Category : CoE Bishops

Tom Wright writes to the Spectator about Racism and the Gospel

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bp Stephen Croft–Presidential Address to the recent Oxford Diocesan Synod

There are echoes of course of the feeding of the five thousand in John 6, of the last supper, of the Eucharist. The risen Christ is gathering his tired disciples to nourish them with his own presence, to be with them, to build them up, to bring healing and faith and hope again. This simple invitation, this sacramental action, comes before the more challenging dialogue which follows between Jesus and Simon Peter. The order is important.

And this is the invitation we need to hear for ourselves and to give as a church in this present time. This will be a season to set a tempo of gentleness and grace. That may not be easy. We have lost the habit of meeting together. There are any number of things we can argue about. Local finances will be stretched. There may not be enough resources or enough people to do the work. Congregations will probably not return all at once: there will be a need to listen, to love, to visit, to shepherd, to woo. It will be tempting to hector or scold or complain, but we should, I think, resist.

This needs to be a season of grace, of regathering. In our worship we will need to emphasise what the Lord has done for us, the everyday miracles of God’s provision. We will need to support one another as we enjoy again, gradually, the fuller opening of our beautiful church buildings; the privilege of Christian fellowship; the joy of singing together, and most of all, the ability to share together once again in the Eucharist, the meal which Jesus gives to us.

This will be a season of remembering and resetting the truth that we are a Church of word and sacrament. We have been sustained over the past year, largely, by the ministries of the word and thank God for that. But there will need to be a rebalancing again, a recentring of our common life on Jesus’ gift to us: to take bread and, in due course, wine, to give thanks, to break the bread and to share it together; ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Summary of the recent C of E House of Bishops Meeting on Wednesday 17 March 2021

The House engaged further with a number of issues including reviewing the work to date of the Governance Review Group and a consideration of the draft report and recommendations of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Task Group.

The Bishop of Manchester, in his capacity as Chair of the Coordinating Group of the Emerging Church Groups, updated the House on the revised Terms of Reference of the Committee and the workstreams that are feeding into the work of the Coordinating Group.

This was followed by an update from the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich who updated the House on the ongoing work of the Transforming Effectiveness workstream which is looking at how resources are best deployed across the Church.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Tablet) Welby condemns ‘sins of male violence’ amid vigils for Sarah Everard

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Testimony after testament from women over recent days have shown us something we have known and ignored for far too long: the profound impact of the sin of male violence, intimidation, harassment, sexism and abuse carried out against women. It is these sins – and the culture that perptuates and condones them – that need our urgent repentance, our fervent prayer, and our resolute action as men.”

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme that Ms Everard’s death was a tipping point, and acknowledged the Churches’ role in fostering a culture of male dominance. “We have used scripture to make women submissive to men. . . We have contributed to that pervasive culture that women and girls are lesser than men and boys and we have got a big part to play in redressing that,” she said.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Violence, Women

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, has announced his intention to retire

Bishop Pete has been Bishop of Willesden since 2001. Before that, he served as Archdeacon of Northolt, as a Vicar in Harrow and as a Polytechnic Chaplain in Islington.

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, said:

“It’s been a joy and a privilege to serve the churches and people of North West London this past twenty years. I look forward to the next stage, helping the Diocese of London with our 2030 Vision – making it possible for every Londoner to encounter the love of God in Christ.”

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

(Somerset County Gazette) Bishop of Bath and Wells retires due to leukaemia battle

THE Bishop of Bath and Wells is retiring early due to his cancer battle.

The Right Reverend Peter Hancock is currently recovering from treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia.

He has been receiving treatment since last August.

In a letter to the diocese, he wrote that while he had been hoping to return to work before long, his hospital consultant has said he will need to spend many months recovering.

“So after much prayer and reflection, I believe this means that I need to take early retirement on medical grounds,” he said.

Read it all.

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

The Bishop of Worcester calls for targeted sanctions against those responsible for military coup in Myanmar

On 8th March 2021 the Bishop of Worcester received a written answer to a question on targeted sanctions against the Myanmar regime:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to imposing targeted sanctions against those responsible for the military coup in Myanmar. [HL13549]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The UK is looking at a range of measures to ensure the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar are respected.

Read it all.

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

(H Post) Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Kensington: Only A Shared Long-Term Vision Will End Our Housing Crisis

To solve the housing crisis, we need a similar long-term goal. Our housing crisis is really an affordability crisis. We don’t just need more houses, we need more good quality houses that people can genuinely afford.

What if we were to set a target for the number of truly affordable homes we need in 20 years’ time? What if we were to work out the financial gap between the cost of providing them and what they would cost at normal market prices? What if successive governments then had the task of planning ahead how to meet that gap by whatever means necessary?

The Church of England is stepping up to play its part. We own land and property and are looking to make some of that land available for affordable housing, and inviting others to do the same, even though it is bound to mean an element of sacrifice. Jesus taught us that there are two simple tasks at the heart of human life: to love God and to love our neighbour, whoever they happen to be. If that neighbour doesn’t have somewhere safe, stable and satisfying to live in, then we must do all we can to help them find that.

Thirty years ago, ideas such as the minimum wage as a way of fighting poverty and the need for radical policies on climate change seemed fringe issues – cranky policies proposed by a few wild and weird figures on the edges of political life. Now they are mainstream, and every government has to sign up to them. We need the same for housing.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture

New bishop for the environment appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury

The Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, has accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the Church of England’s Environment Programme with a charge to lead bold, deliberate, collaborative action across the Church to tackle the grave existential crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Bishop Graham will work with the Mission and Public Affairs department of the Church of England to lead the Church of England’s Environment Programme, including the commitment to net-zero carbon impacts across the Church of England by 2030 set by General Synod in February 2020.

He will succeed the Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, who retires later in the year.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Churchwarden Patrick Kidd Expresses Some Concerns about recent C of E leadership amidst the Pandemic

Take the time to read it carefully.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Bishops and church leaders target Covid vaccination misinformation

With the UK’s vaccination programme this week reaching the 16 million dose mark, bishops and church leaders in the Church of England have been speaking out amid warnings that misinformation and low uptake among some communities poses a risk to the programme’s effectiveness in protecting the whole population.

As part of the NHS-backed #GiveHope campaign, launched last week, bishops and church leaders have joined together in sharing video messages encouraging communities to seek accurate information on vaccines, hold local conversations, and to encourage one another to take up offers of vaccines.

While uptake of the vaccine so far has met Government targets, significant numbers indicating mistrust, including in some UKME communities, mean that some people in younger age-groups may be less likely to take up the vaccine than the groups targeted to date.

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

Bishop Tim Thornton to retire as Bishop at Lambeth

Bishop Tim has been Bishop at Lambeth since 2017. Previously he was Bishop of Truro, and Bishop of Sherborne before that.

As Bishop at Lambeth, Bishop Tim has supported the Archbishop of Canterbury’s work in the House of Bishops, General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council. He has chaired the Development and Appointments Group overseeing the leadership programmes and development work with senior clergy. He has also chaired the review of the Clergy Discipline Measure and provided advice on areas including safeguarding and church renewal.

Acting on the Archbishop’s behalf, Bishop Tim carried out episcopal duties within Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and had pastoral oversight of Anglican chaplains and the Anglican church within the Forces. He also served as Bishop for the Falkland Islands.

Bishop Tim has also been closely involved in preparations for the Lambeth Conference, which has been postponed until 2022 because of the pandemic. He will continue to be involved as a Trustee of the Lambeth Conference Company. At Archbishop Justin’s request, he will work on other matters relating to the process leading up to the Conference and in the years after it.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

The Church of England House of Bishops Meeting, 9th February 2021

The Archbishop of York then addressed the House in his capacity as head of the Vision and Strategy workstream. In his address, the Archbishop drew on feedback from Regional Bishops’ groups on Vision & Strategy and spoke about the integration of the Vision & Strategy work with the Five Marks of Mission and Missionary Disciples; the House took note of the work so far.

The Bishop of Durham and the Diocesan Secretary of Sheffield then addressed the House as Co-Chairs for the working group – Younger and more Diverse, setting out the issues, barriers and opportunities to creating a younger and more diverse church. In discussion groups, bishops discussed the proposed approach, aiming to direct feedback into further work of the Vision and Strategy Group.

A similar process was followed with the Bishop of Dunwich speaking to the House as co-chair of the Mixed Ecology the Norm, a subgroup of the Vison and Strategy workstream.

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

Bishops lead churches’ call to take up Covid vaccine

Church of England Bishops have joined an NHS-backed campaign calling on congregations, communities and individuals to play their part in encouraging everyone who is offered a Covid-19 vaccine to take up the opportunity, and to have access to accurate information.

With concerns over misinformation and significant numbers indicating mistrust, including in some UK BAME communities, the bishops were speaking as part of a united churches campaign called Give Hope, which launched on Sunday.

The Archbishop of York, together with the Bishops of Dover, Durham and Truro added their voices to a video which was launched on Sunday, together with members of other churches and groups.

It is hoped that faith communities will use their networks to share trustworthy information about vaccines, helping to bust myths and reassure those who have been offered a vaccine of the true levels of associated risk.

Read it all.

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

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

No, the Church of England is not on the brink of collapse But it does need to be on the brink of making some courageous and radical decisions if it is to have an effective ministry in the future.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Premiere) Bishops in House of Lords add to Government defeat on Genocide amendment

The House of Lords has forced the Government to look again at an amendment to the Trade Bill which would give British courts the power to decide whether a genocide has taken place in a country and therefore impact whether trade deals should be made.

Christian Peer Lord Alton (pictured) urged the Government to look again at the matter and nine Bishops supported his amendment, with it passing with a majority of 171 (359 to 188).

Lord Alton said the Government had frequently pointed to the fact that such atrocities need to be officially labelled as genocide, which is a legal term decided by the International Criminal Court, but that China, currently accused of causing death and trauma to thousands of Uighur Muslims, have a veto at the United Nations on what is recommended to the ICC, meaning that route cannot be depended upon.

Read it all and you can find the full text of Lord Alton’s speech there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General

(CEN) Set legal targets for plastic, urges bishop of Chester

In particular, the Prime Minister is being urged to ensure that long-term and interim targets for cutting plastic pollution are included in the government’s flagship Environment Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

Bishop Mark said: “We know that global warming, rising sea levels, and plastic pollution are all issues affecting our world; we hear about these things through the news all of the time. By putting targets in place, written in law, together we can really begin to achieve something and change the way we’re treating our planet. As Christians, we understand that life is a gift from God and to see his creation under threat should be a cause for sadness.”

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

Bishop Nicholas Holtam of Salisbury to retire in July 2021

“Being the Bishop of Salisbury has been a privilege and a joy”, the Bishop said. “In present circumstances, the timing of my retirement has not been an easy decision but it feels right to me and to those I have consulted. The impact of the pandemic is going to be felt for a long time. The Diocese is developing a Mission and Pastoral Plan and we have an agreed financial framework with which to face the future with confidence. We continue to be about Renewing Hope as we Pray, Serve and Grow.

“In Bishops Karen and Andrew and the four archdeacons, the Diocese of Salisbury has excellent leadership. Our Diocesan Secretary, David Pain, is well established and Joy Tubbs is an outstanding Director of Education. The Diocesan Board of Finance and the Diocesan Board of Education are people of faith, commitment, skill and expertise. I am enormously grateful to them and to the Diocesan Synod. When the pandemic subsides, the scale of what faces us will benefit from a new diocesan bishop with whom to make decisions about the future.

“This is a testing time and the life of the Church has never been more important as a witness to Christian beliefs and values for the sake of God’s world. In many ways the Diocese of Salisbury is one of God’s small miracles. The energy, variety and resourcefulness of our churches, chaplaincies and schools are just three of the reasons why being the Bishop is a joy. I am full of admiration for our cathedral, for clergy colleagues and for the people of the Diocese who have been extraordinarily resilient and creative in the adaptation of continued ministry and mission….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Guardian) Denmark sermons law could stifle free worship, warns C of E bishop

A range of European churches have also voiced their concerns, including the Evangelical Lutheran church in Denmark, the Lutheran World Federation, the Roman Catholic Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and the Conference of European Churches.

Innes said there was a worrying trend towards impinging on minority groups across Europe. “There is a wide sense of concern about this. I am genuinely concerned at what I detect to be a growth of an anti-liberal government legislation and freedom of religion threats in Europe as a whole.

“This is not an isolated incident. I do think that we need to be alert to the encroachment on our freedom to practice our religions. Little by little, minority groups are being treated with increasing suspicion.

“For example, in Switzerland our clergy have been informed that they can’t work part time, they can only work full time, because there is a suspicion at what they might be doing in the other half of their time. In France, minority religious groups are required to have their accounts subject to a particularly invasive investigation and to re-register as religious associations every five years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Denmark, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Switzerland

(Chichester Observer) Bishop of Chichester reflects as UK passes grim milestone of 100,000 Covid deaths

In an interview on BBC local radio on Wednesday, Dr Warner said that the nation ‘will obviously want answers to some of the pressing questions’ posed by the death toll so far but said it was also a day ‘to thank God for those who have kept us going’.

It came after the UK recorded a total of 100,162 deaths with Covid-19, becoming the first European nation to pass the grim milestone.

The Bishop paid tribute to NHS staff, those working in schools and universities, shopkeepers and workers and all those good neighbours who had stepped up to the plate to help others.

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Posted in CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani to lead Church of England drive to tackle housing crisis

Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the next Bishop of Chelmsford, is to become the Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Housing to spearhead the Church’s efforts to help ease the UK’s crippling housing crisis.

The announcement comes ahead of the publication next month of the findings of a major two-year commission, set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, examining the role of the Church in tackling housing inequality and examining possible solutions.

Bishop Guli, currently the Bishop of Loughborough, will take up the new role later this year when she becomes Bishop of Chelmsford.

The new post will involve leading efforts to implement the recommendations of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community which will be published in late February.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The C of E House of Bishops first Meeting of 2021 releases a report

The bishops began with discussion and an acknowledgment of the ongoing seriousness of the pandemic, the rising death toll and the ongoing difficulty, sadness and loss faced by many. As a House and in breakout groups, the bishops continued to be mindful of the damage Covid-19 continues to wreak in our communities but expressed hope that the vaccines now being rolled out offer light at the end of this tunnel.

The House then turned its attention to the current and multi-year post-Covid environment, with broad discussion over the potential long-term impact of Covid-19 in a number of key areas. The House recognised the opportunities afforded by new kinds of engagement through the internet while regretting that many communities could not meet physically or in familiar ways, while underscoring the importance of Holy Communion for individuals and churches.

The bishops welcomed the creative, innovative ways ministers were finding to extend the Church’s outreach by streaming worship online and by developing other ways of building community online. The House affirmed it would be premature to make decisions on the eucharist in a digital medium and the administration and reception of Holy Communion, particularly in a time of national pandemic and resolved to undertake further theological and liturgical study and discussion on these issues over the coming months.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

The Bishop of Durham supports protections for children in covert intelligence bill

The Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Children and Families is supporting moves in the House of Lords today to introduce legal protections for children from being used in undercover operations by police and other authorities.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, is backing cross-party amendments to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill which is currently before the Lords for report stage.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) London Mayor Khan urges PM Johnson to close places of worship as Covid cases surge

Places of worship in the capital should shut immediately because of the risks of Covid infection, Sadiq Khan has said, amid signs that churches, mosques and synagogues are already closing their doors.

In a letter to the prime minister setting out his reasons for declaring a major incident in London, the mayor urged Boris Johnson to order places of worship to close, among other measures to tackle the crisis.

Under the lockdown restrictions, places of worship in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are permitted to remain open. The Scottish government has ordered them closed.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of Sheffield’s 2020 Christmas Sermon

Second, face. I wonder how you feel about your own face. Certainly, it bears a lot of your history. It’s true, isn’t it, that a lot of what we go through in life gets etched into our faces; and it’s also true that we read a lot about others by looking at their faces. That’s why face-coverings have made it so hard for us to relate well to one another: we all instinctively try to look one another in the face. We know the value of our masks: we have learned that we can catch and can transmit the virus through mouth and nose, so we readily wear our masks in order to protect ourselves and others. But it is a deprivation: faces matter in relationships.

So, then think about the face of the baby Jesus then, and about Mary and Joseph, looking down, with love beaming out of their faces at the new-born Christ-child. The truth at the heart of the Christmas story is an extraordinary one – that in the birth of Jesus, God himself has come among us, God became incarnate, made human for us. Listen again if you would to the first and last words of our Gospel reading tonight: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God; and the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Christians believe that when we look into the face of Jesus, we see the face of God revealed. And we believe that what we see in that face is grace and truth. Of course, these days, we mostly use the word grace to describe physical movement – in dance perhaps, like Oti Mabusi on Strictly, full of grace. But the Bible uses the word to describe Jesus’ character, and the character of God – not referring to physical movement, though yes, still referring to a kind of beauty. But it is the beauty of mercy, of generous favour, of undeserved kindness.

And of course these days, we mostly use the word truth in relation to facts – and perhaps in the USA and in the UK too, 2020 has seen at least the start of a return of respect for facts, for science, for experts after several years in which we have endured the politics of fake and fantasy. But when the Bible speaks about the truth which we see in the face of Jesus and in the face of God, again it refers to character – to trustworthiness and integrity, reliability and steadfastness.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics

St Helen’s Bishopsgate announces “broken partnership” with House of Bishops

St Helen’s Bishopsgate, following much prayer and reflection, has announced a state of broken partnership with the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

St Helen’s and many other churches have over a prolonged period called for and prayed for Bishops, as the denomination’s senior leaders, to uphold their vows to teach what the Bible says, including in the area of sex and marriage, and to deny false teaching and practice. Instead theHouse of Bishops is divided on sex and marriage; its official orthodox doctrine is expressly undermined by how some bishops speak and act, and by the failure to speak and act of many others. This has resulted in a muddled message and confusion for churchgoers across England.

Despite their consecration vows, Bishops have overseen the appointment to influential leadership positions of people who openly advocate change to the Church of England’s doctrine and/or forms of service, and Bishops have permitted alternative services and events that do not uphold the Church of England’s stated doctrinal position on sexual ethics.

Seven years ago the House of Bishops published the Pilling Report which called for ‘facilitated discussions’ on sexuality. Earlier this month the House of Bishops published the Living in Love and Faith book, course, and library of resources which call for yet further discussion. Living in Love and Faith demonstrates the division in the House of Bishops with some sections setting out the orthodox biblical teaching but others erroneous alternative views. The overall effect suggests that the clear biblical teaching on sex and marriage is not clear. The House of Bishops is responsible for upholding biblical doctrine in the Church of England. Whilst St Helen’s is encouraged by the faithful work of some involved in the LLF project, the clarity and consistency of the bible’s teaching on sex and
marriage is in marked contrast to theHouse of Bishops’ muddled message.

In good conscience, St Helen’s is no longer able to remain in gospel partnership with theHouse of Bishops until they again speak and act consistently in accordance with the plain reading and plain teaching of scripture on sex and marriage, as recognised by the church down the centuries.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Next Bishop of Chelmsford announced

Downing Street has announced that the Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani will be the next Bishop of Chelmsford, succeeding the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, who became Archbishop of York earlier this year.

Bishop Guli is currently Bishop of Loughborough in the Diocese of Leicester, a post she has occupied since late 2017.

Speaking about her appointment, Bishop Guli said “It is a great privilege to be appointed as the next Bishop of Chelmsford. I know there are many challenges ahead both in the church and wider society, not least as a result of the pandemic. However, I am hopeful about the future.

“I want to thank my friends and colleagues in Leicester Diocese where I have been very happy. I will be sad to say goodbye, but at the same time I am very excited about this next chapter in my ministry”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Bishop of Durham on the urgent action needed to tackle poverty in the pandemic

Living standards for low income families have worsened since the summer amid the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the findings of a new report by the Church of England Child Poverty Action Group. The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, writes about how urgent action is needed to tackle poverty and destitution.

At times like this, when nearly everyone is struggling in some way, it is tempting to turn in on ourselves, as individuals and as a nation. We saw this during the first lockdown when people stock-piled essential supplies and in the recent decision to reduce the UK’s foreign aid budget.

Fortunately, though, the overwhelming response to the pandemic has been to reach out generously to those in need through the spontaneous emergence of local mutual aid schemes across the country, alongside countless everyday acts of kindness and neighbourliness.

The call to ‘remember the poor’ runs through the Bible. The ‘Poverty in the Pandemic’ report that we are publishing today with the Child Poverty Action Group is a modern-day call to remember the poor. Based on a survey of nearly 700 low-income families with children, it offers a stark insight into the experiences of these families, many of whom have seen their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. This year has been a difficult one for many of us, but these challenges are a lot harder when you are short of money.

Sudden loss of earnings, increased living costs, navigating a complex benefits system, falling into debt – these are just some of the challenges facing families during the crisis. Financial worries are adding considerably to the pressures on families, pushing many of them to breaking point….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture

Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster announces his retirement

“It has been a privilege to serve as bishop in this diocese for over a decade,” he said. “Because we are a small diocese with a family feel, our clergy and lay people have been able to collaborate effectively and respond quickly to changing circumstances – as the past year has shown.

“Over the past 10 years, I have seen courage, generosity and resourcefulness as our congregations have faithfully shared God’s love, through prayer, worship and serving others. I look forward to working with those fellow disciples over the coming months to continue discovering what the post-Covid Church will look like as we renew our commitment to respond collaboratively in changing times.

“It may seem surprising that I should make this announcement just before Christmas, but the timing means that the period that the Diocese of Portsmouth will be without a diocesan bishop will be as short as possible.

“Thank you to all those who have prayed for us and worked alongside us over the past 10 years, in the churches and communities of south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Sally and I will be sorry to leave so many valued friends and colleagues.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Inside Time) ‘Prisons should get virus jab first’

Further calls for prisoners to be prioritised for coronavirus jabs have come from the American Medical Association and a team of Oxford University researchers led by Professor Seena Fazel.

Ann Norman, who represents thousands of prison healthcare staff as the Royal College of Nursing’s professional lead for criminal justice, said: “I think there’s some lobbying there to do, but absolutely I believe prisoners are some of the most vulnerable people, and as such should be made a priority.”

Deborah Coles, Director of the charity INQUEST, said: “Clearly on both public health and human rights grounds, people in all detention settings must have high priority in receiving the vaccine.”

The Rt Rev James Langstaff, the Bishop of Rochester, said: “I would hope that Government would be sensible enough when [the vaccine] comes on stream to make sure it’s used in prisons sooner rather than later.”

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “In principle, prison staff and prisoners should be towards the front of the queue, given the risk that prisons pose as epidemiological pumps.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Prison/Prison Ministry