, and produce a report by March 2020.

Dr Smith said: “This means we can start to meet the needs of problem gamblers, and honour the hopes of the families of those who have lost their lives as a result of problem gambling.

“It’s time we broke the silence for them. This inquiry is a vital part of that.”

The Liaison Committee of the House of Lords recommended the gambling industry as one of four areas for inquiries, as proposed by Dr Smith.

He continued: “An overdue inquiry, it will have the range, depth, and authority to mount a truly evidence-based investigation. Currently, we have seen levels of suicide and other gambling-related harms becoming part of the national consciousness, while 55,000 young people are now classified as problem gamblers.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Gambling

(Westmoreland Gazette) New Bishop of Penrith starts work with a Lent walk

The new Bishop of Penrith has spent her first few days in post out and about greeting hundreds of people on a Lent Walk.

The Rt Rev Dr Emma Ineson was officially installed and welcomed as the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – at a special service in Carlisle Cathedral on Sunday.

The following day she joined the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, as he continued his Lent walk across Cumbria with other ecumenical leaders from the county. The group was also joined by the Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander Roger Batt as they set off from Holme Cultram Abbey in Abbeytown bound for Silloth, Workington and Cockermouth.

ishop Emma, who will be based in Kendal, said: “I’m feeling wonderful and am raring to go. I can’t think of a better way to start ministry in this beautiful county than by joining the Lent walk. And we’ve just had some of the best sausage rolls and a lovely cup of tea provided by the ladies here at the abbey!

“This offers me a great opportunity to get out and about. The God for All strategy is really exciting and I’m keen to find out what that looks like on the ground; to see how people in the local churches and communities are living out that calling. What is it that’s going on in the clubs, in the shops, in the streets, in the churches to share the love of Jesus with everyone?”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(C of E) Response to Home Office letter regarding Iranian asylum seeker from Bp Paul Butler

“I am extremely concerned that a Government department could determine the future of another human being based on such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities. To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a violent religion is like arguing that a Government report on the impact of Climate Change is advocating drought and flooding.

“It is good that the Home Office has recognised that this decision is inconsistent with its policies and that its staff need better training, but the fact that these comments were made at all suggests that the problem goes deeper than a lack of religious literacy among individual civil servants and indicates that the management structures and ethos of the Home Office, when dealing with cases with a religious dimension, need serious overhaul.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Iran, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

Ashley Null on Thomas Cranmer Day–Conversion to Communion: Cranmer on a Favourite Puritan Theme

In the end, repentance, not love, has come to symbolise Cranmer himself, his life’s work being interpreted by his last days. In the eyes of his critics, Cranmer’s recantations prove that at best he was weak and vacillating. In the hearts of his admirers, however, Cranmer’s last-minute renunciation of his recantations proved his true commitment to the Protestant faith. But what of Cranmer himself, how did he interpret his last days and the meaning they gave to his life? According to a contemporary account, having previously been distraught, Cranmer came to the stake with a cheerful countenance and willing mind.

Fire being now put to him, he stretched out his right Hand, and thrust it into the Flame, and held it there a good space, before the Fire came to any other Part of his Body; where his Hand was seen of every Man sensibly burning, crying with a loud Voice, This Hand hath offended. As soon as the Fire got up, he was very soon Dead, never stirring or crying all the while.

His Catholic executioners surely thought Cranmer was making satisfaction to his Protestant God. Yet his doctrine of repentance would have taught him otherwise, for the God he served saved the unworthy.

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Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Soteriology

(ACNS) Church of England invites parishioners to “tea and prayer drop-ins” as Brexit deadline nears

The Church of England has called for communities to join together in conversation and prayer as discussions over the UK’s departure from the European Union reach a pivotal point. The debate is splitting communities in the UK. The UK Government and the EU have reached a withdrawal agreement; but this has twice been rejected by the country’s Parliament. Today, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that the government could only bring it back for a third vote if the motion was “substantially different”. Britain risks leaving the European Union without a deal on 29 March unless the other 27 EU member countries agree to a British government request for an extension.

Churches are being encouraged to host “informal café-style meetings” over the weekend of 30 March “to bring together people of all standpoints and encourage open discussion.” The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have today backed newly-commissioned resources to invite people to “get together and chat over a cup of tea and pray for our country and our future”.

Under the slogan “Together”, the packs include specially-chosen Bible passages, prayers and questions designed to prompt conversations. The introductory notes urge participants to have “respect for the integrity of differently held positions, encouraging communities which feel the same about the issues to use their imagination to consider the viewpoints of those who feel differently.”

“As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to demonstrate that love for God and for each other, along with compassion, solidarity and care for the poorest, are our defining values”, Archbishop Justin said. “These values have been the bedrock of our national life for many centuries. They are not simply our history: they are also our best hope for the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General

(SC) Martin Sewell–Too important to care about child sexual abuse? Problems for Church and State

To their credit, the Scottish Liberal Party have moved swiftly to suspend and investigate Lord Steel’s case. In this they put to shame the Church of England. At virtually the same time problems have again hit the Church of England with reports
from Chester Crown Court that the local Diocesan Bishop had received an admission from a priest abuser but accepted an assurance that he “would not do it again”. This has resulted in campaigning journalist Andrew Graystone writing to directly call for the Bishop’s resignation.

In both cases, plainly those exercising misjudgement are not bad people. I constantly remind readers that the context of the time must be factored in. However, the time for this to be an excuse allowing us to continue, simply apologising, undertaking a “learned lesson review’ and moving on, has surely passed. That scenario has been played out too many times in too many places. Victims need to see more robust responses either from the individuals concerned or from the relevant institutions.

Until such public figures pay a price, either through voluntarily resignation, through the withdrawal of honours conferred upon them, or through being shunned by the court of public opinion, we shall continue to have a culture of minimisation and cover-up. Hitherto the only ones who have paid a price for these matters coming into the public domain are the victims who have to revisit their history of pain, humiliation, anger and all the tragedies within their personal lives that go with this.

If the Establishment, secular or faith, is to retain any credibility, it is time for its members to grasp the personal responsibility that such cases require. Great reputation and personal advantage goes with pubic status: with great privilege goes great responsibility. Respect for both victims betrayed and the institutions served requires no more feet shuffling but bold moral acceptance of consequence through principled resignation.

Anything less would demonstrate precisely the kind of cynicism which our Archbishop advised us to give up for Lent when he addressed the General Synod last month. It will continue to poison our public discourse unless or until those privileged with public approval voluntarily surrender it when public confidence is no longer merited.

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

ResearchLive talks to the Reverend Richard Coles–Politics, Pop And The Church Of England

When asked whether the Church of England was a brand and whether companies could learn from it, Coles said no, though said there was temptation to “make sure we give the right kind of message” to address the haemorrhaging of numbers.

“Someone said we needed a mission statement,” he said. “But what we do is so different to our [wider] culture values. We have problems, and I kind of like that. I like that we’re seen as hopeless and bumble around; that we’re not afraid of failure.

“Mary Magdalen went to the graveyard expecting a body in the tomb but she found a life transformed. That’s really what we’re for and I don’t think that that is something we can easily articulate.”

In a similar vein he cautioned against a drive to bring more young people into the church. Instead, they should go out and live life to the full – the church will be there for them later, as it was for him.

“As a vicar I spend a lot of time with older people but recently I have spent a lot of time with young people and they are stimulating in a different way. Younger people don’t know their limits yet. It makes them exciting, risky and bold.”

Read it all.

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

(Telegraph) Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest

The longest-serving bishop in the Church of England is facing calls to resign after it emerged he knew about a paedophile priest in his diocese and did nothing.

The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, found out Rev Gordon Dickenson had become embroiled in a child abuse scandal decades earlier when the retired vicar wrote a letter about the affair in 2009.

Dickenson was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and even his vicarage.

But ten years ago, Dickenson had written to the Diocese of Chester which was conducting a review of past abuse cases admitting he been accused of the abuse during the 1970s and had promised the then Bishop of Chester he would “never do it again”.

Despite this admission, Bishop Forster failed to pass on the letter to the police or order an internal church inquiry.

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

The former Archbishop of York, John Habgood, dies

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals

(Yorkshire Post) Church of England vows to act on climate change

The Church of England recognises “the escalating threat to God’s creation from global warming” and is to step up its efforts to combat climate change.

The Church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted in favour of a motion on Friday which called for dioceses to focus on reducing their environmental impact.

The Synod voted overwhelmingly for the motion, with 279 supporting it, three opposing and four abstaining.

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, introduced the motion, saying: “Climate change cannot be a matter of indifference for any of us and we cannot underestimate the seriousness of this….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship