Category : England / UK

Bishop of St Albans: Fixed Odds Betting Terminals proposal ‘simply does not go far enough’ to protect most vulnerable

The Bishop of St Albans, a leading campaigner for measures to limit the harm done by Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), has responded to recommendations from the Gambling Commission.

The Rt Revd Alan Smith supports reducing the maximum stake on the machines to £2, from the current level of £100. The Commission has recommended limiting the stake to at least £30, but has left it up to the Government to decide the final figure.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Real St. Patrick for his Feast Day

Patrick was 16 years old in about the year 405, when he was captured in a raid and became a slave in what was still radically pagan Ireland. Far from home, he clung to the religion he had ignored as a teenager. Even though his grandfather had been a priest, and his father a town councilor, Patrick “knew not the true God.” But forced to tend his master’s sheep in Ireland, he spent his six years of bondage mainly in prayer. He escaped at the suggestion of a dream and returned home.

Patrick was in his mid-40s when he returned to Ireland.

Read it all and for the ambitious there is a lot more there.

Posted in --Ireland, Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Patrick

Almighty God, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

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

Archbishops of Armagh to reflect on ministry and legacy of Saint Patrick at Armagh annual lecture

On Friday 16 March, the eve of Saint Patrick’s Day, the two Archbishops of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke will join together to host the annual Saint Patrick’s Lecture at at 11.00 am in the Market Place Theatre in Armagh.

At the lecture the Archbishops will reflect on ministry and legacy of our National Patron, Saint Patrick. Following the lecture, UTV presenter Sarah Clarke will host a discussion with the Archbishops on the words of Saint Patrick, and how his message still resonates and holds relevance for many of the challenges faced by people today.

Reflecting on the life of our National Patron ahead of the event, Archbishop Martin said, ‘Saint Patrick, himself a migrant, was called to serve and bring God to a people far from his home. I encourage the faithful at this time to pray for migrants, and all who struggle to live and integrate into new cultures, at home and abroad, arising from displacement and poverty.’

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Posted in --Ireland, Church History, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

(BBC) Wales’ burial space running out, warns Church

Wales could soon run out of space to bury its dead, the Church in Wales has warned.

A number of cemeteries have run out of plots, with some closed to new burials, while others have just years left until they are full.

Alex Glanville, from the Church in Wales, said people could no longer take for granted that they would be buried in their communities.

On Thursday, Cardiff council’s cabinet agreed to spend £3m on a new cemetery.

Councillors approved plans for a new 12.5 acre cemetery about 650 metres from the existing Thornhill Cemetery.

The authority said it would provide burial space for the next 35-40 years.

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Posted in --Wales, Church of Wales, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(ACNS) Queen Elizabeth joins senior royals, clergy, and faith leaders in service for the Commonwealth

Senior members of Britain’s royal family, led by Queen Elizabeth II, have attended the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent nations who, within the commonwealth, are of equal status. Commonwealth countries are present in 26 Anglican provinces from the Americas to Oceania. The Christian service was attended by leaders of a number of different denominations and leaders of other faiths – some of whom read prayers.

The flags of the 53 Commonwealth nations were paraded through the Abbey at the start and end of the service, carried by young people nominated by the different High Commissions in the UK.

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

(Theology and Ethics) A fabulous teaching and preaching resource from Scotland

I was blessed to grow up in St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow under the teaching ministry of people like Eric Alexander, Sinclair Ferguson, David Ellis, Richard Buckley and others. Some time ago I found the great Tapes from Scotland website which has literally thousands of expository sermons and talks by them and other great (mainly Scottish, all male, broadly Reformed) preachers such as James and George Philip and William Still.

I’ve adapted their spreadsheet of the recordings so as to include links to each recording on their site and you can access and search through them below.

You can scroll through the whole dataset 15 recordings at a time using the arrows at the top and bottom or you can order any column alphabetically by clicking on its title but it is obviously better to use the quite elaborate search and filter process on the left hand side.

Check out the whole thing (Hat tip:AG).

Posted in --Scotland, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Presbyterian

(TES) Two Church Schools ordered to become academies set to close because no one will sponsor them

Church academy trust says it is not able to take on two church schools that were issued with directive academy orders

Two primary schools that were ordered by the Department for Education to become academies are set to close because no academy trust would take them on.

Surrey County Council this week launched public consultations on plans to shut Green Oak C of E Primary in Godalming and Ripley C of E Primary, Ripley.

Ofsted rated the former “inadequate” last March, while the latter received the same grade in June.

Under the 2016 Education and Adoption Act, all “inadequate” maintained schools must be turned into academies. The government issued directive academy orders for both schools.

The two consultations on closing the schools both say: “The effect of the order is that the school must be placed within a multi-academy trust (MAT) to secure its future. As no appropriate MAT has been identified to take the school forward, it is necessary for the council to undertake consultation on the future provision at the school.”

Read it all.

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

(Telegraph) Don’t let faith schools take in more pupils on the basis of religion, leaders warn

Faith schools must not be allowed to admit more children on the basis of religion, leaders have warned.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph a group of 70 faith leaders, politicians and academics warned that lifting a cap which stops new faith schools admitting more than 50 per cent of children on the basis of religion would be “deleterious to social cohesion and respect”.

The signatories, led by former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, warn that the policy, promised in the Conservative manifesto, “allows schools to label children at the start of their lives with certain beliefs and then divide them up on that basis.”

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel Ferns and Ossory reflects on recent changes in legislation in reference to Good Friday

It is a truism to say that we live amid the challenges, opportunities and sometimes confusions of a rapidly changing Ireland. While I can get my mind round some of the more obvious and dramatic changes, it is the little things that occasionally pull one up. I have to confess I felt a little twinge of regret when the small piece of legislation allowing for the opening of licensed premises on Good Friday passed rapidly through both Dáil and Seanad.

Thus ended a symbol of public homage to the atmosphere of Good Friday which had been upheld by law since the 1920s. In a changing and more pluralist society this moment no doubt was bound to come. Yet both parliamentary speeches and media coverage seemed almost to delight in pouring scorn on a tradition deemed to be senseless, antediluvian, and an inhibition to spending by tourists.

The Christian religion cannot any longer prescribe how people out in the public square behave on its own days of special holiness; that indeed is clear. But, as the ‘secular’ Good Friday becomes just like the opening day of any other holiday weekend, there are one or two babies that are being thrown out with the proverbial bath water. It was good to have a day when the nation was reminded of its inseparable and dependent relationship with alcohol – in this land we apparently cannot celebrate, commiserate or even relax without it. I say this as someone who is certainly not a Puritan in these matters, and who is constantly aware that when we make Eucharist we drink from a common celebratory cup of wine. Secondly, there was something precious about the silence of the streets on a Good Friday evening – no shouting and mirth at closing time, no raucous singing drifting over the garden wall. It is good for people to experience an atmosphere of corporate silence sometimes, to be challenged to reflect, to eschew the escapism often associated with unending noise.

But this year it will be changed utterly. Or will it? Christian people will still day by day observe the Week of weeks, knowing that the way in which Holy Week is kept is a kind of barometer of the spiritual state of our individual and parochial lives. Perhaps, as the rest of the world seems to be fleeing from any sense that Holy Week is special, we are challenged all the more to witness to the uniqueness and the profound relevance of these saving events.

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Posted in --Ireland, Alcohol/Drinking, Church of Ireland, Holy Week, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) IICSA hearing likely to prompt more disclosures of abuse, C of E safeguarding officials say

The Church of England must be prepared for new revelations and disclosures of clerical sex abuse during, and in the wake of, a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), a spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has said.

Starting on Monday, the public hearing in London will consider the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church.

It will use the diocese of Chichester as a case study to examine the “culture of the Church” and whether its “behaviours, values, and beliefs inhibited or continued to inhibit the investigation, exposure, and prevention of child sexual abuse” (News, 2 February).

An NST spokesperson said on Tuesday: “High-profile cases that we have been involved with before, such as independent reviews, have led to more disclosures. We must assume that people will come forward for the first time: we would not want to rule that out.”

The public hearing is due to conclude on 23 March.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Marriage Foundation) UK Marriage Rates hit an all time Low

Today’s release from the Office for National Statistics reveals that marriage has hit an all-time low.

  • The number of weddings in 2015 was 239,020, down 3.4 per cent on the previous year.
  • Marriage rates, the proportion of unmarried people who marry in any given year, are now at their lowest level since records began, more than two thirds down from their peak in 1972.

All of this makes for pretty grim reading, just as there were signs that the trend away from marriage had bottomed out. Even if we get a temporary bounce next year from the effects of another Royal wedding, we are not there yet.

The only remotely good news is that weddings continue to rise among the over 45s and there are signs that a slowly rising proportion of us are ever likely to get married based on today’s rates – we’ll do a report on this soon.


Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Marriage & Family

(CEN) Archbishop says British society needs to be rebuilt like in 1945

He said that society‘cannot thrive’ while education ‘is marked by cuts and inequalities’.

“It threatens our togetherness. Without a properly funded education system with values at its core, our long-term outlook is poor. This applies not only to the highest performing child but for all,” he added.

He said that Brexit ‘has divided the country’ and ‘we now need a new narrative’.

“There is a danger that there is a schism in our society into which the most vulnerable are falling. Austerity is crushing the weak, the sick and many others.

“Today in Britain we are suffering from a lack of such common values – values that have deep roots in our nation’s Christian history.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Angela Tilby–Funerals should not deny the reality of death

Death is awful and awe-ful. We know that; and yet current practice seems determined to deny both the fact and the solemnity of death. We say “We are sorry for your loss,” and talk about the deceased’s “passing”. When I conduct funerals, I feel unnerved if people say that a tribute “summed him or her up to a T”, as though my job had been to conjure the deceased’s spirit for one final grand appearance before the tea and cakes appeared.

What was remarkable about Judith’s funeral was that it was so Christian. The body was honoured; and Judith was prayed for both as a sinner and as one redeemed. There was a real parting, but it was a parting in hope, not a shadowy lingering.

I have been to a humanist funeral, and found it moving and reverent. But real Christian funerals now are rare: even Christians prefer not to call a funeral what it is.

It seems obscene, when so many die randomly in violence and war around the world, that we try so hard to domesticate the deaths of our friends and loved ones, denying both the majesty and the mercy of our final public engagement.

Read it all.

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

(DJ) Ruth Perrin–Losing My Religion: Millennials and Faith Loss

What causes faith loss?

There is no rule, it’s not a predictable pattern but there were some core factors that came up in their stories and which mirror other research findings.
1. An existential reshaping of their worldview

For many, exposure to a convincing alternative worldview caused them to question beliefs they had never previously queried. Various things triggered this process:

New relationships in professional environments or further study
Ethical concerns – particularly around sexuality, Christian claims of exclusivity or divine judgment
Doubts about the credibility of the Bible
A gap between their lived experience of suffering and the simplistic theological answers they were given

Often the dominant cultural narratives of pluralistic tolerance and secular rationalism were just more convincing or appealing than Christianity. It was different for each person – but the result was that for all of them, eventually Christian faith no longer seemed credible.
2. An experience of personal difficulty or trauma

A second contributing factor was some sort of personal struggle. It’s fair to say that this is a normal part of most young adult’s twenties (In fact part of developing a stable adult faith is finding a way to make sense of where God is in the challenges of life). However for these individuals it combined with and exacerbated their existential doubts.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults