Posted by Kendall Harmon

The vicar who is the star of a reality television show in which couples are married as soon as they meet has been criticised for allowing his clerical collar to give respectability to a “seedy” experiment.

The Rev Nick Devenish is one of five experts who selected six strangers to tie the knot in the Channel 4 show Married at First Sight.

The team vicar at the Church of St Mary & St Michael in Cartmel, Cumbria, analysed the participants’ understanding of marriage, what they wanted from their union and how well they understood the seriousness and commitment required. He was part of a panel of experts alongside a sex therapist, a psychologist and two anthropologists.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, accused the show of “inappropriate and rather seedy behaviour” and has said that a Church of England vicar should not have been involved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 21, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

British Muslims who hold “intolerant ideas” and create a climate for extremism will become the target of a new clampdown to be announced by David Cameron today.

In a landmark speech the prime minister will say that a failure of integration has meant that there are people born and raised in this country who do not identify with Britain. Outlining a five-year strategy to combat extremism, he will attack those who hold ideas “hostile to basic liberal values” and who promote “discrimination, sectarianism and segregation”.

Mr Cameron will single out Muslim conspiracy theorists who believe that “Jews exercise malevolent power”, that 9/11 was inspired by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and that Britain allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 1:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Dodgson’s writing bears subtle witness to the wonders of both creation and its creator in ways that deserve more attention. He was a committed, lifelong member of the Church of England. Although he balked at taking Holy Orders, he was ordained as a deacon in the church in 1861.

While his doctrinal views parted ways with those of his high church ancestors (his great-grandfather had been a bishop and his father a clergyman), Dodgson shied from the religious controversies plaguing the church at the time, remaining essentially what would have been considered orthodox.

“Most assuredly I accept to the full the doctrines you refer to — that Christ died to save us, that we have no other way of salvation open to us but through His death, and that it is by faith in Him, and through no merit of ours, that we are reconciled to God,” Dodgson wrote in a letter to a friend in 1897, “and most assuredly I can cordially say, ‘I owe all to Him who loved me, and died on the Cross of Calvary.'”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The religious historian Owen Chadwick, who has died aged 99, was one of the most remarkable men of letters of the 20th century. He held two Cambridge University chairs over a period of 25 years, was its vice-chancellor during the student unrest of the late 1960s, chaired a commission that transformed the structures of the Church of England, and declined major bishoprics.

His range of publication was exceptional: he was a master of the large canvas – The Secularisation of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century (1976) or The Popes and European Revolution (1981); of the full-scale biography such as those of Hensley Henson (1983), the stormy petrel of church politics, and of Michael Ramsey (1990); and of the cameo, as in Victorian Miniature (1960), his study of the fraught relationship between a 19th-century squire and parson, drawing on the papers of each, or as in Mackenzie’s Grave (1959), his wonderful story of the bishop sent to lead a mission up the Zambesi and whose disappearance brought out the best and the worst in Victorian Christianity and public life.

In addition to his one textbook – The Pelican History of the Church: The Reformation (1964), the first book on many reading lists for a quarter of a century – he produced several books for a wider readership, including A History of Christianity (1995) and a short biography of John Henry Newman (1983), but few articles or reviews.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksEducationYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church which put out an urgent appeal for financial help has been saved.

Grade II listed St John's church in Bemerton, near Salisbury, closed in 2010 when the heating broke and there was no money to fix it.

The building was declared redundant by the Church of England but supporters have raised more than £500,000 to turn it into a community centre.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of London commented:
“The Studd brothers were great servants of two of this country’s most historic institutions: the Church; and the game of cricket. May their memory inspire England as they take on Australia this week at Lord’s.

“The proud tradition of the Church and cricket together continues to this day. Once again, I’m delighted that the Diocese of London’s team continues to fly the flag and has reached the final of the Church Times Cricket Cup.”
The Studd Brothers were from a large cricketing and evangelical family. All three captained Cambridge University, played for Middlesex and one, CT, played for England in the test match giving rise to the Ashes. CT was in the losing Engish side in the 1882 Oval match which prompted the Sporting Times mock obituary, ‘The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia’. CT and GB were both members of the touring side which recovered the Ashes in the winter of 1882-1883 during which the England captain was presented with the famous urn.

CT went out to China on missionary work and remained there between 1885 and 1895. Invalided home, he did missionary work in England and America. He then went as a missionary to the Belgian Congo. Wisden records that ‘despite numerous illnesses and many hardships, devoted the remainder of his life to missionary work there.’ In the Congo, he built a church whose aisle measured 22 yards from end to end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Matt (again, not his real name) was referred for pain control. He was clear-minded and determined to travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide. He'd been given three months to live, he said, and he wanted to get it over with. When I tentatively asked: "Is there anything you've always wanted to do before you die?" he wistfully outlined his dream holiday. He then let me help plan his travel on this holiday, and enjoyed it in a way he never thought possible. He never went to Switzerland, but had some surprisingly wonderful times before dying peacefully at home of his cancer.

Matt certainly had what Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill calls a "settled intent" to die. It would have been all too easy for a willing doctor to sign off his assisted suicide. But only a small minority of doctors (just under a fifth, according to a recent poll) say they would be willing to process such requests. Most want to work to help patients live well and die well despite illness, not to be a gatekeeper for assisted suicide.

Laws are more than just regulatory instruments. They send social messages. As a society we are clear that suicide is not something to be encouraged or assisted. Legalising assisted suicide flies in the face of that. It sends the message that, if you are terminally ill, ending your life is something that society endorses and that you might want to consider. Is that really the kind of society we want?

Read it all from the Huffington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churchgoers are being encouraged to contact their MPs to highlight the risks involved in proposed legislation to legalise assisted suicide.

James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, has asked that parishioners either make an appointment to see their MP or write them a letter expressing their concerns about a Private Member's Bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday September 11.

The Bill is expected to seek to grant physician assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults, who have six months or less to live.

Bishop James, the Church of England's lead bishop on health care, said the proposed legislation, if passed into law, would have a detrimental effect both on individuals and on the nature of society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sacks is well placed to muse on this theme as the former Chief Rabbi of Britain and a prolific author on religious conflict. In fact, he has carved out a niche for himself as the man who gave theological coherence to the Samuel Huntingdon “clash of civilisations” thesis while also critiquing it. Sacks’ 2004 book, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilisations, remains one of the wisest texts for negotiating religious pluralism in the modern world.

Sacks has no time for the politician’s mantra that violence committed by religious extremists like ISIL has nothing to do with Islam. Yes, the vast majority of the conflicts in the world today are nothing to do with religion, but “when terrorist or military groups invoke holy war, define their battle as a struggle against Satan, condemn unbelievers to death and commit murder while declaring ‘God is great,’ to deny that they are acting on religious motives is absurd” (p.11). Harder work needs to be done to glimpse the twisted logic and primitive psychology of these groups, he says, otherwise the proffered solutions will never create a compelling enough counter-narrative that weans believers from hate to love, and to value weakness rather than power.

Religious violence is rooted in the same source as all violence – identity wars, and Sacks worries that the West, which secularized so merrily, has created societies and institutions that cannot provide enough identity because it has forgotten humans are meaning -seeking creatures; “The result is that the twenty-first century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning” (p.13). Having thought religion was finished, now the West has seen it roar back - partly because of the vacuum secularisation created and, tragically, the religion that has returned is not gentle or ecumenical, but adversarial and aggressive. Make no mistake he warns “the greatest threat to freedom in the post-modern world is radical, politicised religion” (14). So if you don’t realise you are dealing with religion – however twisted – you are not going to find any meaningful responses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most British Muslims are Sunni, only about 5 per cent are Shia, but both communities are represented by the MC, which believes the government’s “Prevent” anti-terrorism strategy is discriminatory, demonising a law-abiding community. Relations have thawed; Shafi is pleased that Theresa May, the home secretary, is beginning to close what he calls the “trust deficit” by ordering police authorities to record every reported Islamophobic incident for the first time, even if charges are not pressed.

The MC is working with the government and the police to find out why young Muslims feel “alienated” and hence vulnerable to be being lured by the promise of a foreign adventure by people who are “misinterpreting Islam”.

“The Muslim Council has condemned those who claim to act in our name and we have mobilised mosque leaders, civil society leaders and families to speak out and redouble their efforts. However, we’ve no magic wand and what is important is sustained work within communities,” says Shafi, a retired doctor who arrived in Britain from India 46 years ago. “Extremism is mainly hidden on the internet and on social media and our concern is that the age group it attracts is getting younger and younger.”

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Symon Hill, Christian writer and a coordinator of Christians for Economic Justice, said: "Jesus said that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

"By hosting events sponsored by arms dealers, Church House Conference Centre is sending a clear message that they are happy to profit from those selling weapons to the dodgiest regimes."

Campaigners are calling on Welby, as President of the Corporation of Church House, for his "assurance that the conference center will never again host events which support and legitimise the arms industry."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The video in my 24 June entry, + Richard outlines his survival strategy, gave some clues to the dismemberment of the Church in Wales as the bishops implement Abp Barry Morgan's strategy for their survival, ie, retain all the bishops with their expensive diocesan structures, get rid of paid parish clergy and fool the laity into running the ministry areas nobody wants apart from Barry and his bench sitters.

Despite all Dr Morgan's political posturing the secularised Church in Wales (CinW) is barely significant in Anglicanism representing less than 0.04% of the Communion. If he were to be represented in the above chart in proportion to the average number of people attending CinW services the Archbishop of Wales would be invisible. According to CinW published figures the average adult Sunday attendance in Wales is 31,048 (Table 1 here) out of a population of 3,063,456 (1%). With seven bishops supported that works out at a mere 4,435 attendees per bishop.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a more ethereal sense, singing is an influence for a lifetime. Sometimes it has been derided as not cool but the real truth is that it is something beyond and altogether different; a gift from nowhere.

Well rehearsed, like all the best things in life, it becomes time to appreciate something deep and far more than oneself. It is an ultimate in sustained concentration, a skill too often denied at times by multitasking emptiness, in a rushed existence of stressed over-communication.

The last generation has witnessed the switch to an existence where pace of life is often overwhelming.

Music, whatever genre, is timeless in what it means. Recent reflections on British values are seldom encapsulated in the great Anglican tradition of making time in the present.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryMusicPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Urgent action is needed to tackle climate change the General Synod pledged today in a wide ranging motion acknowledging that global warming is disproportionately affecting the world's poorest.

Members overwhelmingly backed a call for world leaders to seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 C - widely considered to be the threshold above which the impacts of climate change will be the most severe.

The motion on combating climate change, the Paris climate change conference and the mission of the Church, included a pledge to draw attention to an initiative to pray and fast for the success of the Paris talks.

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on the environment, introducing the motion, said: "In the last 150 years we have burned fossil fuels that took one billion years to lay down in the earth. The earth cannot sustain this level of consumption. This is about our 'reading the signs of the times' and 'seeking the common good'.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Around 1,000 apprentices from across Liverpool are set to take part in the UK’s largest graduation ceremony at the end of the month.

Organisers are keen to make sure attendance is as high as possible and have put out a call to make sure apprentices who are eligible should get signed up in time.

The ceremony will take place at the Anglican Cathedral on July 30 but Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Hub, who are in charge of the event, say apprentices need to register by July 21 to guarantee their places.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMovies & Television* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What an amazing second set tiebreaker!

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeSerbiaSwitzerland

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A strict monotheist, Soubry wants us to worship the god of finance on a Sunday. All other gods must be smashed, smeared, ridiculed. Only the god of money deserves our true and unquestioning obedience. Well, I do wish she’d stop ramming her religion down our throats. I don’t want to be more productive. I want to lie about on the sofa watching rubbish TV. Or chat aimlessly to the people I love. Or just sit under a tree and do nothing. These are perfectly respectable things to do.

So why is Sunday special? The Christian answer is more complicated than expected. Early Christians moved their “day of rest” from the seventh day of the week to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday. Despite the fourth commandment mandating Saturday, ie seventh day, sabbath observance, this move was partly a way of honouring the resurrection, which happened “on the first day of the week”; partly about distinguishing Christianity from Judaism; and partly a way of colonising the posh Roman sun-worshipping day.

But it also conveniently distanced Christianity, and its new imperial friends, from all that dangerously redistributive stuff about the jubilee, to which the sabbath is fundamentally connected. For the seventh day of the week corresponded to the seventh day of creation, when God rested – and from this derives: 1) rest on the seventh day; 2) rest for the land on the seventh year (which on the Jewish calender is this year); and 3) the forgiveness of all debts – the jubilee – on the seventh times seventh year.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted July 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders, trade unionists, and politicians have expressed concern over government plans to relax the Sunday-trading laws.

Currently, large stores can open for up to six hours on Sundays, but the Chancellor, George Osborne, used his Budget speech on Wednesday afternoon to announce his plans to devolve responsibility for Sunday-trading laws to directly elected mayors and local authorities.

The move has come in for sharp criticism. The Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham tweeted: “Sundays are only day people who work in shops can bank on some time with their kids. I will oppose this all the way.”

The leader of the shop workers’ union USDAW, John Hannett, said that the Government should “honour the promise of a full consultation and parliamentary process for any proposed changes to the Sunday Trading Act....'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Soon after 7/7 the families and the friends of the victims compiled a Book of Tributes. It is a taste of the ocean of pain surrounding the loss of each one of the victims. The tribute book is also very revealing about the character of the London which the bombers attacked.

The majority of the victims were young. They came from all over the UK and all over the world. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Humanists. There are in the book tributes in Italian, French, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Tamil, Polish, Farsi, as well as English.

London is an astonishing world-in-a-city but beyond the diversity the book also conveys a unifying agonised outcry – this was a terrible crime which robbed us of beloved sons and daughters, partners and friends.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People of Irish Catholic ancestry will be able to trace their origins back almost 300 years online from Wednesday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys will officially launch online the entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

Involved are more than 370,000 digital images of the microfilm reels on which the parish registers are recorded and which will be accessible free of charge.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A spokesman from Church House, Westminster, said: “The Church of England has always maintained that a common day of rest is important for family life, for community life and for personal well-being. Increased Sunday trading will inevitably lead to further erosion of shared leisure time when a majority of people can count on being able to do things together. It will have an impact on community activities of many kinds, amateur sport, contact across extended families and religious observance. It seems quite contrary to the objectives of the Big Society, which once helped to shape policy and which the Church of England enthusiastically supported. Any further erosion of shared community life, whether that is driven by central or local government, will be detrimental to all of us.”

Bishop Colin added: “Clearly we await with interest to see what the Chancellor is actually proposing but it would be very sad for many people if Sundays were to become just like every other day of the week in terms of shopping. Even with the current levels of shop-opening there is something different about Sundays for most people – and certainly for most families – with its change of pace and we would be unwise as a society to encourage that to disappear.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is turning to the pioneer of the Alpha course to inspire parishes to evangelise.

The Revd Nicky Gumbel, vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton church in South Kensington, London, is due to address 850 diocesan representatives at Proclaim ’15, a national Catholic evangelisation gathering in Birmingham on Saturday.

The Alpha course is a 10-week introduction to Christianity borne out of the charismatic Evangelical movement and is now used by more Catholic churches worldwide than Anglican ones.

Clare Ward, home mission adviser to the bishops’ conference said Mr Gumbel had been invited to help parishes shift their mentality “from maintenance to mission”.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn’t an ideology, it isn’t even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I’m proud to be the mayor of that city.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireTravelUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Today, the survivors and families of the 7/7 London attacks continue the journey that those of Tunisia have just begun. Our hearts grieve with those who lost loved ones ten years ago, and with those so suddenly and cruelly bereaved less than a fortnight ago. We hold them all before God and our spirits call out to Christ to strengthen them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 10:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shops across the country will be able to stay open for longer on Sundays, George Osborne will announce in this week’s Budget.

The Chancellor will use his first Budget as Chancellor in a majority Tory Government to begin a massive shakeup of Sunday trading laws that currently prevent businesses opening for more than six hours.

He said that “there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday” and that businesses need the change to ensure that they can compete with online retailers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 7:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ten years to the minute after the 7/7 bombings brought carnage to London, the 52 victims of the terrorist atrocity were remembered in a simple ceremony at the Hyde Park memorial that bears their names.

At the first of a series of events throughout Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary, David Cameron and Boris Johnson stood with heads bowed in silent tribute at 8.50am amid the 52 steel pillars, each one representing a life lost.

The skies above central London darkened suddenly as the prime minister and the mayor of London walked silently through the thicket of stainless steel pillars, the only sounds the clicking of cameras and the rumble of passing traffic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality and we have not fully heard it,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, a year ago. But one of his own bishops says that sticking with the traditional line leaves the CofE suspended in mid-air like Wile E Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon, desperately trying to maintain an impossible position.

“The Church is like a cartoon character who has run off a cliff and is frantically moving his legs faster and faster in the hope it will save him, when he knows there is nothing underneath,” says the Right Rev Alan Wilson, one of the more plain speaking bishops.

“There are about a billion human beings on the planet who have access to same-sex marriage in their country or jurisdiction, so the thought that this is going to go away – or that it is just about a few people in San Francisco – is just wrong.”

He believes a fundamental shift in understanding is happening within the wider Church. “The Evangelicals in particular are in a wibbly wobbly place.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am left with the sense that in many ways Nicholson’s own life stopped that day. Faith, career and marriage all ended soon afterwards and for years after the bombings she would take the train from Bristol to London, travel to Edgware Road Tube station and stare into the tunnel where her daughter died.

She says she will never forgive Mohammad Sidique Khan, her daughter’s killer. How does she feel when she sees a picture of him today?

“There’s a moment in the film when Emily Watson, as me, throws a bottle of wine at the television screen when his face appears on it. I feel that I could still throw that wine.”

Early in our conversation, while discussing her writing and what it has brought her, I clumsily use the word “catharsis”. Nicholson interrupts: “I wouldn’t call it that. After catharsis there is a sense of renewal and I don’t feel renewed. I’m still grieving deeply. I will be until I take my last breath.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain and America may now be post-Christian societies but they don’t need to become anti-Christian societies. Sadly, I see signs that we might be drifting in that direction. There is the mounting campaign to close all faith schools; the questioning of Tim Farron MP’s legitimacy to lead the Liberal Democrats because of his evangelical background; and the fear of the chief justice of the US Supreme Court that opponents of Christian morality “are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent”; no charitable status for faith-based groups and no room for believers in the public square.

Half of me can identify with the anti-religious instinct because, while I’m a Christian seeking space within a secular society, I am also a sceptic about Islam. I’m fearful that, without Christianity’s clear narrative — ending as the New Testament does with the example of Jesus — Islam is a religion that’s too easy for the likes of Seifeddine Rezgui to misinterpret. Most Muslims, of course, hate the heinous crime he committed in their name — but, regardless of what we might think about Islam, thinking the worst is not really a practical option. Nearly three million Britons are Muslims; 1.6 billion of our global neighbours see Allah as the one true God. The challenge must be to understand them and help them to reform their religion — not to drive them and it underground.

I want less vacuous talk of fairness, tolerance and generosity from our politicians. Let’s start getting specific about what we mean by “British values”. Freedom of religion should be a cornerstone of western belief and it must stand as a contrast to the many Islamic states where apostasy is punishable by death.

Read it all from the London Times (subscription required) [emphasis mine].

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaTunisiaAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

England’s Women's World Cup dream was ended in heartbreaking fashion as a stoppage time own goal by the Notts County central defender Laura Bassett handed Japan victory.

Attempting to cut out a pass into the penalty area, Bassett instead sent the ball past the goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and in off the crossbar.

Bassett has been one of her team’s most reliable performers at the this World Cup but will find it hard to forget the moment that meant England would not be making history by reaching the final for the first time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationSportsWomen* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapanEngland / UK

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After her ordination in 1996, Ruth served for fourteen years as a parish priest in Nottingham in one of the poorest areas in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. During this time she served as an Area Dean and was made Dean of Women’s Ministry for the diocese in 2007. In 2010 she took on the role of Parish Development Adviser in the Diocese of Southwark, based in Bermondsey. In 2013 she swapped inner-city life for Wiltshire.

Speaking in advance of today’s announcement, Ruth said, “I am surprised and amused to be chosen as the next Bishop of Taunton as I grew up in a non-conformist church where women held no roles of leadership. I am delighted to be heading to Somerset to join the diocesan team in this wonderful part of the world, moving ‘next door’ as it were. It will be a great privilege to meet and serve everyone who lives and works in the county.”

“In a diocese with such a mix of rural and more urban parishes, each I’m sure with its own distinct personality, I’m really keen to experience how our churches and the diocese are meeting those different needs. And how we can engage in the process of transformation, one which changes lives, both our own and others, and then influences the way in which we are ‘Church’ and brings about a renewed sense of community.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rejected in 2006, and again in 2009, attempts to introduce assisted suicide are now back on the table. This also follows rejection in Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Rob Marris MP has introduced an assisted dying bill that is expected to be largely the same as Lord Falconer’s previous effort, which ran out of time before May’s general election. It is anticipated the bill will make it legal to assist in the death of people who are terminally ill with six months or less to live, provided they are considered mentally competent by two doctors. The change is presented as a compassionate response to tragic situations. Cases of people in severe continual pain make us want to be compassionate, and that is a good thing.

But this is a wholly wrong way to look after the most vulnerable. In fact, it does the opposite, putting them in mortal peril. The law must stay as it is now to protect those who are least able to have their voice heard: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, people who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives. Campaigners to change the law make grand promises for the modesty of their goals, but I don’t believe them. The parameters set out for who could ask for a doctor’s help in killing themselves are ambiguous, open to challenge, and not unanimously supported among assisted dying advocates.

For example, many campaigners would like the law to apply to chronic non-terminal conditions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The "greatest turning of Muslims to Jesus Christ in history" is taking place across the world, the author of a new book, on tour in the UK, suggests.

A Wind in the House of Islam, by Dr David Garrison, a missionary pioneer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, documents a Muslim "movement to Christ" in more than 70 places across 29 countries. Converts, it says, now number between two and seven million.

Dr Garrison defines a "movement" as being at least 100 new churches started, or 1000 baptisms, within a 20-year period in one people group. He estimates that there have been 82 "movements" across the centuries, of which 69 began, or are continuing to unfold, in the 21st century.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryAdult EducationEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This case comes hard on the heels of an attempt sponsored by Unite to establish that a beneficed parish priest is employed by his bishop or enjoys the status of a worker, thereby paving the way for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims. That was roundly rejected by the Court of Appeal in April. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment sketched the history of the relationship between church and state and more particularly the jurisdiction of royal or civil courts over clergy from the investiture controversy in the 11th century right through to the establishment of the modern ecclesiastical courts. He appears to have accepted the proposition that employment tribunals could determine such questions as an attack on the balance that has been struck. Similar considerations apply to the Pemberton case, although the legal analysis is distinct.

While many will feel sympathy for Canon Pemberton, it should be remembered that even in the secular field, activities outside the workplace can result in a lawful termination of employment, although rarely. It should also be remembered that when ordained as a priest, he not only took an oath of canonical obedience to his bishop but also declared that he would fashion his own life “according to the way of Christ” and to be “a pattern and example to Christ’s people”.

What that amounts to cannot be a matter of private judgment. Plenty of other homosexual priests have at some cost followed the House of Bishops guidance and previous similar utterances from the hierarchy.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living, breathing buildings which exist to serve God

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries has praised the important role of cathedrals in national life, highlighting the Government's award last year of £20 million for fabric repairs to cathedrals in the First World War Centenary Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund.

He was speaking at the launch of a new book showcasing the Church of England's Cathedrals, today at St Paul's Cathedral.

Cathedrals of the Church of England has been written by Janet Gough, who is the Director of ChurchCare, the Church of England's Cathedrals and Church Buildings division. The book features short descriptions of each cathedral, and is illustrated with photographs including some specially commissioned images by Paul Barker (best known for his photographs over many years for Country Life)*.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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Posted June 22, 2015 at 9:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Renovation work to Derby Cathedral has discovered remains of the previous church, long thought lost.

The six-month, £670,000 project will upgrade heating and electrics, as well as seeing large areas repainted.

The 14th Century church was demolished and rebuilt in the 1720s and it was believed all trace of the older building had gone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Ramsey is not purely of historical interest. I would argue that his mixture of principle and pragmatism offers the churches in our own time a means of negotiating the particular pressures they now face.

There are still many people in countries with an Anglican presence with a living memory of Michael Ramsey. The composite image of the man tends to be of a saintly figure, even other-worldly; physically imposing, with a touch of the ancient about him when in full episcopal costume; eloquent in debate but awkward in small-talk.

Critics have drawn attention to his lack of interest in administration, and to failures in handling his staff. I would argue that much of Ramsey's apparent eccentricity could be explained if we understood him as autistic. Be that as it may, his personal eccentricity masked a remarkable ability to hold together all the myriad, disconnected and pressing matters that crowd around an archbishop. Three examples will make my point.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted June 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has been enthroned at Bury St Edmunds Cathedral.

The Right Reverend Martin Seeley formally took up his position in Suffolk following his consecration as a bishop at Westminster Abbey last month. Some 900 people attended the service.

The cathedral dean said bishops should "challenge injustice".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A meeting of church leaders from across Ireland has been challenged to remain biblically faithful but to ‘dare to do new things’ in the face of a ‘new spiritual darkness’ in the west.

The General Secretary of the Global Anglican Future Conference, Dr Peter Jensen, who addressed the event at Belfast’s Willowfield Church, told the story of GAFCON’s beginnings in the landmark conference of Bishops, clergy and lay leaders in Jerusalem in 2008, through to the Nairobi meeting in 2013 and the movement’s unifying work today across the Anglican world.

“Out of the Conference emerged an historic and noble document, the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. It made clear that we would not reject the world to live like hermits. It made clear that we wished still to win the world. But it also made clear that the way to do that was not to abandon historic, biblical Christianity but to be true to it and flexible in the ways of promoting it.” Dr Jensen said.

“Christianity is a missionary religion and those who have embraced the secular culture have done so in the belief that thus they can ‘make a difference’, Christianise the social order and bring people back to church. On such projects they will spend money and buy influence. Ironically, much of their time and effort is devoted to persuading their fellow believers to become like them.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland

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Posted June 20, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Joseph] Stiglitz is also particularly critical of the banking system: “If they (the banks) are too big to fail and they know it, excessive risk-taking is a one-sided bet: if they win they keep the profits, if they lose, taxpayers pick up the tab.” He summarises this as socialising losses while privatising gains.

Furthermore, there is a growing chorus of opposition to lax executive pay habits. Fidelity Worldwide Investment has urged companies make their long-term incentive plans less short term in nature, or face votes against remuneration at annual meetings. Last year the Church Commissioners opposed executive pay deals in two-thirds of the companies where they have a holding.

Adam Smith, said to be the father of modern economics, wrote: “Servants, labourers and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.”(2)

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Buckingham has described the Church of England's teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman as "a lousy definition".

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson was speaking at a discrimination case brought by Canon Jeremy Pemberton against the Church.

He was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain by the then acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham after he married his partner.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
"The Church of England continues to be committed to the provision of high quality RE in schools which is vital for a balanced understanding of the world today where more than 80% of the population are people of faith. The Church strongly supports the statutory requirement for collective worship in all schools and there is plenty of flexibility in the provision to enable all pupils to benefit without compromising their faith or lack of it. Where there are real objections it is a parent's right to withdraw their child from worship, and the very few who take up that right demonstrates that schools have found exciting and creative ways of using collective worship to further children's spiritual and moral development. There is no expectation of commitment and the exposure to the range of religious traditions encourages community cohesion." --[The] Revd Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Traditional Christian teaching could effectively be “criminalised” in some settings under David Cameron’s plans for new anti-extremist banning orders, a top Anglican theologian and former Parliamentary draftsman has warned.

The Rev Dr Mike Ovey, a former lawyer and now principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, a training school for Church of England clergy, said proposals for new “Extremism Disruption Orders” could be a “disaster area” for people from all the mainstream religions and none.

Mr Cameron and Theresa May have signalled that the new orders, planned as part of the Government’s Counter-Extremism Bill, would not curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but the promotion of other views deemed to go against “British values” even if it is non-violent and legal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted June 16, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What the Magna Carta is not, at least in popular perception, is particularly Christian. Amid the assorted celebrations and lectures that have been commissioned to celebrate its 800th anniversary, very little attention has been given to the role of Christian faith and theology in laying the foundations from which the Magna Carta emerged.

This is a mistake on two counts. First, because the Magna Carta is the product of a deeply convoluted historical process, in which relationships between King John, the Pope in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, play a highly influential part. King John's war with the barons might have been the spark that ignited the Magna Carta negotiations, but it was the historically fractious relationship between the English monarch and the English Church - going back through generations - that had laid down much of the kindling. The new Archbishop of Canterbury in particular, heralded by many as a "new Becket" to challenge the authority of the King, played a crucial role in not only the negotiation and formation of the Magna Carta, but also its eventual survival down through generations.

But more important, and perhaps more interesting, than this practical contribution of the Church, is the conceptual contribution of Christian theology to the principles which frame the Magna Carta's demands. For the well-informed, the suggestion that Christian theology provides such a conceptual framework might come as something of a surprise. It is a common criticism coming from academic quarters that the public perception of the Magna Carta as a document of selfless charity illustrates a sharp disconnect from the historical reality.

Read it all from Thomas Andrew.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 16, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Congregations vacated St Columba’s Episcopal Church on Glasgow Road in 1996 — and since, it has been slowly crumbling away.

But after a photo of the church was posted on social media there have been calls for action to be taken to stop the rot at the town church.

Clydebank photographer Owen McGuigan, who ignited a debate about the church after uploading the snap to Facebook, said: “I just don’t like seeing old buildings, especially churches, which, back in the day were substantially built to last a long time, being left to fall down with neglect.

“In the last 40 years in Clydebank we have lost several churches, all knocked down before their time, some to make way for the Clyde Shopping Centre.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted June 15, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Scottish Episcopal Church has taken a major step towards letting same-sex couples marry in church. However the process of change will take at least two years. If and when final approval is given, priests will be allowed – but not required – to celebrate weddings between same-sex partners.

The General Synod voted to ask the Faith and Order Board to look at revising the church’s rules on marriage. An overwhelming majority backed the resolution.

“That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages,” said David Chillingworth, the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus (chief bishop) of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Archbishop Stephen Langton was mediator between the King and his barons, counsellor to both, and an advocate of civil harmony, cohesion and goodwill. His great legacy was this remarkable document, the spring from which so much of the human quest for political liberty has drawn, here and abroad, especially in the United States of America.

"The vision of the dignity of the human being, however limited that vision is, in Magna Carta sets a standard for our consideration of all human beings – however important or unimportant, near or far, they may seem to be.

"Langton was not alone. His was an age of giants at Canterbury. Alphege whose love for his people led him to give his life to save them from paying a crippling ransom. Anselm, the wise scholar and yet brave counsellor, whose advice cost him years of exile.

In such self-giving and courage Magna Carta found fertile soil to grow. It sets the bar high for all of us today...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A scholar has sparked controversy by telling British Muslims that they can cut their Ramadan fast because of the long summer days.

The holy month begins on Thursday, and believers will by tradition stop eating and drinking from dawn until dusk.

However, Usama Hasan has issued a fatwa saying that Muslims can fast for shorter periods in 2015 because Ramadan falls during summer.

The Islamic calendar uses lunar months, so the fast occurs at different times on the western calendar each year. In the Middle East, where Islam originated, the days are shorter. In Mecca the fast lasts between 12 and 15 hours. Fasting is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted June 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What led you to write How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization? Did it begin more as a hypothesis to be tested or a thesis to be proved?

Like many Americans who have visited Europe, I was struck repeatedly by how secular some of the Continent’s societies are and how empty their churches. So the first reason I started researching into theories of secularization was simple curiosity: What makes formerly Christian precincts lose God?

And the interesting thing about the existing literature is that none of the going answers really explain the decline of Christianity in parts of the West. As chapters in my book go to show, prosperity alone doesn’t drive out belief in God, and neither does education, rationalism, or science per se. Nor do the two world wars explain it, another commonly accepted explanation.

So little by little I started re-arranging the pieces of this great intellectual puzzle, and what emerged was a new way of looking at it: one in which the fate of Christianity turns out to be more tightly tethered to the fate of the family than has been understood before.

Read it all from 2013.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted June 14, 2015 at 2:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In agreeing to debate the options for canonical change, the church made it clear that it has rejected the status quo on marriage. However, it considered three key options on how to proceed: for the Canon to be silent on the question of doctrine of marriage, for a gender-neutral definition of marriage, or for two expressions of marriage – “one that it is between two people of the opposite sex and one that it is between two people irrespective of gender”. The Synod also considered a “conscience clause”, to potentially preclude clerics from any obligation to solemnise a marriage against their consciences.

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdworth, the openly gay Rector of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, stated: “if we are going to build a church in which everyone can thrive…we don’t settle on a definition of marriage that some people can’t agree with. Are there really only two definitions of marriage in this room? It isn’t something that you can define…that’s the end of the story…it’s lived, not defined. What I would like is a statement from the church that affirms the lives of people like me, as a gay man.

“I ask you to vote for a church where we do not try to define what each other believes about marriage.”

The Synod passed the motion with a significant majority in favour of change, and also supported the adoption of a conscience clause.

Read it all.

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Posted June 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are living through a period of extraordinarily rapid social change. I was in Dublin two weeks ago. It is the city of my birth. It was a remarkable experience to be there in the immediate aftermath of the Constitutional Referendum on same-sex marriage. One of the most conservative and Catholic countries in Europe voted decisively in favour of this change. No wonder the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin reflected that this called for a "reality check" among the churches.

A number of factors have brought that change about. Ireland's young population certainly made its presence felt. It is clear that people's views are being changed by their life experience. Irish Times journalist Fintan O'Toole referred to the "riveting eloquence" of the passionate advocacy of many. But he also described another kind of articulacy and said this: "What actually changed Ireland over the last two decades is hundreds of thousands of painful, stammered conversations that began with the dreaded words, 'I have something to tell you.' It's all those moments of coming out around kitchen tables, tentative words punctuated by sobs and sighs, by cold silences and fearful hesitations."

So people have been changed by the way in which gay relationships have begun to be in the best sense ordinary. They find it hard to do other than accept those relationships among people whom they love and care deeply about.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2015 at 7:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of more than 190,000 abortions, 51 per cent were medical, where a pill is taken to end a pregnancy. Ten years ago medical abortions made up only 20 per cent of procedures, while in 2013 the number was 49 per cent.

The total number of abortions last year was down slightly from 190,800 in 2013, and has fallen every year since 2007. Ninety-two per cent of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks, and 80 per cent were carried out at less than ten weeks, compared with 60 per cent a decade ago.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thinking of oneself as "Church of England" or "Anglican" is increasingly irrelevant, clergy have suggested, responding to last week's statistical analysis indicating that Anglicans were in steep decline in the UK....

The Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall, writes (Letters) that parish priests and deans are leading "increasingly post-denominational" communities.

He points to the decline in confirmations, even in churches that are growing, as "a version of the same story. . .

"Confirmation suggests an ownership of a specific denominational identity, which is simply not part of the deal for most people. I would suggest that even most people of my generation, and certainly those of my children's, find denominational identity increasingly irrelevant."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Declining numbers at services should not necessarily be a cause of despair for churches because people will still “encounter God” without ever taking their place in a pew, the Church of England’s newest bishop designate has insisted.

Dame Sarah Mullally, the former NHS Chief Nurse for England who has been named as the next Bishop of Crediton, said clerics must recognise that young people are as likely to hear the Christian message through social media sites such as Facebook or in cafés as in a church.

In a remarkably varied career, the 53-year-old mother-of-two has now risen to the top of two very different professions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most of our schools are rated good or outstanding, with pupils attaining academic benchmarks. But we want more for our children. Church of England schools focus on spirituality and creativity which values the arts and religion as much as it looks for the beauty in maths, the wonder in science and the emotional understanding enhanced through poetry and music.

We also focus on the development of character and virtue that enables pupils to play their part in transforming the neighbourhood and world in which they live. That is why we are delighted to be one of fourteen from more than a thousand applicants, to be awarded a grant from the DfE Character Fund to carry out a substantial research project examining how various approach to teaching and pedagogy might better develop not just resilience and grit but ways of thinking which lead to service and mutual understanding.

We are also pleased to be developing ways in which schools and colleges can help communities live well together. This is not simply about fundamental British values which might be driven by the fear of extremism, but flows from a desire to use the diversity that is present in our schools to demonstrate what living well together really means.

Read it all.

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Posted June 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A couple of deans have offered measured comments on Richard's blogsite, and the Dean of Liverpool has written a longer, and in my view splendid, response in a blog of his own. In it, he invites Richard to experience for himself the extraordinary diversity of activity in that great cathedral comprehensively including prayer and pilgrimage, outreach, social care, the arts, Christian community and a whole lot else.

I want to ask a few questions of my own.

1. Isn't Richard's concept of how God speaks to human beings a bit selective and narrow? Doesn't God make himself known in an infinite variety of ways, not simply through the spoken word (or even Word)? Cathedrals are numinous sacred spaces that speak of the divine not only through their buildings but also in the life and activity of their communities: daily prayer and worship, music and the arts, a common life of love and service, all of which play a part in building up the people of God and communicating faith.

2. Doesn't Richard underestimate the key role liturgy plays in speaking of faith? Wesley called the eucharist 'a converting ordinance'. Paul says that the breaking of bread is to 'show forth the Lord's death until he comes' - show forth being a strong, outward-facing missionary word. He wants the church's worship to be so compelling that guests coming in from outside have no choice but to conclude that 'God is among you'. The huge investment of care that goes into cathedral worship is at the heart of our witness to the gospel. People have been converted through coming to midweek choral evensong. (You don't believe me?)

Read it all.

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Posted June 10, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’ve just devoured James Rebanks‘ The Shepherd’s Life, which is a fascinating and brilliantly written account of his life as a shepherd on the Cumbrian fells (with a little international consultancy on the side to help with the bills). As near as I can reckon, it tells us non-farmers what it really means to live with that connection to a place and to a way of life which is almost completely foreign to a market society. Looking at it from the outside, why would anyone work so incredibly hard for such little reward? But that question only makes sense when you’re thinking of ‘work’ and ‘life’ as two different things. You contract for work in order to have enough money to get on with the things you really want to do.

But for farmers – or at least for Rebanks – it’s not like that. The life and the living are one and the same thing. You have to make enough money to survive, so you work as cannily as you can to maximise your return. But that’s not the heart of it. Rebooks begins by talking about the way sheep on the fells are ‘hefted’ to a specific area. Even though there aren’t any fences, they know their territory, and that’s where they stay. It’s their space. As a one-time walker on the Cumbrian fells, I can attest to the indignation of a Hardwick sheep when confronted by a stranger carrying a knapsack. One definitely gets the feeling that they’re thinking ‘if I had proper teeth, I’d be after you …’.

Rebooks leaves the reader to makes the connection with himself and his fellow farmers. But they too are hefted to their places. Not necessarily the individual farm, because people move from time to time. But to the area, the territory, they are inextricably linked. A lot of Church of England clergy feel just the same about their parishes.

Read it all.

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who by the preaching of thy blessed servant Columba didst cause the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we beseech thee, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show forth our thankfulness to thee by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The city of Hull was bombed several times by Zeppelin airships during World War One. Saturday marks the centenary of the first raid.

Civilians in Britain had been largely unaffected by the war but in January 1915 the first Zeppelin raids on other parts of the UK had shattered the illusion of safety.

On its way to Hull six months later, on June 6, Zeppelin L-9's presence was first spotted just after 19:00 by intercepted wireless traffic when it was 100 miles away over the North Sea.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 8, 2015 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(The Dear Deans letter to which this responds may be found here--KSH).

Now, Liverpool Cathedral is not perfect. Your piece is a challenge to me. What might we do better, where are we falling short and failing to make the most of the opportunities which the Lord is presenting to us? But nor is Liverpool Cathedral unique! Here’s the thing: in its inherited tradition, ours probably is the most Evangelical of all the Cathedrals in England. I guess it is, anyway – though we now manage that in an intentionally non-partisan, non-tribal way, delighting in the contributions of the Anglo-Catholic and liberal bits of the CofE. But given that Evangelical inheritance, maybe I’ve found a greater appetite for evangelism here than I might have found if I had been appointed Dean anywhere else. But I can assure you that when I am talking to my fellow Deans about what’s going on here, I absolutely don’t encounter sniffy contempt. Not one bit. They rejoice with me, and sometimes I think they’re a bit wistful on account the scope which both our architecture and our long tradition gives us. Because, for all your frustration, the fact is that the Deans do understand and embrace the missionary challenge we face. Of course, the mission is understood differently in different places – you’d expect that in the Church of England. You’re surely not asking for every Cathedral to be an outpost of HTB.

Here, by the way, is an excerpt from the report which Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York, has just given (as its Chair) at the annual meeting of the Association of English Cathedrals. (I don’t have her permission to quote from it, but I think she’d be delighted if it reaches a wider audience!) She cites some recent research to be published imminently by Grace Davey which ‘will show how cathedrals are an important means by which the passive majority becomes acquainted with the forms of religion performed by the active minority… The location of cathedrals on the border between the religious and the secular enhances this capacity. She goes on, ‘many English Anglican cathedrals are working with this liminality with creativity and effectiveness. And towards the end she notes, ‘Many of those who now affiliate to cathedrals have relatively little knowledge of Christian faith, or of the Church of England. Most cathedrals are now offering routes by which newcomers to faith may discover more. Intentional discipleship in cathedrals marks a significant shift away from the assumption that those who worship with us seek anonymity’.

This, I think, is the particular ministry of Cathedrals, and I’m confident all my colleagues know it, value it and want to make the most of it. How we are doing so will differ according to several variables: theological standpoint is only one; architecture and location are significant too. But take heart: there is much effective evangelism taking place. Maybe we could all be making more of precisely the interface you cite, when Choral Evensong meets Tourism Central; but don’t assume that’s the whole deal. And also, give us a break: the Church of England is on a journey, and Cathedrals are on board. You can be sure that the language of mission is more and more mainstream even in Cathedrals and that when the Deans meet to talk, we even talk, at least some of the time, about making Jesus known. We remember that that is what we were ordained to do, I promise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 8, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & Literature* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted June 6, 2015 at 9:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have also to announce to the House that during the night and the early hours of this morning the first of the series of landings in force upon the European Continent has taken place. In this case the liberating assault fell upon the coast of France. An immense armada of upwards of 4,000 ships, together with several thousand smaller craft, crossed the Channel. Massed airborne landings have been successfully effected behind the enemy lines, and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time. The fire of the shore batteries has been largely quelled. The obstacles that were constructed in the sea have not proved so difficult as was apprehended. The Anglo-American Allies are sustained by about 11,000 firstline aircraft, which can be drawn upon as may be needed for the purposes of the battle. I cannot, of course, commit myself to any particular details. Reports are coming in in rapid succession. So far the Commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place. It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility, both from the air and the sea standpoint, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy and in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.

There are already hopes that actual tactical surprise has been attained, and we hope to furnish the enemy with a succession of surprises during the course of the fighting. The battle that has now begun will grow constantly in scale and in intensity for many weeks to come, and I shall not attempt to speculate upon its course. This I may say, however. Complete unity prevails throughout the Allied Armies. There is a brotherhood in arms between us and our friends of the United States. There is complete confidence in the supreme commander, General Eisenhower, and his lieutenants, and also in the commander of the Expeditionary Force, General Montgomery. The ardour and spirit of the troops, as I saw myself, embarking in these last few days was splendid to witness. Nothing that equipment, science or forethought could do has been neglected, and the whole process of opening this great new front will be pursued with the utmost resolution both by the commanders and by the United States and British Governments whom they serve. I have been at the centres where the latest information is received, and I can state to the House that this operation is proceeding in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. Many dangers and difficulties which at this time last night appeared extremely formidable are behind us. The passage of the sea has been made with far less loss than we apprehended. The resistance of the batteries has been greatly weakened by the bombing of the Air Force, and the superior bombardment of our ships quickly reduced their fire to dimensions which did not affect the problem. The landings of the troops on a broad front, both British and American- -Allied troops, I will not give lists of all the different nationalities they represent-but the landings along the whole front have been effective, and our troops have penetrated, in some cases, several miles inland. Lodgments exist on a broad front.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 6, 2015 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cornelius Ryan was a 24-year-old war correspondent when he had a chance to see a defining moment in the defining event of the 20th century -- the Allied landings on the coast of France to retake France and bring down Hitler.

Ryan at first witnessed the invasion from a bomber that flew over the beaches. Then, back in England, he scrambled to find the only thing he could that was going to Normandy. A torpedo boat that, he learned too late, had no radio. "And if there's one thing that an editor is not interested in," he said, "it's having a reporter somewhere he can't write a story."

Recalling those five hours off the coast, watching the struggle on the beaches, he remembered "the magnitude of the thing, the vastness. I felt so inadequate to describe it."

But today, as the 71st anniversary of D-Day approaches on June 6, Ryan is most likely to be remembered for being the one who did describe it, who told so many millions the real story of what happened that day, in his book which became the famous movie, "The Longest Day."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 6, 2015 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decline in the proportion of British people who identify as Anglican has accelerated in the past decade, new analysis from NatCen statisticians suggests.

The proportion who say they are Anglican in the British Social Attitudes survey has fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. In the past decade, the proportion has fallen by two-fifths: from 28 per cent in 2004.

The researchers say that the survey results suggest that the number of Anglicans has fallen by as many as 4.5 million over the past ten years, from about 13 million to 8.5 million.

The biggest group remains those who say they have no religion: 49 per cent, up from 43 per cent in 2004 and 31 per cent in 1983.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I ask now that grace be extended mutually between those who disagree on this issue. It is clear that prejudice, largely born out of ignorance and fear, exists against members of the LGBT community, but this does not mean that those who voted No in the referendum want to endorse inequality, restrict freedom or maintain intolerance. I strongly urge Methodist families, small groups and larger fellowships to be safe places where LGBT people feel accepted and loved, able to share their stories freely and be involved in the life of the church.
At the same time the referendum result is not compatible with what the Methodist Church in Ireland recognises as the basis of Christian marriage. Our understanding is that marriage is between a man and a woman and so in the context of weddings within Methodist churches our practice remains that no minister has the authority to conduct the marriage of same-sex partners.
As the government of the Republic of Ireland seeks to frame legislation in response to the result of the referendum I call on it to ensure that church and other faith bodies will not be compelled by law to act contrary to their definition of marriage and I expect the government to engage with the Methodist Church and other churches and faith communities to this end.

Read it all.

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Survivors of historical child abuse say Scotland’s churches have been “let off the hook” by a national public inquiry set up to investigate the issue.

The inquiry, which is set to get under way later this year, will look at allegations of abuse relating to children in residential care, including independent boarding schools.

But it will not examine allegations where the child was living with its family or an adoptive family, or where the child was attending a “faith-based organisations on a day-to-day basis”.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is urging vicars to broadcast their Sunday services live on the internet because some people find it too “scary” to attend in person.

Official advice from the CofE’s Church House headquarters in London encourages parishes to take advantage of new technology making it possible to broadcast through a mobile phone as a new way of “spreading the word”.

It recommends trying out new streaming services as a means of catering for those unable to attend because of ill health or travelling abroad as well as to reach those who might be curious but wary of publicly joining in services.

The advice, written by Tallie Proud, the Church’s digital media officer, provides basic tips on everything from taking a steady shot to remembering to keep their mobile phone battery charged while streaming.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Membership of the Church of England has dropped sharply in Britain in the last two years while the number of Muslims has grown, a new survey has revealed.

The British Social Attitudes survey found that the proportion of British adults describing themselves as Anglican has fallen from 21 per cent in 2012 to 17 per cent in 2014, a loss of around 1.7 million. That brings the number of Anglicans in Britain to 8.6 million people.

The proportion of Catholics remained roughly stable at 8 per cent, or just over 4 million, as did that of “other” Christians, including Methodists, Presbyterians and non-denominational Christians.

Read it all.


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Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Professor Louise richardson looks set to become Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University – the first woman ever to hold the crucial position.

A political scientist originally from Tramore, Co Waterford, Richardson was today nominated to the position, which involves overseeing the nearly 1000-year-old institution.

The 56-year-old academic is currently Principal and Vice Chancellor at St Andrew’s University in Fife.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland--Scotland

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Posted May 29, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where do Irish Christians go from here? Ireland is spiritually and morally bankrupt, at war with itself, and Hell-bent, detesting the idea of Christianity - at least the version of it that has been presented to it by the Roman Catholic church. But in one sense, nothing has changed. We know already from the Scriptures that Jesus said: ‘wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14). This is and will always remain true no matter what decisions nations and individuals take.

So, where do we go from here? Well, like the Apostle Paul, our ambition in Ireland is simply to preach the Gospel where Christ is not known (Romans 15:20). In Ireland, the vast majority ‘know’ Christ as only a swear word, or as a distant, cold stone statue figure at best. But our ambition, as Irish Christians, as Evangelicals, is to bring the Gospel afresh to this generation of Irish to know Him as their loving Lord and Saviour. To preach the Gospel, was ‘always’ Paul’s ambition in life, and this ambition should grip every Evangelical and every Evangelical church in Ireland.

Read it all.

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Posted May 29, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In England and Wales, the Suicide Act 1961 makes it an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt.

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said he would attempt to reintroduce a bill that would allow assisted dying in the UK.

He said it was "completely wrong" that terminally ill people did not have the option to end their life.

"Whatever your take on the subject, it should be debated," Lord Falconer told the BBC.

Read it all.

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just over a year ago Lichfield diocese agreed to pilot a fresh approach. 60 people, lay and ordained, gathered one morning in Stafford to think about how to get people talking about death, dying and funerals. They went away to try out a new concept: GraveTalk, with 35 parishes setting up café-style events. Each event involves setting up a space to look like a café, where refreshments are served. People gather in small groups at tables. Conversations are started through a pack of 52 specially written questions covering a wide range of topics, ranging from attitudes to death to personal experiences.

There are no answers, just a space to talk. Facilitators, lay or ordained, make sure the event is running smoothly – and there is always ‘tea and cake’. The trial was researched in partnership with the University of Staffordshire, and the results were overwhelmingly positive: when we make the time and the space, people will talk.

One vicar who piloted GraveTalk said:

“I gave it to them and I went and made coffee while they started discussing it. And I just couldn’t shut them up. When I came to draw them to a conclusion, they wanted to carry on. They thought it was absolutely brilliant. I was really surprised.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatology

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Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said he appreciates how the passing of the marriage referendum leaves gay and lesbian men and women feeling and he paid tribute to the “immense effort” that went in to the referendum campaign.

Speaking to RTE News, the Archbishop said he appreciated the efforts particularly of the No side.

“It was a principled vote. People, I hope, will respect that,” he commented.

He said it was very clear that if the referendum was an affirmation of the views of young people that the Church has “a huge task in front of it” to find the language to be able to talk to and get its message across to young people, not just on this issue but in general.

“I think the Church needs to do a reality check, right across the board, to look at the things it is doing well and to look at the areas that we really have drifted away completely from young people.”

Read it all.

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Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland wish to affirm that the people of the Republic of Ireland, in deciding by referendum to alter the State’s legal definition of marriage, have of course acted fully within their rights.

The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.

Read it all.

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Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Core Issues Trust offers its gratitude to the many thousands of citizens who voted against changing the Irish Constitution to replace marriage as the union between one man and one woman for life, with a new concept which takes no account of the sex of the marriage partners.

The Irish Government’s poll has enabled simple majoritarianism to usher in a radically new model of marriage based on the lowest possible construct: love while it lasts. Denying that all marriage is thereby redefined, the government has eliminated the very foundation of marriage based on natural male-female complementarity, a complementarity self-evident in human anatomy, physiology (procreative capacity), and even psychology. Now, instead of having sexual unions in which the extremes of each sex are moderated and the gaps filled, we will see the institution of marriage deteriorate even further as the extremes of each sex reshape marriage to be far more accommodating to non-monogamous behaviour and rapid dissolutions. The integrity of the sexes, male and female, will be further dishonoured as people are praised by the state for treating their sex half in relation to their own sex rather than as half of a whole sexual spectrum of male and female, as though two half-males make a whole male or two half-females make a whole female.

In addition, with the elimination of a male-female prerequisite for sexual unions, there no longer remains a logical reason to deny adult-consensual polyamorous unions or even incestuous unions (particularly incestuous unions where procreation is minimized or eliminated). For the limitation of two persons to a sexual union is predicated on the duality of the sexes, male and female; and the principle of embodied otherness upon which incest may be rejected absolutely is discarded in the embrace of the excessive sameness of same-sex sexual unions. The Irish Government in our view has also sacrificed innocent children to the demands of individuals who prioritise their “right” above the right of children to be raised by their natural parents.

We note also that this momentous change has taken place in the vacuum – evident in Irish society and in all our islands and beyond – following the collapse of a faithful Christian witness in Western civilisation: both Catholic and Protestant. Together we have failed to reflect the fruits of repentance and holiness of life in the sanctity of marriage and we are guilty in this fact.

Read it all.

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Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Since God has put His work into your weak hands, look not for long ease here: You must feel the full weight of your calling: a weak man with a strong God."
--Lady Culross to John Livingston of the Scottish Covenanters as cited in Ruth Bell Graham, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait (Grand Rapdis: Baker, 2008), p.110, and used by yours truly in this morning's Pentecost sermon

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsPentecost* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted May 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican war chaplains saw terrible things on the Western Front in the First World War and many were hailed as heroes for ministering to dying men amid the shell fire and machinegun bullets in no man’s land. They returned to their pulpits with a righteous anger to change their church and British society.

Linda Parker’s wide-ranging book, Shellshocked Prophets: Former Anglican Army Chaplains in Interwar Britain, tells the story of this brave band of Anglican clergyman — who were awarded around 250 Military Crosses between them — and then helped to transform the church. “Given the changes that occurred in the Church of England institutionally, liturgically and in its attitudes to a rapidly changing society, it is important that the role of former chaplains should be examined and their significance analysed,” says Dr Parker, herself the daughter of a former Territorial Army chaplain.

A harbinger of social change in the church was the Industrial Christian Fellowship founded by the Rev Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, MC,in 1919 to encourage Christians to relate their faith to their working lives. As chief “missioner”, Studdert Kennedy travelled the country evangelising in factories, mines and canteens, and gathered about him a team of other ex-war chaplains.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his visit to the Republic of Ireland earlier this week, Prince Charles changed the climate in which reconciliation can take place, and massively changed it for the better.

In word as well as action, tone as well as content, public as well as in private, he moved the heart of reconciliation away from the political arena.

He took it to a place where the facing of pain, resentment, anguish and agonies (to use his own words) are put at the very centre of leaving our grandchildren “a legacy of lasting peace, forgiveness and friendship” (again, his own words).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By about 4pm, the national Yes vote stood at 62.4 per cent against 36.6 per cent for the No side with 60.2 per cent of the country going to the polls.

Donegal, against some expectations, has approved the amendment to the Constitution by a small margin. Donegal South West has been the closest so far, with 50.1 per cent voting Yes, representing a margin of just 33 votes.

The Yes vote in Dublin was particularly pronounced. Dublin Midwest reported a Yes vote of 70.9 per cent and Dublin Southwest returned 71.3 per cent, in line with an overall 70 per cent positive vote anticipated in the capital. As the result emerged thousands of people gathered, against convention, in the courtyard of Dublin Castle signalling widespread jubilation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Voters will be given two ballot papers: a white ballot paper for the marriage referendum and a green ballot paper for the age of presidential candidates referendum.

In the marriage referendum people may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution.

This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 22, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith groups are now filling a “huge gap” in British life occupied by the state until the financial crisis and onset of austerity forced a rethink, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said churches, mosques, temples synagogues and other religious organisations had stepped in “in a most extraordinary way” over the past seven years.

He was speaking as a detailed national “audit” of faith groups was published calculating that their members give more than £3 billion worth of time a year on volunteer social action projects.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 22, 2015 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The public view of religion among young people, according to a YouGov poll - well, alright it’s a poll, but … [laughter] the reputation of religion among young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% – this was a poll in 2013, when they still got them right – 41% of 18-24 year olds agreed that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world” and only 14% say it is a cause for good.

The Faith Action Audit reveals something different. It shows the breadth of commitment across the country, the depth of commitment, and above all the strength of experience and good practice. Thanks to Cinnamon [Network] and other bodies like it, this is not mere do-goodery. It is seeking to find best practice and put it into action in the most professional way that can be imagined.

We’ve heard some of the figures, but just a reminder: the faith sector collectively is delivering, according to the audit – I’ll round it – 220,000 social action projects, from which 47 million people benefit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 22, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Exeter Cathedral is fighting for its future after it failed to secure multi-million pound funding to uncover the city’s Roman baths.

The £8.7m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid would have seen the first century bath house, buried under the Cathedral Green, excavated and opened to the public.

But the ambitious plans to create a worldwide tourist attraction were dealt a major blow when the funding body decided not to support the project.

Read it all from the Exeter Express and Echo.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The law

“… must protect all. It must protect the rights of the defendants to have and to manifest their religious beliefs but it also recognizes that the rights of the plaintiff not to be discriminated because of his sexual orientation must also be protected. If the plaintiff was a gay man who ran a bakery business and the defendants as Christians wanted him to bake a cake with the words ‘support heterosexual marriage’ the plaintiff would be required to do so as, otherwise; he would, according to the law be discriminating against the defendants. This is not a law which is for one belief only but is equal to and for all. The defendants are entitled to continue to hold their genuine and deeply held religious beliefs and to manifest them but, in accordance with the law, not to manifest them in the commercial sphere if it is contrary to the rights of others [93 & 94].

As to the defendants’ argument that Article 10 (expression) meant that they could not be compelled to express or commit themselves to a viewpoint or to appear to give support to another’s views, she concluded that what the defendants had been asked to do “did not require them to support, promote or endorse any viewpoint” and did not engage Article 10 – and her view was that, even if she was wrong in that conclusion and Article 10 was engaged, any infringement of the defendants’ rights was justified under Article 10 (2) because they were prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society and for the protection of the rights of others

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eternal Light, shine into our hearts;

Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil;

Eternal Power, be our support;

Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance;

Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us;

that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength we may seek thy face and be brought by thine infinite mercy to thy holy presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

DUP MLA Paul Givan is consulting on an Assembly bill that would allow people with religious beliefs a limited exemption from certain equality law requirements.

He said his private member’s bill would protect Christians who “do not feel there is space being made for their religious beliefs”.

Following the court ruling, DUP leader Peter Robinson said: “We have been listening to people and I think the term ‘reasonable accommodation’ is now what we would like to frame some legislation around – recognising that there are rights on both sides and therefore there has to be a reasonable accommodation between the two. So, I think we are not surprised at the outcome, that’s why we had embarked upon the legislative process.”

Mr Givan said his party leader had no apology to make for last year labelling the commission’s support for the court action “bonkers”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have to admit I was surprised by the verdict. For me, the case was not simply one of straightforward homophobia. Refusing to write a message fundamentally at odds with one’s beliefs is different from, say, refusing a couple a bed in a B&B: it is to involve people in an argument rather than simply request that they act as disinterested providers. If Ashers had simply refused to sell any cake at all to Mr Lee or any other LGBT person, then that would be an obvious act of discrimination.

The case is complicated further by the fact that equal marriage is not just a religious issue in Northern Ireland: it is a live political issue. Less than a month ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against the legalisation of equal marriage. We are now in the strange situation where the Equality Commission and the court have both decided that refusing to write an equal marriage slogan on a cake is against equality, while equal marriage itself is illegal.

The court ruled that as Ashers is a commercial organisation rather than a church there can be no exception. This is bound to lead to a wonderful summer of Northern Ireland’s national sport, whataboutery. Already all sorts of scenarios are being dreamt up, from Jews baking Nazi cakes to the somewhat confusing conclusion by loyalist “flags” activist Jamie Bryson that the ruling now means pubs must serve him while wearing his pipe band uniform.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A judge has ruled that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

Ashers Baking Company, based in County Antrim, was taken to court by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

A Belfast judge said, as a business, Ashers was not exempt from discrimination law.

The firm's general manager said they were "extremely disappointed" by the ruling and are considering an appeal.

Damages of £500 were agreed in advance by legal teams on both sides of the dispute.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Congregations in Yorkshire and the Humber region have the most entertaining services, with 80 per cent able to recall laughing at a clerical quip – just ahead of London, where 77 per cent had heard a decent joke in church. London also has some of the fastest growing churches in Britain.

In the East of England barely half (53 per cent) could do so. The news will be a disappointment to one East Anglian cleric, the Bishop of Norwich, who said recently that the Church should provide an alternative voice to Russell Brand.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a bishop I have strong views on marriage based on my religious convictions. I have, however, no wish to stuff my religious views down other people’s throats, but I also have a right to express my views in the reasoned language of social ethics. In airing my views in public debate, I do not expect to be listened to on the basis of dogmatic utterance, but on the reasonableness of my argument.

I write then primarily as a citizen of Ireland. I have no affiliation with any group of No campaigners. Some such groups will quote me, but I know how short-lived such affirmation can be. I have said that I intend to vote No, yet there are those of the ecclesiastical right-wing who accuse me of being in favour of a Yes vote, since I do not engage in direct condemnation of gay and lesbian men and women.

My position is that of Pope Francis, who, in the debates around same-sex marriage in Argentina, made it very clear that he was against legalising same-sex marriage, yet he was consistent in telling people not to make judgments on any individual. I know the manner with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people in the past – and in some cases still today – and that fact cannot be overlooked.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is launching a new national resource to help churches get people talking about death and dying.

GraveTalk, provides resources for a café space in which churches provide a relaxed environment for people to explore questions about death and dying, funerals and loss. It is being launched during Dying Awareness week (May 17-23), run by the Dying Matters coalition, and made up of more than 30,000 members including the Church of England.

GraveTalk, is being launched nationally at a giant café in Portsmouth Cathedral between 2pm and 9pm, tomorrow, May 19. The resources include a pack of 52 questions about life, death, society, funerals, and grief to help people start, and has been piloted in more than 100 parishes, is available at a dedicated website http://www.gravetalk.org

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 18, 2015 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.

The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier last week, the outgoing moderator, the Right Reverend John Chalmers, issued an appeal for calm in the run-up to the debate and also called for a “year of grace”.

During the debate, the Rev Gordon Kennedy from Edin-burgh said: “This has been the greatest cause for the expression of disunity in our church for 170 years. The only fruit this will bear is disharmony and disunity,”

But the Rev Dr Ian Whyte strongly disagreed and said he had witnessed the suffering of gay ministers who felt they had to hide their sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Young has been the unexpected outfield success of the season. If United could have themselves matched his renaissance then maybe there would have been more to salute at the end of the 2014-15 than just some glimmers of hope that the good old days will return.

Nobody is irreplaceable but you do have to wonder if David de Gea is Madrid-bound then can the Reds build on their top four finish next season.

Without the Spanish goalkeeper this season United could well have been facing a similar seventh place finish without European football they had to contemplate this time last year. He's been that good.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Baroness Shields, the former head of Facebook in Europe, is to become the UK's minister for internet safety and security in the new Conservative government.

The Telegraph understands the American-born entrepreneur turned technology evangelist is to lead the Government's effort to improve online safety in its war against child pornography.

She will also be involved in the UK's war on cybercrime and hacking, including the vital area of cybersecurity, with the aim of keeping the general public safe online.

Her appointment, as a Parliamentary under secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is part of a push by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to tackle the problem of illegal child porn online, and to ensure that images of abuse are blocked.

Read it all.

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to allow congregations to ordain gay ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships.

Delegates voted 309 in favour and 183 against.

The vote followed a church-wide debate and consultations with all 45 presbyteries, which voted 31 to 14 in favour of change.

A further vote will be held this week on whether or not to extend ordination to ministers in same sex marriages.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 16, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On 22 May 2015 Ireland will go to the polls to vote on a constitutional amendment put forward by the Fine Gael-Labour government that would mandate the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. The Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland have urged the defeat of the bill, but two former Archbishops of Dublin and two current Church of Ireland bishops have said they will vote “yes”.

The Most Rev. John Neill, the archbishop of Dublin from 2002 to 2011, told The Irish Times “we now recognise that there are many different types of unions and I don’t see why they cannot have the protection and status of marriage”. "The understanding of marriage in the church has evolved, putting partnership first before procreation”, in which context “there is less of a problem about same-sex marriage”. The Most Rev. Walton Empey, archbishop from 1996 to 2002 said "I certainly have no hesitation in calling for a Yes vote."

The Bishop of Cork, the Rt. Rev. Paul Colton told the BBC last year he supported the introduction of gay marriage, while the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows last month told a conference at Trinity College, Dublin that gay rights was the “great justice issue of our time just as the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women were in the past.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 15, 2015 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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