Category : CoE Bishops

[Oxford] Bishop Stephen Croft–Rethinking Evangelism

Over 400 people assembled in the Vatican over three weeks. The initial work of the Synod was to listen to five-minute contributions from every part of the world. There was widespread agreement that we live in a time when the passing on of Christian faith is challenging and difficult everywhere.

There was widespread agreement around two further themes. The first is that the Church therefore needs to reflect more, not less, on the reasons for this and our response. The second is that as a Church we need to begin not with techniques or methods but with Christ: dwelling deeply, seeing the face of Christ afresh, exploring again the joy of the gospel.

There have been very significant shifts in our culture and the place of the church within our culture. We understand them only in part. But I believe more and more of the Church of England recognises now that technical solutions are not the answer. I have found more and more over the last three years that when I speak about church growth and how to do evangelism the energy leaves the room.

If I show even a hint of a downward sloping graph, I lose my audience completely. But when I speak of Christ and the wonder and character of Christ and the need to begin from a place of hope and love and nurture the Church as the Body of Christ in very simple ways, the energy levels rise and there is fresh hope and vision.

This is not because people are unwilling to face reality. I think our congregations and communities understand the reality of our situation very well indeed. I think we recognise together that technique or finance or strategies cannot of themselves “solve” the problem. We need as a Church to gather again around Jesus Christ and his gospel and find there renewal and healing and life for us and for the world. These convictions undergird the vision and call we are exploring in the Diocese of Oxford, to be a more Christ like Church for the sake of God’s world: more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Government too soft on gambling ads, warns Bishop of St Albans

Dr Smith said, however, that there were insufficient penalties for companies who ignored the new standards. “With little consequences for companies flouting the rules, and few teeth to enforce these new directives, the Committee of Advertising Practice needs to step up their approach.

“With so many of the proposals relying on betting firms to self-regulate, I sadly have little hope for major changes to the way gambling advertises.

“This endless barrage of adverts has normalised gambling, and we now have 55,000 children who are problem gamblers and it is time for the gambling industry to take this issue seriously.

“It is our moral duty to protect young people from gambling-related harm, and I hope the Committee of Advertising Practice will support my General Synod motion demanding tighter regulation around gambling advertising.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Facebook ‘delusion’ can’t replace religion, says Church of England bishop Rachel Treweek as social network’s numbers surpass Christianity

The idea that Facebook can replace religious communities is “a delusion”, a Church of England bishop has said, as the social network surpasses global Christianity in numbers.

Figures released by the social network for 2018 show that it has 2.32bn monthly active users, more than the most recent available figures for the reach of Christianity.

Data from the Pew Research Centre suggests that the faith has 2.3bn adherents worldwide.

Facebook was founded 15 years ago last Monday, and in a blog post to mark the occasion chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that “people’s experience in the past was defined by large hierarchical institutions – governments, mass media, universities, religious organisations – that provided stability but were often remote and inaccessible.

“Our current century is defined more by networks of people who have the freedom to interact with whom they want and the ability to easily share ideas and experiences.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology

(CEN) Peers bid to make clergy conduct same sex marriages

The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell stated that ‘the Church of England seeks to welcome all people’, including those in civil partnerships and same-sex marriages but explained that ‘the reason we are having this discussion is that there are questions about how this welcome can be expressed’.

He said that the amendment introduces ‘a discordant note into your Lordships’ consideration of a Bill which is otherwise uncontentious and likely to receive clear support’.

He said that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 ‘seeks to strike a balance between the right of individuals to marry a person of the same sex, and the rights of churches and other religious bodies — and of their ministers — to act in a way consistent with their religious beliefs’.

“No religious body or minister of religion is compelled to solemnise such a marriage,” he said.

He pointed out that in its second report on the then Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said that ‘religious liberty, as granted under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights is a collective as well as individual right’.

It stated that religious organisations have the right to determine and administer their doctrinal and internal religious affairs without interference from the state.

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

(John Stevens) Same-Sex Relationships: Sorry Bishop Bayes, But The Meaning Of Holiness Does Not Change From Generation To Generation

Bishop Bayes argument from the comparison with divorce somewhat ironically falls apart when it is remembered that Jesus explicitly stated that homosexuality was a ground for divorce (Matthew 19v9 – using the work porneia for “sexual immorality” which includes homosexual acts as well as heterosexual acts outside of marriage). This verse therefore affirms both that divorce is holy and permissible in some circumstances, and that homosexuality is unholy and a ground for divorce.

When it comes to homosexuality the Biblical message is entirely different. Whereas divorce is permitted in both Old and New Testament, and by Jesus and by Paul, there is not a single text in the entire cannon of Scripture that would suggest that same-sex sexual relationships are pure, holy and pleasing to God, In fact the exact opposite is the case throughout. Homosexual acts are forbidden in language which negatively contrasts them with the purity of holiness, and sex is to be rightly enjoyed solely in the context of heterosexual covenant marriage. This is true in both Old and New Testaments. It is a position taught not just by Paul but also by Jesus, who upheld the Old testament teaching about sex and marriage and condemned “sexual immorality” using language that in the cultural context clearly included homosexuality.

There can be no viable case made that the Scriptures indicates any change in God’s attitude towards homosexual acts, and not even the hint of a “redemptive trajectory” in this direction. He is a holy God and remains implacably opposed to all sexual acts that fall short of his holy standard. We are not at liberty to revise our understanding of holiness to fit with contemporary cultural mores.

The idea that God has revealed a different standard today is equally flawed. The Holy Spirit is himself God, and just as unchanging as God the Father. He cannot reveal something to be holy today that was condemned as unholy in the Scriptures that he breathed-out. The Holy Spirit is not a liar, and he has not learned anything new about human sexuality in the two thousand years since the closure of the Canon.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Peter Mullen on the George Bell case–A dark episode in the life of the Church

Lord Carlile’s report was eventually handed to the Church authorities and they kicked it into the long grass.

So much for Bishop Martin Warner’s vaunted “…safeguards of truth and justice for all, victim and accused alike.” All along, the only interests being safeguarded here were those of the Bishop of Chichester and the Archbishop of Canterbury. We know very well why these authorities leapt so precipitately to condemn Bishop Bell out of hand: it was because they had previously had to admit to the existence of so many perpetrators of sexual abuse among the senior clergy – especially in the Diocese of Chichester.

Warner and Welby, to salvage what remained of their reputations, wanted desperately to appear to be doing something.

Thus the name of the safely-dead Bishop George Bell was tarnished because the Church’s highest authorities sought to cover their own backs.

Let us be in no doubt as to the seriousness of the Church’s misconduct so eloquently criticised in Lord Carlile’s report. He said that Bell had been “hung out to dry,” he added that the Church’s procedures were “deficient, inappropriate and impermissible”; “obvious lines of enquiry were not followed” and there was “a rush to judgement.”

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

([London] Times) Football is grooming children into gambling, says Bishop of St Albans

Children are being “groomed into gambling” by football and betting companies must be banned from sponsoring clubs’ shirts, a bishop has said.

It is the first time a Church of England leader has called for an outright ban, pointing out that nine out of 20 Premier League teams and 17 out of 24 Championship teams have a gambling company as their main shirt sponsor.

Today the church unveiled a set of proposals to be put to its General Synod calling on the government to “reduce the quantity and pervasiveness of gambling advertising” and to force betting companies to pay a levy to fund education and addiction treatment.

The Bishop of St Albans, who sits in the House of Lords, led the church’s successful campaign to limit how much can be wagered on fixed-odds betting terminals. He said that 55,000 teenagers in Britain were classed as problem gamblers and not enough had been done to shield children from gambling advertising since laws were liberalised in 2005.

(subscription required).

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

(CEN Editorial) Bishop George Bell and a cloud left hanging over him

Archbishop Welby is no doubt trying to be kind to Carol and pastorally sensitive to her testimony, but nevertheless an evaluation of the strength of her evidence is a different matter.

The Bishop of Chichester took the same line, apologising for the failures of his Diocese’s procedures, but declaring that Bell cannot be pronounced not guilty of Carol’s allegation. “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited. There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved.”

This last sentence seems quite misleading: in judging the guilt or innocence of someone there is a presumption of innocence and a need to find proof of guilt. The fact that ‘certainty’ is not possible in such matters is a truism and not one which justice requires in finding someone not guilty. Bell surely needs to be declared found not guilty and not simply ‘under a cloud’.

The Church has not done justice to George Bell and no doubt the campaigners on his behalf will not cease in their labours to secure a full acquittal from this very serious accusation. Archbishop Welby added to his apology about the process: he said: “Bishop George Bell is one of the most important figures in the history of the Church of England in the 20th Century, and his legacy is undoubted and must be upheld.” But if this smear is left hanging, his legacy is indeed deeply damaged.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Guardian) Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt launches review into how UK can better support Christains under threat

Postcolonial guilt about Britain’s imperial past has held the country back from addressing the deepening persecution of Christians across the world, the foreign secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt was speaking at the launch of an independent review into how the government defends the rights of persecuted Christians. The review, which will be led by the bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, will study the scale, causes and geography of persecution and what more the UK may be able to do to raise the profile of the issue in its diplomatic network.

Hunt, a committed Christian, said: “We wanted to do this not just because freedom of worship is a fundamental human right, but because also freedom of worship is the invisible line between open societies and closed societies.”

He added he wanted “to banish any hesitation to look into this issue without fear or favour that may exist because of our imperial history, because of the concerns that some people might have in linking the activities of missionaries in the 19th century to misguided imperialism”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Telegraph) Charles Moore–New allegations have rightly been thrown out, but justice has yet to be done for Bishop Bell

The Church does feel uneasy. It admits its processes were wrong. Its tone has changed. It recognises Bell’s greatness, which it previously ignored: Archbishop Welby has personally tweeted to support the building of a statue to Bell in Canterbury, a project frozen by Carol’s original allegation. But it still cannot face the obvious point that if it had applied the Carlile processes it admits it should have used it would never have found against Bell in the first place.

Trying to make some amends, the present Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, wrote to Bell’s niece last week, expressing his sorrow for having ignored the rights of the family. He added in a separate statement, however: “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited.” It reminds one of Pontius Pilate, who found no fault in Jesus, but condemned him all the same.

In our law and culture, if guilt cannot be proved, innocence must be presumed. To do this is not to “discredit” a complainant, who might not be lying, but might be mistaken about identity or confused in other ways. Memory plays strange tricks, especially about events alleged to have occurred 70 years ago.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Church Times) Archbishop Welby apologises for ‘mistakes’ in case of George Bell

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer, who has been campaigning to clear Bell’s name, said on Thursday evening that the statements “show that they are clinging to the wreckage of their old position as best they can.

“It is simply self-justification, but it does indicate that they will just maintain for the sake of consistency the views that got them into such trouble in the first place.”

He questioned why, in January of last year, the Church had issued a statement and commissioned a second investigation: “What today has really exposed is the ridiculousness of what has been going on, and the foolishness of people who have real power in the Church. . .

“Many people will say that the Church was trying to control, or retrieve control, of the narrative of Lord Carlile, to shut down the critics, and create a doubt in the public mind that Bell might be a serial offender of some kind.

“They have nothing to hide behind now. It looks like a highly calculating, politicised outfit indeed.”

While parts of the Archbishop’s statement were “meaningful, welcome, and appropriate”, the reference to the Church’s “dilemma” in weighing up a reputation against a serious allegation did not exist, Professor Chandler argued….

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

An Open letter is released to the C of E bishops in response to their transgender services guidance

….This is the wider medical, social and political debate into which the House of Bishops have introduced their brief ‘Guidance for gender transition services’. The document is undoubtedly well intentioned but lacks the serious theological analysis required to address the philosophical, anthropological and social issues in play in public discourse.

We, the undersigned, are unreservedly committed to welcoming everyone to our churches and communities of faith, so that all might hear and be invited to respond to the good news of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. But we do not believe that the Guidance is the right way to do this, since it raises some significant issues for the Church’s belief and practice.

  1. The House of Bishops previously stated that no new liturgy would be offered. The title of ‘gender transition services’, the focus on the use of a person’s new name, the use of oil and water contrary to previous rubrics in Common Worship, and the description in the later explanatory note confirming that this service is to be used to ‘mark gender transition’ amount to the offering of a new liturgy, since existing wording is now being put to a new purpose.
  2. We are deeply concerned at what appears to be a misuse of the liturgy by which we celebrate one of the dominical sacraments, which are the founding markers of the Church itself (Articles XIX and XXV). Although reaffirmation of baptismal vows might well be appropriate at certain seasons of life, it should primarily be focussed on celebrating new life in Christ rather than a new situation or circumstance, as set out in Common Worship: Christian Initiation, and should always centre on salvation, repentance and faith rather than ‘unconditional affirmation’.
  3. We are similarly concerned at the inclusion of new biblical readings within the guidance and their suggestion that the changes of name for biblical characters in the light of God’s salvific action and intervention offer a legitimate parallel to the change of name associated with gender transition.

Read it all and note if you are interested the list of signatories (which number around 1600 as of this afternoon).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell and David Lamming-How far is Bishop George Bell’s reputation restored? When is a cloud not a cloud?

The allegations were extremely serious. Archbishop Justin is to be applauded for treating the matter so seriously: we cannot ignore the fact that the evidence in all cases was not strong. Justice is a balance: if one finds it hard to administer coolly and dispassionately, it might be an argument for placing such decisions away from the Church. A pastor’s heart is a great thing, but perhaps not in one necessarily exercising judicial decisions and commentary.

The suspicion of dual standards between the living and the dead is illustrated by the case of the former Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, who was the subject of similar allegations which were also found unreliable after investigation. Upon his retirement he received a standing ovation from General Synod, with Archbishop Justin declaring that he was “glad to thank Bishop Perham wholeheartedly for his ministry after all the investigations and inquiries had cleared him”.

The Archbishop was, of course, dealing with someone he knew; a much-liked and respected colleague. But his acknowledgment that Bishop Perham had been ‘cleared’ followed the well established rule: innocent until proven guilty. It was good to see a faithful servant of the Church vindicated, but is hard to see how that precedent differs from that of George Bell, save that one was personally known to many of those insisting ‘innocent until proven guilty’ at the time, whereas few of us will have a personal attachment to a man who died in 1958.

If there is a clear and proper distinction between the cases, it needs to be fully articulated. As things stand, the discrepancy between the cases is hard to reconcile.

It seems to us that a black-and-white approach to these matters has the considerable merit of certainty, whereas once one moves into gradations of grey we will be asking for trouble. That is why an official approach that accepts the quasi-judicial decision is probably the wisest course of action in such cases. What one thinks privately and individually is, of course, entirely a matter of conscience.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Statement from the Bishop of Chester, Martin Werner, on the George Bell case and the Briden report

It became obvious that a more thorough investigation must be made before any public announcement can be considered and that the level of investigation typically undertaken for settlement of a civil claim is not adequate to justify an announcement. It is now clear that if an announcement about any other person is to be made, it must not imply certainty when we cannot be certain. We have also now understood much more besides, in particular about the trust that people place in us and their legitimate expectations of us as guardians of the inheritance of faith.

We recognise the hurt that has been done to all who have been directly involved, including the family of George Bell and those who continue to respect his achievements, as a result of the areas where we have fallen short. We apologise profoundly and sincerely for our shortcomings in this regard. The responsibility for this is a shared one, as are the lessons learnt from it.

For the future, we recognise how damaging and painful this has been. We have all been diminished by this case. The legitimate quest for certainty has been defeated by the nature of the case and the passage of time. Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited. There is an uncertainty which cannot be resolved. We ask those who hold opposing views on this matter to recognize the strength of each other’s commitment to justice and compassion. Moreover, we continue to believe that the good things that George Bell did in his life will stand the test of time. His prophetic work for peace and his relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer are only two of the many ways in which his legacy will go on being of great significance to us in the Church and we hope and pray we can go on learning from what he has given to us.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby on the George Bell case and the Briden report

The Church’s dilemma has been to weigh up the reputation of a highly esteemed bishop who died over 60 years ago alongside a serious allegation. We did not manage our response to the original allegation with the consistency, clarity or accountability that meets the high standards rightly demanded of us. I recognise the hurt that has been done as a consequence. This was especially painful for Bishop Bell’s surviving relatives, colleagues and supporters, and to the vast number of people who looked up to him as a remarkable role model, not only in the Diocese of Chichester but across the United Kingdom and globally. I apologise profoundly and unconditionally for the hurt caused to these people by the failures in parts of the process and take responsibility for this failure.

However, it is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation relating to an historic case of abuse and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. We need to care for her and listen to her voice.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has already questioned the Church of England over its response to the Bishop Bell case and the review by Lord Carlile. We expect that their report on our hearings will address further the complex issues that have been raised and will result in a more informed, confident, just and sensitive handling of allegations of abuse by the church in the future. We have apologised, and will continue to do so, for our poor response to those brave enough to come forward, while acknowledging that this will not take away the effects of the abuse.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(C of E) The National Safeguarding Team statement on Bishop George Bell

A ruling by Timothy Briden, a senior ecclesiastical lawyer, relating to fresh information received about the late Bishop George Bell, has been published today. Mr Briden was appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to make an independent assessment of the evidence that had been brought before the core group, the Church’s response to any safeguarding situation.

A range of people came forward with further information following the publication of a review by Lord Carlile, in December 2017, of the Church of England’s handling of an original allegation against the late bishop. The Church’s response has included an independent, thorough investigation by former Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway. This was submitted to Mr Briden. Bishop Bell’s living relatives were represented during this process.

To enable Ray Galloway to have an informed understanding of the case he also interviewed ‘Carol’, who brought the original allegation; neither he nor Mr Briden reinvestigated her claim in respect of which a civil settlement has already been made.

Read it all and take the time to read the full Briden report.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) ‘Put aside differences’ to find a way through on Brexit, Bishop Lowson tells politicians

Politicians need to put aside their personal differences to find a way through on Brexit, the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, said on Wednesday.

Speaking after the defeat of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, Bishop Lowson said: “The need is for us as a nation, and especially in the Commons, is to listen to the people and to find a way forward that most can agree on.”

He went on: “We need to put aside our personal differences to find this way. Whether we have a general election or a second referendum is a question for the politicians.

“But I think there needs to be some kind of discovery process so the Commons can work out what they find acceptable — taking the temperature of what is possible. There has to be some give and take, though.

“As a nation, we have been through some fairly significant challenges over the centuries and we have found a way through them. As Christians, we believe that God will find a way forward.”

Bishop Lowson was one of four bishops to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal in the House of Lords, along with the Bishops of London, Durham, and Birmingham.

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

(CEN) Bishop Paul Butler welcomes U-turn on Universal Credit

THE BISHOP of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, has welcomed Amber Rudd’s announcement that the government will not extend the two-child limit on Universal Credit for children born before April 2017.

New changes also include pressing ahead with a pilot to support 10,000 people from ‘legacy benefits’ on to Universal Credit in a test and learn approach.

Bishop Butler, who speaks for the Church of England on issues relating to children and young people, said: “As a just and compassionate society, we believe that every child is a blessing and deserves to be treated equally.

“So I very much welcome the announcement that the two-child limit policy will not be extended to children born before the policy came into effect in April 2017.

“I also welcome the Government’s mor

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture

(Express) Bishop Alan Smith–Gambling is an addiction just like drugs – but why is the Taxpayer paying for the cure?

What dangerous activity do children do more often than smoking, drinking or drugs? If you said gambling, you would be right. Years ago, I met a family who had lost their teenage son to suicide after fighting a gambling addiction.

That family’s loss is not an isolated case: it’s been depressing to meet several other grieving parents. Those campaigning parents went on to win the battle to persuade the Government to slash the stakes on the most addictive gaming machines from £100 to £2. Yet this victory can’t lead to complacency as we face further gambling challenges.

Today there are 55,000 children defined as problem gamblers – something I term a ‘generational scandal’. Sadly, I fear we have done too little to prevent this from becoming a much wider problem.

Under-18s are regularly inundated with more than three gambling adverts a day while 90% of pubs fail to stop children from gambling on the loud and bright fruit machines found in nearly every establishment.

Children are the next target of an industry making billions in profits which shows little inclination to take any form of responsibility.

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

Bishop Graham Dudley responds to climate concerns raised by World Economic Forum

“It is significant that the threats posed by climate change have been recognised by the world’s top economic experts.

“While this report serves to strengthen calls for urgent action to protect and sustain God’s creation, it also highlights the peril of inactivity and delay, which particularly places the economically poorest people in our world at risk of devastating consequences.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Christian Today) Leading evangelical bishop apologises for role in gender transition liturgy guidance – and now opposes it

A leading evangelical bishop who oversaw the production of controversial Church of England guidance about gender transitioning has apologised – and confirmed that he now doesn’t back it.

The Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, was chair of the House of Bishops’ Delegation Committee, the body which oversaw the publication of guidance last month on how to use the existing Affirmation of Baptismal Faith to enable transgender adults to mark their transition.

When the guidance was published, the official Church of England website quoted Bishop Henderson as saying: ‘This new guidance provides an opportunity, rooted in scripture, to enable trans people who have “come to Christ as the way, the truth and the life”, to mark their transition in the presence of their Church family which is the body of Christ. We commend it for wider use.’

But just a few days later, the Bishop was the lead signatory on a statement from the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), of which he is president. The CEEC statement described the guidance as ‘highly divisive and theologically and pastorally questionable’. The statement said the guidance ‘also risks raising serious concerns both within the wider Anglican Communion and ecumenically’.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Bishop Rachel Treweek’s recent speech in the House of Lords on the stewardship of girls in refugee camps

My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hodgson, for securing this debate. It is a great honour to be taking part and to listen to the contributions of so many amazing supporters of women and girls. I should also like to draw attention to my interests as set out in the register.

Following previous speakers, I too should like to reinforce what has been said about violence and access to education. As has been said, before, during and after conflict girls face both physical and sexual violence. It is important to note that trauma follows adolescent girls when they flee from conflict, whether they become refugees or are internally displaced. There is a high ​risk of sexual abuse in overcrowded, unsanitary and unsafe refugee areas. Girls face not only prostitution and the risk of early marriage; they also face isolation and a lack of access to healthcare and psychological support. I would like to ask the Minister: what specific action are the Government currently taking to support girls in these vulnerable places, and how will rebuilding peace after conflict specifically involve support for these girls?

This year, when the Government will host an international meeting on preventing sexual violence, will there be a focus on support for girls in particular? Where a country experiences violence, women and girls also face increased domestic violence in the home. Can the Minister let us know when the Government plan to introduce domestic legislation that will allow the UK to ratify the Istanbul convention? In particular, UK nationals must be able to be tried in UK courts for domestic violence committed against women abroad.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence, Women

(Church Times) More than 100 Oxford clergy criticise bishops’ LGBTI guidance

Their main concern, they write, is with the “direction of travel” of the diocese. “In its desire for new expressions of ‘inclusion’, it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of scripture, and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction.

“We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible’s teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit.”

The signatories disavow any sense of being “morally superior” and acknowledge that they have “much to learn from others, including those with whom we disagree”; but they conclude that “the issue concerns the teaching of Christ’s Church, however lacking we may be as disciples of Christ. . .

“We would love our bishops to articulate clearly God’s love for us in helping us see both the attractiveness of deep friendships, but also the appropriate setting for sexual intimacy — namely in marriage between a man and a woman. However, if they are unwilling to do this, we would ask them to recognise the seriousness of the difference between us: advocacy of same-sex sexual intimacy is either an expression of the love of God or it creates an obstacle to people entering the kingdom of God. It cannot be both.

Read it all.

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

(Christian Today) Oxford diocese in meltdown as clergy reject bishops’ view on sexuality

The letter to the bishops was sent before Christmas, and in turn the bishops have responded to the signatories with a statement of their own. Christian Today understands both letters are to be circulated to all clergy in the Oxford diocesan email news today, Wednesday. They are now also in the public domain on the website of the Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship.

Clergy signatories include conservative evangelical Canon Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s Oxford, who has openly spoken of his celibacy despite same-sex attraction, and the leading charismatic churchman Canon Charlie Cleverly, Rector of St Aldate’s, Oxford. Their two congregations are among the largest in the diocese. There are also signatories who are lay people and retired clergy, including the distinguished author, evangelist and lecturer Dr Michael Green.

The letter says: ‘Our overriding concern is with the direction of travel which the Diocese is taking as revealed by this letter. In its desire for new expressions of “inclusion”, it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of Scripture and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction. We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible’s teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit.’

They continue: ‘As Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany in the Episcopal Church of the USA said last month in relation to the introduction of “blessings” for same-sex couples, it ‘does a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman.’

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

(1st Things) Matthew Lee Anderson: The C of E’s recently released “pastoral” guidelines…Baptizing the spirit of the Age

At the heart of the guidance is a prioritization of the “pastoral,” which effectively cordons the ceremony off from meaningful theological reflection. This leaves the guidance grossly underdetermined, reducing priests to cheerleaders for those on their way to a new sex. The document opens, for instance, by announcing that the Church of England “welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ….” It goes on to insinuate that transitions from one sex and “identity” to another may sometimes be licit—and that affirming these transitions is always the appropriate “pastoral” response. In conducting such ceremonies priests should be “guided by the wishes of the candidate.” The church, it now seems, must give unconditional welcome to trans individuals, but those individuals are apparently free to impose conditions upon the church.

This triumph of the “pastoral” happens when the church abdicates its responsibility to respond to such moments theologically. As the document notes, the “giving or adoption of a new name has a long history” within the tradition, as at confirmations or upon taking holy orders. Yet the text does not attempt to connect such a practice to the taking of a different gender. This simple derivation from past to present circumvents the very theological thinking required to keep such a practice from sliding into a warmed-over celebration of therapeutic individualism. This is a baptism-type ceremony, to be sure, but it is the spirit of the age that is being consecrated.

Of course, developing the theological architecture necessary to provide real pastoral guidance to gender dysphoric Christians and their priests would make explicit the deep revolution that is at work in the church’s teaching about the nature of sex and the person. It would also open up the possibility that pastors and priests might have the responsibility to say “no” to requests for consecrating new names for transgender individuals.

It is ironic that such an individualistic and therapeutic atmosphere would infect the church’s understanding of baptism through a service reaffirming baptismal vows. It is in baptism, as the document notes, “where we find our true identity in Christ.” Yet any “Affirmation of Baptismal Faith” founded upon transitioning into a new sex risks conveying that the source of alienation within one’s former life was one’s physical body—introducing a latent Gnosticism into the theology of baptism.

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

The 2018 Christmas sermon from the Bishop of Sheffield

Some of you will have seen where I’m going with this, I suppose. There was a time, and maybe you can say the same, when the story I carried around in my head, and with which I interpreted the world, excluded God. The result was that when I was granted the occasional glimpse of God’s presence, I used to squeeze that data into the existing framework: ‘Obviously it’s not God. The genuine article is not possible. It must be a look-alike, or a sound-alike, or a feel-alike’. And I dare say I’m not the only here for whom conversion meant, in effect, abandoning an old story which had ceased to be adequate, which no longer did justice to my growing experience, in favour of a different outlook, one which made more satisfying sense, sense not just of the existence of God, but of myself in relation to God.

Well, I don’t know how far you identify with that. But the Gospel reading this evening suggests that that process, or some process like it, is not just a common one, but an inevitable one where God is concerned — inevitable because a relationship with God is not something within our grasp. It’s not easy for creatures like us, who dwell in time and space, to know an eternal and infinite Creator. It’s not easy for sinners like us to know the Holy One. Or (to use the terminology of our Gospel reading), it’s not easy for us to hear the Word of God.

Repeatedly in our reading there are little indicators that if we are to know God, we are utterly dependent on what Christian tradition calls ‘grace’: we rely on God’s initiative, his gift, his unmerited favour towards us. Listen again to these words: The true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.

The true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. It had to because almost by definition, it is beyond our capacity to enlighten ourselves: enlightenment always does come to us. Though the true light came into the world, the world did not recognise him, because this enlightening Word is almost always contrary to human expectation. But to those who did receive him (since the true light is always something that to be received), he gave power (because this power is always a gift), to become children of God (because a relationship with God is not our natural state, it is always something // into which we must enter). This true light, the Word of God, became flesh, says John, and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

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Posted in Christmas, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Bishop Libby Lane named as next Bishop of Derby

Bishop Libby is currently the Suffragan Bishop of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester – a post she has occupied since 2015.

Libby describes Derbyshire as ‘the place that holds my heart’. She grew up in Glossop in the north-west of the county and was selected for ordination while working in the parish of St Thomas Brampton, Chesterfield.

Bishop Libby said: “I am excited and privileged to have been called to serve as Bishop of Derby.

“I grew up here and my vocation was fostered here. Derbyshire nurtured me and brought me to faith and I want to love Derbyshire back.

“I want to lead a church in Derbyshire where people find hope because they know they are loved by God in Christ, and I pray that hope sets us free to live our lives in ways that bring change for good.”

On hearing the news, the Dean of Derby, the Very Reverend Dr Stephen Hance, said: “I am thrilled that Libby is coming to be our bishop. Her roots are here in Derbyshire, and we are all very much looking forward to welcoming her home and working with her in the months and years ahead….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Guardian) Bishops pray for politicians’ integrity amid Brexit turmoil

Church of England bishops have said they are praying for “courage, integrity and clarity for our politicians” after a week of turmoil over Brexit.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday, the bishops also urged the country to “consider the nature of our public conversation” and called for more grace and generosity.

The statement echoes concerns raised by the archbishop of Canterbury in the House of Lords on Friday when he stressed the need for reconciliation after a “week of deep division” over Brexit.

Justin Welby said it was central to the country’s future that the divisions were healed.

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

A CEEC response to the C of E House of Bishops’ “Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition”

The Church of England holds to the principle that our prayers express what we believe (lex orandi, lexcredendi). As this new guidance will be included in Common Worship, its support for services liturgically
recognising a person’s gender transition, and the theological views contained in the guidance for such services,are of both liturgical and doctrinal significance.

Although the bishops have declined the request to issue a new formal liturgy they have encouraged a newliturgical act. They seem to have proposed a hybrid liturgy for such services. They do so by commending a
properly approved rite which should express our baptismal unity to be used to do something else and something new liturgically. This innovative use is both highly divisive and theologically and pastorally
questionable. It also risks raising serious concerns both within the wider Anglican Communion and ecumenically.

Although the bishops have not issued a new formal teaching, they have issued pastoral guidance which makes theological judgments. They have done so through what appears to be a flawed process; a process which
lacked theological scrutiny and bypassed the existing structures for such theological discernment. These judgments develop and narrow previous teaching. They do so in ways that many Anglicans view as reversing that teaching to establish a position which is incompatible with biblical revelation and the Church’s traditional understanding of what it means to be human.

We recognise that some in the church will share our understanding of the nature and significance of this step and welcome it. Others may think our interpretation of the guidance flawed. We believe, however, that our
interpretation is widely and legitimately held. We, and we believe many others, are concerned as to the consequences of this development.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Uncategorized

(C of E) Report from the December House of Bishops

On the third day the Bishops participated in exploratory work related to the Living in Love and Faith project.

The House of Bishops prayed for the nation and all our politicians at this challenging time.

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