Category : Urban/City Life and Issues

(Timeout) Things you only know if you’re a London parish priest: a profile of the Rev Niall Weir

The church has got London covered

‘Every inch of the UK has its own parish church and I think that’s rather wonderful. Being a parish priest has taught me the value of longevity. St Paul’s West Hackney has been here since 1824: five years before the first London bobby appeared on the beat, before the NHS, before state schools, and we intend to stay!’

Priests aren’t all po-faced

‘I appeared in drag on a calendar one year that was made by some local sex workers. Each one of them appeared as a female icon and I dressed up as Dame Edna. I think I scrub up rather well, but my children were very embarrassed….’

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

(WmTF) Chris Baker–Dog Collars, Tower Blocks and Nation-building

As the traumatic aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues to unfold, the rawness of the anger and grief of the victims of the disaster remans undimmed in the absence of obvious milestones to justice and restitution. A recent Guardian report has looked at the role of the faith communities in the vicinity of the tower since the very earliest hours of the tragedy. They not only co-ordinated emergency relief and ongoing needs such as bereavement and trauma counselling, but now act as a bridge of communication and outreach between local residents and the local authority. Churches and mosques are trusted as safe spaces to not only kick-start the very delicate task of reconciliation, but also in which to hear and hold the rawness of the pain and anger still swirling within the community. They have also offered quiet spaces where many people have come to simply reflect on what this has meant to them, and to remember in silent thought and prayer those who have died, been injured or made destitute.  They know as well that this is no quick fix response, but that they will need to be doing this for many years to come – they are in it for the long haul, long after the media circus has left. In addition, these churches and mosques have also been platforms for a determined denunciation at the corporate greed and inequality that contributes to the housing crisis on cities like London.

Key to the power of these responses has been the renewed visibility of religion and religious identity (already very strong in the North Kensington area) to the external world, especially the media and politicians. One of the most telling remarks from the Guardian piece came from local Methodist minister Mike Long, who said that until a month ago, he rarely wore a dog collar. However, at 4.30 on the morning of the fire he put it on and has never taken it off at any public engagement since. ‘Now’ he says, ‘my role is much more public and I need to be identifiable’.

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Posted in England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WGBH) Boston Posters Produced to Fight Against abuse of Islamic citizens generates Discussion

The cartoon guide recommends that the bystander engage in non-confrontational behavior to diffuse a potentially unsafe situation for the person being harassed. It shows the bystander choosing to sit next to a woman in a hijab who initially appeared uncomfortable around a man leaning toward her on the bus.

The cartoon’s author, Maeril, encouraged onlookers to use the guide not only for diffusing Islamophobic harassment, but for any other type of harassment as well. Suzan El-Rayess, the civic engagement director at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, agreed.

“We encourage all of our fellow Bostonians to apply the approach in these posters to anyone targeted — whether Muslim, Latino or otherwise,” El-Rayess told the AP.

Elise Whitney, 28, thought that the poster may have the opposite intended effect and attract more unwanted attention toward hijab wearers.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Winchester in the spotlight: the city where Jane Austen died 200 years ago

Two hundred years ago on 18 July, one of the world’s most famous authors died in the Hampshire cathedral city of Winchester. Jane Austen was just 41 in 1817 and had been suffering from what is now known as Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. Austen had moved to Winchester for medical treatment, leaving her home in Chawton 17 miles away (now an Austen museum), where she wrote novels including Pride and Prejudice.

When she was buried in the north aisle of Winchester Cathedral, the inscription on her tomb made no mention of her novels, perhaps because they were published anonymously. A brass plate was later added which noted rather blandly that she was “known to many by her writings”.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Poetry & Literature, Urban/City Life and Issues

Charleston South Carolina named the No. 1 city in the U.S. again says Travel+Leisure magazine

Charleston is the nation’s No. 1 city again, and No. 2 in the world, according to the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.

The recognition comes at a time when residents are increasingly worried about the city’s capacity to handle more visitors.

The results of this year’s survey were released Tuesday morning. Readers were asked to rate cities they had visited on sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, shopping and value.

This is the fifth consecutive year the magazine’s readers have named Charleston the nation’s top city. Charleston was the top city in the world last year. This year San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, took the top global spot.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) Visitors laud Charleston airport tribute to Emanuel AME Church shooting victims

Surrounded by eloquent words and somber images, Rayna Kneuper Hall of Mount Pleasant moves among the exhibits at Charleston International Airport set up in memory to the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting.

“It’s a beautiful tribute to the people and their families,” the part-time hospice worker said recently while showing the site to her friend’s 3-year-son, Edward Austin. “It’s so moving.”

She added, “It helps me remember the forgiveness and grace that the families showed as a natural reaction after the tragedy. … It made me so honored to be a Charlestonian.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Economist) An exceptionally murderous city: Crime+despair in Baltimore; As America gets safer, Maryland’s biggest city does not

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Dante Barksdale was playing the game in Baltimore—dealing drugs, toting guns, making some money—there was a process to killing people. “You couldn’t shoot someone without asking permission from a certain somebody,” muses the former gangster, on a tour of the abandoned row-houses and broken roads of West Baltimore, the most dangerous streets in America. “It’s become like, “I’m going to kill whoever’s got a fucking problem with it.”

Mr Barksdale, who spent almost a decade in prison for selling drugs, speaks with authority. His uncle, Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale, was a big shot in the more hierarchical Baltimore gangland he recalls. Avon Barksdale, a fictional villain in “The Wire”, a TV crime drama set in Baltimore, was partly inspired by him. The younger Mr Barksdale was himself fleetingly portrayed in it. (“‘The Wire’ was a bunch of bullshit,” he sniffs. “I got shot in the fourth episode and I didn’t get paid.”) Now employed by the Baltimore health department, in a team of gangsters-turned-social workers known as Safe Streets, he uses his street smarts to try to pre-empt murders by mediating among the local hoodlums. This also gives him a rare vantage onto the city’s latest upwelling of violence, which is concentrated in poor, overwhelmingly black West Baltimore—and is horrific.

Hours after Mr Barksdale conducted his tour of some of Baltimore’s most troubled streets on June 12th, they witnessed another six murders. That raised the number of killings in the city to 159, the highest recorded so early in the year at least since 1990, even though the city’s population was much bigger then than it is now. If weighted to reflect the fact that the murder rate always climbs in the hot, fractious summer months, this suggests Baltimore may see more than 400 murders this year. That would smash the existing record of 344 killings, which was set in 2015, fuelled by violent rioting over the death in police custody of a drug peddler called Freddie Gray.

This is catastrophic. A 50-minute drive from Washington, DC, black men aged 15 to 29 are as likely to die violently as American soldiers were in Iraq at the height of its Baathist insurgency.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Local Paper) Remembering the Charleston 9 two Years Ago Today

Drums beat, a trumpet bellows and voices rise up in jubilant greeting of the morning, Pentecost Sunday. It’s a joyful day in the Christian church. Yet, here at Emanuel AME, sorrow still clings to the atmosphere, even two years later.

Memories of the nine who died here linger everywhere. They rest in worn spots on the pews. They float from the choir loft and resound from the pulpit. Downstairs in the fellowship hall, where blood flowed that night, bullet holes remain in the walls and tiles.

The date — June 17, 2015 — doesn’t feel very far away.

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Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Bp of Kensington Graham Tomlin–Thoughts on Hope in Grenfell

In our community over the past few days we have been through a range of emotions that we rarely experience so close together. Even now as we meet and pray, there are people here in this church, in the surrounding streets wondering how to make sense of this.

How do you put into words what people here have experienced, the story of the past few days?

First there was Shock. As we woke up on Wednesday morning, there was that numb feeling, incredulity that something like this could happen in our modern, C21st sophisticated city. Looking up at the Tower and imagining what the people in there was going through was almost unbearable and so hard to even imagine how awful that must be.

Then there was Compassion. Alongside the tragedy, one of the remarkable things has been to see the amazing outpouring of compassion in this community over the past couple of days.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(ACNS) Church of England parish at heart of relief efforts following London inferno

In the hours since a massive blaze ripped through a tower block in west London early on Wednesday, nearby St Clement’s Church has been rapidly turned into an emergency relief centre. It sheltered more than 100 residents as the blaze raged and has subsequently been overwhelmed with donations. People have given clothes, bedding and toiletries for the residents of the tower, many of whom fled the block in their nightwear and have lost everything. Volunteers from churches throughout the area are running the relief operation.

[The] Revd Alan Everett described how events unfolded in the hours after the devastating blaze: “I opened the church at half three in the morning and within minutes the local community started bringing in supplies – the tables are now completely overflowing. The response has been overwhelming” he said. St Clement’s has now reached saturation point and has simply run out of room to store any more supplies.

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

(Church Times) Conflicting views aired on who should follow ‘significant presence’ as Bishop of London

Should the next Bishop of London continue the London Plan or begin to ordain women priests, affirm gay clergy, do more to attract children and teenagers into church, or value pastoral diligence as much as high-profile mission? These were among the issues raised at a public consultation held on Tuesday evening.

Twenty-one people spoke during the meeting at St Alban’s, Holborn. It was chaired by the chairman of the vacancy-in-see committee, the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison. The Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary, Edward Chaplin, and the Archbishops’ Appointment Secretary, Caroline Boddington, were present to hear the debate.

Dean Ison set out nine priorities set out in the Statement of Need, which will shortly be published, alongside a profile of the diocese. The first was evangelism: “to proclaim the historic and eternal Gospel in a changing world and society”. Another was: “to ensure we live in generous orthodoxy . . . enabling mutual flourishing of all the whole Christian church, recognising that there is a diversity of views on various matters across the diocese, but we want to live together as the people of Christ”….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Urban/City Life and Issues

(YB news) A Profile of Liverpool Dean Pete Wilcox as he leaves to become new Bp of Sheffield

Dean Pete said two events stick out in his mind – the funeral service for PC Dave Phillips, who was killed in a hit and run by a stolen vehicle while on duty in 2015, and the service for the 2014 Battle of the Atlantic commemorations, which was broadcast live by the BBC.

“The funeral of PC Phillips was a day when I think we served the whole of Merseyside,” he said.

“I think we do those big, set-piece liturgical occasions really well. There is something really special about this cathedral when it is full of people.”

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

Wednesday Morning Mental Health Break–A Taste of New York

A Taste of New York from FilmSpektakel on Vimeo.

Enjoy it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Photos/Photography, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Sky News) London attack: What happened where in eight minutes of terror

From 10.08pm, police responded to reports of a vehicle hitting pedestrians. Paramedics and specialist response teams arrived in six minutes, the London Ambulance Service said. At least 48 people were taken to five hospitals across London.

Nick Archer, who was in the London Bridge area, told Sky News: “We came out (of a bar) on to the road and looked to my left and there was a guy, I thought he was just drinking but he was lying on the floor.

“And then a couple of seconds later, about three police vans flew past. He looked in a bad way.”

A taxi driver called Chris told LBC said he saw men armed with foot-long knives after a van drove on to the pavement. He told the station: “I didn’t see the van mount the kerb, but I saw everything else….

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(ABC Aus.) Anna Rowlands–The Mancunian Way: Manchester Shows How to Live Together in an Age of Terror

ISIS is very clear in its propaganda that this was an attack on a group of “Crusaders.” In fact, it was an attack on innocence, pleasure and ordinary happiness. It aimed to transform a group of gathered young people into scattered, anxious and dismembered individuals. It was intended as an epiphany of death and fear.

It is important to also understand that this was an attack on young people way beyond Manchester itself – it ripples through the cities of the North. Many of those attending the concert were pupils or students from surrounding Northern cities, Liverpool, Harrogate, Bolton, Leeds, Newcastle and Durham, and from as far away as the Hebrides. This was a particularly pernicious act among a generation of young people for whom mental health problems appear to be on the rise and where the search for places of rest, solidarity and communal pleasure are yearned for and seem oddly hard to find. To strike at the heart of these youthful desires is cruel, indeed evil – for it strikes at the heart of our desire for the good in its ordinary, mundane forms.

Given that in the aftermath of such a horrific event the focus of care and support is rightly with those who have been injured, bereaved and distressed, it can be politically unpopular to rush too quickly to address the fears and concerns of the community with whom the bomber will – fairly or unfairly – be identified. Nonetheless, I know from my work in the North East that the backlash and reprisals are often experienced disproportionately by younger, headscarf wearing Muslim women, and tend to be perpetrated by older men.

When the bombing took place in Manchester in 1996, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the City Council acted swiftly to make clear that they would not tolerate reprisals – something the Manchester Irish community were understandably fearful about. Today, that fear will be felt by another community and a generation later leaders and members of the public in Manchester need to find creative and kind ways to echo the public and private solidarity that the city’s leaders showed.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence