Category : England / UK

(NPR) The U.K. Now Has A Minister For Loneliness

The U.K. has appointed a minister of loneliness to tackle what Prime Minister Theresa May calls a “sad reality of modern life” for many U.K. citizens.

May announced the position Wednesday, appointing current Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch.

“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with,” said May.

According to government figures, more than 9 million people in the U.K. “always or often feel lonely” and “around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(Christian Today) We can reach millennials and this is how, says Church Army

The Church Army is releasing guidance on how to evangelise millennials in an attempt to reverse a worrying lack of young people in the pews.

Just 0.5 per cent of 18-24 year olds attend an Anglican church, its figures reveal, but research based on 12 case studies is aiming to persuade vicars working with young adults is not as difficult as it seems.

‘The findings are really encouraging in that they suggest that mission with young adults, while challenging, is not as difficult as one might think,’ said Dr Tim Ling, the Church Army’s director of research who headed the project.

The nine-month long scheme was based on 12 different approaches to mission and evangelism around the UK and from a variety of church traditions. Across the projects at least 60 people had become Christians through the churches studied, with a further 48 reporting the case study church had helped them rediscover a lost faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Young Adults

(Christian Today) Irene Lancaster–Bishop George Bell was a hero who saved Jewish children. It is time his reputation was restored

…may I suggest that readers of Christian Today take some time to read the very clear report written by Lord Carlile on the way the Bishop Bell case has been handled. Then please ask yourselves if, on the evidence, Bishop Bell is guilty of child abuse as charged, or simply a victim of the workings of the Church of England.

Lord Carlile was asked by the Church authorities to look into the way the investigation of this case was handled, and has concluded that the arrangements were shockingly cavalier and that as a result a man has been found guilty without any proof whatsoever.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to read the report. And on reading it myself, it is hard not to conclude that the evidence is overwhelming that Bell is a martyr not of the Church but by the Church. And if, after reading the report on the workings of the Church of England in this case, you agree with me, don’t you think that you should do something about it?

Because the biblical Moses was asked by G-d to entreat the Pharaoh of his time to let his own Jewish people go – in words that have enthused heroes such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

But what Bishop Bell did in the 1930s was if anything even more heroic: what he did was to take on the entire Church establishment of the day to ask them to take in the tiny remnant of the Jewish community in Germany and eastern Europe. And this the Church establishment found too difficult to contemplate.

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

(Telegraph) Roman Catholic bishop says churches should stay open like the Church of England

Catholic churches should follow the Church of England to keep their doors open outside of services, the bishop of Portsmouth has said.

Philip Egan complained that on a recent visit outside his diocese he had been unable to visit any churches because they had all been shut.

In a Tweet posted on Sunday he said: “Why oh why?! Just spent a few days outside the Diocese but every Catholic church I tried to visit was locked.

“One even had the utter hypocrisy to display a poster ‘From Maintenance to Mission’! Why is this, when every Anglican Church is welcomely open?”

Read it all.

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

(Christian Today) Church of England looks to millennial ‘creatives’ for digital ideas

The Church of England is turning to millennial ‘creatives’ to boost its online reach as regular church attendance is replaced with digital engagement.

Around 50 ‘technicians and creatives’ from around the UK are being brought into central London for a day-long event pitching ideas for new apps, hashtags and websites to help the Church boost its web presence.

Their ideas will be judged by an expert panel including the BBC’s senior digital producer Lynda Davies and the LEGO Group’s global social media team senior manager, James Poulter.

It comes as the Church battles dwindling numbers coming on a Sunday and instead is trying to reach people through social media and digital marketing techniques. Figures released in October say 1.2 million people every month engage with the Church online through its videos, images, podcasts and blogs.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Language, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Young Adults

(Guardian) Non-believers turn to prayer in a crisis, poll finds

For many non-believers, it is an instinctive response to a crisis: “Please, God.” So perhaps it should not be surprising that a new survey has found that one in five adults pray despite saying they are not religious.

Just over half of all adults in the UK pray, and they are increasingly likely to call on God while engaged in activities such as cooking or exercising, according to the poll. Although one in three people pray in a place of worship, and a third pray before going to sleep or on waking, others combine prayer with daily activities. One in five pray while doing household chores or cooking, 15% pray while travelling, and 12% pray during exercise or other leisure pursuits.

Just under half of those who pray said they believed God hears their prayers, which suggests a slim majority feel their supplications are not answered. Four in ten go further, saying prayer changes the world; a similar number say it makes them feel better.

Family tops the list of subjects of prayers at 71%, followed by thanking God (42%), praying for healing (40%) and for friends (40%). Way down on the list comes global issues such as poverty or disasters, at 24%, according to the poll carried out by ComRes on behalf of the Christian aid agency, Tearfund.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Bishop Holtam welcomes Government’s campaign against plastic

The ambition behind the Government’s new environmental plans is “terrific”, and shows it to be “caring for God’s creation” the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, has said.

Bishop Holtam, the C of E’s lead bishop on environmental issues, said on Thursday that it was good news that the environment had become a priority, and that there was “a recognition of the state we are in”.

It was “a very significant document”, Bishop Holtam said, and accompanied by a “very significant speech”.

The plan was unveiled by the Prime Minister on Thursday morning. The Government is to introduce a raft of proposals designed to eliminate all avoidable plastic by 2042.

Speaking at the launch of the Government’s new 25-year environmental plan on Thursday, the Prime Minister announced a war on plastic waste, calling it “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CEN) Scrap Cathedral entrance fees, Government review urges

A government review has recommended scrapping charging policies for entry to Cathedrals.

The review on ‘Cathedrals and Communities’ found that Chester Cathedral has reported increased profits since doing away with charging, while Durham Cathedral has pledged to keep its main space free to enter.

The report released by the Department of Communities and Local Government, explains that for lesser-known cathedrals, creating an active programme of events can increase visitors and income.

The report was the culmination of a year-long tour that saw the Minister for Faiths, Lord Bourne, visit all of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals to better understand their continued importance both to local communities and wider society.

His report also recommends the use of crypts and naves for events, commending Sheffield cathedral, which transformed the space below the cathedral to help the city’s homeless.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

(TAC) Rod Dreher’s interview w/ Notre Dame political theorist Patrick Deneen about his new book, ‘Why Liberalism Failed’

We can say, then, that liberalism is the political operating system of America. Our different parties are like “apps” that operate on that liberal operating system, reflecting its deepest commitments in what are most often its main political agendas: on the Right, the picture of the emancipated individual chooser that animates libertarian economics; and on the Left, the vision of the emancipated individual chooser that animates their libertarian “lifestyle” aspirations, particularly relating to sexuality and abortion.

You write that liberalism “has failed because it has succeeded.” Explain the paradox.

The aspiration of the liberated individual was always moderated by many other historical and cultural influences, especially – in the West – by orthodox forms of Christianity. For a long time, many people of good will understandably could be strong supporters and proponents of the official liberal political philosophy of the American order because of those moderating influences. However, I argue that those moderating influences have been eviscerated by the “success” of liberalism, by its coming fully into being. In this sense, it is an ideology that remakes society in its image – not in the violent manner of those competing and defeated ideologies of fascism and communism, but, rather, in most cases, through the invitation to regard individual liberty as the highest aspiration of the successful life. However, understanding its basic commitments, we can see ways that the liberal regime has certainly been extended through the powers of the state, including through such avenues as the HHS mandate as well as less obvious ways, such as transportation and housing policy, that moved most Americans out of communities and into suburbs.

I argue, then, that we see liberalism failing because it has succeeded. As liberalism has “become more fully itself,” it becomes more immoderate and reveals the falseness of its anthropological assumptions. The breakdown of our political order as well as the loss of any kind of common culture and even civil comportment is, in a sense, the reflection of the successful artificial creation of a state of nature. We are now seeing the results of a 500-year experiment that aims at liberating the individual from social, religious and familial ties, now held together only by the belief that what we have in common is the fact that we are all rights-bearing individuals.

Read it all (2nd emphasis mine).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Philosophy

(BRN) Clive Field–Counting Religion in Britain, December 2017

A whole series of interesting items and links–check it all out.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) More than 1,000 churchgoers complain of spiritual abuse

[Some] Church-goers at mainstream churches have said they are being “spiritually abused” by leaders.

Research showed that more than 1,000 British Christians said they had experienced the abuse, which usually involves members invoking God’s will or religious texts in order to punish or control and coerce a worshipper.

Two thirds of respondents to the survey carried out by Dr Lisa Oakley of the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work at Bournemouth University said they had experienced spiritual abuse in the past.

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

(Spectator) Mission impossible? The C of E’s attempt to woo new members

If you work for the Church of England in any capacity, from Archbishop of Canterbury to parish flower-arranger, how do you deal with the distressing statistics that in the past 20 years, average Sunday attendance has plummeted to 780,000 and is going down by a rate of about 20,000 a year?

Do you pretend it’s not happening and just tell everyone about the spike in your numbers at Christmas, or accept that it might be happening but believe that God’s grace will deal with the problem in its own good time? Or do you throw your weight behind a vast national marketing initiative, hurling millions of pounds at the problem?

Are you, in short, a denier or a panicker? We must thank Bishop Humphrey Southern, principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, for coming up with those two words to describe the people on opposite sides of the debate, which isn’t really a debate because the people on opposite sides are hardly speaking to each other. In the nicest, most prayerful Christian way, they can’t stand each other and will do their best to avoid each other at synodical events. The panickers think the deniers are steering the Church towards oblivion; and the deniers think the panickers are eroding and cheapening the Church’s whole character.

Read it all.

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

(Guardian) Alex Hern–Video games are unlocking child gambling. This has to be reined in

In a tale of gambling addiction posted to Reddit shortly before Christmas, the numbers were as shocking as they were unsurprising. First the anonymous addict frittered away $200 (£149), in November 2016. Then $700 more, later that month. Then $300, $400, $1,500 … eventually, by December 2017, a credit card debt of $16,000, too large to be kept a secret any longer. It’s a painful narrative, one that’s not softened through repeated telling.

What might be more surprising is the particular type of gambling under discussion. This man hadn’t lost his money betting on football, or feeding notes into a fixed-odds betting terminal. He had been playing the mobile video game Final Fantasy: Brave Exodus (FFBE), a free-to-play game for android and iOS based on the Final Fantasy series.

It’s one of a number of games which use a similar system to reel in, and profit from, players. Unlockables – be they new characters in FFBE, new players in the Fifa football sims, weapon upgrades in the new Star Wars game Battlefront II, or car parts in racing game Need For Speed – aren’t available for direct sale. Instead players buy, with real money or in-game currency, a random item or set of items, in what are termed “loot boxes”. Players have no guarantee of what they’ll get, and no way to guide the game into giving them something they need or want.

The system is a sort of weaponised behavioural psychology, perfectly pitched to exploit all the cognitive weaknesses that make people so susceptible to addiction and compulsion.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling

(Shropshire Star) Shropshire vicar and parish team to star in reality TV show

The Reverend Matthew Stafford is based at Holy Trinity Church in picturesque Much Wenlock.

He and the ministry team will be in the spotlight when the ups and downs of four vicars are aired in a new reality show.

Mr Stafford is taking part in the six-part religion series that goes behind the scenes of the lives of vicars in the heart of the countryside covered by Hereford Diocese, which takes in parts of Shropshire.

From opening summer fairs to taking wedding ceremonies for residents, vicars are knitted into the fabric of country life, also providing a pillar of support in times of crisis and personal sorrow. Mr Stafford previously served at Telford’s Wrockwardine Wood and Oakengates parish.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture