Category : Church of England (CoE)

Charles Simeon on Easter–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life -The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”

–Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

The Bishop of Chichester’s 2017 Easter Sermon

I am not, and probably never will be, a gardener. This does not mean that I don’t like gardens: I do, but mainly when they are somebody else’s responsibility. But one of the things I like about gardens is that they are great for playing hide and seek, which is what today’s gospel is all about.

In fact, the whole of St John’s gospel is a brilliantly constructed unfolding of the unseen God who is hidden revealingly in Jesus Christ: it’s an eternally significant game of hide and seek. And John’s literary method is also brilliantly captured, in art, by Graham Sutherland’s depiction of the hide and seek moment that is central to this Easter celebration.

Sutherland’s 2-dimensional garden is a jewel-like work that is filled with memories of the garden of Eden where we enjoyed but seriously damaged, our friendship with God, according to the book of Genesis. The prize it holds out to us is finding a way back into that garden of friendship for real, and not simply as a theoretical proposition.

If you have time after the Eucharist, go and find this icon of the resurrection. It’s at the far end of the south aisle. Go and pray; light a candle and rejoice in the opportunity to seek and find the image of the risen Christ. And here are five details that are hidden in the picture…

Read it all.

Posted in Art, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Preaching / Homiletics

(Spectator) Melanie McDonagh–If you want to save the CofE, then get stuck in (and go to worship in your parish)

If you want the grisly figures, Linda Woodhead, the sociologist of religion, has them; or the website Counting Religion in Britain. The most obvious cause for concern about the CofE is not numbers but demographics. A recent study, The Last Active Anglican Generation, (OUP, 2017, £50 – so one to get from a library), is a study of Anglican laywomen from what the author calls Generation A (born in the twenties and thirties) in the UK and North America. Among its observations is something called pew power, viz, the notion of power over the institution wielded by ordinary congregations and parish workers – as opposed to leading from the front, the institutional stuff. But the point of it is in the title.

The unfortunate thing about Generation A is that it’s diminishing by the year, as its members go to their eternal reward, for a lifetime of church fetes, flower arranging, keeping the keys for empty churches and turning up, Sunday after Sunday. So, I have a simple proposal for the cultural Christians who agonise about the rise of Islam and the vanishing Christian character of Britain: go to church. Take the place of Generation A. Turn up for Easter Sunday as well as Christmas; keep Pentecost Sunday, because hardly anyone now knows what Whit Sunday stands for, and Ascension Thursday. There are lots of churches out there, you know: Anglicans in cities are spoiled for choice, and you can’t throw a brick in places like Norfolk without landing on something fabulous from the fifteenth century. Anglicans have, moreover, for those that seek it out, the loveliest liturgy, and you don’t deserve it. There are rubbish clergy, of course, but, you know, it’s possible to separate your feelings about the thing that’s being celebrated from the celebrant (Catholics are quite good at this). So, get out there. The numbers attending Anglican services fell below a million at the beginning of last year; they’re still falling.

Read it all.

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

(Tel) Lord George Carey: Christians face genocide, but the Government looks the other way

On Maundy Thursday today in which we remember the last supper, it is distressing beyond belief to know that the steady ‘crucifixion’ of Middle East Christians continues.

There are millions in the Middle East today whose identities are attacked daily. They are being eradicated in a region of the world where they have always coexisted with others. These are ancient communities who face a daily threat of being slaughtered in the relentless brutality of war.

One of the most disturbing things about the current crisis is how slow the world has been to recognise that Christians, and indeed other groups such as Yazidis, are facing genocide in Syria and Iraq. Even those governments which recognise there is a serious problem are sitting on their hands and doing nothing to prevent the eradication of Christians from the birthplace of our faith.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Middle East, Terrorism, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Service to be held in May for Former Bishop of Lichfield

Tributes from across the world have been sent following Bishop’s Keith death from people including the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who became friends with Bishop Keith when he was chaplain and tutor at Bishop Tucker College in Uganda between 1968 and 1973. Bishop Keith secured a visa for Dr Sentamu to flee Uganda, under the reign if President Idi Amin, to study theology at Cambridge University.

Dr Sentamu said: “Bishop Keith loved people and was passionate about communicating the Gospel in a language they would understand. He was a pastor, a theological educator, a friend, an encourager, with a big heart for the poor and marginalised.

“He was sent to South Africa by Archbishop Robert Runcie when Archbishop Desmond Tutu had been put under House Arrest. In defiance of the Apartheid Regime, Bishop Keith said to a vast crowd outside St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town: ‘Anyone who touches you, touches us. And believe you me, the arm of the Rule of Law knows no bounds, colour, gender, ethnicity. Jesus Christ is the only Lord and all in him are one.’

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(GR) Elephant in the cathedral: Why are so many Anglican holy places empty and, thus, low on funds?

The story included two other numbers that would catch the eye of careful reporters: “The church conducted 130,000 baptisms in the year, down 12% since 2004; 50,000 marriages, down 19%. …”

I bring this up because of a sad, but interesting, Religion News Service piece about another side effect of these numbers. There is no way that this rather dull headline captures the emotions many Brits will feel about this topic: “Endangered Anglican cathedrals prompt Church of England review.”

The bottom line: How does one keep the doors of cathedrals open (even for tourists) when the faithful rarely kneel at the altars or bring children into the pews?

Think of the implications. Does the government keep many of these buildings open as architectural exhibits? Should some be sold to Roman Catholic congregations? Could some become mosques?

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(ES) London vicar offers burglar the hand of friendship after catching him trying to break into shed

A vicar offered the hand of friendship to a bike thief after catching him trying to break into his garden shed.

The Reverend Christopher Rogers was working in the shed when he heard someone rattling the handle on the door, and opened it to come face-to-face with burglar Christopher Clarke.

The vicar and Star Wars fan, of All Hallows Church in Bow, chased Clarke and attempted to take his picture to give to police.

But when he spotted the thief loitering outside his home the next day, Mr Rogers told him: “If you ever need help, knock on my front door, not the shed,” and shook his hand.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Spectator) Matthew Parris: Why I admire the Church of England

Mr Dreher, who advocates the second of these two responses, disapproves of the Church of England’s frequent accommodations with secular society. I do not. Like many atheists, agnostics and searchers, I find myself rather drawn to a church that, however fitfully, seems to be trying to stay open to ideas, differences and influences outside.

Connecting a religion and the culture within which it lives, the metaphor of a length of elastic is illuminating. The two may diverge, but each exerts a pull on the other. In its long, turbulent history, the church has sometimes run ahead of secular culture, sometimes lagged behind. It has a proud record in questions such as the abolition of slavery; in education, welfare and prison reform it has sometimes lit the way. On overseas aid and concern for the homeless, the church has led where secular society first looked away.

On the other hand, the church has had a chronically difficult relationship with the advancement of science, and, in recent centuries, has had to be dragged reluctantly to a recognition that religion is not the seat of learning about the material world. Wherever sex or gender are involved, the church has tended to lag a good few paces behind the rest of society. Mr Dreher might disagree, but I think that — pulled by secular society and with the elastic often stretched very tight — the church’s agonised progress towards the recognition of divorce and the acceptance of contraception (with of course powerful pockets of resistance among Roman Catholics) has been good for the world. Though I’m not myself opposed to abortion, I think Christianity’s anxiety about careless disregard for human life has also been good for the world.

Read it all.

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

Do not take yourself too seriously Dept.–Top novelist @fictionfox’s husband’s career change prompts Twitter gold

So, last week the new Bishop of Sheffield was announced. What this actually precipitated was the most creative burst of episcopally related shenanigans on Twitter that we’ve ever seen from @fictionfox (who happens to be married to the bishop-designate of Sheffield).

Here are some of her best tweets…

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Humor / Trivia, Marriage & Family

(BBC) Cathedral closures possible amid cash crisis, Church of England says

Some cathedrals are facing possible closure because of problems with finance and management, according to the Church of England.
A report said their financial independence posed “serious risks to the reputation of the entire Church”.
Despite increasing numbers of visitors, some cathedrals have been hit by serious financial problems.
A new working group will consider whether or not cathedrals should continue to raise their own funds.

Read it all.

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

Church of England Announces Cathedrals Working Group

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have set up a Cathedrals Working Group, CWG, in response to a request made by the Bishop of Peterborough in his January 2017 Visitation Charge on Peterborough Cathedral for a revision to be carried out of the adequacy of the current Cathedrals Measure.

The CWG will review aspects of cathedral management and governance and produce recommendations for the Archbishops on the implications of these responsibilities with regards to the current Cathedrals Measure. It will be chaired by the Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, the former Dean of Rochester Cathedral, and the Dean of York, Vivienne Faull, will be the vice chair.

The Working Group will look at a number of different areas of Cathedral governance, including training and development for cathedral deans and chapters, financial management issues, the procedure for Visitations, safeguarding matters, buildings and heritage and the role of Cathedrals in contributing to evangelism within their dioceses.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE)

The Very Revd Pete Wilcox’s Announcement Speech

I want to share with you, to start with, the time when, as a 13 year old, I was first conscious of the call of Jesus. I grew up in a Christian home, but the defining experience of my life came when I was a young teenager and sensed that God was inviting me to commit to the adventure of following Jesus. I chose to respond with my whole self and it was the best decision I have ever made. I share that with you because I am here this morning not primarily as your Bishop-designate, but as a disciple of Jesus, seeking to live out, day by day, a life worthy of my baptism.

But I also refer to that experience because such a high proportion of those who make a lasting commitments to Jesus do so as I did – as teenagers. Of course, the Church of God is called to proclaim the good news to all people at all times and in all places, but I am encouraged to see in the current priorities of the Diocese of Sheffield a commitment to reach out to that age group in particular and you can be sure I will do everything I can to make that outreach fruitful. And that is just one part of the Diocesan Strategy which excites me: so much of it expresses what I firmly believe. So the direction of travel for the Diocese will remain unchanged; there will be no sudden lurch to new priorities.

The second thing I want to mention is the publication of the Faith in the City report in 1985. Some of you will remember it: it rang out like an alarm bell at the height of Thatcherism, calling church and nation back to what, for shorthand, became known as God’s bias to the poor. It came out while I was training for the ordained ministry and it’s a document which has profoundly shaped me. It is no coincidence that I come to you from a northern, urban cathedral; a cathedral with a food bank and an employability programme; a cathedral which seeks to give a voice to the disadvantaged. And it’s no coincidence that we are meeting here, in a place where the church has engaged to such good effect with the local community, proclaiming the kingdom of God by directly addressing the challenges and celebrating the opportunities of this place, liberating its neglected assets and blessing its unfulfilled potential. The Gospel of Jesus Christ confronts social and economic inequalities, and we see here a great example of how transformative a local church can be; and I’m looking forward to visiting other examples of confident Christian witness in Rotherham and Doncaster later today.

Read it all. For those interested, there is a video of the announcement in the diocese there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained

Catherine Fox–The Leaving of Liverpool

In some ways, I discovered that I fitted in from the start. While my sons were growing up I committed many maternal crimes, but chief among them were ‘talking to strangers in shops’ and ‘trying to be funny’. Liverpool was an emotional homecoming. Talking in shops is normal, and everyone’s a comedian.

Liverpool is also a wildly glamorous city. And here, again, (as someone who secretly thinks you can’t have too many feather boas) I felt instantly I was in the right place. In a humble way, of course. I have much to learn. Fortunately, there are always people on hand to offer style advice in Liverpool. Recently I ordered a pair of shoes online, and went to collect them from Liverpool One. I believe every single person in the store, staff and customers alike, told me they were fabulous and a bargain and I should definitely buy them. I sometimes wonder, though, if my fashion sense is now permanently skewed. I can get on a train in Liverpool Lime St feeling woefully underdressed, and arrive in London (where a black North Face anorak is a flashy statement) looking like I’ve tried too hard.

Liverpool’s friendliness is legendary, but the city also topped the Travelodge survey on random acts of kindness in the UK. Kindness. I prefer kindness to almost anything. Holding doors open, smiling at strangers, letting people go ahead in supermarket queues. These are all common practices round here. As a runner and a pedestrian, I’ve often noticed the kindness of drivers waving me across side roads, and anticipating my zebra crossing use. There is one quirk of Liverpool driving that sometimes catches non-locals out at traffic lights. It’s not quite as simple as blatantly driving through a red light, but there’s a consensus that if you actually see it turn red as you approach, it doesn’t count.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) Dean of Liverpool Pete Wilcox is named as the next Bishop of Sheffield

THE man who has the task of healing the wounds opened up in Sheffield by the Philip North row is to be the Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Dr Pete Wilcox.

Downing Street announced on Friday morning that Dr Wilcox has been nominated as the next Bishop of Sheffield, one month after the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, withdrew his acceptance of the post after protests against his views on women’s ordination (News, 9 March).

At the time, it was reported that the Archbishop of York, who chaired the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) that selected Bishop North, would propose an alternative candidate. (For each diocesan appointment, the CNC sends two names to the Prime Minister for rubber stamping.) The speed of Friday’s announcement suggests that Dr Wilcox’s was the name beneath Bishop North’s. Having first nominated a Catholic traditionalist, the CNC has opted for an Evangelical.

Dr Wilcox said in a statement on Friday: “Although the journey has been unconventional, to say the least, I feel called by God to this role, and am therefore thrilled to be coming to the diocese of Sheffield.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

In honour of the Trip to the UK, a Lasting Memory–The Bells of Liverpool Cathedral

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Travel