Category : England / UK

The new Church of England website launches this week

[Wednesday of this week]…marks a significant milestone since the founding of the Digital Communications team at Church House in London one year ago. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new Church of England website, which has been rebuilt from scratch with the help of many colleagues in the national office in just seven months from start to finish.
While the old website received lots of traffic and interest, the confusing user experience and the 75,000+ documents and pages on the site were identified as key issues. These were resolved by content and plain English workshops for staff.

In January 2017 we ran an extensive research project with 1,800 Christians and non-Christians across the country. This included doing the following to understand what people found frustrating, what they’d like to see more or less of and, crucially, how Christians grow in faith and how we bring new people to faith:

Focus groups in Carlisle, Blackburn, Birmingham and London
1:1 interviews
Targeted national online surveys through social media
Website analytics and heatmapping how users interact with the content.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Margaret of Scotland

O God, who didst call thy servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give her zeal for thy church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(Christian Today) Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to approach Pope and Archbishop over British mother jailed in Iran

A former foreign office minister and a senior Catholic have urged Boris Johnson to heed the advice of Tom Tugendhat MP and approach Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury to help negotiate the release of the British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is imprisoned in Iran.

The support for Tugendhat’s suggestion comes as Christian Today has learned that neither Lambeth Palace nor Pope Francis has, at the time of writing, received any approach from the Foreign Office. Christian Today has approached the Foreign Office for comment.

Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs committee of MPs and Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, put it to the Foreign Secretary that religious leaders be used to negotiate Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release with the Islamic clerics who run Iran’s judicial system.

‘This poor woman is being used as a political football not only sadly here but in Iran,’ Tugendhat, who is a Catholic, told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Telegraph) Pressure to grow congregations leads to ‘clergy self-harm’ says Christ Church Dean

Pressure on bishops and clergy to grow their audience is leading to “clergy self-harm”, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has said.

Speaking to an audience at the charity Sons & Friends of the Clergy, Professor Martyn Percy, who also teaches in the theology faculty, said that bishops “need to stop being the CEO of an organisation that is chasing growth targets”.

He said that clergy stress was “fuelled by anxiety about growth and organisation and professionalism.

“The church has become too organisational and bureaucratic.

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Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

Leicester is the most ‘exciting’ city in the UK – says Archbishop of Canterbury as he arrives for three-day visit

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, has arrived in the city as part of a three-day visit.

He was officially welcomed by city mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, at the Guildhall, in front of a host of dignitaries.

Mr Soulsby recalled the Archbishop’s last visit to Leicester for the reinterment of King Richard III.

He said: “I remember there were some nerves on that occasion, but it was an amazing day and it’s wonderful to have you back here.”

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

Church of England Cathedrals attract record numbers at Christmas

Christmas attendance at services in cathedrals last year reached its highest figure since records began, statistics published today show. A one year rise of 5%, meant that 131,000 people came to cathedrals to worship last Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Increased attendances were also recorded at services in Advent with 635,000 coming to worship during the busy pre-Christmas build-up. Average weekly attendances at services on a Sunday also increased to 18,700.

Meanwhile, over 10 million people visited cathedrals and Westminster Abbey with half donating or paying for entry.

The Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, and lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings, said: “Behind these figures lie stories of worship, learning, exploring faith and spirituality and encountering God at times of joy and despair.

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

YouGov Poll–Most Brits think only six of the Ten Commandments are still important

The Ten Commandments have been central tenets of Biblical teaching for several millenia. But how many Britons believe that they are good rules for life in the 21st century?

New YouGov research reveals that only six of the original Ten Commandments are still seen by most British people as important principles to live by. This is even true of Britain’s Christians, although they are more likely than the general population as a whole to think any given Commandment remains important.

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Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Willibrord

O Lord our God, who dost call whom thou willest and send them whither thou choosest: We thank thee for sending thy servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve thee, the living God; and we entreat thee to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of thy service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Denmark, England / UK, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer, The Netherlands

(Premier) Have evangelicals taken over the Church of England?

In 1966 two of the most well-loved and respected church leaders of their day faced off against one another. Speaking at an Evangelical Alliance event in Westminster, famed preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones publicly criticised evangelicals for remaining inside the Church of England, thereby aligning themselves with leaders in the denomination who promoted liberalism. He said evangelicals “scattered about in various major denominations” were “weak and ineffective”. The Welsh minister of Westminster Chapel suggested evangelicals should instead form their own association of churches.

As chair of the event, John Stott was expected to offer his polite thanks to Lloyd-Jones. Instead the rector of All Souls Church issued an impassioned spontaneous rebuttal, arguing that evangelicals should remain inside the Church of England and fight for truth from within. Thankfully the two men were later reconciled after their very public falling out.

Fifty years later there’s good reason for evangelicals to believe Stott’s argument ultimately won the day. For instance, unlike his more liberal predecessor, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is a charismatic evangelical (and a member of Holy Trinity Brompton before he was ordained), and his counterpart in York, John Sentamu, comes from an evangelical background too. As Rev Dr Ian Paul, who sits on the Archbishops’ Council notes, while previous generations of evangelicals ignored senior establishment posts, today’s evangelicals are taking them on, so when it comes to its senior leadership, “the Church of England is more evangelical than it’s ever been”. According to Dr Paul, the growth of the Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) and New Wine networks is further evidence that evangelicals are having a strong impact on the Church. And the trend looks set to continue. Evangelicals now account for 70 per cent of ordinands entering training. A generation ago, the figure was just 30 per cent.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelicals

(Church Times) Church leaders, charities, and politicians up the plea for action on modern slavery

Tackling modern slavery in the UK and supporting the victims of its crimes “demands our attention” and immediate action, Church leaders, charities, and politicians have agreed this week.

On Monday, 50 Church, police, and policy leaders met at the House of Commons to debate the current UK strategy for countering modern slavery. The Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, who chairs the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Advisory Panel was among them.

“The seminar provided an invaluable opportunity for politicians, law enforcement agencies and those working with and for victims to share concerns, strategies and wisdom,” he said. “There was also an opportunity to consider reactions to the recent report about police practice, and for various sectors to adjust their contributions in the light of the challenges identified.”

Campaigner: the Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, chairs the Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Advisory Panel

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner for the UK, Kevin Hyland, who also attended, said that the number of people living in slavery in the country was likely to be considerably higher than the current estimate of 13,000. The latest statistics suggest that the number of victims of slavery has increased by at least 300 per cent in the past five years (News, 20 October).

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Cut stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2, Bishop Smith of St Albans urges Government

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has responded to the Government’s announcement today of The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes.

He said: “The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes has proposed a range of possible stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals. While a reduction in stakes is welcome, any stake higher than £2 does not go far enough to address the harm these machines cause to families and communities around the UK.

“In our broader response to the consultation, the Church of England will urge the Government to consider the experiences of those affected most by these machines, and to choose to lower the stake to £2.

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

(Telegraph) Tim Stanley–Why do the Today presenters think it’s OK to bash the God slot? I think they are jealous

t’s hard not to take this personally. When a Today programme host calls Thought for the Day “deeply, deeply boring,” he’s talking about me. Literally.

Tomorrow at 6am, I’ll get up, pull clothes over my pyjamas, take a taxi to Tunbridge Wells and be ready to talk God at 7.47am. “Good morning, Tim,” John Humphrys will say. And I’m tempted to blow a rude, ripe raspberry down the microphone.

People can’t seem to agree on why they dislike Thought for the Day. My conservative friends complain it’s too secular and packed with Buddhists and Hindus. The people at Today say that it’s far too Christian and preachy.

In fact, it’s designed to tackle a contemporary issue from a faith perspective before a general audience, so it’s written in a very particular, careful manner. It takes a lot of work.

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Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Giles Frasier–Here’s my Thought for the Day: stop sneering and keep the faith, BBC

Imagine reading out your Thought for the Day knowing that all this sneering and smirking is going on right in front of you. If it were just about Thought for the Day, it might not matter quite so much. Sometimes the slot is good; sometimes it is not so good. But it has become a totem of the BBC’s attitude towards faith generally – that it is an embarrassing relative it has had to invite to the party, but one who can be made to sit in the corner, and about whom it is acceptable to make jokes. To the overpaid panjandrums of the BBC, religion is for the little people, for the stupid and the gullible. And it’s easy to play this for laughs to a gallery of those who have read a few chapters of the Selfish Gene, and think this has turned them into philosophical giants.

Personally, I don’t see the problem with having a slot ringfenced for a particular subject such as religion. The BBC has several for football, and for science. And then there’s Woman’s Hour. And quite right too. But for some reason, the very presence of religion, even at the homeopathic levels at which it is entertained by the BBC, is perceived as some sort of insult to the precious, godless secularity of the news.

But the news isn’t godless – just the people who report on it. About 31% of people in the world are Christians. About 24% are Muslims. About 15% are Hindus. The vast majority of the people on this planet believe in some sort of God. These faiths, and many numerically smaller ones, have shaped world history, ethics, politics and culture like no other force known to humankind. And, for good or ill, people still live and die for their faith. Quite simply, you cannot understand the world unless you understand something about the way that faith functions in the lives of its adherents.

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Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) BBC ‘Today’ programme presenters in extraordinary attack on religious slot provided by Thought for the day

John Humphrys, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, has launched an extraordinary attack on the ‘inappropriate’ religious slot ‘Thought for the Day’ (TFTD) in a joint interview with fellow presenters revealing a deep hostility to religion.

The comments come after Christian Today revealed an internal BBC row earlier this year following remarks by the new ‘Today’ editor, Sarah Sands, who singled out TFTD for criticism.

Back then, a BBC Radio 4 spokesperson told Christian Today: ‘Thought for the Day is editorially looked after by the BBC’s Religion and Ethics team in radio and features speakers from the world’s major faith traditions. There are no plans to make changes to it.’

But in a roundtable discussion in the Radio Times to mark 60 years of the ‘Today’ programme, Humphrys is asked: ‘How does it feel when at ten to eight every morning you suddenly have to stop for a sermon in Thought for the Day?’

He replies: ‘Deeply, deeply boring, often. Sometimes not. Sometimes it’s good and the guy or woman is delivering an interesting thought in a provocative way. Usually not….’

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Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Onward Christian Soldiers dropped from local Remembrance Sunday service

A vicar has dropped the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers from a Remembrance Sunday service next month because of the participation of non-Christians in the commemoration.

Some members of the Royal British Legion social club in Oadby, Leicestershire, are threatening to boycott the service or sing the 19th-century hymn outside the church in protest.

The Rev Steve Bailey of St Peter’s church made the decision with the agreement of the local branch of the British Legion. It will be replaced with another hymn, All People That On Earth Do Dwell.

In a statement released by the diocese of Leicester, Bailey said: “We agreed the change in hymn with the Oadby Royal British Legion who run this major civic occasion because members of the community from a wide range of cultural backgrounds attend this event, which is a parade, a service in church and laying of wreaths at the war memorial.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture