Category : England / UK

Happy Boxing Day to All Blog Readers!

Posted in Canada, Christmas, England / UK

(Guardian) How the Queen – the ‘last Christian monarch’ – has made faith her message

A survey of the broadcasts made during her 65-year reign reveals that for most of the time the Queen has spoken only in passing of the religious significance of Christmas. There have been references to presents linking contemporary Christmas to the three wise men, for instance, alongside trips to Commonwealth countries, family events such as weddings and funerals, and there were observations about contemporary society. In 1966, for example, she spoke of the progress of women, and in 1972, she commented on Britain joining the European Community in language that would make any Remainer proud.

But for the past 17 years, her messages have taken on a different tone, with the Queen explaining her own personal faith – “the anchor in my life”, as she described it in 2014.

Last year she said: “Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”

The turning point in the content of the broadcasts was the millennium. Her broadcast in 2000 was devoted to an account of Christ’s life and teaching which, she said, “provide a framework in which I try to lead my life”.

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

(Guardian) Churches must become social hubs in order to survive, The Taylor Review says

England’s churches must become vibrant hubs at the centre of communities, offering local people a range of activities and services beyond a place to worship, if they are to be sustainable, according to an independent review.

Churches are “heritage assets”, but their care, maintenance and repair represents an enormous task, according to the Taylor review of the sustainability of English churches and cathedrals.

The report urges congregations to involve more local people to use and care for churches, citing examples where “enterprising clergy, PCCs [parish councils] and volunteers have developed their churches into vibrant hubs at the centre of their wider communities”.

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

(Church Times) BBC religion is entering a new era, says Bishop of Norwich Graham James

The BBC’s review of its religion and ethics output “feels like the beginning of a new era” the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, has said.

Bishop James, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on media issues, said on Wednesday that BBC had produced “the most promising review of religion and ethics at the BBC that I have seen for a generation… It is very promising all round.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the BBC published plans for reforming its religion and ethics output. These include the establishment of a religion editor for news, a global team of specialist reporters, a greater focus on religious festivals, and creating a “Year of Belief” in 2019.

Bishop James said he was hopeful that the proposals would be implemented, and that they would have an impact on religious programming.

“I’m confident that at the highest level [in the BBC] this is now being taking seriously, at a level I have not seen before.”

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

(Yorkshire Post) Do we need more TV programmes about religion?

The BBC has pledged to broaden its range of mainstream religious programmes. But, in our increasingly secular society, is this a step in the right direction? Chris Bond reports. For many people Christmas is a time of enjoyment, a chance to spend some quality time with friends and family. It’s also an opportunity to take stock and reflect as another year draws to a close.

Religion and its inherent message of kindness and helping others is at the heart of Christmas yet increasingly it seems drowned out by the rampant commercialisation of the festive season.

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Posted in England / UK, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(BBC) BBC to air more religious programming

The BBC has pledged to “raise our game” on religion by increasing the portrayal of all faiths in mainstream shows.

The corporation said it would “enhance” the representation of religion on TV and radio dramas and documentaries.

It said it would also create a new global religious affairs team, headed by a religion editor, in BBC News.

The BBC will also keep Thought For The Day on Radio 4’s Today programme – despite presenter John Humphrys saying it’s often “deeply, deeply boring”.

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Posted in England / UK, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(CEN) Bp Michael Nazir-Ali–There Must be no retreat from the public square by Christians

I have worked for a number of years with persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, especially in the Middle East and South Asia.Sometimes I am asked about those who feel they are ‘persecuted’ nearer home, in the UK. At one level the comparison is only superficial; Christian faith in the UK does not usually mean putting your life or liberty at risk.

Yet.

I find, though, that persecution begins with exclusion and discrimination. What is being dismissed from your post for your Christian views on marriage if not persecution? Or being refused as an applicant for adopting or fostering children if not persecution? Or being suspended as a teacher because of your Christian beliefs? Or losing your job for praying with a patient, if not persecution? So many examples can be given.

The family has been under sustained attack in this country for the last 50years. The family is the basis of a stable society.Yet our country has just abandoned the biblical teaching of marriage in public law.These attacks will not stop there.

First, divorce is becoming ever easier with further proposals for no-fault divorce. Marriage is no longer a covenant or contract.There is no accountability for people who abandon a marriage for no good reason.Family patterns are being reinvented and we are being told that fathers are not necessary. Yet all the research shows that fathers are very important for the proper maturing of children.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Human Resources Magazine) Case study: Hiring at the Church of England

The organisation

The Church of England is the state church of England, headquartered in Westminster. It has around 25 million members, and its churches are visited by an estimated 35 to 50 million tourists every year. The organisation is led by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and 106 other bishops, while the Queen is the supreme governor with the responsibility to appoint archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the prime minister.

The problem

At Christmas many of us choose to visit a church to pray, sing and give thanks. But how many of these people have ever considered that they could find a fulfilling career in the church? Hannah Foster, director of HR at the National Church Institutions of the Church of England, says recruitment has often been a stumbling block for the organisation. “People just don’t realise the breadth of jobs available in the Church of England,” she tells HRmagazine. “Everybody knows we have priests – that much is obvious, and we do have fabulous people doing that work – but we also have marketing people, HR teams, project managers, and so on.

“The roles could be ordained, or at governance level, or even voluntary. We have a huge number of opportunities, but they seemed to be getting lost at an organisational level.”

In an increasingly digital world Foster knew the Church could find a way to reach people who were not spotting opportunities advertised in the traditional manner. “We needed to reach the person in an office 10 miles away, who might like to work for us but didn’t know there was a job available because they don’t look at the parish noticeboard,” she says. “We had a lot of people who joined us over the years who have said they didn’t think of us as a place to work because we simply weren’t on their radar – but they were glad they had found us. Our job was to make those roles more visible.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) John Rutter, The Composer Who Owns Christmas Image

It is the sort of English village that you might find on Christmas cards: a medieval church, a placid river, thatched cottages, swans. So it’s no great surprise that it is also where you can find John Rutter, a composer so identified with Christmas that he has all but earned a place with the kings and shepherds by the manger.

He lives here in a manor house, where he composes carols that are sung throughout the English-speaking world: It’s almost inconceivable these days for a carol concert not to feature at least one of Mr. Rutter’s modern classics. But it sometimes bothers him that their ubiquity devalues what he writes for other times of year.

“I used to think that was a problem,” Mr. Rutter said, surveying from his kitchen window the absurdly perfect village he calls “idyllic, if a bit Miss Marple.” He worried that people wouldn’t take his other music seriously. “But I’m not unhappy to be associated with Christmas: better than famine, flood or war,” he said.

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Posted in Christmas, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

(BBC) The First female Bishop of London is appointed

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

(Guardian) Homelessness: ‘People think it can never happen to them, but it can, in the blink of an eye’

Being on the street wore me down. I slept in car parks, where boy racers threw rubbish at me. You wake up freezing, with no public toilets open. I lost weight; I lost all communication with my friends. I had a nervous breakdown. When I came to the Doorway drop-in centre, I was wearing trainers with the soles falling off. They managed to get me into a room after the government basically failed me.

I have noticed homelessness going up. Every other doorway there’s someone sitting there – people are losing their flats because of universal credit, domestic violence, not being able to afford the mortgage; it could be anything. I talk to them because I’ve been in that situation. It does help when someone says hello; most days you wake up with nobody to talk to apart from the pigeons.

But I’m grateful for what I’ve got compared with six months ago. This Christmas I’ll be in my hostel room. I’ve got a little shower, a TV and computer downstairs, and I’m saving up my pennies to get on the coach to see my nieces and nephews. I’d love to get back into horse-riding, and have my own little flat. I want to get back to being me, because you lose yourself when you’re on the streets. You’ve got to pick yourself up and do the best you can. Life’s too short to sit around being miserable.

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Posted in England / UK, Poverty

(Herald) After Change in Theology of Marriage, Two Scottish Episcopal Priests Become Roman Catholics Under Ordinariate

Two former Anglican ministers are to be ordained as priests after joining the Catholic Church when Scottish Anglicans voted to embrace gay marriage.

The Rev Simon Beveridge, who lives in Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway and Rev Cameron Macdonald, who lives in Nairn, were made deacons in June just days after the Scottish Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly to allow same sex couples to marry in church.

They joined the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, set up in 2011 by Pope Benedict to provide a home for disaffected former members of the…[Episcopal] and Anglican clergy within the Catholic Church.

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Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Grenfell survivors express their grief and anger at St Paul’s memorial

The occasion marked six months to the day since a fire all but destroyed the residential building in White City, west London, killing 53 adults and 18 children, including an unborn baby (News, 15 June). A public inquiry, led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, into the causes, building standards, and the Government’s response to the tragedy, is ongoing.

The families and friends of the victims, survivors, their families, and other community members most closely affected by the tragedy, were seated beneath the dome. Representatives of the faith communities, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, were seated together on a dais installed at the front of the cathedral.

In his address, the Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, hoped that justice would be given to the community. “Today we ask why warnings were not heeded; why a community was left feeling neglected, uncared for, not listened to.

“Today we hold out hope that the public inquiry will get to the truth of all that led up to the fire at Grenfell Tower; that it will listen to the hopes, fears, and questions of those most directly affected by it; and we trust that the truth will bring justice, and that justice will enable true reconciliation and the eventual healing of the divides in our life together that this tragedy has revealed.”

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

(AI) University of Exeter to offer trauma response training for clergy

Ministers have supported hundreds of people in the UK after traumatic events like terrorist attacks, fires, flooding and revelations of child abuse. The new training will help them support large numbers of people in such circumstances.

Ministers who have worked with communities experiencing difficult situations have helped create the course, which is being run by Dr Christopher Southgate, from the University of Exeter

Clergy were trained in Exeter and Plymouth in November and further training will be held in Cumbria in January, with further courses around England within the next three years.

Dr Southgate said: “Events we have seen this year – the attack in Manchester and the fire in Grenfell Tower – make it clear that this training is very much needed. Horrific situations like this pose challenges for ministers which their current training doesn’t include. We hope this new course will help them feel prepared when their communities are traumatised.”

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Posted in Education, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

Bob Mayo (the Vicar of St Stephens Shepherds Bush)–Reflections on a recent visit to America and the danger of cheap grace

I had occasion to spend 10 days in the USA before Advent. I learnt that in Oregon you can buy rifles in a supermarket and in Texas church ushers and sometimes the preacher may be wearing a pistol. I learnt that the Episcopal Church is not obsessed with finding a solution to the debate about same sex marriages. ‘Never mind sex’ I was told, ‘what about people in poverty? Economic issues are far more important’. America is not the land of mega churches: 75% of Americans worship in churches of less than 100. These churches are not full of Donald Trump supporters. People that I met were both embarrassed and hostile towards their President.

I was in Oregon for the launch of Professor Roger Newell [2017] new book Keine Gewalt! No Violence! The book outlines how the role played by the German Church in the 1940’s laid down the foundations for her part in the ending of the Cold War in the 1980’s. In the first half of the century the German church withdrew into pietism and individual spirituality leaving the political area to the Nazis. In the second half of the century the German church actively engaged in the civil society leading to the peaceful overthrow of Communism.

The underlying question in Roger’s book is how the Church relates to society. This question is especially relevant in the UK and USA with the Trump phenomenon on one side of the Atlantic and Brexit on the other. Being anti American is seen as the last acceptable form of racism but it is the American policies with which we disagree and not the people. The people are warm-hearted and, when I was there, asked me no end of times about whether I was having a ‘nice day’.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology