Category : England / UK

A Statement of solidarity from the City of Westminster Interfaith Leaders

1. We are members of Pathways, a group of faith leaders and representatives in St John’s Wood and Marylebone in the City of Westminster, who regularly meet together to foster good relations between our communities and to work on matters of mutual concern.

2. Fundamental to all our religions is the message of peace. We believe that human beings have a duty to work for peace and seek to build good relations with their neighbours.

3. We deplore the attack which took place in and around the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday. Anyone claiming a religious motive justifies an attack of this nature has repudiated the tenets of their faith.

4. We wish to express our sympathy and solidarity with those who have suffered and also those who are bereaved. We will pray for them in our churches, mosques and synagogues.

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Posted in England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CEN) The Bp of Chichester appoints a LGBTI liaison officer

A Bishop’s Liaison Officer for the LGBTI Community has been appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to ‘build bridges.’

The aim of the post is to identify what ministry among this community ‘might look like if it is to be more effective’ and to provide the bishops and parishes with up to date information about the pastoral needs of LGBTI people.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, announced the appointment of the Rev Andrew Woodward, Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Kemp Town and Rural Dean of Brighton, as the first holder of the post.

Mr Woodward will help the church to ‘build bridges and enable pastoral support for a substantial group of people who feel the Church is alienated from them. Many feel they are tolerated but not included.’

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

Mark Woods–Pray for Westminster: the injured, the bereaved and the traumatised

We always knew, if we had any sense, that this was coming. Outrages in France, Belgium and Germany last year were uncomfortably close to home, though at least they were on the other side of the Channel. But Britain has always been just as much of a target for terror, and it’s only the skill of our intelligence services that has kept us safe so far.

Now that illusion of invulnerability, if it existed, has been shattered. We do not know for certain at the moment who’s behind this horror. But that it’s some kind of terror attack at the heart of our democracy appears certain.

It’s very tempting, when such things happen, to look immediately at the big picture. This is Westminster, the Mother of Parliaments. It has a huge symbolic value. Whoever did this could hardly have struck at a more significant target.

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Posted in England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

Jeremy Pemberton: On infidelity, broken promises and hounding: why Elaine Storkey is wrong.

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

(Guardian) Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter 86, RIP

Author Lee Child described Dexter as “revolutionary”. “He wrote a character without any concessions at all to likely popularity – Morse was bad tempered, cantankerous, esoteric and abstruse – and thereby showed us that integrity and authenticity work best,” Child said. “His literary descendants are everywhere. When our genre’s family tree is drawn, he’s the root of a huge portion of it.”

Author Peter James said “all of us who love crime fiction owe Colin Dexter a very great debt”.

“There are few writers of whom it can be genuinely said that they changed – or indeed created – a genre. But Colin Dexter did. Morse was unique, both in the pages of the novels and in the subsequent television adaptations,” James said. “In many ways he mirrored characteristics of Sherlock Holmes, with his fierce brain and quiet nature, and. like Holmes, he came off the page and stepped out of our screens to become a living person, someone any of us could imagine meeting for a drink in a pub.”

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Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK

Ian Paul responds to the Bp of Chelmsford: Sex and morality in Church and society

This leads to a third surprising comment. On the one hand, the new teaching document will explore what is possible ‘within current arrangements’, and that prohibits the offering of public prayer which would give the appearance of a blessing of a same-sex sexual relationship. Yet on the other hand, Bishop Stephen cannot see any reason why ‘prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships – perhaps a Eucharist – cannot be offered.’ It seems strange to me that any bishop should feel so relaxed about contradicting the current position of the House of Bishops, without offering any account of this—and why he does notice that it is, in fact, contradictory.

But perhaps the most astonishing and surprising comment comes earlier on. In reflecting on the relationship between sexuality and missional engagement, Bishop Stephen makes this startling claim:

As I have said before, I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.

For some reason, Bishop Stephen sees the issue of the Church’s teaching on sexuality as a unique turning point in relation to culture, as if we have never experienced this sense of being out of step with prevailing morality and criticised, on moral grounds, because of it. I cannot really make sense of this statement, since even a moment’s reflection on some current areas of debate illustrates how implausible this is.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Edith Humphrey–St. Patrick, Natural Icons and the Sacramental Creation

To Patrick’s sanctified eyes, the natural world, however, was not just a source of worry, or lurking danger, but an icon of the Almighty—from the “old eternal rocks” to the fragile shamrock that blooms copiously on the Irish hillside, but only for a day or two. His were the same eyes of a St. Basil, whose prayer during the Anaphora asks God to show the bread and wine to be the body and blood of our Lord. His were the same kind of eyes as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, who speaks about the created things that God has made as having both an iconic function, for to opened eyes, God can be revealed in what he has made, and as actually sharing in the wonder of God:

[There is] a sacramental character of the world and of man’s place in the world. The term ‘sacramental’ means here that …the world …is an epiphany of God, a means of His revelation, presence and power…We need water and bread and wine in order to be in communion with God…By being restored through the blessing to its proper function, “holy water” is revealed as the true, full, adequate water, and matter becomes again means of communion with and knowledge of God.”

Schmemann insists that when bread, wine, oil and water are blessed, they are released to do what they always were intended to do—lead us to God.
St. Patrick saw this, too. Even the wild things of the created order are meant, by their nature, to give glory to God, and to show this glory to humankind: star-lit sky, the light of the sun, the lightening, the waves.

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Posted in --Ireland, Church History

Archbp John Sentamu: “Wisdom, Futility, Death and Time: the Voice of Religion in the 21st Century”

…we must build on what we have in common. In our case, our common link as Abrahamic religions and the many Jewish-Christian relationships which we have developed.

The long and distinguished history of the Council of Christians and Jews bears witness to the growing conversations and deepened understanding which we have developed over the years, thanks to the patient and dedicated efforts not just of our contemporaries, but also those who have gone before us.

Our inter-religious relationships must be based on mutual respect and understanding as people who strongly believe in the One, Holy, and Almighty God. We have an excellent basis from which to develop this. Looking to the Future and not being enslaved by the Past.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) University of Bristol study finds Gambling problems for ‘1 in 4 young men’

A quarter of young men have a gambling problem and GPs should consider screening them for the addiction, researchers say.

A University of Bristol study found that 25 per cent of men aged between 18 and 24 had gambling problems of varying degrees of severity. The researchers polled more than 1,000 patients in 11 Bristol GP waiting rooms. About one in 20 people had a gambling problem and one in five of those had a severe problem. Young men were much more likely to have a problem, as were people who used drugs and those who had depression or risky drinking habits.

Sean Cowlishaw, from the university’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, who conducted the study, said that young men were often a vulnerable group. He added: “We are seeing the first generation who have grown up with high levels of gambling exposure normalised. We are talking about advertising constantly, online gambling, on smartphones as well, and betting shops clustered on high streets with electronic gambling machines.”

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Posted in England / UK, Gambling, Men, Young Adults

(Changing Attitude Scotland) A Majority of Scottish Episcopal Synods have voted to change the definition of marriage

Proposals to make changes to Canon 31 of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s canons have now been discussed by all the diocesan synods. A very clear majority of the synods voted in favour of change – 6 dioceses voted in favour, whilst one (Aberdeen and Orkney) voted against change.

The changes that are proposed would allow some clergy to be nominated to be able to conduct marriages for same-sex couples. If the changes are approved they would also remove the ban on clergy and lay readers entering into same-sex marriages themselves.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality

(Sky News) Queen highlights ‘cornerstones’ for peace on Commonwealth Day

The Queen has highlighted respect and understanding between nations as the key to peace in her annual message to the Commonwealth.

The Queen’s address to 2.4 billion citizens promotes this year’s Commonwealth Day theme of “a peace-building Commonwealth”.

With division over Brexit in the UK and instability around the world, the theme seeks to reaffirm the Commonwealth’s charter principle that “international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all”.

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Posted in England / UK, Politics in General

(Ekklesia) Savi Hensman–Being Sheffield’s bishop and the limits of inequality

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Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in Lords debate on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

The referendum campaign, and its aftermath, revealed deep divisions, my Lords, in our society, as the Noble Lord, Lord Hain, has rightly commented; and like him, this feels like the most divided country that I have lived in in my lifetime.

Whatever the outcome of the next two years, our nation’s future – particularly for the most vulnerable – will be profoundly damaged if we arrive in 2019 even more divided, without a common vision to confront the opportunities and challenges before us. To meet these opportunities and challenges – in every aspect of policy and every level of society– we must find a level of national reconciliation. So how we conduct this process is as important as the outcome itself.

I believe it would be dangerous and unwise and wrong to reduce the substance of the terms on which we exit the European Union to the result of a binary yes-no choice taken last summer – and the Government should avoid any inclination to oversimplify the outcome of the most complex peacetime negotiations, probably ever.

But neither is the complexity of a further referendum a good way of dealing with the process at the end of negotiation. It will add to our divisions. It will deepen the bitterness. It is not democratic. It is unwise….

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Archbp Cranmer) BBC questions whether it’s appropriate for Christian MP to display her faith

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Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Lambeth Palace letter suggests ‘indistinguishable’ blessing after same-sex marriage

A letter from Lambeth Palace has said that a church service after a same-sex marriage can be “almost indistinguishable from a wedding”.

The letter was written to Dr Richard and Matthew Edwards, who married last year in Birmingham Register Office. Both are members of the PCC at St Paul’s, Birmingham. Dr Edwards is the treasurer, and Matthew Edwards the vice-chair and a churchwarden. They have been together for five years, and got engaged in 2015. Before they married, they wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury for guidance.

The letter they received in response, written by the Archbishop’s correspondence secretary, Andrew Nunn, demonstrates the Church of England’s ambivalence on the question of same-sex marriage. He states: “marriage in an Anglican church is not an option for you.” On the other hand, he describes the practice of having a blessing in church after a civil ceremony. “The church ceremony can be arranged so as to be almost indistinguishable from a wedding, but without the legalities.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality