Category : Provinces Other Than TEC

(Church Times) Don’t bother with a funeral for me, say majority of poll respondents

Fewer than half (47 per cent) of respondents to a new poll say that they would like a funeral.

The poll of 2569 was commissioned by the thinktank Theos and carried out by YouGov in July. The authors of Theos’s report on the polling, Love, Grief, and Hope: Emotional responses to death and dying in the UK, Madeleine Pennington and Nathan Mladin, speak of a “significant realignment in British grieving practices”. They warn of the potential for a “significant pastoral gap left in the wake of a decline in formal funeral ceremonies”, and that funerals could become a “luxury or niche requirement for a few”….

In total, 24 per cent of respondents said that they did not want a funeral, while 28 per cent were not sure or did not know. Financial factors influenced the responses: 13 per cent of respondents who did not want a funeral said that this was because they did not have enough money saved.

The commonest response was: “I think the money could be better spent another way” (67 per cent); followed by “I don’t see the point” (55 per cent); and “I don’t want a traditional service” (43 per cent).

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Transformed Leicester Cathedral reopens

Leicester Cathedral, closed for two years for its Revealed project, involving a complete upgrading of its infrastructure, [reopened] on Sunday November 26th].

The project was viewed as more urgent in light of a tenfold increase in visitors since King Richard III’s tomb was created in 2015…. The exterior of the cathedral has been made good, and the interior, which was essentially still that of the Victorian city-centre church of St Martin’s, though its origins went back to at least the 12th century, has been transformed.

Repairs to crumbling stonework on the south side have included the restoration of the parapets and the rebuilding of the buttresses and some of the facing stones.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) Archbishop of York backs experimental services of blessing for same-sex couples

The General Synod is to vote on whether stand-alone services of blessing for same-sex couples should be authorised immediately for experimental use rather than first undergoing a full synodical process.

The move would effectively reverse a decision made in the House of Bishops last month…, but seems to be supported by both archbishops.

A total of 13 amendments have been tabled to the motion to be tabled by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, on Tuesday afternoon, which recognises both the uncertainty surrounding the implementation of Prayers of Love and Faith for same-sex couples, and the progress that has already been made. The Synod’s agreement in February…to commend the prayers has since been challenged by those who want the decision to be removed from the Bishops and given to the Synod.

The Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, has tabled an amendment asking the Bishops “to consider whether some stand-alone services for same-sex couples could be made available for use, possibly on a trial basis, on the timescale envisaged by the motion passed by the Synod in February 2023”.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

The November 2023 General Synod Joint Presidential Address from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Where we are right now, is not where any of us would like to be.

But I continue to believe that we can find a way of living in love and faith.

Furthermore, I stand by the statements I made in February. There will need to be some sort of provision. But just as the way forward that is being proposed is pastoral, and in my view does not mean a change in the Church of England’s doctrine of Holy Matrimony, so I believe the reassurance and provision that we need should be pastoral. This is why I will be supporting the amendment being put forward by the Bishop of Oxford because, as things stand, I am concerned that clergy using the commended prayers might find themselves vulnerable to a legal challenge if their use of the prayers looks to someone else to be a standalone service.

Something that allows standalone services for an experimental period seems to me to be a sensible and pastoral way forward. It gives clergy and parishes who want to use the Prayers of Love and Faith the legal protection they need. And because this will be on an opt-in basis, clergy and parishes who in good conscience won’t use the prayers will be under no compunction or compulsion so to do, nor will they be disadvantaged in any way by their decision.

We will, of course, need further discussions about how this provision continues to run through all that we are proposing. I’m sure the Bishop of London will say more about this when we get to that bit of our agenda. I also recognise that the pastoral guidance that is such a key component in this work should not be thought of as a fixed entity but a body of guidance that will evolve.

But my purpose in this address is not to anticipate the debate. Rather, it is to ask us to lift our eyes above the debate to see Jesus.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church of England, Spirituality/Prayer

A prayer for Remembrance Sunday from the Church of England

Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted, either by death or life: hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all whom we remember this day; fulfill in them the purpose of your love; and bring us all, with them, to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church of England, Military / Armed Forces, Spirituality/Prayer

The November 20023 Statement From The Gafcon Primates Council

Conscious of the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, the Primates reaffirmed their commitment to the Jerusalem Statement of 2008, which describes Gafcon as ‘a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans have received it.’ The Jerusalem Statement rejects the proposition that authentic Anglicans are only those recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. On the contrary, the criteria of Anglican identity are outlined in the fourteen points of the Jerusalem Declaration which continue to define authentic Anglicanism, despite the abandonment of many of these features by those who purport to be Anglicans. We have witnessed over the past twenty-five years the slow, but relentless, moral decay in parts of the Anglican Communion where the world’s values have been endorsed and embraced, replacing the clear teaching of God’s word written.

We continue to affirm that we are not leaving the Anglican Communion. We are delighted to work with the Global South (GSFA) in the task of resetting the Communion, which was foreshadowed in the 2008 Jerusalem Statement, and explicitly declared in the Kigali Commitment of 2023. Given the failure of the so-called Instruments of Communion, we shall not be attending the 2024 Primates Meeting in Rome, convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and encourage all orthodox Primates to join us in this stand against those who support a revisionist agenda.

Furthermore, we encourage Gafcon Provinces to consider withdrawing all links with any English diocese whose bishop supports the proposals, currently before the General Synod,to sanction the blessing of same-sex couples. We also extend the right hand of fellowship to and support all bishops, clergy and laity who oppose these revisionist doctrines and courageously uphold the teaching of Christ on the sanctity of marriage as God has ordained it (Matthew 19:4-6). We especially commend those English bishops who have distanced themselves from the egregious recommendations of the House of Bishops.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, GAFCON, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

Almighty and eternal God,
you have kindled the flame of love
in the hearts of the saints:
grant to us the same faith and power of love,
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs,
we may be sustained by their example and fellowship;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church of England, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Management and mission: the Church of England is not a machine

How is it that the noun “mission” has come so to dominate the avalanche of Anglican reports and episcopal directives? It is oddly contentless, unlike the older word “evangelism”, which suggests that we have the good news of the gospel to impart. What is little understood is how this word has come to be shaped by modern management theory.

Successful managers, Lyndon Shakespeare writes, are “makers of worlds by the use of words”, and those words must have particular qualities: “low in definition and direct reference, vague and mysterious in terms of precise content, easy to say, vivid and radical sounding in metaphorical and imagistic terms”. Two key terms that theorists employ for such world-making are “mission” and “vision”, and readers hardly need to be reminded of the recent use of these words in the Vision and Strategy documents.

The distinction between the two terms is that the vision gives the organisation direction and meaning, while the mission strategy points to how it will realise its purpose. The Church of England, however, while embracing managerialism with an unholy hospitality, has confused mission and vision so that mission has displaced the vision to become an end in itself. Every single facet of our lives as Christians is held to be for the sake of mission, and is subsumed in utilitarian fashion to this end.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(Church Times) Second Commissioner responds to MPs’ questions on Prayers of Love and Faith

The LLF steering group is chaired by the the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, and the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen.

In response to the question from Sir Ben and Mr Gibson “what physical acts the Church refers to when teaching that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is forbidden”, Mr Selous — who represents the Church Commissioners in Parliament — responded: “The Living in Love and Faith process has always sought to recognise that the expression of sexual intimacy between two people cannot be reduced to a small set of defined actions.”

A further question asked whether a “letter threatening legal action” had been sent to the Bishops between the meetings of the College and the House, to which Mr Selous responded that “several items of correspondence were received over this period from a number of groups with different views, reflecting differing legal and theological opinions, as is widely in the public domain.

“Some offered a legal opinion on the routes of commendation or authorisation for the Prayers of Love and Faith, but I am not aware that any directly threatened the recipients with legal action.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(NYT) Students on the Run, Schools Taken by Troops and a Generation’s Catastrophe

The young girls and boys, wearing colorful scarves, tattered shirts and flip-flops, ran across the dusty ground to form jagged lines and face the teachers at the start of the school day.

The children, hundreds of them gathered in makeshift classrooms, had arrived in this aid camp in recent months after fleeing the war in their homeland of Sudan. But even as they began to gain a sense of normalcy in their schooling, many were still burdened with memories of the vicious conflict they endured, which had left loved ones dead and their homes destroyed.

“We know that pain is lasting inside their hearts,” said Mujahid Yaqub, a 23-year-old who fled Sudan and now teaches English at the school in the Wedwil refugee center, in Aweil in South Sudan. Many of the children, he said, were unable to focus in class and often cried over the memories of their terrifying escape from shellings and massacres.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Sudan, Violence

(Tablet) Archbishop warns of mental health consequences of conflict

In his address to the conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke about his own personal struggle with depression. He noted that the all-island Mind Matters research in Ireland had shown that 46 per cent of the 290 clergy surveyed felt not enough was being done to support their mental health.

He highlighted how the poverty, war and instability faced by people in the Global South contributes significantly to poor mental health while in the Global North “there is powerlessness, there is helplessness” in the face of the constant news about conflict in places like Ukraine and the Middle East and this contributed to poor mental health.

“We are better off than we have ever been in the past, yet there is a much higher level of mental illness in the economically prosperous world than elsewhere particularly among young people.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Health & Medicine, Israel, Middle East, Psychology, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(Southwark news) Walworth cafe and bakery moves into church crypt

A Walworth bakery and cafe is baking its loaves from the bowels of a Georgian church after saying its rent became unaffordable.

Independent eatery Louie Louie has renamed itself Saint Louie after relocating to the crypt inside St Peter’s Church, on Sunday, October 15.

The cafe’s owners have said they are “delighted” by the move and that its products will be cheaper thanks to a more affordable rent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry

The GFSA Anglican Orthodox Leaders Meeting Communique


9. To press on in resetting theCommunion according to its biblical & historical roots:

a) The Anglican world has changed so dramatically in the last century. In 1900, about 80% of the Communion lived in England. Today, about 75%of Anglicans are estimated to live in Global South countries. The demographics have changed, and sadly in our day the theology of many bishops in the Church of England has also changed towards revisionism. We need new wineskins for a new reality.

b) On the 9th of October 2023, the Church of England House of Bishops signalled their intent to commend prayers of blessing for same sex couples. Despite all that is happening, we as orthodox leaders are very encouraged to see orthodox groupings within the Church of England beginning to collectively stand against this revisionism in their Church. We applaud the 12 bishops in the Church of England who have indicated that they are unable to support the decision by their House of Bishops, and we will uphold them in our prayers. We will stand with orthodox Anglicans in England both now and going forward.

c) We lament with tears all that has happened to the historic ‘mother church’ of the communion, and continue to pray for her restoration. At the same time, orthodox Anglican churches and entities will press on with the work God has given us to do as he renews the fallen creation through the finished work of Jesus Christ our Lord.

d) In relation to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other instruments of communion, we affirm the Ash Wednesday Statement and the Kigali Statement.

10. As orthodox Primates, we reaffirm our adherence to Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of 1998 in full, both in moral teaching and pastoral care. We recognise this resolution as the official teaching of the Anglican Communion on marriage and sexuality and urge that renewed steps be taken to encourage all provinces to abide by this doctrine in the faith, order, and practice.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

New Dean of Newcastle installed in ceremony at Newcastle Cathedral

A new Church of England Dean of Newcastle has been installed at Newcastle Cathedral.

Faith leaders, civic dignitaries, family and friends gathered at a service at the cathedral on Saturday (October 14) for the formal collation, induction and installation of the Reverend Canon Lee Batson. The service was presided over by the current Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley.

The Very Reverend Lee Batson, 45, from Essex, succeeds the Very Reverend Dr Jane Hedges, who served as interim Dean following the retirement of The Very Reverend Geoff Miller in November last year.- Prior to his appointment in the North East, Rev. Batson served as Team Rector of the Epping Team Ministry and held positions as Area Dean and World Church Partnership Officer in the Chelmsford Diocese, where he forged strong ties with the Anglican Church in Kenya.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(BBC) War poet Wilfred Owen honoured with Oxfordshire glass window

In 1911, he came to the village to be a lay assistant to the vicar and a year later he assisted at the funerals of a mother and child who were killed in a horse-and-cart accident.

The tragedy inspired Owen to write Deep Under Turfy Grass which has inspired the stained glass window, which was installed on Thursday.

Oxford Diocese granted All Saints Church the faculty to install the art piece, following a successful fundraising campaign by local people.

Church vicar Robert Thewsey, with the active support of the congregation, has supported the Dunsden Owen Association with the crowdfunding.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature

(Church Times) Clergy well-being: the smoke before the burnout

The social psychologist Christina Maslach has described burnout as “an erosion of the soul caused by a deterioration of one’s values, dignity, spirit, and will”.

The chief executive of the Guild of Health and St Raphael, the Revd Dr Gillian Straine, lists its symptoms: “Emotional exhaustion, loss of empathy. You want to be alone. You fantasise that you’re somewhere else. You feel unwell, pessimistic, irritable, overwhelmed. You don’t care any more.”

Burnout is common in the caring professions. But, she says, “there are certain things in the Church that make clergy more susceptible — and increase their suffering.”

She recalls a day on healing ministry organised by a diocese when five clergymen approached her to talk about depression. Two had imagined taking their own life, she says, and a third had made plans to do so.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Church of England, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Stress

Recovery grant gives St John’s Ryhall a new lease of life

A Covid-19 recovery grant from Historic England kickstarted a major new lease of life and a successful fundraising drive for further renewal at a village church.

St John’s Ryhall, a Grade 1 listed building in the Diocese of Peterborough, had 28 roof leaks, blocked drains and was damp and cold.

An earlier fundraising drive was cancelled due to Covid-19, while bad winter weather had exacerbated existing damage.

The church was awarded £11,000 from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of the Government’s Culture Recovery fund, to help sites hit by Covid-19, to repair its drains, pipes and gutters on its roof.

Rainwater was damaging the walls, and repair work was vital before roof renovation could take place.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Politics in General

(Church Times) Archbishops’ Council is retraumatising us, says group of abuse survivors

Ten survivors of church-based abuse have written to the Archbishops’ Council criticising their treatment after the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) was disbanded.

On Sunday evening, a letter was sent to the council by ten of the 12 people who had been awaiting a review of their cases by the ISB when it was disbanded without warning (News, 21 June). They write: “In the period since you closed the ISB we have been left in uncertainty and distress.”

The group criticise the announcement on 14 September that Kevin Crompton had been appointed as an “interim commissioner of independent reviews”….They say that the council’s handling of the situation has caused “harm” to members of the group.

“We have no forum through which to raise these concerns. Collectively, we believe that the harm these decisions have caused needs to be independently assessed and we have asked an expert clinical psychologist to complete this work as a matter of urgency.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Bloomberg) Investors With $24 Trillion Push Companies to Fight Biodiversity Loss

Investors overseeing $23.6 trillion of funds have kick-started a campaign to pressure 100 companies to ramp up the fight against biodiversity loss.

Axa Investment Managers, Robeco, the Church Commissioners for England, Storebrand Asset Management and 186 other participants in the Nature Action 100 initiative have written to companies demanding “urgent and necessary actions” to protect and restore ecosystems, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The targeted companies include BHP Group Plc, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Nestle SA, Bayer AG, Inc. and Unilever Plc. They were selected based on their market values and participation in industries ranging from mining, food and pharmaceuticals to chemicals and forestry that are considered vital to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(Telegraph) A Quarter of Cornish churches fail to offer a Sunday service

More than a quarter of churches in Cornwall are failing to offer a Sunday service, analysis by The Telegraph has revealed.

Across 287 churches in the county, 78 had no forms of Sunday worship advertised on the last weekend of September – a total of 27 per cent.

Of those that did, just 114 advertised that Communion was being offered, considered by many Christians to be the most important sacrament.

Responding to the data, the Rev Marcus Walker, chairman of the campaign group, Save The Parish, said: “It can come as no shock to anybody that if you reduce the number of priests, you reduce the number of services; if you reduce the number of services you reduce the number of people going to church.

“The Church of England has hundreds of millions of pounds to throw at pet causes. Now is the time to put that money back where it was supposed to be spent: parish ministry.”

Read it all.

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

(BBC) Quobna Cugoano: London church honours Ghanaian-born freed slave and abolitionist

Artist Che Lovelace was on his way to the coast on the Caribbean island of Trinidad to collect mud to use in carnival celebrations when he received a message that a church in the UK wanted him to create an artwork to commemorate the life of an African man he had never heard of.

Quobna Ottobah Cugoano was a respected abolitionist in 18th Century Britain – but, despite his significant role in the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, his story is not that well-known.

Cugoano was born in the Gold Coast, today’s Ghana. He was enslaved when he was 13 – captured with about 20 others as they were playing in a field.

His destination was the sugar plantations of the Caribbean island of Grenada. On board the ship taking him across the Atlantic Ocean, there was, as Cugoano writes, “nothing to be heard but the rattling of chains, smacking of whips, and the groans and cries of our fellow-men.”

Read it all.

Posted in Art, Church History, Church of England, Ghana, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Justin Welby’s Speech to the British-Irish Association

As we all know very well, the trend in post war philosophy, especially in Europe and to some extent in the USA, has been towards the individual as the sole actor in their own drama and the final arbiter of their fate. True, they are caught up in forces more powerful than themselves and find themselves vast desires, but they are always somehow alone.

In the way these trends have emerged into culture there is a great danger of the entirely false idea prevailing that for most of us we are essentially autonomous human actors, protected by markets, rational economic actors, who have the right to live without all but the most essential restraints on what we make of ourselves. That understanding of life is not by any means entirely new but has reached a certain level of predominant thinking in everything from culture wars, through economics to the politics of sexuality. We are more and more individualist.

At the same time, as The Times of London has commented so continually this week, Christian and all religious faith has declined dramatically.

I should be clear that this is not all bad, for Churches are ruined when wealth and power lead them to self-reliance. I rejoice in less of a bossy attitude, and of the church stepping back from telling everybody what to do, here and elsewhere. Except in the House of Lords! It is not the biblical pattern of Jesus who made himself a servant, washed His disciples’ feet, lived a holy life and by His death and resurrection lifted the weary, the outcast and the failure into hope.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture

([London Times) A N Wilson–To resurrect the church, try the gospel truth

Christianity is a very strange and a very difficult faith. It is difficult to believe, and it is even more difficult to do what we were asked to do last Sunday — take up the cross of Christ and follow. Yet, in spite of the gainsayers, I do rather wonder whether Britain is as secular as the sociologists of religion maintain. In churches that take the trouble to present a well-conducted liturgy, to preach the difficult and challenging faith of Christ, people still respond.

The evangelicals in the Church of England manage to fill churches. The splendid liturgy of the Western Rite attracts thousands every Sunday to the great oratory churches in Knightsbridge and Birmingham. Even the oft-repeated claim that there are no more vocations to religious orders is not completely true — the Blackfriars in Oxford have a flourishing novitiate.

There has never been a time when it was easy to believe that a loving creator allows the innocent to die in earthquakes or children to suffer from cancer. Since the feminist revolution, and the change in societal attitudes to sexuality, the churches undoubtedly face some problems. But I do not believe that either the sheer difficulty in believing at all, or the sexual revolution, is what keeps people away from church.

Christianity is not destroyed by rival ideologies, such as Darwinism. It is just slowly gnawed at by secularism, consumerism, the “strange disease of modern life”. To visit a church where they still offer business as usual is to be stimulated, as no secular equivalent can stimulate: disturbed as no drama or work of art could disturb.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Christology, Church of England, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Church of England parishes close at record rate

The Church of England has been “dealt a death knell” as parishes close at a record rate, a Telegraph investigation has revealed.

Almost 300 have disappeared in the past five years alone, analysis of church data reveals, the fastest rate since records began in 1960.

The startling figures come as a bombshell dossier accused bishops and senior clergy of “putting a gun to people’s heads” to drive through controversial plans to cut costs, merge parishes and cut vicars.

The claims come against the backdrop of declining congregation numbers, leaving many clergy afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

Read it all (one of many threads to catch up on).

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

(NYT front page) ‘They Blew Our Lives Up’: South Sudanese Flee War in Sudan

Nyamut Gai lost everything four years ago when armed militias stormed through her village in South Sudan, a landlocked African country tormented by civil war, famine and flooding.

Desperate, she and her family fled almost 600 miles north across the border to Sudan, where she worked as a cleaner in the capital, Khartoum, and began to settle in. But then, a fierce war broke out in Sudan in mid-April between rival factions of the military, sending her packing yet again.

As she and her family made the weekslong journey by foot and bus from Khartoum, her 1-month-old son began coughing and withering away from hunger, and soon died. When she finally crossed the border into South Sudan, any sense of relief she felt was shattered when her 3-year-old son succumbed to measles.

“We are not safe anywhere,” Ms. Gai, 28, said on a recent morning at a muddy and congested aid center in Renk, a town in South Sudan.

Read it all.

Posted in --South Sudan, Africa, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Sudan, Violence

(Church Times) Wounds licked, diocese of Winchester is ready to move on

Two years ago, Bishop Richard Frith started visiting the diocese of Winchester, shortly before his appointment as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Episcopal Commissary. The term that he uses to describe the people he met is “shell-shocked”.

In September 2021, the month of the first visits, just two months had passed since the resignation of the Bishop of Winchester, Dr Tim Dakin (News, 23 July 2021). He had “stepped back” in the previous May (News, 20 May 2021), after the threat of a vote of no confidence in the diocesan synod. The motion referred to “allegations of poor behaviour and mistreatment on his part of a number of individuals”, and described the governance and financial management of the diocese as “unfit for purpose”.

“It was pretty unknown for such a thing to have happened,” Bishop Frith recalls. “What on earth was going to happen next? There was a lot of uncertainty.”

These were, indeed, unprecedented events. More than 40 members of the diocesan synod had supported the motion, while one of Dr Dakin’s appointed suffragans, the Bishop of Basingstoke, the Rt Revd David Williams, had presented concerns to Lambeth Palace and the Bishop of London.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, CoE Bishops, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) Safeguarding concerns about Mike Pilavachi substantiated, review concludes

The founder of Soul Survivor, Canon Mike Pilavachi, exhibited “coercive and controlling behaviour” that led to inappropriate relationships, the physical wrestling of youths, and the massaging of young male interns, the Church of England’s safeguarding investigation has concluded.

First announced in April (News, 6 April), the investigation was conducted by the National Safeguarding Team (NST) and the diocese of St Albans. It has concluded that the safeguarding concerns reported to it are “substantiated”. They relate to Canon Pilavachi’s conduct in leadership and ministry, both before and after his ordination in 2012, and span 40 years, from his time as a youth leader at St Andrew’s, Chorleywood, to the current day.

The NST has been granted permission to bring a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against Canon Pilavachi, “relating to a safeguarding concern post ordination”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) HTB Vicar upbraided by members of a nearby parish for his stance on blessings for same-sex couples

Worshippers at one of the churches united with Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB), have expressed “extreme disquiet” to the Vicar, the Revd Archie Coates, about his stance on blessings for same-sex couples.

At the start of July, Mr Coates was among 27 signatories to a letter, shown to the Church Times, which argued that it was “unlawful, unconstitutional, and illegitimate” for the Bishops to commend the Prayers of Love and Faith. The letter said that they should instead be subject to a process of formal synodical authorisation (News, 7 July).

The signatories included three other prominent figures in the HTB network of churches, including Mr Coates’s predecessor, the Revd Nicky Gumbel. A footnote stated that individuals were “signing in their personal capacities, recognising they cannot claim to speak for everyone that they lead”.

Notwithstanding this caveat, their contribution marked the first public statement on the prayers by members of HTB’s leadership. The Prayers of Love and Faith work was approved in outline by the General Synod in February (Synod, 17 February) and the business is due to return to the Synod in November (News, 22 June).

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(C of E) Recommendations for collaboration between dioceses shared following consultation

The consultation asked diocesan stakeholders for views and suggestions on how dioceses might cooperate to use resources better and on how The Church can best enable the important ministry of suffragan and area bishops, including whether any structural changes should be considered.

In the letter, Dame Caroline Spelman and Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich say that there will not be any centrally-led structural changes to dioceses, or combinations of dioceses as a result of the consultation.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Parish Ministry, Stewardship