Category : Church of England (CoE)

(DM) British couples shun church ceremonies in favour of Instagram-friendly ‘farmyard weddings’ – with the number of barn nuptials doubling in 5 years

There are dozens of decisions to be made when planning a wedding including the cake, flowers, dress and all-important venue.

However it seems that British couples are opting to step away from the traditional church location and are instead embracing ‘farmyard weddings’ for their nuptials.

Couples are also shunning rooftops and glitzy urban hotels in favour of Instagram-friendly venues – complete with bridal wellies and glamping guests.

New research by John Lewis revealed the number of ceremonies held in barns or on farms has doubled in five years, accounting for one in eight weddings, compared to one in 15 in 2014.

Read it all.

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

(ACNS) Archbishop Ian Ernest of Mauritius appointed Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Bishop of Mauritius and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean, is to become the Archbishop of Canterbury’s next Personal Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He will take up his new role towards the end of the year following an official Papal Visit to Mauritius by Pope France in September.

In his current role, Archbishop Ian has worked closely with his Roman Catholic counterpart, the Bishop of Port Louis, Cardinal Maurice Piat. The two have written joint statements on environmental and social issues and have delivered joint Christmas messages for Mauritian television.

The two co-lead one of the top schools on the Mauritian island of Rodrigues, the ecumenical Rodrigues College, which was formed in 1973 by the merger of St Louis Roman Catholic School and St Barnabas Anglican School. When Archbishop Ian’s mandate as Archbishop and Primate of the Indian Ocean was renewed in 2012, he invited a Roman Catholic priest to preach the sermon.

“I feel deeply honoured and humbled by this appointment”, Archbishop Ian said. “It is a calling from God which I accept with all humility. I will try my best to honour this calling and to honour the office.

“I look forward to working in close collaboration with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Indian Ocean

(Church of England) Statement on IICSA report from members of House of Bishops

From there:

A statement from members of the House of Bishops in response to The Anglican Church Case Studies IICSA report:

“We write on behalf of the whole House following the publication last week of the IICSA report into the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. We recognise that the publication of this report causes most hurt and concern to survivors themselves. It reopens wounds.

“At this week’s meeting of the House of Bishops, Archbishop Justin asked every one of us to read and study the full report in detail and we are absolutely committed to this. The Church has failed survivors and the report is very clear that the Church should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors. We are ashamed of our past failures, have been working for change but recognise the deep cultural change needed takes longer than we would like to achieve.

“We welcome the recommendations.

“The report will now go to the National Safeguarding Steering Group next month so the Church can formulate a detailed response to the findings and recommendations as we approach IICSA’s wider Church hearing in July. The lead bishop for safeguarding has been asked to report back to the House and to General Synod.

“It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report and act upon them”

Bishop Paul Butler
Bishop Christine Hardman
Bishop Peter Hancock
Bishop Sarah Mullally

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

The Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, is suspended from office for an alleged safeguarding failure

From there:

“Following information provided by the police, I [Justin Welby] have suspended the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson from office, having obtained the consent of the Bishops of Birmingham and Worcester (the two longest serving bishops in the Province of Canterbury). If these matters are found to be proven I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people. I would like to make it absolutely clear that there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult. The Bishop of Grimsby, David Court, will take on episcopal leadership of the diocese. It should be noted that suspension is a neutral act and nothing further can be said at this stage while matters are investigated. I ask for prayers for all affected by this matter.”

Commenting today the Bishop of Lincoln said: “I am bewildered by the suspension and will fully cooperate in this matter. For the sake of the diocese and the wider Church I would like this to be investigated as quickly as possible to bring the matter to a swift conclusion.”

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Martin Davie: What should Anglicans make of the new Methodist report on marriage and relationships?

…Secondly, however, they should also note that there are a number of central parts of the teaching of the Bible and the orthodox Christian tradition concerning sexuality and marriage that the report rejects or underplays:

  • God has created his human creatures as male and female and given them a command to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:26-28, Matthew 19:4).
  • God has ordained marriage as a permanent and exclusive relationship between one man and one woman as the sole legitimate context for sexual intercourse and as the appointed means for the procreation of children (Genesis 2:24, Genesis 4:1).
  • It is this form of marriage that bears witness to the love between God and his people in this world and to the eternal relationship between God and his people in the world to come (Hosea, Ephesians 5:21-32, Revelation 19:7).
  • All forms of sexual activity outside of marriage, including same-sex relationships, are types of sexual activity that are contrary to God’s will for his people and exclude people from his kingdom (Leviticus 18:1-30, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
  • A sexual ethic involving sexual abstinence outside marriage and sexual faithfulness within it is an integral part of Christian discipleship (Matthew 5:27-30, Ephesians 5:3-14, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
  • Furthermore, because marriage is something created by God and not be human beings it is not something that human beings can change. What marriage is, is what God has ordained it to be. Consequently, the act of the British parliament in establishing same-sex marriage in 2013 has no validity from a Christian perspective.
  • God is a God of justice and love, but we reflect his justice and embody his love by living according to his will ourselves and encouraging others to the same. To love God is to obey his just commands (John 14:15, 15:9-10). [4]

Because these things are so, the claim in the Methodist report that God is calling the Methodist Church to affirm sexual relationships outside marriage and marriage between two people of the same sex must be wrong. It also has no support from the teaching of John Wesley who held an entirely biblical and orthodox view of sexual ethics.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Portsmouth News) Health in Mind: Portsmouth’s own mental health support network

Every year Portsmouth Cathedral runs a theme to engage with the local community and bases events, activities and available information around it.

And for 2019 Reverend Canon Peter Leonard, canon chancellor at the cathedral, felt that exploring both mental and physical health was appropriate. The Living Well theme was launched at the cathedral earlier this year with talks from the founder of the Mindful Employer scheme, Richard Frost, and mental health advocate and comedian Ruby Wax.

Essentially the cathedral is acting as a safe place that will signpost people to services that can help. Throughout the year more talks, activities and events will be held to consider how to look after all aspects of our wellbeing.

Rev Canon Leonard, who was acting dean at the cathedral last year, explained more. He said: ‘It started in 2018. I had a number of conversations with people, including members of the public and council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson and MP Stephen Morgan, because I wanted to make sure our theme was really relevant to people in Portsmouth.

‘The sense was that mental health was a key issue for the city. We wanted something that looked at mental health in a positive way and the team came up with Living Well, which is not just about people being ill but how do you live well and look after your mental and physical health.

‘People come into the cathedral to look after their spiritual needs but if your physical and mental needs aren’t being met then that doesn’t matter.’

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

([London] Times) Bp Graham Tomlin–Prayer can help us to produce a better kind of politics

Take the Lord’s Prayer. When I pray, “Our Father in Heaven,” I am acknowledging that there is something, someone higher than me, higher even than the social norms we happen to favour at present, to whom I am answerable and will one day give account. Praying, “Thy kingdom come,” makes me imagine a social order that is more just and fair than the one we have now, yet guards me against any sense that it is solely down to me to bring it about at whatever cost to my enemies, or even my friends. “Thy will be done,” helps me recall that it’s not about what’s good for me — it provokes examination of heart and motive that can help me to recognise when I am on some kind of power trip to advance my own career or glory. When I pray, “Forgive us our sins,” it makes me realise that I can get things wrong and need to be suitably humble with my opinions and convictions.

Prayer reminds me that my opponents are people too, that they deserve respect even if I think they are profoundly wrong. It tells me of my need to forgive those who “sin against us”.

Praying, “Give us this day our daily bread,” gives us notice that we have received so much that we do not deserve, cultivates a vital note of gratitude and a protection against the kind of hubris that thinks we did it all ourselves.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(EA Times) Grill a Christian events to be hosted in pub in East Anglia

A Suffolk bishop will be at one of two ‘Grill a Christian’ evenings being held in a Sudbury pub for people to ask questions about life and faith.

The two evenings are being hosted in the White Horse pub in North Street from 7pm to 9pm on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 when a local mission team and ministers will get quizzed.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture

(FT) Companies asked to come clean on climate lobbying

Susana Penarrubia, head of environmental, social and governance (ESG) integration at German fund manager DWS, says it too has questioned companies on their lobbying activities and plans to step this up for fossil fuel companies. “I am concerned,” she explains.

The 2015 Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises to below 2C from pre-industrial levels, along with other initiatives that push for more disclosure on climate risks, have placed the topic firmly on the agenda for investors.

Union Investment, the €323bn German asset manager, was among a group of European investors that last month wrote to 56 companies, asking them how they work with trade associations on ESG issues.

This followed a move by a group of investors with total assets of $2tn, led by the Church of England Pensions Board and Swedish pension fund AP7, which in October wrote to 55 European companies challenging them on their seemingly inconsistent approach to climate lobbying.

Read it all.

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

(C of E) English cathedrals celebrate £8m National Lottery funding boost

Four Church of England cathedrals have benefited from a cash injection of over £8m to help them engage with their communities through imaginative outreach, arts, heritage and learning projects, thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Today Leicester, Lichfield, Newcastle and Worcester Cathedrals announce awards from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a wide range of creative community-focussed projects, including bringing Worcester’s 12th century undercroft into public use as an imaginative learning hub and new city venue, and creating a sacred space for all to enjoy in Newcastle’s city centre.

The news follows a huge international reaction to the fire at Notre Dame which showed something of the value of cathedrals to local and wider communities, as well as their vulnerability, and the need for securing long-term funding for repairs and restoration. Development projects like those funded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, remain crucial for all of the Church of England’s cathedrals.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(Premier) Paul Blackham–Richard Bewes (1934-2019) RIP: An outstanding preacher who loved the Word of God

Richard Bewes was one of the most outstanding preachers, Bible teachers and Church leaders of our age.

Through his books, sermons, hymns and video series he opened up the Bible to show us the Lord Jesus and the great adventure of Church life with him.

Richard was most of all a mighty preacher. Others gave good lectures on the Bible, full of accurate information and solid content, but Richard’s sermons were always so much more than that. He worked so hard at getting the Bible right and would never be satisfied until that truth was shown off in bright, warm and living colours.

He was loved by so many because he cared about people so much. Many of us were drawn into Church life because Richard spoke with integrity, compassion and warmth. He was always looking above and beyond the current fads and conflicts to the Kingdom of God over all the empires and ages. He loved the book of Daniel because it portrays the Kingdom as a stone that becomes a mountain and covers the whole world. He always lifted our vision to the heroic and colourful characters of Church history, all over the world, on every continent. No one could tell stories the way Richard did!

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) ‘Secrecy and prevarication’: IICSA indicts C of E safeguarding record

For decades, the Church of England repeatedly and seriously failed to respond to allegations of child sex abuse made against clerics and churchpeople, the official abuse inquiry has concluded.

It also failed to implement safeguarding structures to protect children and vulnerable adults who “should have been safe” under its care.

These conclusions are included in the report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), Anglican Church Case Studies: the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against Peter Ball, published on Thursday.

The 252-page report summarises the thousands of documents, witness statements, and oral evidence given during two public hearings in London in March and July 2018. The hearings used the diocese, and the case of the disgraced former Bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball, as case studies to examine the extent to which the Church of England as a whole failed to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse over several decades.

In both the diocese and the wider Church, the report states: “The responses to child sexual abuse were marked by secrecy, prevarication, avoidance of reporting alleged crimes to the authorities and a failure to take professional advice.”

This includes the Church’s “unwavering support of Peter Ball” during the Gloucestershire Police investigation (allegations about Ball came to light when he was translated to from Lewes to Gloucester), and its failure afterwards to “recognise or acknowledge the seriousness” of Ball’s misconduct.

The report comments specifically on the evidence given by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, on the case, whose response is described as “weak”. His “compassion” towards Ball did not extend to the victims, it says.

Read it all.

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

(Guardian) Church of England put reputation above abuse victims’ needs, inquiry finds

The Church of England put its own reputation above the needs of victims of sexual abuse, with a serious failure of leadership by the former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, in its handling of the case of a bishop who eventually went to prison, an official inquiry has concluded.

It also found that Prince Charles and other members of the establishment were misguided in their expressions of support of Peter Ball as he battled the accusations.

Ball, a former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, was jailed in 2015, more than 20 years after allegations were made against him that were largely ignored or downplayed by the church. Ball accepted a police caution in 1993 and resigned as bishop but was allowed to continue officiating in the C of E.

Ball “seemed to relish contact with prominent and influential people”, a 250-page report published on Thursday by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) said. He “sought to use his relationship with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to further his campaign to return to unrestricted ministry”.

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

(Northern Echo) Leaders find 72 reasons why Church of England is growing

Bishop Thorpe said: “The Church of England is a church that can grow and so we want to be encouraging churches to think about how they can grow.

“This whole program is about taking a step back, working with church leaders to see how can we be part of a strategy in the Diocese to begin to invest in growth, rather than in some of the decline that we’ve seen, and that’s a challenge. But there are churches that are good at growing and we want to get right behind that and see it happen more and more.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

The Church of England releases its Working party report into the Ministry of Confession

It was important for the group to gather as much evidence as it could around the use of the confessional and the specificity of ‘the seal’. By the very nature of the subject this was not an easy task. Confessors could not break the confidentiality of matters shared with them. Those using the opportunity of making confession are not necessarily willing to share their story. However, the group did obtain significant input from those who exercise the ministry of hearing confessions, some from those who have experienced the abuse and misuse of the confessional and reflections from those who value the discipline of sacramental confession.

The evidence is clear that there have been priests, acting as confessors, who have misused and abused their position to exercise dominant power over those making confession, and in some cases seriously abusing those who had placed their trust in them. This is deeply disturbing and clearly wrong.

The evidence is also clear that there are many who have been abused and maltreated who have found the confessional and the confidentiality of it a significant place and space of safety in which to share their story, and have false guilt dealt with. This is therefore clearly of deep value.

In wrestling with the way forward the group had to recognise both realities and weigh up the contrasting evidence. The significant weight of evidence lay in the use of the confessional as a place of safety for those who have been abused rather than a place from which a priest abused their position to commit abuse.

Read it all.

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

A Guardian Interview with activist the Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain

“In the past decade or so, I have seen and spoken to lots of young people who are trying to reconcile their sexuality and their faith, who end up self-harming, attempting suicide or who suffer with depression and mental illness,” says Foreshew-Cain. “Because if you believe God is condemning you for your essential being and that you have got to be something other than you are, where does that leave you?” He pauses. “Lizzie wasn’t the only one, and she won’t be the last.”

Statements from the most senior figures in the C of E have done little to ease his concerns. Welby, who recently announced that same-sex partners would not be invited to the Lambeth conference in 2020, while heterosexual spouses would, said he was pained by his decision and regretted the conflicts racking the church.

“Honestly, a lot of us in the queer community are very fed up with straight, white, cisgendered men talking about their suffering when they are inflicting it on other people,” says Foreshew-Cain. “It’s a bit like an abusive partner hitting you and saying: ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’”

The picture he paints is one of disorder, barely held together by a carefully cultivated ambiguity among the church’s top brass: bishops who quietly voice support for same-sex marriage behind closed doors vote against any liberalisation towards gay and lesbian clergy in the synod, he claims. Parishioners, tired of the endless debates, are abandoning a church at odds with itself. And young Anglicans, hoping to find acceptance and often succeeding in local parishes, are finding institutional debates about their place the source of intense pain.

Foreshew-Cain is sceptical that much will change – at least not until the conclusion of the next Lambeth conference in 2020. But a reckoning will come, and it seems the point of compromise is long past. “These campaigns are not going to go away. Gay people in the church are not going to go away. And the moral question mark over the integrity of the church is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more intense.”

Read it all.

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

Next Bishop of Norwich announced

Following the announcement, Bishop Graham will tour the Diocese this afternoon, including visits to a local housing trust, a primary school garden and outdoor reflective space, a church after-school club run by volunteers, and culminating in a special Evensong at Norwich Cathedral to which everyone is invited.

On his appointment, Bishop Graham said:

“It’s a great honour and somewhat daunting to be nominated as Bishop of Norwich. I’m excited to have been called to serve among the people of Norfolk and Waveney as together we seek to live out Jesus Christ’s call to love God and our neighbours.

“A theme of God’s calling in my life is that each new chapter has been to a new and unexpected place. The Diocese of Norwich is equally a new and unexpected place for me, and what a wonderful privilege it is to be called to serve here.

“I see the role of a bishop as encouraging others to live out their faith in Jesus Christ with a generosity of spirit and compassion, bringing people together to serve their neighbours in partnership with others.”

The Acting Bishop of Norwich, the Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Revd Alan Winton said:

“As a senior staff team we are delighted with the nomination of Bishop Graham Usher to be the next Bishop of Norwich, and we look forward to welcoming him and his family to their new home in the Diocese.

“The new Bishop Graham brings significant experience, skills and enthusiasm from ministry in York, Newcastle and Worcester Dioceses. We look forward to working with him in supporting and developing the mission and ministry of God’s church here in Norfolk and Waveney. Please pray for Graham and his family as they prepare for their move to Norwich this summer.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(The Lincolnite) Former Bishops of Lincoln ignored abuse claims, investigation finds

Two former Bishops of Lincoln “turned a blind eye” to alleged abuse cases and did not report them to police until decades later, a BBC Panorama investigation…[revealed yesterday].

A list of 53 Lincoln Diocese clergy and staff was also eventually referred to the police in 2015, eight years after a review into past safeguarding disclosures was announced.

The Church of England Past Cases Review which examined thousands of records in 2008 and 2009, including some child abuse cases, found that some names could have been referred years earlier.

The police investigation that followed resulted in the conviction of three people….

Read it all.

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

A C of E Response to the BBC Panorama programme aired today

From there:

Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop said: “It has been harrowing to hear survivors’ accounts of their abuse – shared on BBC Panorama – and we issue an unreserved apology for how we have failed them. We acknowledge that the Past Cases Review, PCR, from 2008-10, however well-intentioned was in hindsight clearly flawed, as shown in the independent scrutiny report by Sir Roger Singleton published last summer. The ‘stringent criticisms’ of the PCR, shared with IICSA, are being acted upon and all dioceses are now carrying out a second past cases review, PCR2. We fully acknowledge that it was a serious mistake not to work with and hear from survivors during the original PCR. The new review will ensure survivors voices are heard. We are aware of the courage it takes for survivors to come forward knowing that the effects of their abuse are with them for life.

I would urge anyone affected by the Panorama programme to call the NSPCC helpline number 0808 800 5000.”

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

(Spectator) Julie Burchill–Our churches aren’t perfect, but if we lose them we will all be worse off

In Britain, Christianity is merely being disappeared — from the police arresting an elderly African street preacher for ‘breach of the peace’ in London this year (his cry of ‘Don’t take my Bible!’ as a pair of strapping plods handcuffed him was heartrending) to our refusal to give sanctuary to Asia Bibi lest it upset certain Christian-hating ‘communities’.

In France, already the usual suspects are suggesting that the new Notre Dame should have ‘multi-faith’ elements — minarets, to be specific — which I’ll be up for the day I see a new multi-faith mosque.

It would be a shame for all of us if we lost the values of the Reformation — ironically, it would be worst for those who are currently cheerleading for the rise of other more repressive religions.

At the service I went to on Easter Sunday, there was no mention by the vicar of the massacre in Sri Lanka, which made me dislike that turn-the-other-cheek thing even more. But I’ll keep going back, because the churches will go from us if we don’t go to them. And what comes after them will not be better.

Read it all.

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

The 2019 Easter Sermon from the Bishop of Sheffield

This takes us to the heart of John’s extraordinary Easter message. The thing John celebrates in the resurrection and imminent ascension of the Lord Jesus is the restoration, and the transformation, of relationships. In this case, it’s his relationship with Mary: as he speaks her name and she replies, ‘Dear Rabbi’, their relationship is restored; as he then commissions her to be what the Orthodox Church calls the apostle to the apostles, taking the good news of the resurrection to the other disciples, their relationship is transformed.

And it’s clear from the errand entrusted to Mary that Jesus’ relationships with those other disciples are also about to be restored and transformed. The Lord tells her, ‘Go to my brothers’. Do you know that’s the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus has referred to them that way? Previously, Jesus has called them his servants, and even his friends. But his death and resurrection have so restored and transformed relationships that he now refers to his disciples as his brothers. Again, Jesus has spoken often in this gospel of ‘the Father’ and even of ‘my Father’. ‘My Father and I are one’ he said, ‘My Father is still working and I am working’. ‘I have come in my Father’s name’. But right here is the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus has referred to God as ‘your Father’. Again, until this moment Jesus has never spoken of the Father as ‘your God’. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, relationships are not just restored, but transformed: Jesus’ God becomes ‘our God’, his Father becomes ‘our Father’.

And sure enough in the rest of the gospel we will see Jesus’ relationships with his brothers restored and transformed: restored, as he invites sceptical Thomas to see and even to touch his wounds; and transformed as he then commissions him, with the other disciples, in those words ‘As the Father sent me so I send you’; restored, as he gently asks Peter, three times over, ‘Do you love me?’ (once for each denial); and transformed as he then commissions him, equally gently, to feed his sheep (once for each denial).

I must stop. You know, if it wasn’t for the first Easter Day, no one would ever have dreamed of celebrating the Christmas. If it wasn’t for the Lord’s resurrection, there’s no way we’d celebrate his nativity.

So why celebrate the resurrection? According to John, it’s because in and it through it, we become brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus; in it and through it, we find that Jesus’ God is our God, his Father is our Father. In it and through it, our relationships with the Living God are first restored and then transformed, as we first hear the Risen Lord calling us by name, and then hear him commissioning us to share the good news with others.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Today’s Prayer from the Church of England

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

Tom Wright–The Church must stop trivialising Easter

Jesus of Nazareth was certainly dead by the Friday evening; Roman soldiers were professional killers and wouldn’t have allowed a not-quite-dead rebel leader to stay that way for long. When the first Christians told the story of what happened next, they were not saying: “I think he’s still with us in a spiritual sense” or “I think he’s gone to heaven”. All these have been suggested by people who have lost their historical and theological nerve.

The historian must explain why Christianity got going in the first place, why it hailed Jesus as Messiah despite His execution (He hadn’t defeated the pagans, or rebuilt the Temple, or brought justice and peace to the world, all of which a Messiah should have done), and why the early Christian movement took the shape that it did. The only explanation that will fit the evidence is the one the early Christians insisted upon – He really had been raised from the dead. His body was not just reanimated. It was transformed, so that it was no longer subject to sickness and death.

Let’s be clear: the stories are not about someone coming back into the present mode of life. They are about someone going on into a new sort of existence, still emphatically bodily, if anything, more so. When St Paul speaks of a “spiritual” resurrection body, he doesn’t mean “non-material”, like a ghost. “Spiritual” is the sort of Greek word that tells you,not what something is made of, but what is animating it. The risen Jesus had a physical body animated by God’s life-giving Spirit. Yes, says St Paul, that same Spirit is at work in us, and will have the same effect – and in the whole world.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Theology

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.

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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.

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