Category : Anglican Provinces

(Pzephizo) Ian Paul–Is Britain no longer a ‘Christian’ country?

The census was of ‘religious attitudes‘, and not religious practice, so there was no question here about any kind of attendance. This leads to some key observations.

First, there is a large disparity between those identifying as ‘Christian’ and actual regular attendance at churches, on Sundays or midweek. C of E regular attendance is around 850,000, and (according to the work of Peter Brierley) this represents around a quarter of all attendance, which would then be 3.4 million, or just under 6% or the population. That attendance figure is a small part of the 27.5 million identifying as ‘Christian’.

(An interesting comparison is football viewing and attendance. In 2020/21, a record breaking 26.8m people or 40% of the population watched a live Premier League match at some point during the year. During football season match days, total attendance at matches of the first four divisions is 720,000—so the Christian faith is still far more popular, in terms of commitment and affiliation, than football!)

So the question is, what did people mean by saying they identified as Christian? For some, they will be aware of the heritage of Christian values which has shaped our culture—but I suspect for most, particularly those who are older, the term is effectively equivalent to ‘decent’, ‘moral’, ‘respectable’, or even ‘traditional British’.

This is very different from any reasonable working definition of ‘Christian’. In the gospels, it is clear that the core of Jesus’ message is ‘The time has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand—repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1.15). We might express this in contemporary terms: ‘the kingly, ruling presence of God is on its way; change the direction of your life, and trust your life to me.’ St Paul sums up Christian commitment as confessing that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Rom 10.91 Cor 12.3), that is to say, it is to Jesus we owe the faithful allegiance of our lives as we receive the forgiveness, hope and confidence that he offers through his life, death and resurrection. As an ordained Christian minister, I confess I am much more concerned with how many people are Christian in this sense, than how many tick a box on a census form!

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

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

([London] Times) Queen Elizabeth II biography reveals stoic monarch in final days

According to the Right Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, she was in “fantastic form” on the weekend before she died.

He told Brandreth that she was “so alive and engaging”, and how they spoke about her childhood, her horses, church affairs and her sadness over the war in Ukraine. “Her faith was everything to her. She told me she had no regrets,” he said.

Brandreth wrote: “Her Majesty always knew that her remaining time was limited. She accepted this with all the grace you’d expect.” The biographer claimed he “heard that the Queen had a form of myeloma — bone marrow cancer,” which he wrote would explain the tiredness, weight loss and mobility issues that were spoken about during the last year of her life.

Her death certificate stated that she had died of old age.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on any of the claims in the book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Books, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

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

Church aims to double number of UK Minority Ethnic Head Teachers in England

The ‘Leaders Like Us’ scheme, which is now open for applications, aims to equip UKME teachers with the skills for headship, and has funding to train more than 450 teachers by 2027.

Around one in every three students in schools in England are from UKME backgrounds, but there are fewer than 400 headteachers from the same backgrounds in total, out of more than 20,000 schools.

Research shows that the impact of teacher and school leader representation on students is significant; their attainment and likelihood of progressing to tertiary education is exponentially higher when students see leaders like them. Their exclusion and suspension rates decrease and future aspirations are also measurably lower.

However, data shows that teachers from UKME backgrounds are much less likely to progress to senior positions within their schools than their white peers, becoming increasingly under-represented the more senior the role. A recent report from the National Foundation for Educational Research showed that rather than improving over the last few years, there has in fact been a decline in representation.

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

([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.

Read it all.

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

(Churchman) J I Packer–Expository Preaching: Charles Simeon and ourselves

[Charles] Simeon himself is our example here. The feature of his preaching which most constantly impressed his hearers was the fact that he was, as they said, “in earnest”; and that reflected his own overwhelming sense of sin, and of the wonder of the grace that had saved him; and that in turn bore witness to the closeness of his daily fellowship and walk with his God. As he gave time to sermon preparation, so he gave time to seeking God’s face.

“The quality of his preaching,” writes the Bishop of Bradford, “was but a reflection of the quality of the man himself. And there can be little doubt that the man himself was largely made in the early morning hours which he devoted to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. It was his custom to rise at 4 a.m., light his own fire, and then devote the first four hours of the day to communion with God. Such costly self-discipline made the preacher. That was primary. The making of the sermon was secondary and derivative.”

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Charles Simeon as described by (Bishop of Calcutta) Daniel Wilson

He stood for many years alone, he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented, his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized, disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.

-–as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon

O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

(BBC) Church group from Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland urges denominations to share spaces to tackle poverty

Churches are being urged to share buildings regardless of denomination for lunch clubs and worship.

The Churches Together group that covers Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland said it was reacting to “rising energy bills and worsening poverty”.

It said it had taken the “unprecedented step” of writing to every church to urge them to “work more closely at this critical time”.

“This has to be what we have to talk about,” a spokesman said.

Read it all.

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

(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.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Richard Hooker

O God of truth and peace, who didst raise up thy servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

(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.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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

(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

Youthscape charity to work with parishes on reaching young people with the Christian message

A £1.29 million grant from the Archbishops’ Council will fund work led by Youthscape to help parishes connect with young people and recruit and train church volunteers for youth work.

The Launchpad scheme, run by Youthscape, has already been successfully piloted in the Dioceses of Blackburn, London and St Albans. So far, the scheme has helped 140 Church of England priests to formulate plans to work with young people in their parishes.

Under the new funding arrangements, the scheme will be expanded to 450 churches across 18 dioceses over the next three years with the potential to engage with up to 4,000 young people.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Youth Ministry

(Church Times) Hard-up church-school head turns to his family to fill staff gaps

Spiralling costs and staff shortages have forced the head teacher of a church school in Devon to ask his mother to help out as a lunch supervisor and to rope his sister in to do the cleaning.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has warned that schools are “cut to the bone”. The association has released data from a survey of its members, suggesting that 90 per cent of schools will go into deficit in the next academic year, and half expect to go into the red in the next 12 months.

The general secretary of the NAHT, Paul Whiteman, told the Observer on Sunday. “There are no easy fixes left. This will mean cutting teaching hours, teaching assistants, and teachers.”

Last week, Steve Hitchcock, the head teacher of St Peter’s C of E Primary School, in Budleigh Salterton, told the APEX news agency that there was nothing left to cut. The school was “constantly asking parents for money, constantly asking local groups, constantly trying to get money from any source”.

The school’s energy bills had doubled in the past six months, he said, while real-terms income had fallen by nine per cent in the past decade. Rising costs and diminishing income has left the catering budget £38,000 in arrears, and meant that the school was unable to give catering staff a pay rise in line with inflation.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Education, England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Archbishop of Canterbury prays for unity and stability under new PM Rishi Sunak

Last week, the racial-justice officers for the diocese of Chichester, the Revd Martha Mutikani and the Revd Dr Godfrey Kesari, called on the Church of England to “embrace minority communities” and “give them much more space” in leadership roles….

Delivering “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4’s Today Programme on Tuesday morning, the Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly, the Revd Lucy Winkett, said that “to acknowledge the UK’s first Hindu Prime Minister is a source of great significance and positivity, whatever the party politics, and to mark with gladness that a person of Global Majority Heritage, practising a faith that is followed by 1.2 billion people around the world, has become the first among equals in the British constitution.

“Given this, the very best thing that citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever their ethnicity, background or religion, can do, to honour this significant moment, is to expect the highest standards of integrity and courage,” Ms Winkett continued.

Mr Sunak took his oath as an MP on the Bhagavad Gita. In an interview with The Times in July, he said of his faith: “It gives me strength, it gives me purpose. It’s part of who I am.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General

(Church Times) C of E Pensions Board joins fight to force VW to open its books on climate lobbying

The Church of England Pensions Board has joined five other pension funds to bring legal action against Volkswagen AG (VW), after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate-lobbying activities.

The funds, four Swedish and one Danish in addition to the C of E board, are all part of the Institutional Investment Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Climate Action’s 100+ initiative. These have asked the company repeatedly to clarify its lobbying position. VW discloses trade association memberships, but does not disclose how the goals of these associations align with its own climate goals.

The boards wanted to table an agenda item at VW’s AGM, seeking publication of a report setting out how the company’s lobbying of policy-makers matched its stated ambition to support the Paris Agreement goals by becoming a net-zero company. VW refused to table the item.

The investors say that they tried over several years to get information before tabling the amendment. The case, supported by the legal charity ClientEarth, will test whether VW has the right to refuse the agenda item.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Pensions, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Communiqué From The Gafcon Primates Council

2. Fresh Challenges Facing the Anglican Communion

The original GAFCON in Jerusalem in 2008 was born out of the tragic cost that has come from Provinces that have departed from clear biblical teaching and established historic Anglican Formularies that were unquestioned until recent years. Those departures continue and are even spreading. We were deeply grieved by the recent appointment of a man who lives in a same-sex civil partnership as Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. It is a heartbreaking provocation that such a departure from biblical standards would be thrust upon the Communion in the historic See of Canterbury and in opposition to the established teaching and practice of the majority of Anglicans.

The announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury distanced himself from this appointment, as it was the recommendation of a Selection Panel, requiring the Queen’s approval. Yet it is difficult to see how a Diocesan Bishop, let alone the Archbishop of Canterbury, could not influence the appointment of the Dean of his own Cathedral, especially given the published process for the Appointment of Deans. Moreover, filling this position was the responsibility of Mr. Stephen Knott, the Archbishop’s Secretary for Appointments, who is himself in a same-sex marriage. It is disingenuous, if not duplicitous, for the Archbishop to claim that the Church of England has not changed its doctrine of marriage, when he has engaged an Appointments Secretary, whose own union is a living contradiction of marriage as God has ordained it, and which the Church of England claims to uphold. By empowering Mr Knott to oversee the appointments of senior positions in the Church of England, it is hardly surprising that the recommended nominee was likewise in a same-sex relationship. Clearly, the process for appointing senior positions in the Church of England needs to be reformed, so that decisions are in the hands of those who abide by the teaching of the Church of England, especially in relation to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, which are generally perceived as a cloak for homosexual activity.

Furthermore, while Dean David Monteith’s long term civil partnership may have gone under the radar in Leicester Cathedral, the moral character of the Dean of Canterbury has ramifications for the whole Communion. Canterbury has a place in our history which needs to be preserved, rather than undermined. At the recent Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Regrettably, the Archbishop will be perceived as advocating the very opposite of this resolution by refusing to prevent this appointment. The so-called instrument of unity has sadly become an instrument of disunity. The tear in the fabric of the Communion has only deepened, perhaps irreparably.

The Anglican Communion evolved as a communion of Churches who held to the Reformation Formularies. Yet the Anglican Communion has over the last twenty-five years slowly but irretrievably abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture on not only matters of human sexuality but the very nature of the gospel. Yet those who remain true to the teaching of Scripture, especially in upholding Resolution I.10, are the true inheritors of the Anglican Communion. By contrast, the Canterbury Communion best describes those who accept the double speak of saying Resolution I.10 is our doctrine, but it is all right to disown it, because “we have studied the Scriptures over many years and prayed about it”. One can only wonder what Athanasius would have said if Arius had made the same claim! Yet those on two divergent paths cannot walk together, as the Council of Nicaea clearly demonstrated. We deeply lament the advocacy for unbiblical practice, and the promotion of those whose lives betray an abandonment of Christian morality. The Archbishop of Canterbury has become complicit in this trend, while providing little support for biblical orthodoxy, or offering any support for those orthodox Anglicans who are mistreated in their provinces by the revisionist agenda of bishops who defy not only Resolution I.10, but the clear teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19:4-9.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Church of England Pensions Board begins legal proceedings against German car manufacturer VW

The Church of England Pensions Board, together with Swedish public pension funds AP7, AP2, AP3, AP4 and Danish AkademikerPension, has filed a case against Volkswagen AG, after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate lobbying activities.

This is the first time investors have started European litigation on a climate-related matter. The case was filed this week.

The case will test whether VW has the right to refuse to include an item on the company AGM agenda proposed by VW’s shareholders at the 2023 AGM having previously refused investors shareholder resolutions. The group of investors are represented by German law firm Hausfeld Rechtsanwälte LLP and supported by legal charity ClientEarth.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

God, our judge and saviour,
teach us to be open to your truth
and to trust in your love,
that we may live each day
with confidence in the salvation which is given
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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

(Church Times) Evangelical opponents of [non-celibate] same-sex relationships outline their proposals to the Bishops

Groups opposed to the introduction of same-sex…[relationships] in the Church of England have had meetings with bishops as the College of Bishops ponders what to present to the General Synod in February.

A meeting in Lambeth Palace on Tuesday of last week was attended by representatives from the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), the Evangelical Group of the General Synod (EGGS), the Church Society, and Junia, a group for ordained women in the Evangelical tradition.

A representative from Living Out also attended the meeting. Living Out is an organisation that describes its mission as “to see Christians living out their sexuality and identity in ways that enable all to flourish in Christ-like faithfulness”.

All the groups hold that marriage is the only acceptable context for sexual relations, and that a marriage can be only between a man and a woman. They met the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, and the Bishop of Grantham, Dr Nicholas Chamberlain.

Dr Chamberlain is the only openly gay Church of England bishop. At the time of his appointment, he confirmed that he was living in accordance with the House of Bishops’ guidelines, which state that gay clergy cannot be in sexually active same-sex partnerships.

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