Category : Anglican Provinces

Bob Mayo (the Vicar of St Stephens Shepherds Bush)–Reflections on a recent visit to America and the danger of cheap grace

I had occasion to spend 10 days in the USA before Advent. I learnt that in Oregon you can buy rifles in a supermarket and in Texas church ushers and sometimes the preacher may be wearing a pistol. I learnt that the Episcopal Church is not obsessed with finding a solution to the debate about same sex marriages. ‘Never mind sex’ I was told, ‘what about people in poverty? Economic issues are far more important’. America is not the land of mega churches: 75% of Americans worship in churches of less than 100. These churches are not full of Donald Trump supporters. People that I met were both embarrassed and hostile towards their President.

I was in Oregon for the launch of Professor Roger Newell [2017] new book Keine Gewalt! No Violence! The book outlines how the role played by the German Church in the 1940’s laid down the foundations for her part in the ending of the Cold War in the 1980’s. In the first half of the century the German church withdrew into pietism and individual spirituality leaving the political area to the Nazis. In the second half of the century the German church actively engaged in the civil society leading to the peaceful overthrow of Communism.

The underlying question in Roger’s book is how the Church relates to society. This question is especially relevant in the UK and USA with the Trump phenomenon on one side of the Atlantic and Brexit on the other. Being anti American is seen as the last acceptable form of racism but it is the American policies with which we disagree and not the people. The people are warm-hearted and, when I was there, asked me no end of times about whether I was having a ‘nice day’.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(C of E) Report from December House of Bishops

On Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th December the House of Bishops met at Lambeth Palace.

There was a varied agenda, including items on safeguarding, the importance of Black and Minority Ethnic clergy inclusion and representation, church planting, lessons learned from the appointment of the See of Sheffield, a review of the Crown Nominations Commission’s practices and the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.

Dame Moira Gibb and Sir Roger Singleton led a discussion on safeguarding that focused on survivors’ needs, with Q&As followed by group discussions. Dame Moira chaired the independent review into the Bishop Peter Ball case and Sir Roger, former Government adviser on Safeguarding, is currently working with the National Team.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(AM) Andrew Symes–Can biblical faith flourish in an intolerant secular society?

But today, according to Farron, that doctrine of liberalism has become dominant, and like state-sponsored Christianity, instead of being ‘emancipationist’, has become oppressive. Liberalism has today become like the ‘established church’ of Constantinian or post-Reformation times, wanting a monopoly of power, no longer a philosophy which challenges the human tendency to lord it over others. For Farron, the foundation of liberalism is Christianity (and particularly non-conformist evangelicalism), not political correctness masquerading as a kind of self-evident ‘liberalism’. “Secularism is a totalising creed that reduces everyone down to either consumer or regulatory units”, he says, and cannot be a basis for ‘shared values’.

At the same time, Christianity must be ‘liberal’, sticking to the Bible’s teaching, but not seeking to impose this on society in such a way as to restrict freedom of thought and action within the law. Farron isn’t saying, as some evangelicals do, that Christians should just focus on the local church, and be indifferent to the lives and choices of society outside the Christian community and those being evangelised on the fringe. As he said: “God will judge…it is not unloving or judgmental for Christians to point that out”. But he warns against the kind of close association of church and state:

“That in Britain we have a church trapped as part of the furniture of the state is a waste of a church.  A boat in the water is good.  Water in the boat, is bad.  A church in the state is good, the state in the church is bad.  Really bad.  It pollutes the message of that church.  It compromises it.  Weakens its witness.”

This serious criticism of the Church of England’s basic DNA, which Tim Farron did not develop in his argument, puts a finger on a key issue for thinking about the future of Anglicanism in Britain. Bible believing Christians in the C of E have always argued that Establishment ensures a place for influence at the high table, and an open door into communities at the grassroots. But if Farron is right, and the state is no longer Christian-liberal, and instead has become increasingly secular-authoritarian, then the state church no longer influences positively for Christianity. It must conform to secularism in order to stay at the high table – and in doing so must of necessity shed much of its Christian character, and collude in the persecution of orthodox Christianity.

Read it all.

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

(Yorkshire Post) Archbishop Sentamu’s intervention could finally end Yorkshire devolution stalemate

A possible solution to Yorkshire’s long-running devolution stalemate that could see a region-wide mayor elected by May 2020 has emerged after an intervention by the Archbishop of York, The Yorkshire Post can reveal. A letter by Dr John Sentamu to Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, seen by this newspaper, sets out proposals for a two-year phased programme that would finally see vital powers for transport, housing and skills handed over from Whitehall to the region’s leaders.

The plans outlined by the Church of England’s second most senior cleric, who met last month with local MPs, council leaders, trade union leaders and bishops, are a bid to overcome the Government’s objections to the proposed ‘One Yorkshire’ solution for a mayor presiding over the whole region of more than five million people.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), City Government, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Church of England strategy to increase ordinands takes its toll on dioceses

Dioceses may struggle to cope financially with the national target of adding 50 per cent to the number of ordinands by 2020, a Church Times survey suggests.

A questionnaire sent to diocesan secretaries and directors of ordinands discovered that, although all seemed to support the target, all but one of those who responded were concerned, or very concerned, about how this might be financed. One wrote: “The desire is there, but not the funding.” Some are undermining the strategy by capping the number of people recommended for training.

Financial anxiety is focused on the cost of training, but also what happens after training: many dioceses will struggle to support and house an increased number of assistant curates, and are warning ordinands that they will not be able to return. Other dioceses are looking for cheaper training pathways, or hoping for an influx of self-supporting (i.e. non-stipendiary) clergy.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(Christian Today) St Helen’s Bishopgate in split with local Anglican churches over sexuality

One of the largest evangelical churches in the country is withdrawing itself from relations with neighbouring Anglican churches over irreconcilable differences on their teaching on sexuality.

St Helen’s Bishopgate, which attracts nearly 2,000 worshippers across its four services each week, declared it was in ‘impaired relationship’ with fellow Church of England parishes in its deanery in central London.

William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, cited ‘the widely publicised views held by certain members of the deanery chapter’ as reasons for the split.

‘We (the clergy, wardens and PCC of St Helen’s) no longer consider these church leaders who have ceased to ‘believe and uphold the Christian faith Church of England has received it’ to be ‘walking together’ with us in any meaningful partnership’, he told the area dean Rev Oliver Ross.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CEN) The current Church is producing ‘bumper-sticker theology’, says the Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Canon Mark Oakley

Canon Mark Oakley was delivering the Donald Barnes Memorial Lecture, arguing for a renewal of theological language.

The Canon, who is responsible for the educational and outreach work of the Cathedral, explained that a priest’s vocation ‘is not about giving information’ but helping ‘formation’ and ‘growth’, adding that ‘the Church is always in danger of such deadening jargon that means little to the uninitiated’.

He said that talk of faith and God is ‘so often at the moment polarised’ and ‘beaten into crass characterisations and then fired like bullets’.

This leads to ‘a lot of bumper-sticker theology, soundbites on God that we’re meant to honk at if we agree or just drive by if we don’t’.

“We are not here to resolve the mystery of God but to deepen it. We are not to reflect jargon and cliché – the devil is in the drivel when logos have turned to slogan,” he said.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) ‘This is not a threat’: new Anglican Mission in England defends its first ordinations

Nine men will be ordained on Thursday as the first deacons and priests of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the breakaway conservative Evangelical movement that seeks to plant Anglican churches in England but outside the Church of Eng­­land.

The nine are due to be ordained by the Rt Revd Andy Lines — who was con­­secrated missionary bishop earlier this year by the GAFCON-aligned Anglican Church in North America (News, 7 July) — at a service in a Baptist church in east London.

Until now, every clergyman as­­sociated with the AMiE has come from the C of E, or been ordained by Anglican bishops overseas. Bishop Lines, who is mission director of Crosslinks, a mission agency, had permission to officiate in the diocese of Southwark until he allowed it to lapse in June.

The nine men — eight will be ordained deacon, and one as priest — are the first not to have been trained by the C of E. All work in AMiE churches.

Read it all.

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

Newcastle Anglican Diocese had ‘do-nothing’ approach to child sex abuse claims, royal commission finds

The royal commission into child sexual abuse has found powerful paedophiles in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle were operating under weak church leadership.

Thursday’s report follows another into the national Anglican Church which found that every church diocese in the country, bar one, had received complaints of child sexual abuse in the past 35 years.

The commission looked at alleged child abuse, bullying and cover-ups within the Newcastle diocese, producing a report of more than 400 pages just on the Newcastle Anglicans.

It has found former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft’s response to abuse was “weak, ineffectual and noted a failure of leadership”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Premiere) Church of England ‘deeply concerned’ over poverty stats

The Church of England has raised concern at new data on poverty which shows another 400,000 children and 300,000 pensioners have fallen into poverty in the last four years in the UK.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) says a “turning point” has been reached in the fight against poverty following the first sustained increases in child and pensioner poverty for 20 years.

Its state of the nation report said poverty rates increased last year, leaving 14 million people living in poverty, including four million children and 1.9 million pensioners.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the JRF, said: “These worrying figures suggest that we are at a turning point in our fight against poverty.

“Political choices, wage stagnation and economic uncertainty mean that hundreds of thousands more people are now struggling to make ends meet. This is a very real warning sign that our hard-fought progress is in peril”

Read it all.

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

(Guardian) Liam Beadle–Not even vicars have the patience of saints

The demands are many. A typical day for a member of the clergy begins with morning prayer, reading from the Bible and mentioning to God the needs of the whole community. They can then find themselves going from a lively school assembly to a visit to a bereaved parishioner to plan a funeral service. They may then attend a meeting to discuss repair works to a listed building, take a communion service in an old people’s home, liaise with organists to choose next month’s liturgical music, report a potential safeguarding concern, and in the evening chair a meeting of the parochial church council. No day is quite the same, which is one of the great things about being a vicar. But a schedule requiring such mental, spiritual and emotional agility can take its toll.

One of the things that is sometimes forgotten is that vicars are (or should be) theologians. It isn’t good enough for the vicar simply to have his or her opinions about God and the world. Theology is a serious academic discipline. So what the vicar says about God has to be doctrinally defensible. But it also has to be kind and accessible. Sometimes that seems like a tall order, which means tired clergy either retreat into well-worn platitudes or become regarded as ivory-tower intellectuals in a society increasingly suspicious of experts. It is exciting to be a person of study and prayer in a community, pointing to God and the possibility of new creation in an often weary world. It is also incredibly draining, and sometimes the pressure becomes a bit too much.

I don’t know the specifics of what made Thewlis write the letter to his congregation. But all the clergy I have spoken to know how it feels to want to write that sort of letter. In particular, he says he perceived a lack of warmth among the people he served. That can be very painful for the clergy, who have often moved significant distances to live in a community they don’t know very well, to do a hard job with a lot of public exposure. It doesn’t take more than a few people who are adept at finding fault, or who resent a new person in their community exercising leadership and making decisions, to feel vulnerable and isolated. A throwaway unkind comment or a hastily written angry email can eat away at a parish priest for days.

Read it all.

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

(YP) Exactly 100 years on, Ripon Cathedral falls silent for #VictoriaCross hero Lt-Col Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper

It was at 7am that the Germans came. Exactly a century later, a hush fell over Ripon Cathedral as they marked the enormity of what had happened, and the sacrifice of one soldier in particular. Lt-Col Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper had been, on that morning of November 30, 1917, among the first to learn that the enemy had broken through the outpost line at Cambrai, on the Western Front….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Newfoundland Bishop-elect John Meade dies at 45; he is remembered as ‘a dedicated man’

Archdeacon John Meade, coadjutor bishop-elect of the diocese of Western Newfoundland, died early in the morning of November 29, 2017. He was 45.

Meade had been in the hospital throughout the summer, but “faced his deteriorating medical situation with a calm faith,” according to a statement posted by the ecclesiastical province of Canada on its Facebook page.

Western Newfoundland Bishop Percy Coffin described Meade as “a dedicated man,” saying he “certainly was a dedicated person to his task—unwavering, unfaltering. He was just so committed.”

It was “a great sadness” that Meade was never consecrated as bishop, Coffin said. “He offered much, and there was a promising future for him.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada

(GR) Royal wedding quiz: Must a ‘Protestant’ be baptized in order to become an Anglican?

The faith angle of the Markle story is certainly an interesting subject. What does the word “Protestant” mean in this context, as opposed to the word “Anglican”?

That’s a question worthy of discussion, but there are other layers to the puzzle. Some might hint at royal opinions about the match?

For example: If Markle is already a Protestant Christian, why is she being baptized? I have never heard of anyone being re-baptized in order to be confirmed as an Anglican. Protestant converts to Anglicanism, under ordinary circumstances, are simply confirmed. Catholics are “received” into the church, since they were already part of an ancient Communion (there’s that via media, part Catholic-part Protestant factor, again).

Was she part of some Christian movement that did not do a normal, small-o orthodox baptism rite? It’s easy to assume that she had some form of Christian identity, since the American actress is a spokesperson for the Christian charity World Vision.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Marriage & Family, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NH) A profile of the Newly-elected Newcastle Anglican Bishop, Peter Stuart

Bishop Stuart said he would “certainly be looking at a number of women candidates” for the assistant bishop position he has held since 2009, which he vacates in the new year after his election on Saturday to be the 14th Bishop of Newcastle.

It was the diocese’s first woman Archdeacon to preside over a synod, Sonia Roulston, who phoned Bishop Stuart to say he had the job. He took the call while standing at the top of the Christ Church Cathedral tower “having a look at Newcastle enjoying itself with the Supercar races”, he said.

“It was quite moving to have that communication under those circumstances,” he said.

Bishop Stuart is the first clergyman in more than a century to be elected Bishop from within Newcastle diocese after a synod in 1906 elected the Dean of Newcastle, John Stretch, to be its fourth Bishop.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia