Category : CoE Bishops

Martin Davie–The Bishop Of Southwark’s recent Presidential Address – An Intial Response.

Allowing clergy to be in same-sex marriages would also involve a change in the Church’s position. In line with the Bible and the Christian tradition the Church of England has always held that clergy need to live lives of visible holiness so as to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ,’ [4] and that this means, among other things, that their sexual conduct must be in line with the biblical principle of either sexual faithfulness within heterosexual marriage or sexual abstinence outside it. What the bishop’s suggestion would mean is either the Church saying that the sexual conduct of the clergy simply does not matter, or that same-sex sexual relationships are acceptable to God, neither of which the Church of England has authority to say.

It is also not something that is required on ‘ecumenical or Anglican inter-provincial grounds.’ There is nothing in the Church of England’s ecumenical commitments or in its membership of the Anglican Communion that means that the Church of England needs to allow clergy to be in same-sex marriages. This is a complete red-herring.

If the Church of England were to adopt either or both of the bishop’s suggestions this would mean that it had ceased to uphold Christian orthodoxy with regard to sexual ethics. At this point orthodox Anglicans would have no choice except to visibly differentiate themselves from the Church of England’s position and the only way this could be done would either be through the formation of a province within the Church of England that continued to uphold orthodox Christian teaching and practice with regard to sexual ethics, or by their leaving the Church of England to join another Anglican jurisdiction that had remained orthodox in this area.[5]

The fundamental problem with the bishop’s address is that he is not acting properly as a bishop. As he rightly says, bishops are called to be ‘principal ministers of word and sacrament’ and ‘chief pastors’ However, as the 1662 Ordinal makes clear is that this means that bishops are called to ‘teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine’ and ‘banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.’ [6]

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

Bp. Christopher Chessun of Southwark gives his Diocesan Synod Address and speaks out on the LLF process, calling for embrace of the Modernist sexual ethic and anthropology

Now, however, that we have reached this stage of the LLF process it is time for me to give you my view. When the Bishops meet to discuss the next steps they will not gather as people considering this matter for the first time. We will meet together as people who have been engaged in a very long process of reflection. We have as a Church been praying and thinking for many years, from the time of the Woolfenden Report which was published shortly after my first birthday – and with many, many reports since. The discernment, then, is not what Bishop A or Bishop B thinks individually but what we as a Church discern together, journeying forwards in faith and hope and love. I offer my thoughts humbly and as part of an ongoing conversation with my brother and sister Bishops and indeed the whole Church. I want to begin by saying clearly that I rejoice and give thanks for all God’s people in this wonderful Diocese regardless of their sexual orientation – therefore including all those who identify as LGBTQIA+.

The Vacancy-in-See Statement of Needs drawn up in 2010 after broad consultation described Southwark as “A Growing Diocese, An Open Diocese and A Global Diocese”, stating the
following: “Over the past generation the Diocese has become a place where the ministry of lesbian and gay clergy and laity can flourish in response to God’s call in accordance with the ethical teaching of the Church of England. We want to continue this tradition, and we need a Bishop who will lead us in further dialogue between people with differing perspectives on matters of human sexuality.” Fellow members of Diocesan Synod, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our reality and I have sought to honour it as your Bishop, in particular in promoting a culture where we all speak well of each other.

As I have said before, I do not expect to see the marriage canons changed in my lifetime. I also said publicly before the Lambeth Conference that the Church of England has for a long time had a polity in which the Bishops in each and every Diocese encourage partnered gay and lesbian ordinands and clergy to consider civil partnership. We already respect the
dignity of same-sex unions in this regard and we are not being honest with ourselves if we say otherwise. The civil law of the United Kingdom – and of other countries – has moved to
legislate for same-sex marriage. Some have made the case for the Church to change the marriage canons. But I observe that it is theologically coherent to conceive of vocational
and covenanted relationships as a category that includes marriage as one constituent and same-sex unions as another. It is inaccurate to say that marriage is the only form of
covenanted relationship because it has long been the wisdom of the Church to bless those single people who see their life in terms of a covenant with God, whether they live that
covenant in community or not.

On this last point, I want to take the liberty of making a personal observation. The Word made Flesh lies at the heart of the Incarnation: Jesus was born into a human family and
remained single and unmarried through the whole of his earthly life. As a single bishop I am regularly asked the absurd question, “Do you have family?” I always answer in the
affirmative and say I give thanks to be part of a close loving family, knowing full well I have not answered the question in terms of what I was really being asked. I am strongly
committed to upholding family life and family values – the bedrock of society and our personal well-being – but please do not exclude single people like me through a too casual
use of language: we all have and belong to families, thank God. The Church needs to be more caring about the growing number of people remaining single – a task which lies beyond
the LLF process.

The Church’s polity concerning civil partnerships is the reality of our present situation, even if it is largely unacknowledged. I support a generous pastoral provision that respects freedom of conscience by the provision of a liturgy of affirmation and commitment for same-sex couples and a conscience clause that means no priest is required to officiate at such a service.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bp of Sheffield gives a very personal address to his diocese disclosing his bout with colon cancer

My dear friends, it’s the Eve of Advent, a season I love. I love the strong liturgical backdrop we will enjoy for the next four weeks; I love the Advent hymns; I love the sense of anticipation and expectation. I love the sustained and deliberate focus, in this season of Joyful Hope, on the assurance of God’s coming kingdom.

But today, I want to look back and not forward, and I want to offer you a Presidential Address with a difference. This morning I want to speak very personally – to tell you about a particular health challenge I have had to face over the past five years. It’s basically a good news story, though I realise the new information may be a bit unsettling for some of you.

To cut to the chase: about four weeks ago, at the start of the month, I was, thank God, signed off by the colorectal department at the Northern General Hospital, because it is five years since I went through treatment for cancer of the colon, and I am no longer meaningfully at risk of a recurrence of the disease. This morning, I’d like to tell you about the diagnosis and treatment I experienced in 2017, and about the impact it has had on me as a person and as a bishop.

I realise this raises questions. Some of you may be wondering why I did not tell you about this at the time, in 2017? It’s a fair point. I do know that you would have been only too keen to pray for me and to care for me pastorally if you had known what I was going through back then. So why didn’t I tell you? Well, partly, I was simply protecting myself. I’m an extreme introvert and in that situation I needed some privacy. But in addition, in mid 2017, this Diocese had just emerged from a torrid Vacancy in See. By then, though I myself was pretty confident, on medical advice, that the prognosis was good, though I was pretty confident of being Bishop of Sheffield long-term, given what many of you had recently gone through, I was concerned that news of my illness might create additional instability and I thought that was the last thing this Diocese needed. So I chose not to go public.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Health & Medicine

([London] Times) Bishop Graham Tomlin–Gratitude helps us see things in our life we didn’t create

As GK Chesterton once put it: “If my children wake up on Christmas morning and have someone to thank for putting candy in their stockings, have I no one to thank for putting two feet in mine?”

A gift we receive is never ultimately about the gift — it’s about the relationship established between us and the one who gave it. We often say it’s the thought that counts. If that’s true, then if there is no thought behind the thing we receive, somehow, however good it is, it means less. Gratitude is better than greed, but if there is no one behind the things we enjoy, then what we have is not really a gift, because a gift needs a giver. If, however, behind the gift there is someone who gave us what we needed, or even more than we needed, whether or not we deserved it, that gift becomes something much more significant.

It becomes a token of love — a sign that, despite everything, there is a God who made us, thinks of us and cares for us, and even beyond that, gives Himself for us, an even deeper reality than the gift itself.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

(Church Times) Bishop Smith condemns human-rights abuses in China

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has condemned the “wide range of human-rights abuses” committed in China against Christians and other religious groups.

He was speaking in a debate that he initiated in the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on Thursday.

Dr Smith said that he had been almost reluctant to call the debate because of his long-held admiration for China and its people. “Yet I feel I cannot remain silent in the face of such a wide range of human-rights abuses,” he said.

There was “a vast cultural gulf” between the UK and China, he continued, which was laid bare in President Xi’s speech last month to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in which the President had said: “We will . . . continue to take the correct and distinctively Chinese approach to handling ethnic affairs. . . We will remain committed to the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt to socialist society.”

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Posted in Anthropology, China, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

A very hard winter for many: Some C of E bishops respond to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement

“Ahead of today’s statement one of our key concerns was to see benefits keep pace with inflation. So we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment in this regard but continue to call for the end to the two-child limit on Universal Credit, which hits some of the poorest families hardest.

“This is going to be a very hard winter for many. Our churches, in communities across the country, are already reporting alarming rises in demand for foodbanks and other services which have become a lifeline.

“It is heartbreaking to hear of people who just a year ago were donating to foodbanks but are now using them themselves.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(EC) Oxford Good Stewards Trust Announced in Response to Bishop of Oxford’s embrace of modernist sexual ethics

“Meanwhile, as a result of the partnership between the vicars of the four churches mentioned above, the PCC’s of those churches have met a handful of times for fellowship and discussion about how we might maintain gospel integrity, and continue to hold out the good news of Jesus as Anglican churches into our diocese. As a result, those churches have begun planning to set up The Oxford Good Stewards Trust (OGST), modelled on similar diocesan Trusts around the UK. A main purpose of such a trust would be to divert our ‘Parish Share’ (ongoing annual payments to “the diocese to finance the ministry in the local church – including the clergy’s stipend) to the Trust, in order to avoid supporting revisionist churches financially and indeed directly support churches that maintain Anglican doctrine. At the very least, in order to demonstrate our dismay, and how seriously we view the situation, a simple course of action could be to simply pay our Parish Share via the OGST. The actual setting up of the OGST was a pragmatic move to get the wheels turning, whilst we discussed how we might utilise it going forward. Whilst we have not yet made any payment to the OGST, the PCC officially aligned itself with it in November 2021 but are yet to contribute financially or to use it as a vehicle for payment (though we have received a generous gift from it). However, next Monday the PCC will be discussing ways we might utilise the fund more, going forward (with a view to making a firm decision in January 2023).

“As mentioned, in his essay “Together in Love and Faith”, which he launched on Friday, Bishop Steven argues for a change in the Church’s practice, saying the Church of England should now marry same-sex couples. This will also, de facto, involve a change in its doctrine. This goes significantly further than the Ad Clerum of 2018 as it firmly presses down the accelerator of change. Also, Bishop Steven is now the most senior cleric in the Church of England (so far) to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage, and will mean him becoming the leading public advocate for change among the House of Bishops (who meet next week to discuss this with a view to debating it at General Synod early next year). It also feels like a pre-empting of the results of the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ initiative (a countrywide ‘discussion’ regarding human sexuality based around teaching materials that were biased towards a more liberal approach. I had planned to lead something at St Paul’s to contribute to this debate, but the coronavirus pandemic and my own health meant this did not happen).

At this stage, it is important to reiterate is that, as Christians, we object to sex outside marriage in any form, not because we don’t like the idea of it, but because the Bible (which is our authority/rule) is clear in its rejection of it. This means that all our deliberations need to be conducted in an atmosphere of love and respect, acknowledging that we all struggle in different ways with different sins.”

The story continues to rapidly develop.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Reasserters in Oxford reject their Bishop’s endorsement of non-celibate same-sex unions

Canon Roberts writes: “In describing the negative fruit of traditional teaching, Bishop Steven seems close to accepting the assumption of many in our contemporary culture that normal people cannot live healthy, happy lives without sexual intimacy.

“This means, in his portrayal, a range of unattractive alternatives for all but the few gay/same-sex attracted Christians who are able to embrace and live out a call to celibacy: marriage to someone of the opposite sex, a double life, or reluctant and miserable singleness. There are no doubt many who do fit within his categories, but there is a serious lack of nuance in his analysis of this fruit, which is too negative in its portrayal of celibacy and singleness.”

Canon Roberts goes on to write that Dr Croft is correct to acknowledge the “missional challenge” caused by cultural shifts in society, “but there is, of course, nothing new in the Church experiencing such dissonance within and hostility from its surrounding culture. . . In the history of the global Church down the ages a gap between it and the society it inhabits has been normal.”

He continues: “Surely what is needed in the face of the disjunction between Church and society is not accommodation, but rather a winsome, confident re-presentation of the riches of Christian teaching about sex and marriage.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Martin Davie–What Should The Bishops Decide To Do After Living In Love And Faith?

All this (being interpreted) means that presbyter-bishops will engage not only in the teaching of the truth, but also in the repudiation of error… Both our Lord and his apostles did not shrink when necessary from the task of exposing and overthrowing false teaching ….If we sit idly by and do nothing, or if we turn tail and flee, we shall earn for ourselves the terrible epithet ‘hirelings,’ who care nothing for the sheep. Are we to abandon God’s flock to the wolves, as defenceless sheep without a shepherd? Is it to be said of the Church of God today: ‘so they were scattered because there was no shepherd: and so they became food for all the wild beasts’ (Ezekiel 34:5)? ’ [2]

For bishops in the Church of England today what the calling to be a faithful shepherd protecting the flock from the wolves involves is combatting all form of teaching which are contrary to: ‘the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness.’[3]

There are many forms of such erroneous teaching, but there are three forms which have become particularly prominent in the Church of England in recent years and which there is strong pressure for the Church of England to officially adopt. These are:

–The teaching that men and women can rightly adopt a form of personal identity that is not in accordance with their biological sex;
–The teaching that it is legitimate for people to have sexual intercourse with members of their own sex;
–The teaching that marriage can be between two people of the same sex.

These teachings are erroneous because they go against the teaching of both Scripture and the universal tradition of the Christian Church that people’s identity as either male or female is determined by their biological sex, that marriage has been ordained by God to be between two people of the opposite sex and that sexual intercourse should only take place with marriage.

Given that this is the case, what should the Bishops decide to do in their forthcoming meetings? I have given an answer to this question in my book Bishops Past, Present and Future which was published earlier this year…and in the rest of this paper I repeat what I said there and what I still think is the right approach for the bishops to take.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Bishop of Oxford says church should marry same-sex couples

The Bishop of Oxford has said Church of England clergy should be able to bless and marry [same-sex] couples.

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft said he was sorry his views on same-sex marriage were “slow to change” and had “caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain”.

In an essay, he said clergy should also be allowed to marry a same-sex partner if they wished.

By law no Church of England minister can bless or marry [same-sex] couples.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Archbp Justin Welby praying as bishops meet to discuss what’s next for Living in Love and Faith

LLF is an extensive dialogue taking place across the Church of England about marriage, gender, relationships and sexuality.

It has been underway since 2017 and parishes have spent the last two years in a process of discussion using a suite of resources prepared by the LLF team – a group formed of Anglicans from a wide spectrum of beliefs around these issues.

Feedback submitted by parishes and published in September found that comments in support of the acceptance of same-sex marriage outnumbered those against.

The College of Bishops is meeting this week to consider proposals for a way forward.

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

(Independent) Religious leaders back our campaign to urgently extend free school meals

Religious leaders have backed The Independent‘s call for free school meals to be extended to more children living in poverty and urged the government to make it one of its priorities this winter.

Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, said: “It is heartbreaking to think of children living in poverty facing this winter without free school meals and the impact this will have on their health, wellbeing and educational outcomes.”

Our Feed the Future campaign, in partnership with the Food Foundation and a coalition of charities, calls on the government for free school meals to be extended to all children living in families that rely on universal credit.

Mr Butler, who is lead bishop for the Church of England in the House of Lords on welfare issues, added: “The Independent has shone a light on the heroic efforts of schools to step in and support their pupils and struggling families through initiatives such as school food banks but it really should not be down to them to fill this gap. I have long held that all children in families in receipt of universal credit should receive free school meals and I urge the government to give this priority in their spending plans.”

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Education, England / UK, Islam, Religion & Culture

Helen-Ann Hartley named as next Bishop of Newcastle

Bishop Helen-Ann, who was brought up in the North East, will succeed the Right Reverend Christine Hardman who retired as Bishop of Newcastle in November last year.

Bishop Helen-Ann said: “I am absolutely delighted and excited to be the next Bishop of Newcastle. With life-long connections to the whole region covered by the Diocese, I am inspired by the example of the Northern Saints, whose engagement in God’s mission lies deep in the fabric and contours of the land. I am, and will continue to be in this new role, a passionate advocate for the region. I look forward immensely to supporting and encouraging the vital work of the Diocese at every level: parishes and benefices, schools, chaplaincies, clergy and lay together as we continue to engage in God’s mission in the season that lies ahead.”

The Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell said: “I am delighted that Helen-Ann has agreed to become the next Bishop of Newcastle. Helen-Ann brings rich experience and a tremendous passion for communicating the gospel, as well as a deep commitment to championing those often under-represented in our society. Newcastle Diocese is truly blessed to have Helen-Ann as its new Bishop.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(London Post) The Bishop of London joins calls for Government to publish Health Disparities White Paper

On Monday 10th October, the Health Inequalities Action Group (HIAG), a multi-faith initiative led by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, to explore London’s health inequalities and how faith groups can and do contribute to the health of their communities, published its report: ‘On Faith, Place and Health: Harnessing the Power of Faith Groups to Tackle London’s Health Inequalities’.

At an event at The Old Deanery near St Paul’s Cathedral, Bishop Sarah presented the report, which makes a series of recommendations aiming to tackle health inequalities. These include supporting the development and integration of an Interfaith Health Council with national health structures to represent faith communities.

The publication comes a few weeks after reports of the Government shelving the long-anticipated Health Disparities White Paper, which led to a coalition of over 155 medical organisations writing to the Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey, urging her to maintain the Government’s commitment to publish its white paper by the end of this year. In her remarks, Bishop Sarah restated those calls and pointed to the HIAG report as a further sign of the urgent need to address the rampant health inequalities faced not only in the Capital, but across the United Kingdom.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Health & Medicine, Psychology

New Bishop of Beverley Announced

The Reverend Canon Stephen Race, currently Rector of The Benefice of Central Barnsley in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds and also Area Dean of Barnsley, has been appointed as the new Bishop of Beverley.

Speaking of his upcoming role for the Northern Province of the Church of England, Fr Stephen said he would strive for positive dialogues within the church and looked forward to serving people across the whole region.

“I am slowly getting used to the idea that I have been called by God to be a bishop in His church and that I have been invited to take on the role and responsibility of the Bishop of Beverley,” said Fr Stephen.

“I look forward to meeting new colleagues and partners in the Gospel as we seek to serve the parishes and people of the Northern Province…”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

The Bishop of Plymouth embarks on a prayer pilgrimage to mark start of his ministry

Read it all and there is more here.

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

(Church Times) Pros and pitfalls of Vision and Strategy discussed in C of E webinar

The Church of England, beset by fears of scarcity and chasing a vision of “something bigger and better”, should look to the experience of the Church in Iran, which has survived being stripped of everything that it possessed, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, told a Church House webinar this week.

Finances and buildings were “both a huge gift to us but also a great curse; they are like nooses around our necks”, she said. “And I think if something were to happen, and they were all to be swept away, we would find at that point new life coming.”

Her comments were made during the first in a series of webinars exploring the Church’s Vision and Strategy for the 2020s: “Has strategy eaten theology for breakfast?” Introducing it, Dr Nick Shepherd, a senior vision and strategy consultant at Church House, acknowledged the existence of concerns about the salience of strategic terminology and planning (Comment, 1 July 2022).

Dr Francis-Dehqani offered episcopal solidarity with such concerns in June (News, 8 July 2022), when, in an address to her diocesan synod, she warned against “putting too much emphasis on our human powers — that if only we try hard enough and pull together well enough and all follow the same programme, then we can solve the problems and challenges and ensure the future survival of the Church, either much as it has been in the past, or preferably producing a shinier, bigger, better version.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Spectator) [Former Bishop of London] Richard Chartres–The Queen’s life was anchored by Christianity

She was always reticent about her personal opinions about people and policies. She was reluctant even to divulge whether she had a favourite hymn, knowing that she would be condemned ever afterwards to hear it on every occasion.

During the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, in a speech at Lambeth Palace the Queen was explicit about her own view of the role of the Church of England in a multicultural country. ‘The concept of our established church is occasionally misunderstood and I believe commonly underappreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.’

The Queen believed that the ‘Defender of the Faith’ should be the friend and protector of all the faiths which make up the national community. She was an assiduous visitor to temples, gurdwaras and mosques. The idea, however, that you could slip the Christian anchorage in favour of a generalised benevolence to all religions was not one she instinctively favoured. To be simply a ‘Defender of Faith’, rather than the Faith, suggests that one occupies an elevated position in which all faiths are seen as more or less adequate local editions of something vaguely lying beyond them all. Spiritual progress and deeper appreciation of other traditions comes from the serious and disciplined choice of a particular way to follow. The Queen was intensely disciplined in every aspect of her life including in its spiritual dimension. Wherever she was, Sunday worship was a priority.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Sermon by the Bishop of London at Today’s Service of Prayer and Reflection, St Paul’s Cathedral, London

How we learn to live with the death of a loved one differs for each of us, but we must all find a way to grieve. As the theologian Tom Wright said, ‘Not to grieve, not to lament, is to slam the door on the same place in the innermost heart from which love itself comes’. We may not know the power of that love until the moment of loss, for as the writer Khalil Gibran wisely observed: ‘Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation’.

When we are bereaved, we need to make opportunities, individually and together, to face and absorb the depth of our loss. Yet we are also invited into the healing love of God which never falters, and which is the deepest and widest perspective of our lives. It is a perspective beautifully expressed by the writer of Deuteronomy who tells us that ‘underneath are the everlasting arms’. Even in the midst of our grief we are enfolded in that all-encompassing love.

As a Christian I believe that death is not the end. That gives me hope even in the worst of times. To speak of hope is not to deny the fear, the loss and the anguish which death brings. Jesus himself stood with Martha and Mary at the tomb of his beloved friend, Lazarus, and wept, wholly undone by his grief. But in that cameo we have the assurance of God’s presence in the world’s pain and a model for our response to human suffering: God is there for us and we are called to be there for others. The words of the prophet Isaiah assure us that the Spirit of the Lord is at work and will bind up the broken-hearted, comfort those who mourn – and give them a garland instead of ashes, and the oil of gladness instead of mourning.

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Posted in Church of England, CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

(Church Times) Diocesan bishops express their thanks for the Queen’s life and faith

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said: “She has been on the throne since before most of us were born and has been a constant source of strength, stability, and inspiration throughout her long reign. She has been the glue which has held this country and the Commonwealth together, and I give heartfelt thanks for her life of selfless service.

“That service was undergirded and enabled by a deep Christian faith, and we now commend her to the God in whom she believed, whose love is stronger than death, as we also pray for members of the Royal Family, particularly our new King.”

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, described Queen Elizabeth’s death as “a moment of bereavement for the whole nation, and for the Commonwealth”. He continued: “She will remain in our hearts and minds as an exceptional example of public duty and commitment to her high calling, carried out with unswerving faith in God. Let us come together as a nation to mark her death with dignity and pride.”

The Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, said that her “devoted service” had given “stability to the nation throughout this Elizabethan age”. Her “deep, personal Christian faith”, had inspired him and many, he said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Politics in General

Rest eternal grant unto her

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Eschatology, Politics in General

Keep up momentum on highlighting abuses of freedom of religion and belief, bishop Philip Mounstephen urges

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, told a global summit on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) hosted by the UK Government, that there had been some good progress in some areas made since the publication of the review in 2019, but ‘much’ still needed to be done.

“The challenge going forward is to keep up the corporate momentum that has developed around this issue because this is a really, really significant global issue,” he told a panel session of the Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London today.

“We must not let it sink back into the place that it was before, largely ignored and overlooked.”

Asked what his advice would be to Parliamentarians, Bishop Philip said: “My key message to Parliamentarians would be: understand what the main drivers behind freedom of religion or belief abuses are – we are looking at totalitarian regimes, religious fundamentalism, militant nationalism – these are really serious issues that must be addressed. So please Parliamentarians, make this a bipartisan issue, espouse it across the political spectrum.”

In his remarks during the panel session Bishop Philip welcomed the creation of the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Public Forum made since the publication of the 2019 report.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

James Grier has been appointed as the new Bishop of Plymouth

James, 47, is currently the Mission Enabler for the Diocese of Exeter and has a broad range of urban and rural ministry experience, with a particular focus on youth and pastoral care as well as mission.

He is married to Dr Liz Grier, an academic and musician who is currently training for ordination herself. The couple have two sons, aged 18 and 20.

The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell, said “James Grier brings a combination of energy, life and love for people to his work which will stand him in good stead as the next Bishop of Plymouth. He is a real ‘can do’ person. Born in Plymouth, he knows and loves Devon and will serve its communities with joy.”

James succeeds the Rt Rev’d Nick McKinnel, who is retiring as Bishop of Plymouth after 42 years of ordained ministry.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Church Times) Foreign Secretary Liz Truss backs drive for Foreign Office to take religious persecution more seriously

The Government’s support for persecuted believers is improving, an independent review has concluded.

Five public-law academics undertook to review the implementation of recommendations contained in the report on the persecution of Christians and others around the world produced in 2019 by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen.

In a statement on Monday, the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, said: “We welcome and accept this expert review on progress and . . . accept their assessment for the need to continue to work to promote and strengthen Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) as a fundamental human right for all.

“Our work on this important human rights issue will never be complete, and we will continue to champion global efforts on FoRB,” she added.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(C of E) Standing Commission on the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles

Establishing the Standing Commission was a key recommendation of the Implementation and Dialogue Group (IDG), a temporary body which reviewed the arrangements which were originally put in place in 2014, opening the episcopate to women as well as men while ensuring provision for those who, in theological conscience, could not accept their ministry.

More detail was set out in the IDG’s report to General Synod last year.

The Commission, appointed by the House of Bishops, will support dioceses with the monitoring of the implementation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests.

Published ahead of the historic vote of the General Synod on women in the episcopate in July 2014, the Declaration sets out five guiding principles under which those in favour of the ordination of women and those who, on theological grounds, cannot fully accept the ordained ministry of women, can both flourish.

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

(C of E) Bishops of Maidstone, Ebbsfleet and Oswestry

A series of changes have been announced to the names of bishops who offer extended episcopal care to parishes that cannot accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women.
Under these changes, now approved by the Dioceses Commission, the Bishop of Maidstone Rod Thomas’s successor will now be known as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

Meanwhile the role of the previous Bishop of Ebbsfleet – whose ministry was to traditional catholic parishes – will move to become that of the Bishop of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Bishop Rod, who will retire in October, has had a special national ministry since 2015 providing a voice in the College of Bishops and advocacy for those who cannot, on the grounds of complementarian evangelical theology, accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women.

The future Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who will take on this responsibility when Bishop Rod retires, will live either in London or the M4 corridor for ease of travel and will minister nationally to complementarian evangelical parishes.

The combined effect of these changes means that the See of Maidstone will become vacant and could potentially revert to local use within the Diocese of Canterbury in the future.

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

The Rt Revd Dr Eleanor Sanderson named the Next Suffragan Bishop of Hull

10 Downing Street has announced today that Her Majesty the Queen has approved the appointment of the Right Reverend Doctor Eleanor Sanderson as Suffragan Bishop of Hull in the Diocese of York, following the retirement of the Right Reverend Alison White.

Dr Eleanor Sanderson has been Assistant Bishop of Wellington in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia since 2017.

The Bishop of Hull is one of three Suffragan Bishops supporting and extending the ministry of the Archbishop of York in the Diocese of York, and has a particular responsibility for the Archdeaconry of the East Riding, encompassing the City of Hull, the East Riding of Yorkshire, and part of the North Yorkshire coast including Scarborough and as far north as Ravenscar.

Ellie’s ministry to date has been within the Diocese of Wellington; she was ordained in 2005 and was Vicar of the Parish of St Alban’s, Eastbourne, Chaplain to Wellesley College, and the Diocesan Canon Theologian prior to her appointment as Assistant Bishop. She additionally served in a wide range of roles in academic and not-for-profit development organisations. In the Diocese of Wellington, she has led intentional discipleship programmes which resource Christians to go deeper in their relationship with God and equip them to build up mission and discipleship with others.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(V O) Church leader makes history as the first black female Bishop of Croydon

Dr. Rosemarie Mallett, a leading figure in the Church of England made history this morning to become the first black female Bishop of Croydon.

The widely admired Dr Mallett was consecrated as the new Bishop of the south London diocese in a special ceremony at Southwark Cathedral this morning.

She becomes the second Bishop of Croydon of Barbadian heritage – the first being the Rt Revd Wilfred Wood who served as Bishop from 1985 to 2003 and only the second black female Bishop in the Church of England following the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin’s appointment as Bishop of Dover in 2019.

In May this year the Queen approved Dr Mallett’s appointment as Bishop. Dr Mallet, who was ordained a priest in 2005, previously served as Archdeacon of Croydon. The new Bishop succeeds the Rt Revd Jonathan Clark who left the Diocese in March.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(BBC) Salisbury bishop marks appointment with cash giveaway

A new bishop says parishioners cheered after they were surprised with a gift of £10 each at his inauguration.

Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Stephen Lake, said it was the first time he had seen a congregation “burst out in applause”.

He said the money, given by two anonymous donators, was to show people can make the most of what they have been given.

Bishop Lake said: “It was a great start to a new ministry.”

He added: “They [the congregation] were given the £10 because we were living out the gospel, read out in the service. Taken from Luke, The Parable of the Talents, also known as The Parable of the Pound.

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

(BBC) Channel Islands will be equal players, says Bishop of Salisbury

He said Jersey and Guernsey will be treated as equals players.

Bishop Stephen [Lake] said: “The two deans will be sat around the table with my senior team as equal players, and in that sense I am absolutely only going to be looking forward in this relationship.

“I look forward to coming over, and not just to the important but sometimes slightly grand occasions, but also being able to just be with the parish at an important time.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops