Category : Church of England (CoE)

(BBC) Bishop of Dover: The Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin to be consecrated today

The first black woman to become a Church of England bishop will be consecrated during a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral.

In June it was announced chaplain to the speaker of the house, The Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin, will be the new Bishop of Dover.

She said she feels a “bit like a bride” ahead of Tuesday’s consecration.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Yorkshire Post) Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu on faith, Advent and his love for the people of Yorkshire

Today, he’s sitting in the Drawing Room at Bishopthorpe Palace, the Archbishop of York’s official residence, to discuss his new book – Wake Up to Advent! It’s the first time he’s written his own Advent book having endorsed others previously. “I reached the stage where I said ‘this is going to be my last advent’ (as archbishop) and thought it’s high time I put pen to paper,” he says.

The book is characterised by readings and personal stories from his own remarkable life. “Whether someone is a churchgoer or not I hope there is still a message that they need to wake up to the world as we’ve got it. There’s a lot of mess, not only in the world but in our own lives, and there’s a possibility to feed on things that will help us to be truly human. We need to grow our friendships and relationships and our inter-dependence, so the message of the book I hope is for everybody.”

And Dr Sentamu believes this message still has relevance in the modern world. “When we see tragedies happening all over the world the first thing people do, particularly in this country, is go to church and light a candle. And I love that statement that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

For the archbishop, the chief role of religion is to be “a signpost to the love of God”. “If you saw every person as your brother or your sister you would treat them very differently. It’s treating people as totally different that causes all the trouble we bring into our world.”

Read it all.

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

Monday food for Thought–The Red Dean of Canterbury on Joseph Stalin

In the same general period in which Stalin was starving millions, the Rev. Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury, described him as “leading his people down new and unfamiliar avenues of democracy.”

.–Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties, (New York: Harper and Row, 1983), p.276, used yesterday in the sermon as an illustration of blindness

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Russia

(Church Times) Interview: Martin Saunders, deputy chief executive, Youthscape

Good youth work is always about really listening to, truly caring about, and being there for the long haul for young people as they go through the most complex and fast-moving period of human life. Everything else is secondary to that. The statutory youth-work sector was decimated at the start of the recession; so, really, the voluntary sector now bears a lot of the responsibility. Churches are at the forefront of that.

We did some research at Youthscape, which discovered that only about 25 per cent of all churches actually did any formal work with young people. So there are pockets of great practice, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.

What young people desperately need are authentic, kind role-models who care. They don’t especially need someone who can speak their language or knows about the latest Netflix smash; so, in a sense, age is irrelevant. They need friends and role-models of all ages. The stereotype of the hip twenty-something, hoodie-wearing youth-worker needs to die.

Most Christian youth work is still really oriented towards helping young people to discover and then keep faith: the traditional Bible-study and social model is alive and well. There’s a big question around whether that’s still the best model, even for churches. The Scouting movement is seeing a huge increase in numbers. I think that they get a lot right.

Read it all.

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

(ES) Police arrest 17 after Romanian ‘sex trafficking gang’ busted in east London

Seventeen people were arrested today as police smashed a suspected global sex trafficking gang in east London.

Officers discovered 29 alleged victims as they busted a Romanian gang accused of bringing women into Britain to work as prostitutes.

The Met’s central specialist crime team carried out dawn raids at 16 addresses in Redbridge, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Brentwood and Tower Hamlets — with the support of Romanian police officers.

The 14 men and three women, aged 17 to 50, were arrested just after 6am on suspicion of modern slavery, controlling prostitution, class A drug offences and possessing a stun gun. They remain in custody at a central London police station.

The alleged victims of human trafficking, all women aged between 20 and 40, were recovered and have been taken to a place of safety. A man was also arrested in Constanta, Romania.

The operation was supported by a team that included the Crown Prosecution Service, Romanian police and prosecutors, the Romanian embassy, Europol, Eurojust, the Church of England and Refuge.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Churchman) Paul Carr: Are the Priorities and Concerns of Charles Simeon Relevant for Today?

There is a strong argument for reforming the Church from within rather than through schism and we have a practicable model for pastoral care and social action. In closing, permit me to highlight three areas of Simeon’s ministry which have greatly challenged me in my reflections and which, if we were to follow them, would have the potential to rejuvenate our ministry.

1 Giving priority to an effective devotional lifestyle, with a commitment to spending ‘quality’ time in Bible study and prayer.

2 A commitment to living a holy life, recognizing the need of the renewing and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

3 That, along with Simeon, our understanding of the purpose of our preaching would be: ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’ (John 12:21).

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(Churchman) J I Packer–Expository Preaching: Charles Simeon and ourselves

Simeon himself is our example here. The feature of his preaching which most constantly impressed his hearers was the fact that he was, as they said, “in earnest”; and that reflected his own overwhelming sense of sin, and of the wonder of the grace that had saved him; and that in turn bore witness to the closeness of his daily fellowship and walk with his God. As he gave time to sermon preparation, so he gave time to seeking God’s face.

“The quality of his preaching,” writes the Bishop of Bradford, “was but a reflection of the quality of the man himself. And there can be little doubt that the man himself was largely made in the early morning hours which he devoted to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. It was his custom to rise at 4 a.m., light his own fire, and then devote the first four hours of the day to communion with God. Such costly self-discipline made the preacher. That was primary. The making of the sermon was secondary and derivative.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

John Piper on Charles Simeon: We Must Not Mind a Little Suffering

He grew downward in humiliation before God, and he grew upward in his adoration of Christ.

Handley Moule captures the essence of Simeon’s secret of longevity in this sentence: “‘Before honor is humility,’ and he had been ‘growing downwards’ year by year under the stern discipline of difficulty met in the right way, the way of close and adoring communion with God” (Moule, 64). Those two things were the heartbeat of Simeon’s inner life: growing downward in humility and growing upward in adoring communion with God.

But the remarkable thing about humiliation and adoration in the heart of Charles Simeon is that they were inseparable. Simeon was utterly unlike most of us today who think that we should get rid once and for all of feelings of vileness and unworthiness as soon as we can. For him, adoration only grew in the freshly plowed soil of humiliation for sin. So he actually labored to know his true sinfulness and his remaining corruption as a Christian.

I have continually had such a sense of my sinfulness as would sink me into utter despair, if I had not an assured view of the sufficiency and willingness of Christ to save me to the uttermost. And at the same time I had such a sense of my acceptance through Christ as would overset my little bark, if I had not ballast at the bottom sufficient to sink a vessel of no ordinary size. (Moule 134f.)

He never lost sight of the need for the heavy ballast of his own humiliation. After he had been a Christian forty years he wrote,

With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men; but I have at the same time laboured incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God. I have never thought that the circumstance of God’s having forgiven me was any reason why I should forgive myself; on the contrary, I have always judged it better to loathe myself the more, in proportion as I was assured that God was pacified towards me (Ezekiel 16:63). . . . There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: and I have always thought that they should be viewed together; just as Aaron confessed all the sins of all Israel whilst he put them on the head of the scapegoat. The disease did not keep him from applying to the remedy, nor did the remedy keep him from feeling the disease. By this I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Saviour continually. (Carus, 518f.)

Please do read it all.

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

(Churchman) Arthur Bennett–Charles Simeon: Prince of Evangelicals

Simeon’s firm allegiance to the Anglican Church was as much a matter of spiritual duty as of love. In view of the cynical treatment he received from churchmen and university alike he may well have left it for Independency or Presbyterianism. But a godly imperative kept him in its fold. He was wedded to its doctrines set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles and Homilies, and expressed in its Prayer Book. In his opinion the Protestant Reformed Church of England was the truest and finest manifestation of the Christian Faith emanating from scripture and had everything in it to meet his spiritual needs. He was sad to see others departing from it into Dissent and sought, by forming parish Societies, to prevent his own people following them. As to the clergy, Stephen Neill makes the point that the actions of evangelical clergy in the eighteenth century could have led to separation from the Church, but:

The influence of Charles Simeon swung the movement the other way, and all the evangelicals of the first half of the nineteenth century were convinced and devoted churchmen. G.M. Trevelyan’s powerful statement that owing to Simeon the drift of evangelical clergy into
Dissent was arrested is incontrovertible.

Without him, he went on, ‘the Church of England might perhaps have fallen when the tempest of Reform blew high in the thirties’. The respect that evangelicals obtained within the Established Church was, in James Downey’s view, ‘largely accomplished through the teaching and influence of Charles Simeon who finally won a general respect for evangelical preaching’ by his structured presentation of Christian truth and note of authority, and that in a church that rejected Whitefield’s and Wesley’s effusive style. Credit must also be given to the ordinands who attended his sermon classes and used his homiletic methods in their churches.

But Simeon did not discount nonconformity. His sentiments were warm to those ministers who shared his spiritual views, even to supporting financially Joseph Stittle, a layman, who shepherded some extreme Calvinists who forsook Simeon’s ministry. By joining with Free Churchmen in creating Missionary and Home Societies he formed a bridge between Anglicanism and nonconformity, avers Trevelyan. Of Methodism, which hardly touched Cambridge, he had little contact, and met John Wesley but twice, though he visited Fletcher of Madeley and received a warm reception. Wesley’s Arminianism and doctrine of perfection were hardly likely to attract the sin-conscious Simeon. Presbyterianism was more to his liking. He made close friends of Scottish ministers, and preached and communicated in their churches. Towards Roman Catholicism he was extremely severe and held the traditional view that its system was not of God. He showed acid disfavour to the Catholic emancipation movement, even refusing to vote for Charles Grant’s son, a candidate for Parliament, who favoured it. ‘Gladly would I give to the Catholics every privilege that would conduce to their happiness. But to endanger the Protestant ascendency and stability is a sacrifice which I am not prepared to make,’ he said.

Read it all.

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

John Stott gives an introduction to the life and work of Charles Simeon

John Stott on Charles Simeon at Taylor University from Randall Gruendyke on Vimeo.

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

Charles Simeon as described by (Bishop of Calcutta) Daniel Wilson

He stood for many years alone, he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented, his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized, disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.

–as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon

O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

(Northern Echo) Stanhope church invites people to make bread for a stranger

People from all faiths, denominations and backgrounds are invited to take part in Weardale’s first bread church.

The idea came from a church in Liverpool which invited people to bake bread.

Each person would bake two loaves of bread, one for themselves and one for a stranger.

You don’t need any experience in baking, it will be for most people a chance to try something new.

Some of the bread would be handed out to the homeless or to foodbanks.

Whilst waiting for the bread to bake people have a chance to reflect and pray.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Parish Ministry

(Devon Live) Yoga teacher barred from using church hall because classes are ‘not compatible with Christian beliefs’

A Devon yoga teacher says she was “very surprised” to be told she could not use a local church hall for classes due to religious reasons.

Yoga teacher Atsuko Kato, 54, said she was told that yoga was “not compatible with Christian beliefs”.

Atsuko, who has been teaching yoga for 25 years – including one class attended by a local vicar – says she doesn’t understand why it is an issue.

But the church at the centre of the row says yoga cannot be allowed because it does not acknowledge that “there is only one God and that…Jesus Christ is God himself”.

Yoga originated in Northern India and has connections to both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Premier) Colin Fletcher, One of longest-serving bishops, to retire

Bishop Colin added one the great challenges he’s had over the years is to do with appointments.

“I’ve now appointed a huge percentage of the clergy who work in this part of the world and something I’ve come to recognise is that you make a good appointment, both the parish the person concerned flourish,” he said.

“Make a bad appointment and both the individual and the parish suffers as a result. One of the great challenges is to really focus on those appointments and try as best we can to use prayer and discussion to get them right for all concerned.”

Bishop Colin’s work involves him supporting about 200 churches in Oxfordshire. He also has strong links with a variety of groups, such as Creation Theatre Company, Oxford Inspires and Bible Reading Fellowship.
He said one of the beauties of serving in the area is the variety of the job.

“Oxford includes areas of considerable deprivation in places like the edge of Banbury, as well as places of huge wealth in many of our villages and towns, and of course beautiful countryside all around. So every day is different,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

New Bishop of Dudley announced

In his current role, Martin has particular responsibility for the churches and clergy in the city of Oxford, as well as being Diocesan Interfaith Adviser. He has held strategic responsibility for growing new congregations of all shapes and sizes across the three counties that make up the Diocese of Oxford, overseeing an ambitious £5 million bid to support church revitalisation and planting, fresh expressions of church and pioneering ministry in major new housing areas. Martin has always enjoyed the Church of England’s connections with people and places outside the church, and oversees and supports the work of over 100 chaplains in prisons, schools, colleges, military bases and hospitals.

Martin was ordained in 1987 and prior to moving to Oxford in 2013, was Vicar of ‘Shakespeare’s Church’ in Stratford-upon-Avon where he was also Chaplain to the Royal Shakespeare Company. From 1994-2001, Martin was Vicar of Smethwick Old Church and Area Dean for the Black Country Deanery of Warley. He has also worked as Bishop’s Chaplain for Richard Harries in Oxford and started his ordained life as Curate of Birtley, an industrial and mining town near Gateshead in the Diocese of Durham.

On his appointment, Martin said: “I’m looking forward to joining God’s people in Dudley and the wider Diocese of Worcester as they seek to live lives of love, compassion, justice and freedom. We’re currently living in a challenging times with many divided communities. The Church has a key role to play in offering a place of safety and sanctuary where all people can come together to share their common humanity under God. As Bishop of Dudley, I would want to lead that work while supporting and encouraging all in our congregations to live out their faith in Jesus at home, at work and at school as well as in church.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Orthodox, Anglican churches hold international theological dialogue

The International Commission for Anglican Orthodox Theological Dialogue met in Canterbury, England from 10-17 October to continue consideration of ecology and end-of-life issues.

In a communique, the group stated that its work was undergirded by daily prayer and worship. “Visits were made to holy and historic sites, including a tour of St Augustine’s Abbey and the ancient church of St Martin, and to the Cathedral archives and library, and the Eastbridge Hospital,” reads the communique. “One of the highlights of the Commission’s meeting was a meditative candlelit walk of prayer led by the Dean around the Cathedral, including the site of the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket.”

The Commission completed its work on issues surrounding the environment and ecology according to principles established in its agreed statement, “In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology” (Buffalo 2015). “The text of a statement, entitled ‘Stewards of Creation A Hope-Filled Ecology,’ was finalized and will be prepared for publication as part of a projected series,” states the communique. “Further consideration was then given to the proposed statement on the end of human life, now provisionally entitled ‘Good Dying: the Christian Approach to Life and Death.’ ”

Read it all and you can find the Communiqué there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church

Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin–Two years on since Grenfell, nothing much has changed

We sat with one young mother of three, in her small flat in one of the blocks near the shell of Grenfell Tower. She lives in what is euphemistically called ‘temporary accommodation’ (some in her block had been in such a state for twenty years or more). The block had been without hot water for many weeks. When it was finally fixed, within a week she was then told to move her family to another flat in the block as the owners wanted it back. If she refused, the only options were a flat in Essex miles away from her children’s schools or homelessness. The lock on the door to the ground floor balcony did not work, making the apartment vulnerable to intruders. Doors were hanging loose from kitchen cabinets making them unusable, and mouse droppings were scattered across the floor despite her putting down traps. Because the flat was offered by the Council yet administered by a Housing Association, it was hard to know who to complain to. As a result, repeated calls to the landlord had yielded little change. Talking to tenants in the block, the repeated claim was that they would say ‘we will get back to you’ and never did. Similar stories are found all over north Kensington, people reluctant to complain in case they are branded troublemakers, echoing the story of Chloe Williams, who faced eviction from her one bedroom council flat in Kensington after complaining about rats, mice, cockroaches and bedbugs in her home.

All this is happening in one of the wealthiest boroughs of the country. Many feel our drastically reduced social housing stock has become in the words of one resident a ‘dumping ground of the most vulnerable in our society’. It comes so low down on our list of priorities, that the people who live in it, including many of the most vulnerable, feel abandoned. If a society can be judged on how it treats it poorest and most defenceless people, we are not doing well. The people we met repeatedly feel fobbed off, uncared for, and that the very people who are responsible for their housing don’t seem to care enough to pick up the phone or arrange repairs.

Which brings us back to Grenfell United. The kinds of change GU have been campaigning for – stronger regulation and a change of culture around health & safety standards (including the removal of unsafe cladding) and a proper tenant voice – should not be hard to establish. The financial crash led to tighter regulation of financial institutions so that if a bank mis-sells there are clear penalties. If a school is not run properly there is an inspection system to label it as ‘needs improvement’. Yet tenants with landlords who fail to maintain their property, rendering it unsafe, have no effective remedy, other than repeated attempts to get landlords to listen. And that didn’t stop Grenfell happening.

Two years on since Grenfell, nothing much has changed….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Police/Fire, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CEN) Church attendance continues to decline

The downward trend in attendance at Church of England services continued in 2018 despite ‘A Church Near You’, the Church’s local church-finder website, receiving more than 38.5 million page views in the last year.

The recently released 2018 Ministry Statistics showed that most key measures of attendance fell by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent from 2008 to 2018.

However, the report explains that the overall pattern of gradual decline in attendance masks differences in experience in individual parishes over the past decade. In 10 per cent of parishes Usual Sunday Attendance has actually increased, while in 40 per cent of parishes attendance has decreased.

In the largest group, 50 per cent of parishes, there is insufficient evidence to form a clear conclusion about the trend.

A digital report for 2019 shows that the Church of England increased Advent and Christmas social media reach by 1.14 million from 2017, to 7.94 million, however Christmas attendance, which includes Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, fell in 2018, having risen steadily since 2013.

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

(Guardian) Churches in nightclubs and Anglican gyms: can the C of E win back city dwellers?

The Renewal and Reform programme has attracted controversy, in part because it has begun to spend the church’s huge investment fund – not just the return it generates – in order to establish new evangelical churches, often in the heart of cities. More than 100 new churches were announced last year in coastal areas, market towns and urban housing estates – a serious attempt to expand Anglicanism, while about 25 churches are closed each year.

Some, like St Peter’s in Brighton, have modernised the music, decor and ethos of old churches. Others have occupied secular buildings. For a time, the Harbour church in Portsmouth could be found in an old department store. In Swindon, plans are under way to turn a former Great Western Railway building into a large new place of worship. The Fountains in Bradford will soon take over an old nightclub complex, once home to less godly venues called Revolution, Tequila and Vibe. Gas Street is technically “St Luke’s”, but churchy names are falling out of fashion too.

The plan is to attract young people, in part by going to the city centres, where young people can be found. The next round of grants from the church’s Strategic Development Fund, part of the Renewal and Reform programme, will be explicitly devoted to projects that “are targeted on promoting church growth within the largest urban areas; and one or both of younger generations and poorer communities”. In effect, though everyone insists that the church has not forgotten the countryside, it means a focus for the future on the UK’s 75 largest cities and towns.

There are about 150 students at Gas Street on the night I visit. Worship starts at 8pm, before which they socialise over plates of paella from a giant pan. It is early in the term and some of them may be taking their first steps into the church, so the organisers asked me not to talk to people at random. Instead I am introduced to several regulars, including Crystal, who is certainly a fine example of how they can help some young people in need. Right now the church’s own needs are nearly as great, however. If they do not ignite an Anglican revival among young people in the next couple of decades, then these new city-centre ventures will be the last stand of the Church of England.

Read it all.

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

Bishop Alan Smith says society must not accept child gambling ‘crisis’ following report

Responding to the 2019 Young People and Gambling report which was published on Wednesday, Bishop Alan said:

“This new evidence from the Gambling Commission provides welcome and much-needed insight into the world of gambling that children are living in

“There continue to be 55,000 children classed as “problem gamblers” and a further 87,000 at risk. While this remains a national scandal, the Commission uses detached phrases such as: “The 2019 results do not represent a significant increase over time.”

“Tens of thousands of families could be living in a nightmare with their child’s level of gambling activity. When the average spend on gambling by children is £17 per week it is evidence of potential serious family finance problems….

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–What state is the Church of England in?

The Church of England statistics department released its Statistics for Mission report last week, quite a bit earlier than last year, and it is was not good news—though curiously there was almost no comment on it on the airwaves, in contrast to last year. We will be discussing this at the next meeting of the Archbishops’ Council, since in the end this is a major way in which we can assess whether or not policies for evangelism and discipleship are having any effect.

Overall, I think the headline things to note were:

a. that overall attendance continues to decline, and the pace of decline does not yet appeared to have slowed;

b. that, following a six-year trend in increased attendance at festivals, there was for 2018 a sharp decline. It is worth remembering that we have seen one-off anomalies before, and as the report comments, bad weather on a single occasion can affect the figures. What matters more than single statistics is longer-term trends;

c. that, nevertheless, there are dioceses where there appear to be consistent signs of growth and change.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Enquirers’ courses are attended mainly by churchgoers, statistics suggest

One third of Church of England churches run enquiry and “Christian basics” courses and two-thirds of these report that their courses are attended mainly by people who already go to church, new statistics suggest.

The figures have been collated for the first time at Church House, Westminster, in the Statistics for Mission 2018 report, published by the C of E’s Research and Statistics department.

Of the 13,003 churches that responded to this question, 34 per cent reported that they ran such courses (4400 churches). Of this group, 28 per cent ran courses that they had designed themselves; 28 per cent ran Alpha; 17 per cent ran the Pilgrim course; nine per cent ran Christianity Explored; and 30 per cent ran other courses, including Lent and confirmation classes.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) said that they were mainly attended by people who already attended church regularly. Ten per cent said that they were mainly attended by people who did not already attend regularly, and 19 per cent that they had equal numbers of church-goers and non-church-goers.

The Experiences of Ministry survey of 2011, completed by 2916 members of the clergy, found “an important association between the running of nurture courses and both forms of growth [spiritual and numerical]; growth is stronger when nurture courses are more frequently run.” Research by Dr Stephen Hunt published in 2001 found that 77 per cent of Alpha attendees were already churchgoers, although his sample size was small.

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

(Christian Today) Church of England’s digital reach grows as service attendance continues to fall

Record numbers of people are seeking Christian contemplation and reflection through the Church of England’s apps and social media platforms, but service attendance continues to struggle, new figures have revealed.

Apps that allow users to pray the ancient ‘Daily Office’ of morning, evening and night prayer were used 4.2 million times on Apple devices alone in the last 12 months, up by 446,000 on the year before.

In addition to the apps, millions more are engaging with prayers, reflections and other posts from the Church of England through social media.

According to figures in its 2019 digital report, the Church of England now has an average monthly reach on social media of 3.6 million.

Read it all.

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

(CEN) Peter Brierley–Anglican evangelicals in focus

On their Census form clergy were invited to tick different boxes. Many Anglican Evangelicals, 49 per cent, ticked both “Broad” and “Evangelical” in 1990, but such had dropped to 29 per cent by 2010 and are likely to be only 12 per cent by 2030 if present trends continue. Also in 1990, a third of all Anglican Evangelicals, 35 per cent, ticked “Charismatic” as well as “Evangelical.” Anglican Charismatic Evangelicals have remained about the same proportion since (39 per cent in 2010 and 31 per cent probably in 2030), perhaps partly because the meaning of “charismatic” has changed, some formerly Charismatic churches now simply calling themselves Evangelical.

The third group of Evangelicals, outside the Broad and Charismatic, are called “Mainstream” Evangelical in the early reports, simply to save confusion with the other two groups (ministers simply ticking the one word “Evangelical” on the Census form). The word was used before the Mainstream Anglican group came into being, although as it happens probably many of the churches in the two groups would be the same. Many would now prefer the word “Conservative” to “Mainstream”, which may or may not fit theological definitions!

It is, however, this group which is growing among the Anglicans. The Mainstream Evangelical Anglicans were only16 per cent of all Evangelical Anglicans in 1990, but had doubled in proportion to 33 per cent by 2010, and they could be almost three-fifths, 58 per cent, of the total by 2030. It is the Mainstream Evangelicals which are also growing in most of the other denominations, especially the Baptists, Independent ch urches and the Pentecostals.

Read it all (subscription).

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

(Premiere) Bishops push for better support for women released from prison

The Bishop of Newcastle, together with the Bishop of Gloucester, hosted an event in the House of Lords on Tuesday 15 October to highlight the importance of finding suitable accommodation for women released from prison.

The event, supported by the Church Commissioners and Dame Caroline Spelman MP, brought together people and organisations from across the country who work with women in prison, in the community through Women’s Centres, housing providers and MPs. The event showcased powerful examples of how people are working to drive change for disadvantaged women.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Women

(First Things) Carl Trueman–Humble John Henry Newman

Dan Hitchens recently described Newman as “a literary and theological genius.” That he certainly was. For years, I have told students who want to improve their prose that they need to read three great English writers: William Hazlitt, George Orwell, and Cardinal Newman. No less a connoisseur of literary elegance than James Joyce, speaking through Stephen Dedalus, declared Newman to be the greatest of all English prose stylists.

But for all of the dazzling brilliance of the sermons and the Apologia, his writings do vary dramatically in quality. His novels are mediocre, replete with cardboard characters and dreary, didactic speechifying. Callista has some curiosity value as a Christian novel set in the third century, but only Loss and Gain has remained consistently in print; and that, I suspect, is not because of its literary merit but because of its trite apologetic for Rome. As for Newman’s theology, the Development and the Grammar certainly represent serious and influential contributions to religious thought. Yet Tract XC remains one of the most self-serving and embarrassing pieces of historical and theological tosh ever penned by an otherwise intelligent person. Not even the author found his arguments cogent or persuasive—why should anyone else do so?

Yet Protestants, as I have written elsewhere, should read Newman and take him seriously, particularly his thoughts on doctrinal development and on Christianity as a dogmatic faith. But there are other reasons to study his work. While it may seem paradoxical to say this, his very lack of originality is also one of his great contributions to the Christian faith.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

(Yorkshire Post) Former cancer research scientist takes top job at York Minster

York Minster has appointed a former cancer research scientist as its new Canon Precentor.

The Reverend Canon Dr Vicky Johnson will be charged with helping to deliver worship and music and will take up the post in January.

Currently serving as Residentiary Canon at Ely Cathedral, she will succeed York Minster’s Rev Canon Peter Moger, who is moving to a new role in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Upon her arrival, Dr Johnson will lead the cathedral’s liturgy and music team, supporting the work of the director of music and the 48 choristers and 12 adult singers of the York Minster Choir.

She will also seek to develop music outreach in the community over the coming years.

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

(America) One man, two churches: John Henry Newman’s legacy lives on for both Catholics and Anglicans

What is the significance of the Anglican Communion including John Henry Newman on its liturgical calendar?

John Henry Newman has been commemorated in the liturgical calendar of the Church of England for a number of years. There is no central sanctorale for the entire Anglican Communion, but he is also commemorated in the calendars of other provinces, among them the U.S., Canada and Australia. The Churches of the Anglican Communion do not have a tradition of canonization as it is understood in the Catholic Church, but they do have liturgical calendars that mark and honor the lives and legacy of holy men and women, including many from the period after the Reformation.

As someone who was an important figure in the development of the life of the Church of England in the 19th century, as well as a figure of prayer, holiness and dedication to Christ, Newman is an example of godly life. As is most common with commemorations of holy men and women the date of his commemoration in the Church of England calendar is Aug. 11, the date of his death.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

(WSJ) John Garvey: John Henry Newman–A New Saint for the Age of Loneliness

I spend a lot of time with young adults in my job, and the results don’t surprise me. I often observe young couples out on dates, looking at their cellphones rather than each other. I see students walking while wearing earbuds, oblivious to passersby. Others spend hours alone watching movies on Netflix or playing videogames. The digital culture in which young people live pushes them toward a kind of solipsism that must contribute to their loneliness.

“No one, man nor woman, can stand alone; we are so constituted by nature,” Newman writes, noting our need to cultivate genuine relations of friendship. Social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter connect people, but it’s a different sort of connection than friendship. The self one presents on Facebook is inauthentic, someone living an idealized life unlike one’s daily reality. Interaction online is more akin to Kabuki theater than genuine human relations.

When young people do connect face to face, it’s often superficial, thanks in part to dating and hookup apps like Tinder and Bumble. Cigna’s study found that 43% of participants feel their relationships are not meaningful. Little wonder, if relationships are formed when two people decide to swipe right on their phones.

Cardinal Newman never married, but warm, sincere, and lasting friendships—the kind that we so seldom form through digital interactions—gave his life richness. He cultivated them with his neighbors in Oxford and, after his conversion to Catholicism, at the Birmingham Oratory. He sustained them in his correspondence, some 20,000 letters filling 32 volumes.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic