Category : Church of England (CoE)

‘What do we mean when we pray Thy Kingdom Come?’ The Reverend Nicky Gumbel & Archbishop Justin Welby

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(BBC) Service held to ‘cleanse’ Salisbury after nerve agent attack

A special service has been held in Salisbury to “symbolically reclaim the city for the common good” following the nerve agent attack on 4 March.

The Bishop of Salisbury hosted the service of “cleansing and celebration” at St Thomas’ Church, near where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found.

The service, which was open to all faiths and none, involved prayers to cleanse the site and the city.

It was followed by a procession to the bench where the Skripals were found.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Russia, Terrorism

(Spectator) Theo Hobson–why young believers need to accept faith is controversial; Are millennial churchgoers trying (too hard) to make the church a safe space?

I shouldn’t have been too surprised. I encountered similar sensitivity in a previous attempt at a side career a few years ago: teaching Religious Education at a private school. The textbook contained Michelangelo’s famous image of God creating Adam. I made a jokey reference to the childlike littleness of Adam’s genitalia, despite his muscle-man physique. Big mistake. One of these 11- or 12-year-olds reported the comment to a parent who reported it to the head who hauled me in for a surreal conversation about the mentionability of Edenic pudenda. I bet science teachers are allowed to mention penises, I protested — why shouldn’t humanities teachers, especially if the penis is actually depicted in the approved textbook?

So are holy snowflakes smothering the C of E? I consulted the vicar of a north London church who had worked at a cathedral, where his role included commissioning works of art. ‘What I’ve noticed is that sensitivity has become more secular than religious — it used to be that people were nervous of doing or saying something sacrilegious; now they’re more likely to worry about giving secular offence. And often they are not really offended themselves but are imagining other people’s reactions; they are upset on others’ behalf. So I sometimes have to persuade parishioners that something is not as problematic as they fear.’

A vicar of a central London parish told me that some of her parishioners are excessively worried that traditional Christian themes might seem illiberal. ‘We were planning a series of Lent talks last year, and brainstorming for a theme. I thought “sin” would be pretty uncontroversial, but the most vocal members of the group were dead set against it. That’s the image of religion we want to get away from, they said; it sounds so judgmental.’ But faith is controversial. There’s no getting away from it, and that’s no bad thing. Anything worthwhile is and should be challenging.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(Church Times) Church in Salisbury to host ‘service of cleansing’ after the poisoning of the Skripals

A church in Salisbury will host a “service of cleansing and celebration” after the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city last month.

St Thomas’s, in the centre of Salisbury, will hold the service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, metres away from the site of the bench where the Skripals were found outside the Maltings shopping centre. The Rector of St Thomas’s, the Revd Kelvin Inglis, said that the service would end with a procession to the spot where the pair were found.

The Skripals are believed to have been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, and the fallout from the attack on them has resulted in the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK and its allies, since the Government concluded that it was “highly likely” that the blame lay with Moscow (News, 16 March23 March). More than 20 countries around the world expelled Russian diplomats: the UK required 23 to leave; and the United States, 60.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Ms Skripal had been discharged from hospital, and that Mr Skripal was also making good progress and would leave “in due course”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Russia

Generation Y still hope to walk down the aisle according to new Church of England Research

Millennials still value marriage with almost three quarters of those who are unmarried (72%) intending to tie the knot, according to new research by the Church of England.

While official figures recently showed a decline in the marriage rate, a study commissioned by the Church of England’s Life Events team suggests that 18-to-35-year-olds still dream of having their big day.

More than 1,000 unmarried young people were asked about factors that would influence their wedding plans for the research.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Young Adults

(Christian Today) Bishop and senior clergyman join calls for Church of England to lose equalities exemptions

The Church of England should lose its protections under the Equalities Act that allow it to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality, a bishop and senior clergyman have said today.

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, and David Ison, the dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, both backed Jeremy Pemberton, a…priest who was blocked from being a hospital chaplain after marrying his [same-sex] partner.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) Bishop Paul Richardson on IICSA–Senior clergy don’t need MBAs to deal with abuse

Cathedral deans should not need an MBA to enable them to handle cases of abuse or run a cathedral. An MBA does not increase skills in pastoral care or liturgy; it doesn’t improve preaching and teaching or raise awareness of how to relate a cathedral to the local community or improve the quality of music. A cathedral does need staff trained in accountancy whose voices are heard but it is too common in Britain today to think that accountants are the best people to run hospitals or other organisations.

Finally what are we to say about abuse and the theology of forgiveness? Linda Woodhead claims that ‘a faulty doctrine of forgiveness was used by abusers to salve their consciences, by officials to move on without dealing with the problem, and by parishioners to marginalise “unchristian” victims and whistleblowers’.

Quite honestly, I have never come across this theology of forgiveness. If someone in confession confesses to a serious sin such as abuse or murder the confessor will normally make absolution conditional on the penitent reporting to the police. This is why forcing clergy to reveal what is told to them in confession is huge mistake. Catholic clergy will never break the seal of the confessional but the threat that attempts will be made to make them do so will stop penitents being frank.

As well as sending the penitent to the police, confessors will also point out that God’s forgiveness does not rule out the need for legal penalties or, where appropriate, reparation to victims. Knowing that a pattern of abuse is almost impossible to break, bishops are not being kind or forgiving in moving abusive clergy to another parish. Allowing the law to take its course and then providing some kind of care and counselling for the perpetrator but not a future opportunity of ministry may be the kindest policy.

All this could have been learnt from Jason Berry’s reporting 30 years ago.

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

(Mirror) Punters would lose £500 a session under Gambling Commission’s recommendation for fixed bet terminals to set the maximum stake at £30

Gambling addicts will lose more than £500 a session if the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals is set at £30.

Government minister Tracey Crouch wants a £2 limit on the ­bookies’ shop machines – nicknamed the crack cocaine of gambling.

But her plans received a blow from the Gambling Commission – the body that advises the Government – which has recommended she sets the top stake at £30.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Theology

(COEiP) Church of England Bishops highlight consequences of the two-child limit in letter to The Times and blog post

Sir, Today the “two-child limit” policy, which restricts tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a family, has been in place for a year. The policy is making it harder for parents to achieve a stable and resilient family life. By 2021, 640,000 families will have been affected. Most are low-earning working families, most have three children and some will have made decisions about family size when they were able to support children through earnings alone, but later claimed tax credits or universal credit after bereavement, redundancy, separation, disability, illness or simply low pay.

The policy is expected to tip an estimated extra 200,000 children into poverty. It also conveys the regrettable message that some children matter less than others, depending on their place in the sibling birth order.

It is a grave concern that there are likely to be mothers who will face an invidious choice between poverty and terminating an unplanned pregnancy

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology

The Bishop of Sheffield’s Easter 2018 Sermon

We’ve just heard how, when the women arrive at the empty tomb, early on the first day of the week, hoping to anoint the dead body of Jesus, they’re shocked to find the tomb open and a young man sitting inside, dressed in white.  This angel speaks to them: ’Do not be alarmed.  You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has been raised.  He is not here: look there is the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples – and Peter – that he is going ahead of you to Galilee: there you will see him, just as he told you’.

Go and tell his disciples, and Peter.  It’s those two words ‘and Peter’ that catch my attention.  Why are they added?  You won’t find them on the lips of the angel in the version of this story told by Matthew, Luke or John.  Why do they matter to Mark?  Well, I think there are two reasons, both of which might encourage us this morning as we celebrate afresh our Lord’s resurrection from the dead: the first reason has to do with what the Risen Lord wants for Peter; the second, with what he wants from Peter.

Let me say something about what the Lord might want for Peter to start with.  This is the first reference to Peter in the Gospel of Mark since the moment about 48 hours before, when the cock had crowed a second time and he had broken down and wept.  Our last glimpse of Peter is of his sobbing remorse at the realisation that he had indeed denied Jesus, as his Master had prophesied that he would.  This is a more catastrophic fall from grace than that of any Australian cricketer: as the curtain falls on his active participation in the Gospel story, Peter has failed.

So those two words ‘and Peter’ on the lips of the angel are full of hope.  They suggest that the Risen Jesus, far from having given up on Peter, far from having written him off, is intent on // re-establishing // a relationship with him.

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Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) [Bishop of Chichester] Martin Warner–Safeguarding: what we got wrong, and the steps we are taking to put it right

The diocese of Chichester was used as a case study for inquiring into child sexual abuse in the Church of England. Some have wished to claim immunity from our failings, regarding us an aberration and unlike more “normal” dioceses.

More careful consideration, however, suggests that what happened here was characterised by attitudes that were not unknown elsewhere.

If, for example, we look at the case of one highly manipulative offender, Roy Cotton, factors emerge at an early stage that might account for why no effective disciplinary action was taken against him.

First, academic snobbery: Cotton was an Oxbridge graduate. Second, social snobbery: he worked in an independent preparatory school before ordination.

Third, manipulating episcopal patronage: he was exempted from selection scrutiny and spent only one term in training. After being ordained in his home diocese and serving a curacy there, he moved to Chichester with a glowing reference from his bishop, and subsequently moved from one parish to another with apparent ease.

Fourth, at the end of his ministry in Chichester, he was dealt with leniently in old age because of illness and infirmity….

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

A Group of C of E Bishops’ Easter letter warns of slavery in our midst

Slavery is on the rise in Britain in a way we have not seen since the days of William Wilberforce. Last year 5,145 victims were found in the UK. It is a big increase on 2016’s figure, but it still does not come close to the tens of thousands that the National Crime Agency believes are hidden.

It might seem that we should leave this problem to the police. But this Easter we are asking everyone to open their eyes to the signs of potential exploitation around them. The Clewer Initiative, our national anti-slavery project, educates people on what to look out for. New life for those entombed in darkness.

As Wilberforce said more than 200 years ago, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say you did not know.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Church Times) Diocese of Durham to give a multi-million boost to declining churches

A multi-million-pound bid to turn around churches that are in numerical decline is being prepared by the diocese of Durham.

The money will be used to turn churches in strategic locations with small congregations into “resourcing churches”. A strategic development funding bid for an estimated £2.9 million will be submitted to the Church Commissioners this month; an answer is expected in June. In total, the plan has been costed at about £4.5 million.

Canon David Tomlinson, who was appointed Senior Resourcing Church Leader this month, said last week that the funding would enable a “radical” approach to growth, “stepping outside of the norm in the Anglican Church of having a survival mentality”.

The first phase of the strategy entails church-plants in five areas: Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, and Washington. In Stockton, missional communities of about 40 people will be developed. In the second phase, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Easington, and Jarrow will be added to the resource church network.

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

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–The End of the Pemberton appeal saga

One final observation is worth making about the implication for the Church of England’s own continued discussion of this issue. Andrew Goddard drew attention to the implications of the EAT at the time, and it still applies now that the Court of Appeal has confirmed and underscored the earlier ruling:

If the case is lost then it has been established that the church has a doctrine of marriage which bishops are right to uphold by refusing to issue a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage.  The judgment is clear that canonical obedience is “a core part of the qualifying of a priest for ministry within the Church” (para 120) and that Canon Pemberton is obliged to undertake to pay true and Canonical Obedience to the Lord Bishop but that (given its conclusion as to church doctrine), “Self-evidently he is not going to be able to fulfil that obligation or has not done so….and therefore objectively he cannot be issued with his licence” (para 121).  Any bishop who therefore issued a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage would therefore be open to legal challenge.  Any attempt to allow clergy to enter same-sex marriages would, it appears, need first to redefine the church’s doctrine of marriage…

In other words, if the church keeps it current doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify licensing clergy in same-sex marriages but if it changes it or somehow declares it has no fixed doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify refusing a licence to clergy in same-sex marriages given equality legislation.  So, even if it were considered desirable, it is therefore hard to see how, given the law, the church could “agree to differ” on this subject in a way that both enabled same-sex married clergy to be licensed and also protected those unable in good conscience to license clergy in same-sex marriages.

It is another reason why ‘agreeing to disagree’ is never going to be an option on this issue.

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

([London] Times) Students at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham are twice as likely to worship on a Sunday as the general population

Students at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham are twice as likely to worship on a Sunday as the general population, according to Church of England data.

Almost 5,000 people regularly attend services at the universities, whose colleges contain 56 chapels.

It is the first time that the church has published data for all three universities, finding that their chapels have at least 4,688 regular worshippers. In 2016, 2,981 people attended every Sunday, of whom 1,685 were students — equating to 2.6 per cent of the student bodies.

This is almost double the 1.4 per cent of the English population who attend Sunday services in Anglican churches. The real figure will be higher, as only 43 of the 56 chapels provided data.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Race/Race Relations, Sociology, Young Adults