Category : Anglican Provinces

(Church Times) The idea of the Parish is not threatened, says Archbishop Justin Welby

The parish is “essential” and is not under threat, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In an interview last Friday for the Church Times, Archbishop Welby responded to the Save the Parish campaign by stating: “There is no ‘threat’ to the parish. . . There is no conspiracy to abolish the parish.”

It was “rubbish”, he said, to suggest that the parish system was outdated. “We are the Church for England. If we are going to be for England, we have to be in every community, or as many as we can possibly manage. We have to be open to every person, not just the congregation, precious as they are.”

Read it all.

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

(ACNA) A Pastoral Message from Archbishop Beach Regarding Gafcon and Women in the Episcopate

I am writing to you today from Nairobi, Kenya at the close of the recent Gafcon Primates Meeting. I am thankful for our global fellowship that is providing encouragement for many, from those undergoing persecution in Nigeria to those grappling with theological innovations in Wales. I encourage you to read more from the press release here.

There is one matter coming out of our meeting that is a challenge for a number of us in the Anglican Church in North America, myself included. The Anglican Church of Kenya recently consecrated a female diocesan bishop, and there has been speculation about how this development might affect our fellowship. At our meeting, the Gafcon Primates agreed we have not come to a consensus on the issue of women in holy orders, and specifically women in the episcopate. At its founding, Gafcon articulated in the Jerusalem Declaration the centrality of the Gospel message of salvation while acknowledging differences in secondary matters and pledging “to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.” Such matters will certainly stretch our fellowship, but our unity in Christ remains strong….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Church of Kenya

The Church of England’s adviser on medical ethics responds to calls for ‘[so-called] doctor assisted dying’

The authors speak of ‘safeguards’ to ensure that vulnerable people are not put at risk and reference the provisions of the ‘Meacher Bill’. Safeguards on paper, however, are worthless unless they can be consistently, universally and comprehensively translated into practice.

It is a tragic irony that on the day the authors’ article was published, news headlines were dominated by the deaths of three vulnerable adults in Care. In spite of every written policy, protocol, and approved practice, their reality was tragically different.

These were not isolated incidents; we have only to think of the hundreds of avoidable deaths in the Mid-Staffs hospital scandal, abuse of residents with learning disabilities in Eldertree Lodge and ‘systemic biases contributing to unequal mortality outcomes in ethnic minority women and women facing multiple problems and deprivation’.

We can add to this, the recent experience of many elderly care home residents in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic who were given DNACPR notices without proper protocols being followed.

Human lapses and failings build upon one another until catastrophic outcomes ensue…a process that, in too many instances, no amount of assumed monitoring or paper safeguards has been able to capture, never mind stop.

What can possibly give us confidence that similar safeguards will provide a better outcome if the law on assisted suicide were to be changed?

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Theology

Enthronement of the Most Revd John McDowell as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland took place last night

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Service of Enthronement for the new Archbishop unfortunately did not take place in 2020 and with the necessary restrictions earlier this year, plans for the service were put on hold.

In his sermon, Archbishop McDowell reflected on the Cross of Jesus and the true meaning of sacrifice. He remarked: “Any human relationship or political or social arrangement which does not allow the sacrifice of reciprocal self–giving room to flourish will ultimately crumble, because it is founded on falsehood. On a reef of sand. And that is so because sacrifice is at the heart of the nature of God, who made us in his image.”

The Archbishop was welcomed to the Cathedral by the Very Revd Shane Forster, Dean of Armagh. The Bible readings during the service were Numbers 21:4–9 by the Ven Elizabeth Cairns, Archdeacon of Ardboe, and John 3:13–17 by the Revd Dr Heather Morris, General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Music was provided by the Choir of the Cathedral and the Revd Dr Peter Thompson, Assistant Organist.

Read it all and the full sermon text provided.

Posted in Church of Ireland

(Northeast Now) Last service said at Watson’s Anglican church, congregation to join nearby parish in Humboldt

It was a bittersweet celebration in Watson over the weekend as the St. Bride’s Anglican Church was deconsecrated.

The final mass was said by Bishop of the Saskatoon Diocese, Chris Harper, Rev. Matteo Carboni, and Archdeacon Alex Parsons on Sept. 12 with members of the Watson and Humboldt congregations in attendance.

Carboni resided over the Watson parish before Sunday’s secularization service and those congregants will now be welcome to attend mass at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Humboldt where Carboni also resides.

While the service was a mixture said Harper of celebration and sorrow, with only four members of the congregation celebrating service at the church, Carboni said they were putting in a lot of time and energy into maintaining the parish.

Margaret Henderson, one of the few members of the Watson church, said it was getting hard to justify the resources being spent on four people.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Bishops hit out at ‘criminalisation of Good Samaritan’ over Channel crossings

A multilateral approach, promoting safe routes and valuing human life and the “dignity of the vulnerable”, was needed, the bishops said.

Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham, said: “We agree with the home secretary that we need a better and more efficient asylum process, and we agree on wanting to stop human trafficking.

“But the answer is more designated safe routes. The situation in Afghanistan has demonstrated that it’s possible to identify the most vulnerable people, sort out the necessary paperwork and set up safe routes.

“In Afghanistan, we have seen the story, seen the horror. With a lot of the folk in Calais, we don’t know their stories. If we did, levels of sympathy and compassion would increase.”

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Church of England

God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel
that, always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

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

(Economist) The Church of England needs new members. How to get them?

Now the church is displaying evangelising glints that are, for many, alarming. A briefing paper on “Vision and Strategy”, delivered in July at its general synod, called for a church that is “younger and more diverse”—and much bigger. It aims to develop 3,000 “worshipping hubs” for children and young people, and has linked with a movement called “Myriad” (the word is Greek for 10,000), which aims to create 10,000 new churches and a million new worshippers in Britain within a decade.

Myriad does not mean “churches” in the spinsters-and-stained-glass sense. It is not promising 10,000 more pulpits or transepts or tea urns or vicars. It is not promising buildings at all. Myriad groups might meet in churches and work with priests—or they might meet independently, in houses or offices or parks. Followers talk freely about God. As a promotional video explains, this movement is “not just reserved for Bibles and a building”. These churches will be “predominantly” led by lay people—a Myriad boss referred to buildings and theological training as “key limiting factors” in church expansion.

The response has been bitter. Both the church and Myriad later apologised for the “limiting factors” comment, but the damage was done. The plans have been described as “Stalinist” and a “Great Leap Forward”. This, one vicar wrote, is a Christianity that is “randy for converts”. A Save the Parish group has been formed. Diarmaid MacCulloch, an emeritus professor of ecclesiastical history at Oxford University, sees in the scheme a certain “adolescent self-confidence”. Many are very angry. Mr MacCulloch says he is merely “mildly cross in an Anglican sort of way”. Which in Anglicanese means furious.

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

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Debating the Church and same-sex marriage

When I was invited to speak, I began by enumerating the points I wanted to make. I have learnt that this makes it harder for a presenter to cut me off before I have made all the comments that I plan to!

My first point was to note that our current approach in society is a novelty, and is the result of some fundamental changes in the way we think about our bodies, sex, and relationships. I have noticed that the debate often starts with the assumption that belief in same-sex marriage is obvious, natural, and is the final end goal for our thinking about relationships. A little bit of cultural and historical awareness, though, shows that, in comparison with most cultures in most of history, we are very odd; I also want to point out that we have faced very rapid changes in attitudes, and changes are likely to continue in one direction or another. I noticed that Andrew nodded his agreement on this point.

My second point was that the C of E is rooted in the 1662 BCP and the 39 Articles; if we are to change our doctrine of marriage then we will need to redefine the C of E. I went on to make the point I have made previously in various places, that there is a strong consensus of what the Bible says, and to introduce change we do (as Francis Spufford does with honesty) need simply to say that, on this, the Bible is wrong. Andrew seemed to agree with the first of these two, but shook his head on the second.

Read it all and please do watch the debate via the links provided.

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

The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announces departure from the Diocese of Southwark

The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announced today that he will be leaving the Diocese of Southwark on March 21, 2022 – exactly 10 years to the day of his consecration as Bishop.

“I’m sad about all I’ll be leaving, as well as excited about what lies ahead,” said Bishop Jonathan, who will be moving to Orkney with his wife Alison, who will be continuing her academic and creative work. “I plan to write more and will be teaching, leading retreats and offering mentoring support to clergy,” he continued.

The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said, “Bishop Jonathan has served the Diocese of Southwark with energy, integrity and vision for ten years as the Bishop of Croydon. He has been a superb colleague and has also served the wider Diocese as Chair of the Southwark Board of Education as well as the national church in various additional roles, particularly on Ministry Council and as one of the lead bishops for refugee issues. I am grateful to him for all he has accomplished, for his companionship in episcopal ministry, and for his loving service of God’s people. He and Alison go with our prayers and gratitude as they move forward to the next stage of life and ministry.”

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Welsh same sex marriage blessing bill passes for 5 year experimental period

Several clergy acknowledged the struggles they had on the issue. The Revd Richard Wood (Bangor) believed that those opposed to the Bill had been misrepresented: “We disagree how we read scripture. I stand here not as a bigot, but as someone who has struggled to a point where I believe this Bill would be crossing a boundary,” he said. “My position has been maligned. A pastoral response is not to offer kindness for kindness’s sake….”

Bishop Cameron, summing up the debate, described it as “the most difficult job I’ve ever been given”. He sought to assure the Evangelical constituency that he had not chosen to misrepresent or condemn their views.

“When I talked about my understanding of scripture, I was speaking autobiographically. It was not intended as rubbishing of conservative Evangelical thinking, theology, or ministry.

“But I don’t agree with you that the Bible can only be read as hostile to gay relationships. I refuse to be told that I am ‘unorthodox’. . . We should not ‘disfellowship’ each other because we do not agree on this issue. . . Christ compels me to stand with the vulnerable and oppressed. I will not betray them at any price in this world or the next.”

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) PCC accuses Southwark diocese of ‘weaponising’ safeguarding against Vicar

The diocese of Southwark has “weaponised” safeguarding against the Vicar of Christ Church, New Malden, the Revd Stephen Kuhrt, the PCC alleges.

The diocese of Southwark has confirmed that Mr Kuhrt was suspended from all his ministerial duties on 22 June, “pending the investigation of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003”. Its statement says: “Suspension is a neutral act and does not imply that a view has been formed on the matter. He has been offered pastoral support during this time. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”

A statement from the PCC of Christ Church, issued to the congregation on 24 June, states: “His [Mr Kuhrt’s] offence has been to whistle-blow by expressing significant and evidenced concerns about safeguarding within Southwark Diocese. The Churchwardens believe these need to be addressed thoroughly, professionally and accountably, rather than weaponised against the person who has raised them.”

Read it all.

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

(C of E) An update on timing for the John Smyth Review from the National Safeguarding Team

Read it all and for background please see there.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Youth Ministry

(Goulburn Post) Anglican Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn speaks up on Jerrara Power plan

The Reverend Davies was one of 15 members of the community, many of them from Bungonia, to speak during open forum.

He said he wasn’t from Bungonia but “breathed the same air.” In addition, parishioners in the area were “very distressed about the proposal to process up to 330,000 tonnes annually of Sydney’s waste in the rural zone. The Reverend Davies took the matter to Dr Short, who wrote that he had become keenly aware of the importance of environment and air quality, particularly to Goulburn Mulwaree residents.

“This was highlighted in the lead-up to Christmas, 2019 when we were unable to go ahead with an outdoors carols program because of the impact of smoke from the bushfires,” he wrote.

Dr Short noted Jerrara Power’s scoping report had mentioned residents’ concerns about air quality, health and drinking water impacts associated with industry, including quarries in Goulburn Mulwaree.

“Noting the concerns that are acknowledged here and the fact that the vast majority of waste to be processed at the facility would come from outside the local government area, I support any process that would allow the interests and concerns of local residents to be fully heard and evaluated,” the letter stated.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner

Alan Smith, Senior Advisor – ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Risk and Inclusion, and former Global Head of Risk Strategy at HSBC, is to be the next First Church Estates Commissioner, Downing Street announced today. Alan has also been a Church Commissioner since 2018.
The First Church Estates Commissioner chairs the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee, a statutory committee responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2 billion investment portfolio.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Chair of the Commissioners’ Board of Governors, said: “I am delighted that Alan has chosen to use his skills and experience to serve the Church and greatly look forward to working with him. Climate change is the most urgent challenge we face, and Alan’s knowledge of environmental issues and risk management will be critically important for the Commissioners’ work. I’d also like to thank Loretta Minghella for her hard work and leadership during her time at the Church Commissioners.”

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “We are pleased that Alan will succeed Loretta. Alan’s experience as a Commissioner and his role on the Commissioners’ Audit & Risk Committee means he’s extremely well suited for this leadership role.”

Read it all.

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

(BBC) Canterbury Cathedral stained glass is among world’s oldest

New research indicates that some stained glass windows from Canterbury Cathedral may be among the oldest in the world.

The panels, depicting the Ancestors of Christ, have been re-dated using a new, non-destructive technique.

The analysis indicates that some of them may date back to the mid-1100s.

The windows would therefore have been in place when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was killed at the cathedral in 1170.

Léonie Seliger, the head of stained glass conservation at the cathedral, and part of the research team, told BBC News that the discovery was historically “hugely significant”.

Read it all.

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

C of E House of Bishops met on Monday 26th of July 2021

The Bishop of Huddersfield, in his capacity as the lead bishop for safeguarding then updated the House on the Safeguarding National Casework Management System. The House agreed additional steps to help the project become more fully embedded in dioceses, with the National Safeguarding Team available for discussions regarding any particular concerns or issues for dioceses.

The Archbishops’ Adviser on Racial Justice then addressed the House on the next stage of the Commission of Racial Justice, commissioned by both Archbishops. The House was updated and invited to note the progress outlined so far towards implementing the recommendations from the Lament to Action report. In addition, the House also noted and commented upon the draft terms of reference for the Commission on Racial Justice.

The Bishop of London, in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group (now concluded) then updated the House on what is now permissible since 19th of July and confirmed that she and her colleagues will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation carefully as it continues to evolve.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Monday food for Thought–Anglican William Gurnall (1616-1679) on Psalm 78

Who will say that a man is thankful to his friend for a past kindness, if he nourishes an ill opinion of him for the future?…He is the most thankful man that treasures up the mercies of God in his memory, and can feed his faith with what God hath done for him so as to walk in the strength thereof in present straits

–as cited by Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) on Psalm 78 in his Treasury of David

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Safeguarding Sunday launched but ‘criticisms’ remain

Safeguarding Sunday, will be introduced to churches nationally, a new initiative aiming to raise the profile of safeguarding.

The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs, gave a Safeguarding update to Synod.

Dr Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, told Synod the church is “entering a season of action” in which “there is far more to be done.”

“Our aim is to help people see safeguarding as an integral part of the mission of the church,” he said.

“Safeguarding is partly about stopping bad things happening and about how we respond when they do, but it is also about enabling our churches to become places where people are enabled to flourish and grow into the fullness of life that God intends for us all.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Priests and bishops a ‘given’ in Myriad’s vision for lay-led churches

The Myriad initiative, which envisages the planting of 10,000 lay-led churches by 2030, is shining a light on what is already happening in the Church of England, the Bishop of Islington, Dr Ric Thorpe, said on Friday.

In a personal statement issued in response to concerns about the initiative (News, 2 July, 9 July), Dr Thorpe — who leads the Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication, home to the Myriad church-planting initiative — apologised for the “hurt and frustration” caused by communication of the work.

He referred to the phrase “key limiting factors”, used by Canon John McGinley, who leads Myriad, in a conversation about lay leadership (“When you don’t need a building and a stipend and long, costly college-based training for every leader of church . . . then actually we can release new people to lead and new churches to form”). The context to this had been lost, Dr Thorpe, said.

“I am so sad that this has happened. It is the opposite message to what we were trying to communicate and it didn’t come across as it was intended to. I am deeply sorry for the hurt and frustration that people have experienced.”

Read it all.

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

(C of E) ‘It’s at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian’ – the parishes who are providing holiday clubs during the summer

Sussex will see hundreds of children turning to church-run holiday clubs which operate from parishes across the Diocese of Chichester throughout the holidays.

St Peter’s Church in Selsey’s holiday club is aimed at children who would normally receive free school meals and is in collaboration with Selsey Lions Club and Youth Dream, a charity which provides youth services in the community.

Andrew Wilkes, the Rector of St Peter’s Church Selsey said: “It is so important for the parish church to be involved in this.

“We hope by providing meals and fun activities, in a safe and secure environment, will mean one less thing for parents and carers to worry about.

“After all, lending a helping hand to our neighbours is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.”

Read it all.

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

(Yorkshire Post) Sheffield’s proud history as the nation’s Steel City highlighted in new exhibition at its Cathedral

At the centre of The Foundry exhibition in Sheffield Cathedral is archive film footage from British Pathé, as the exhibition transports visitors back to an era at the height of the city’s steel-making industry.

It also showcases how artists, craftspeople and sculptors continue to use steel today to create thought-provoking and challenging pieces of work.

Artist Peter Walker, who is the director of the exhibition, said: “At the heart of The Foundry is a remarkable film showing historic Pathé footage of the steel industry in Sheffield.

“Around this there is an opportunity to explore how the city’s connection to the steel industry has inspired artists around the country over the past 50 years – sometimes playfully, sometimes intellectually, but always creatively to adapt and respond to the material and to explore different and diverse subjects.

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

(Chronicle Live) ‘The exact opposite of levelling up’ – North East groups including the Bp of Durham call for Universal Credit uplift to be kept

An unprecedented coalition of groups in the North East – including business leaders, unions, charities and the Bishop of Durham – have come together to condemn the Government’s planned cut to universal credit as ‘the exact opposite of levelling up’.

Groups including the North East Child Poverty Commission, Children North East and the North East England Chamber of Commerce have signed the letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak opposing the ending of the Government’s £20 universal credit uplift.

The benefit increase came into force at the beginning of the pandemic but ministers have confirmed that it will phased out over the coming months, despite opposition from across the policital spectrum and from a number of charities.

A total of 17 North East organisations have signed the letter, as has Bishop of Durham the Rt Rev Paul Butler, who takes responsibility for child poverty for the Church of England.

It points out that the cut in benefits will take £5m a week from the regional economy and make it harder for the North East to recover from the Covid crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(BBC) The Bishop of Winchester steps down over financial decision-making

The Bishop of Winchester has stepped down from his role, citing “upset” caused by the diocese’s financial decisions over the past year.

In a statement Dr Tim Dakin said he would be retiring in February and handing over responsibilities in the meantime.

He was consecrated the 97th Bishop of Winchester in 2011.

“The painfully difficult financial decisions made over the last year have caused real anguish,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Church Times) Latest church Covid advice: proceed with caution

Congregationl singing and the common cup at the eucharist will be allowed in England once again from Monday, church authorities have confirmed, despite the sharp rise in coronavirus cases. It will be up to clergy and PCCs to decide whether to retain precautions such as face coverings, social distancing, and communion in one kind.

The latest Church of England guidance was published late on Friday afternoon, in preparation for Monday’s removal of restrictions in England. The move coincided with the news that reported daily cases in the UK had passed 50,000, and a warning by the Government’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, that hospital admissions could reach “scary numbers”. Different timetables for relaxing Covid restrictions have been set by the governments of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who heads the Church’s Covid recovery group, welcomed the relaxation of restrictions, including what she described as the “long-awaited return of congregational and amateur choir singing”, but she also urged caution.

“This is a difficult point in the course of the pandemic. Despite vaccination rates, cases are up, hospital admissions are up, and long Covid remains an ongoing concern. Therefore our approach needs to be cautious and careful,” she said.

Read it all.

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

A look back to 2008–Mark Thompson on Adiaphora–Discerning the things that matter

It is interesting that nowhere in the New Testament or in the great reformation debates over adiaphora was the concept applied to issues of doctrine or moral behaviour. Paul didn’t consider differences over the doctrine of justification by faith to be matters of indifference. He was willing to confront Peter head-on if necessary. Jesus didn’t treat differences over the appropriate expression of human sexuality to be matters of indifference. Adultery and homosexuality remain behaviours which God himself condemns. God has spoken on these issues and our job is not to make room for difference but to be humble enough to be changed in our thinking and/or behaviour so that our minds and lives conform to God’s word written.

There is a lot of woolly thinking going on at the moment about adiaphora. People are trying to extend the term in ways that will insulate them from challenge about their doctrine or their behaviour. Let’s not let the term be inflated in meaning in this way. As a now standard variation from the old Catholic axiom has it: sacra scriptura locuta est, res decisa est (‘Holy Scripture having spoken, the matter is decided’). We need to talk to each other and study together when it comes to issues on which Scripture has spoken. On very rare occasions this study will reveal that Scripture itself considers the matter secondary or indifferent, as in the case of circumcision or meat offered to idols. But more often than not freedom to differ is reserved for those areas on which Scripture has not spoken.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbp Stephen Cottrell’s Vision and Strategy Address to the General Synod of July 2021

After a wide ranging series of conversations involving many Synod members, representatives of just about every constituency that makes up the complex and varied ecology of the Church of England, and many voices that do not always find themselves invited to the decision-making table, we were led to a simple answer: to be a more Christ centred church.

I don’t think we would have arrived at such a simple statement were it not for the experience of Covid. The restrictions and isolations we have lived with have been hard. Our world is suffering. But stripped of the familiar comforts of worship and common life we have discovered a new and clear vision of Christ, the one who stands at the centre of our faith, the one in whom we have access to God. This is ludicrously obvious. It is hardly a surprise to say that our life is centred in Christ. It is unceasingly profound. The new life we have in Christ is received in one ‘gigantic gulp of grace’, as St. Cyprian put it. It is also a never ending story. St John’s Gospel ends with the declaration that if everything about Jesus was written down then “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21. 25)

St John also tells us that we are called to beloved discipleship, ‘dwelling close to the Father’s heart’; and courageous discipleship: ‘As the Father sent me, so now I send you’. As we recover and emerge from Covid, we believe that God is asking us to become a church of missionary disciples; a younger and more diverse church that looks like the communities it serves; a safe church and a church that is a place of welcome for everyone; a mixed ecology church where we reach and serve our nation in many different ways.

At the centre of this, and as the means whereby we will serve and reach our nation, is a parish system revitalised for mission. And I’m dismayed that anyone would think this work – work, by the way, that is still a work in progress – is aiming at anything else.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Archbishop, Pope and Church of Scotland Moderator write to South Sudan’s leaders

When we last wrote to you at Christmas, we prayed that you might experience greater trust among yourselves and be more generous in service to your people. Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress. Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem. Much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled (cf 2 Corinthians, 5). This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders – Christ’s own example of leadership shows this powerfully – and today we wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell’s Presidential address to General Synod

And on that subject, and mindful of a date most of us will have in our diaries for Sunday evening, I have turned to scripture for help, where I find, encouragingly, at Ezekiel 40.28 these words: “He brought me to the inner court – that is to the prize and victory we long for – by the south gate.” This, surely, is the inspiration we are looking for as a nation.

We have also been the Synod who have lived through the first waves of the Covid pandemic. We have learned how to zoom. This has been hugely testing and I want to acknowledge the disappointment and frustration of some members who are challenging us to go further to make sure that no one is disadvantaged by the way we use or don’t use technology.

But there have also been many wonderful stories of Christian resourcefulness, creativity and tenacity as in our parishes, chaplaincies, church schools and just about every other expression of church life we have found ways of sustaining the life of worship, built new on line communities of faith, and served our local communities.

As we emerge into the next phase of our learning how to live with Covid, we don’t know how many people will return to worship; we don’t know quite what will happen with the new communities we have nurtured online; we don’t know the full extent of the financial challenge. I know how difficult this has been in parishes and dioceses where at every level of church life we have had to make difficult decisions. But I want to encourage you. I think what the Church of England has done in the past 18 months, especially in the local church, is magnificent.

Just this week the Bishop of London spoke powerfully about how inspired she was by the way churches have risen to the challenge, finding new ways of gathering to worship God, reach out and serve their neighbours in these difficult times. I too want to thank clergy and lay leaders for their faithfulness and perseverance. I am deeply sorry if anything that has been said from the centre ever caused anyone to doubt this.

Apparently, in some quarters it has been suggested that clergy are a limiting factor on church growth. I agree. A shortage of clergy would really limit us. We need more vocations. Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE)

‘The words came alive’ – the play that changed Richard’s life forever

Before training for ordination, Richard worked as Music Operations Manager with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he watched a play in 2011 that completely changed the course of his life.

Richard explained: “In my previous job at the RSC, we did a play called Written on the Heart.

“It was about the writing of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. In one scene, two men – Lancelot Andrewes and William Tyndale – debated translations of The Beatitudes.

“As I sat, and watched, and listened, these words came alive for me.

“Gradually, I realised that I had been wrong all my life about God.”

As a direct result, Richard bought a copy of the Bible and began to attend a church in Kidderminster.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays