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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Worldwide Anglican Communion Feature: What are the main challenges for the new Secretary General? (about 6 minutes)
Anglican Communion Interview: Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon outlines his position on key issues (about 6 1/2 minutes)
You may find both audio links here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Theology Ecclesiology
Justin Welby was once a member of HTB and knows there is great potential to be found in the Church of England. He sees the need for change if it is to not just survive, but flourish. He also knows that for that to happen, things most definitely cannot stay as they are, and after decades of denial and procrastination, some urgent measures are needed. He describes himself as a spiritual magpie, drawing inspiration in his faith from different Christian traditions. He is equally happy to take the best of what he has seen outside of the church and adapt it for the needs within it. These are not the dealings of a misguided amateur. Those who doubt what he is working to achieve or demur from some of his more unorthodox methods should think carefully about their own understanding and motives before issuing harsh judgements.
If it is a stark choice between Linda Woodhead’s prosaic plan for the Church of England or the Welby-Gumbel vision for holiness, transformation, revival and growth, I know which I prefer.
Read it all.
He is the economist credited with having the most influence on the Archbishop of Canterbury. And Paul Dembinski is clear that regulation is not enough to improve banking - a fundamental cultural shift is needed
Paul Dembinski and I are shaking our heads at the craziness of the response to the “greed is good” speech delivered by Michael Douglas in the film Wall Street.
Except we are not really finding it amusing at all. It is the sheer nuttiness of folk we struggle to comprehend. What was intended as a piece of satire by Douglas and director Oliver Stone was seized upon by a generation as a justifying mantra for appalling deeds where banking and the financial markets are concerned. It is proof, agrees Dembinski, of the scale of the task that confronts him as he seeks to emphasise the place of ethics in the financial services industry.
Listening to him and meeting him, it is not difficult to see why Dembinski is so often name-checked by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as an economist he closely follows...
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Welby has a reputation as a guy who enjoys a good laugh and discourages formality. His manner when I meet him is aﬀable but circumspect. This is a man who once observed that he didn't want the top job and was "one of the thicker bishops" in the Church of England.
"I can spot an old Etonian a mile oﬀ ," I venture, "and your deﬁning characteristic is precisely that kind of phoney diﬃdence."
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“One of the highlights for me in the last few months has been the visit of the Grand Imam of Al-Alzhar. He came and stayed here at Lambeth Palace for three days, and we spent much time in conversation. The importance of those sorts of relationships cannot be overestimated. In spending time together we were able to discuss our differences, as communities and as individuals. We need to recognise that we differ on crucial points of faith, but that we are united in understanding the importance of faith, and in our commitment to the common good.
“During this last few weeks as well you have been on my prayers as news has put pressure on the Muslim community. I never forget how much you need support and encouragement when you’re under pressure, as we do as well.
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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."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
How we develop and prepare some of those who have wide responsibilities in leadership is both demanding and potentially prophetic as regards the world around. Our interest is in discerning and developing God's gifts and graces in his people. Let me just say, given a couple of the questions that came up last night: that we're committed to nurturing vocation across the whole of God's people, regardless of sexuality and regardless of whether lay or ordained.
The FAOC report shows that leadership needs preparation: in prayer, in theology, in skills of every day matters, in collaborative working, in interpreting the times, in safeguarding, in how to ensure that what the church discerns as necessary, the church does. We must have a system that is pastorally sensitive for those being formed, self-consciously inclusive of all those we too easily exclude, and ensures that those being considered for appointment in posts of wide responsibility are from all areas of the church, and are diverse especially in the areas of major weakness: BAME people and gender balance, disability and others. Our theology and practice must challenge inherited or widely accepted bad models through prayer and also theological thinking.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
Where do we find the antidote to fear? Where do we find the capacity to be prophets of grace and hope, joyful, fervent and clear against injustice in a world of martyrdom and torture, or of inequality and greed? Even in the days of William Temple, his call to a different model of life was ignored, mocked and opposed by the government of the time, when he brought before them the needs of the poor. The language of opposition was the same as today.
Few of us like criticising; we know that, thank God, we have much to praise in our society, much for which to give thanks, under governments of all colours now and for years past. Yet, under this and every government the church is constantly called to a loving critique of the secular powers.
Temple asked what right has the church to speak? So how do we keep our nerve, and find the way to overcome our fears and inhibitions, in love but also with passion for the poor, for the environment, for justice, for the lost, how do we obey the Spirit who sent Amos and John the Baptist?
The answer is found in that great reading of the hymn of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics
In recent days, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have all spoken out on the vital issue of climate change. It is vital, because the long-term future of the Earth and its inhabitants is at stake. It is no less a matter than that.
The issue of climate change led to the landmark Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system. What is termed the Conference of Parties (COP) regularly reviews the implementation of the Rio action programme. The next COP will be held next December in Paris and, for the first time in two decades of UN negotiations, will seek to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, aiming to keep global warming below 2°C.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Archbishop of Canterbury has attacked plans by oil companies to begin drilling in the Arctic.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, who worked in the oil industry before he was ordained, said that he was concerned by how difficult it would be to contain and clean up an oil spill should there be an accident in the region.
Shell is expected to begin drilling in the Arctic this month after its plans were approved by the US government. A fifth of the world’s undiscovered gas and oil is believed to lie in the Arctic.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
“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.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
“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.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Amongst Princess Charlotte’s own ancestors, now buried in the Holy Land, is a saint, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, whose life was one of transparent beauty and death one of beautiful courage and service. In her life she forgave the man who killed her husband. At her cruel murder she continued to care for those suffering with her. It is of such beauty that Jesus speaks when he talks of being great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Such beauty of character begins with baptism, and is established in the habits of following and loving Jesus Christ, habits to be learned from parents and God parents, and the whole community of the church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Sacramental Theology Baptism
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I look forward to the responses from the three Primates here: of Korea, Paul Keun-Sang Kim; of Pakistan, Samuel Robert Azariah; and of Brazil, Francisco De Assis Da Silva; for I have been given an impossibly wide-ranging title!
He has written a significant Foreword to the 2014 book, Living Reconciliation by Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones. It is entitled ‘Reconciliation is the Heart of the Gospel’, and is worthy of an extended quotation:
We agree on these [five] marks [of mission]. Yet in so many other things, we disagree. Given our transparent and open structures, we often do so loudly. But we do so as part of a family which, however much it falls out, remains linked. We have to deal with the reality that, no matter how strained our relationships may become at times, we belong to each other…
I am not arguing that we should resist making decisions until the whole Anglican Communion (let alone the universal Church) is in total and unanimous agreement. That would be a legalistic and regulatory response to a problem that is relational and missional.
Rather, I am eager to encourage each of us to take full account of the way in which decisions in one province echo around the world. We do not have a volume button that can limit or determine how our voices are heard beyond our own country or region. The impact of their echoes is something to which we must listen in the process of our decision-making, if we are not to narrow our horizons and reject the breadth of our global family. That process requires extensive conversation and prolonged engagement – an honest reinforcement of the bonds of the relationship – amidst the confusing and costly work of common discernment.
Justin Welby, ‘Foreword: Reconciliation is the Heart of the Gospel’ in Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones, Living Reconciliation (London: SPCK, 2014), p. x and xi.
Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the new Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, will be commissioned in September 2015. His long term work of mission and dialogue with Muslims in Nigeria, and on the Network for Inter Faith Concerns of the Anglican Communion, is remarkable.
Frank Griswold, the 25th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, has known him since 1998. He told the Episcopal News Service in April:
Josiah is, above all, a man of communion, a careful listener, and a respecter of the different ways in which we are called to articulate and live the good news of God in Jesus Christ.
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In this conversation, Azariah outlines the growing need for reconciliation within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
“I also think the Episcopal Church is going through a major time of challenge,” he said. “There is a need of great healing. There is a need for great understanding within the family of the Episcopal Church and within the Anglican Communion here in the United States of America. It is not easy, but it is something which has to be done in love, in faith, in trust upon God, and in not being judgmental to one another.
“I appeal to my brothers and sisters here in the Episcopal Convention — and I also appeal to those Christians and Anglicans who were a part of the Episcopal Church but ... do not relate to the Convention — that the time has come when we cannot live like this. Let us not exhibit a ‘holier than thou’ game over here. … Let us stand together and believe in whatever we believe in and continue to do that — but let us not break up the life of the body of Jesus Christ.”
Read and watch it all
The Archbishop of Canterbury's attention has been drawn to a statement forwarded to him from the Office of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, on the above subject. This statement was first posted on the Church of Nigeria website April 30, 2015.
The appointment of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) is made by the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) with the approval of the President of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria Global South Churches & Primates * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Capitalism that cannot find £200 for a highly-motivated individual, with good skills, is simply not adequate to the task of creating a stable society.
That hard-working, self-starting man will be on my mind tomorrow, when I take part in the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism in the City of London. This brings together leading figures from business, finance and public policy committed to creating economic systems which will encourage a long-term prosperity that is broadly shared. I am sure I will learn a great deal. I also hope to contribute in a small way, bringing a perspective informed by both economics and theology.
A Christian understanding of inclusive capitalism begins with the nature of God, who in Jesus Christ reached out to include all humanity in salvation. What that looks like for each individual is purpose, calling and a destiny with God. The New Testament teaches us that none of this happens because we are good - in fact, St Paul says in his letter to the Romans that Christ died for us while we were still God’s enemies. It happens because God sought to include all human beings in his love and purpose for them, if they would accept his invitation.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...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.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined faith leaders in Britain pledging to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change, in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.
Representatives of the major faiths, including Archbishop Justin Welby, said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.
In the Lambeth Declaration, which will be launched tomorrow, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.
The call comes ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris this December where negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
"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...."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
The Bishop in Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, the Most Revd Dr Mouneer Anis will give a presentation on the situation in his vast diocese to members and invited guests of the Egypt Diocesan Association at Lambeth Palace on Friday 12 June by kind invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop of York, Patron of the Association, will be present at the meeting.
The occasion celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Egypt Diocesan Association (EDA) which has supported the mission and ministries of that diocese over six decades.
The region covered by the Episcopal Church in Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa includes no fewer than eight countries, and the Christian communities in many parts of the diocese face huge challenges. Dr Mouneer is also in his second term as Archbishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East and so in close touch with the situation of many throughout the Middle East and Arabic world.
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On Trinity Sunday we are drawn into the presence of God by the Spirit through Jesus, sent by love of the Father. We are drawn inward in order to be sent out to give and bless and be the presence of Jesus. Trinity is community, perfect in love and acceptance and giving out, going out. We are to be like that in the church.
All true, but full of issues about how. How? Peter was writing to churches in what is now Turkey. He writes all about how to live a complicated life with households, with worries and pressures, and how to be the community that God wants us to be, because that community is mainly the means through which He loves us.
So today's sermon is about community in the light of Trinity. That community of the church is above all called to witness and worship. We witness every day by what kind of people we are individually and as a community.
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The Right Rev. and Right Hon. George Carey includes among his passions his wife, Eileen; the Barclays Premier League football club Arsenal; and “certain things such as a peaceful world,” he told The Blade during an interview at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Detroit.
The former archbishop of Canterbury elaborated on obstacles to peace that he sees.
“I really do feel very worried about” what is happening to Christians in the Middle East at the hands of the Islamic State, Lord Carey said. “I think we’re now living in a world more dangerous than ever.”
He said that “our biggest enemy now is [ISIS] and Islamic fundamentalism, which now exists in America in all those Muslim families that you have graciously invited and said, following the Statue of Liberty, ‘Come and make your home here.’
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
O Lord our God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst call thine apostles and send them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless thy holy name for thy servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating thy Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom thou dost call and send may do thy will, and bide thy time, and see thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Renewal in the Spirit
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion
‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.
St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.
And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ‘communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ‘ourselves, our souls and bodies’.
When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.
From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ‘prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.
Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues – equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.
All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ‘new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ‘Abba, Father!’
It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.
But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.
We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.
It may be said – quite understandably, in one way – that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.
Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ‘perfect’ – people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.
More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.
A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.
But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.
And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.
I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.
I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.
In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus – to take a very different kind of example – there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue – but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.
Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.
But if we do conclude that some public marks of ‘distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.
We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body – especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.
One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.
‘We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ‘kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.
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.
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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.
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Dr Williams also presented a long service certificate to Sue Beales, who has been big supporter of the Children in Need charity.
He then went on to speak to 80 people in the Boathouse on his personal journey.
Mr [Sean] Finlay said: “He was able to hold us spellbound for 45 minutes.
“Rowan is very engaging and spoke about how he started as a Presbyterian in Wales before progressing into the Anglican church.”
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The power that comes is to be given away not hung onto; Jesus was no Mugabe clinging to power. There would be no public glory or acclaim, merely hard work and sacrifice, like most of those who serve the church round the world today. I spoke to someone yesterday working for reconciliation in a civil war, whose name will never be known outside the circles of his own friends – yet he carries a cross of suffering for Christ.
Put like that it makes the worst of any recent party manifesto looks like words of gold, to which people would flock by contrast. Few would be elected on the manifesto of Jesus, surely?
Yet the church grew at such a rate, despite opposition and suffering, that 300 years later the Empire that had casually swiped away the life of Jesus with the sort of attention we might give to a mosquito, found itself honouring and converting to the faith. The same disciples who beforehand seem foolish and act only in their own interests, were willing to lay down their lives, confident in the promises of God, the Kingdom of God and the triumph of Christ.
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Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality – our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.
So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful – but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.
The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world – to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.
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Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Helping people to get out of debt, and freeing them from the anxiety and exploitation that often goes with being in debt, is part of the Church's commitment to human flourishing.
“I welcome this new training resource to help local churches play a vital role in encouraging people to seek assistance earlier and to make use of the many free debt advice services that are available."
Read it all and take a look at the video.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has become the first patron of debt charity Christians Against Poverty.
The charity runs debt services through local churches with the aim of releasing people from the prison of debt. Around 60 of its 280 debt centres are based in Church of England churches.
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And now we gather again, 70 years on, thankful for victory over the greatest darkness of the twentieth century, perhaps of all history. Our gratitude is not simply for victory-in-Europe, but also reconciliation-in-Europe that followed, neither obviously nor automatically. Peace is more than the end of war: reconciliation dismantles the hostilities which previously separated and alienated us from one another and from God.
In November 1940 Coventry was terribly bombed. The fires lit the skies for miles, so many people died and were wounded, and amongst much else, the Cathedral burned. Yet from the next day the Provost of Coventry, the Very Reverend Richard Howard, set a course towards reconciliation and the dismantling of hostility.
Six weeks later, on Christmas Day 1940, he gave a sermon on the BBC, in which he said: "we want to tell the world... that with Christ born again in our hearts today, we are trying, hard as it may be, to banish all thoughts of revenge... We are going to try to make a kinder, simpler - a more Christ-child-like sort of world in the days beyond this strife."
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Unity among Christians releases a power that is “impossible to exaggerate”, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told the Leadership Conference 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall this morning.
The Archbishop was speaking during an on-stage interview with Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of HTB, alongside Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
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‘There is a crisis in the world; there is a crisis in the Church; there is a crisis of faith,’ he said. ‘Unity is the only hope for the world.’
‘The same Spirit lives in the Catholic, the Pentecostals, the Anglicans – that’s what makes us one.’
Unity around Jesus, he said, is the key to the evangelisation of a nation. ‘A divided world demands a united Church.’
Achieving a united Church boils down to our own individual choices in how we lead and how we follow. ‘Ultimately, unity is not doctrinal, it’s relational,’ he said.
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Update: There is a report from Day 2 here
Rose appreciated the opportunity for people on opposites sides of the theological and ethical divides to really get to know each other and hear each other. However she has serious concerns about the process as well. Firstly, the Conversations appear light on theology:
“There wasn’t enough time to get into the nitty gritty of the Biblical texts, or to dig into the ‘issues behind the issues’: our approaches to scripture, what is sin, what is truth, what is salvation.”
Secondly, there was an assumption that ‘good disagreement’ was the right outcome: “We hadn’t answered the question of exactly what we were disagreeing on; or whether that disagreement was something we could live with, or something which was so definitive that a split had to happen.”
Thirdly, there was theological bias: “the process was geared towards those of a more liberal standpoint – those who were more likely to agree that the church could coexist with different theologies.”
Lastly, “there weren’t enough conservatives”. Rose herself was assumed to be conservative as she identifies as evangelical. “It’s not his [the Bishop’s] fault I happen to be…a flag-waving, rainbow-wearing lesbian.”
Here is a report from someone who could embody more and more the future of the C of E as envisioned by its current leaders: young, talented and committed to Christ, but coming to radically different conclusions about Christ’s teachings and his demands in ways that align more with the grain of contemporary culture and one’s own self understanding and identity. If even she finds the process of the Shared Conversations too skewed away from a historic, conservative understanding of faith, this is yet more evidence of what Dr Martin Davie has called “a deeply flawed process supported by deeply flawed resources. They are in fact an object lesson of how a church should not go about handling a serious theological issue.”
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The Dioceses Commission has given its approval to revive the See* of Islington paving the way for a new bishop to lead on church planting within the Diocese of London.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Commission expressing his strong support for the new See. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, formally submitted a proposal to the Commission laying out the support of both the Diocesan Synod and the Bishop's Council.
Most bishops exercise their ministry within a defined geographical area. The proposal to revive the See of Islington is innovative as the bishop would hold a particular brief for church-planting initiatives primarily in the Diocese of London but to provide advice for other dioceses across England as invited to do so by the local bishop.
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An Executive Summary of a paper commissioned by Church of England Evangelical Council.
How evangelicals should respond.
Firstly…Evangelicals need to say loudly and clearly that, for the reasons explained above, the shared conversations are a deeply flawed process supported by deeply flawed resources. They are in fact an object lesson of how a church should not go about handling a serious theological issue.
Secondly, Evangelicals need to be aware that the shared conversations are only the ‘warm up act.’ It will be in the General Synod, probably in the session in February 2017, that a substantive debate will take place that could change the Church of England’s theology and practice. Such a debate would be proceeded by discussions in the College and House of Bishops so Evangelicals need to be ready for the lead in to the debate to begin as soon as the shared conversations have finished in the summer of 2016.
Thirdly, since it is clear that, whatever criticisms are offered, the shared conversations process is going to take place Evangelicals need to ready to keep on making the following key points during the process:
1. The position of the Church of England has not changed…The burden of proof is on those who want to change the Church’s position.
2. In considering its teaching and practice in relation to human sexuality the Church of England has to base its approach on the teaching of the theological authorities specified in Canons A5 and C15, namely the Bible, the teaching of the orthodox Fathers and Councils and the Historic Formularies of the Church of England (the Thirty Nine Articles, the Book of Common Prayer and the 1662 Ordinal)…
4. In thinking about sexuality it is important not simply to focus on those biblical texts that directly address the issue of same-sex relationships, but to set those in the wider context of the fact that the Bible everywhere presumes a heterosexual norm for sex, marriage and family life on the basis of God’s creation of human beings as male and female.
5. No one has yet succeeded in successfully challenging the fact that the Bible takes a universally negative view of same-sex sexual activity in all its forms, a truth acknowledged by many who would like the Church to change its position on sexuality.
6. It is important not to let our experience determine our reading of the Bible. Rather we must interpret our experience in the light of biblical teaching.
7. The question of sexual orientation is a red herring. There is no agreed account of the cause(s) of same-sex attraction, studies of sexual attraction indicate that in a large number of people who they are attracted to sexually is something fluid rather than fixed and even in the case of those who have a life -long attraction to those of their own sex whether they choose to act on this attraction remains an act of voluntary choice for which they are morally accountable.
8. The issue of human sexuality is not a secondary issue on which we can simply agree to disagree…The Bible is clear that unrepented sexual sin cuts people off from God in this life and in the world to come…
9. The Church of England has a responsibility to take into account the effect that any decision that it makes will have on Christians in other parts of the world, particularly in those places where the Church is facing persecution.
10. It is not enough simply to say ‘no’ to same-sex relationships. The Church of England needs to take seriously the pastoral needs of those people who experience same-sex attraction and it needs to honour those who live lives of Christian holiness in the face of such attraction.
The full paper can be found here
The Bishop is respectful of the genuine Christian discipleship of those who disagree with his traditionalist position, sees their points of view and is not sure that this is a “red line issue” about the core Gospel message. Because of this he will not “leave the Church of England” even if the church changes its doctrine of sex and marriage. He does not appear to say anywhere that he will fight to maintain the current teaching, but rather suggests that change is inevitable, and that arguing over this issue divides rather than unites, and is a bad witness to the world.
This gives us a clue about what is happening in the minds of at least one theologically orthodox Bishop in the C of E. He will strongly promote the Gospel of Jesus crucified and risen, and will defend this against revisionism which undermines basic Christian theism. But lets be honest, these views are not going to be attacked on Twitter or the comments pages of the Guardian, the Independent and Pink News. Bishops such as Richard Jackson know they will be attacked if they defend the historic Christian position on sex, and so he has backed off; saying that he personally has not changed his position supporting the current Church teaching on sex and marriage, but he respects the views of others and will respect the outcome of any Synod resolution. Unity of the Institution, and protection from hostile media attack comes first. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – how can the orthodox teaching of the church be defended in Synod if those regarded as the leaders of the orthodox do not contend for it and essentially abstain from the debate?
Read it all, and please pray for the Church of England and the 'evangelical' bishops
You may find the full video of this talk on prayer there.
In an interview broadcast last week with Anglican TV, the former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen confirmed “the Bishop of Salisbury has delivered a disciplinary note to Bishop John Ellison” and charged him with violating the ecclesiastical boundaries of his diocese.
In their communique released at the close of their London meeting on 18 April 2015 the GAFCON primates gave Bishop Ellison their full backing, denouncing the “unjust and uncharitable charges brought against him by the Bishop of Salisbury.”
Read it all. For more background about the controversial Bishop of Salisbury and the way the CofE House of Bishops changed the rules on divorce to enable him to be appointed see:
Sunday Telegraph: Divorced bishops to be permitted for first time by Church of England, June 6, 2010
Pageantmaster—Comments on the Southwark Bishop Candidates, July 6, 2010
‘Rising star’ made Bishop of Salisbury, April 12, 2011
John Richardson—Bishops married to divorcees ‘pose serious challenge to traditionalist Anglicans,’ April 13, 2011
([London] Times) Bishop of Salisbury Openly Supports Same Sex Marriage, February 3, 2012
The Bishop of Salisbury—Marriage and same-sex relationships, February 24, 2012
Peter Ould responds to the Bishop of Salisbury—Nick Holtam’s Case for Polygamy, May 30, 2013
Bishop Holtam of Salisbury Congratulates and Prays for Same-Sex Couples Getting Married, March 29, 2014
Read it all.
Bishop John Ellison on the Anglican Church in North America from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.
UPDATE - A further interview with Bishop Ellison in 2010
The Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis have demanded that European nations take in more of the migrants who are fleeing North Africa and the Middle East, days after hundreds were feared to have died after their boats sank in the Mediterranean.
Up to 400 migrants were believed to have drowned when their boat capsized last week, but as many as 900 people could have died after another boat sank near the coast of Libya on Saturday. The deaths prompted Archbishop Welby to call for a united effort to prevent more deaths.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We can't say this is one country's responsibility, the one nearest; that's not right. Of course, we have to be aware of the impact of immigration in our own communities, but when people are drowning in the Mediterranean, the need, the misery that has driven them out of their own countries is so extreme, so appalling, that Europe as a whole must rise up and seek to do what's right.
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Welby’s visit was to offer condolences for Egypt’s most recent witnesses, the twenty Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian martyred in Libya in February. The word ‘martyr’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘witness.’
Symbolically, Welby delivered to Pope Tawadros twenty-one letters written by grieving British families. One is believed to have been related to David Haines, the aid worker captured in Syria and beheaded last year.
“Why have the martyrs of Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” Welby asked. “The way these brothers lived and died communicated that their testimony is trustworthy.”
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Speaking on a visit to religious and political leaders in Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that the whole of Europe must share responsibility in dealing with the problem.
''It will be demanding, and that's why the burden must be spread across the continent, and not taken by just one country or one area, '' he said.
Read it all and listen to the whole BBC video piece (just under 2 1/2 minutes).
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The Archbishop of Canterbury was in Cairo yesterday to show solidarity with Egyptian Christians murdered by jihadists two months ago. His visit was made more timely even as it was overshadowed by yet more murders. As he gave letters of condolence to the families of the victims of Islamic State’s last massacre of Christians, IS released sickening video footage of the next.
The latest film from the terrorist organisation holding the Middle East to ransom is as barbaric as anything it has produced. Prefaced with footage of jihadists vandalising Christian churches, the 29-minute video shows militants holding two groups of prisoners who they claim are members of an “enemy Ethiopian church”. Twelve are shown being beheaded on a beach. At least 16 more are shot in the head elsewhere. Both groups are thought to have been murdered in Libya.
Subject to verification of the footage this brings to more than 50 the number of Christians killed by IS in recent weeks. The strategy is clear. The leadership of the so-called caliphate, under pressure in Iraq, is seeking to expand its reign of terror in North Africa and in particular to sabotage efforts to bring stability to Libya.
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Since his appointment as head of the Church of England in March 2013, Justin Welby has been outspoken about poverty and, in particular, the availability of easy credit from payday lenders. He made comments about payday lenders, such as Wonga, and his commitment to support the credit union movement and other services helping people out of financial distress.
CAP hosts a network of hundreds of churches tackling poverty and debt in communities across the UK. Archbishop Justin said: “CAP deals in helping people to get free of the prison of debt, and it’s something I feel passionately about.
“They are serious, highly professional, deeply committed and above all they will treat you as a human being of infinite value, loved by God, who just needs some help to find your own way forward.”
Read it all.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have invited the "Dowager Countess of Grantham" to dine at Windsor Castle this evening.
Acclaimed actress Dame Maggie Smith - who plays acerbic matriarch Violet Crawley in the hit period drama Downton Abbey - is among 20 guests the monarch and Philip have asked to a private dinner party at the historic Berkshire residence.
Among those at the soiree will be the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney and his wife Diana, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife Caroline.
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In an interview with SAT-7, the Christian TV station based in the Middle East, Archbishop Justin spoke about the suffering of Christians in the region, among other topics.
Watch and listen to it all.
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With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and George Conger at Anglican TV
What did the Archbishop mean when he said that “sexuality is irrelevant” to proclaiming the resurrection?
In his closing remarks, the Archbishop says that “every disagreement in which love is maintained” witnesses to the living Christ. In other words, it is not just our proclamation of the resurrection, but the way in which we stay together, maintaining “good disagreement” even though we disagree over issues such as gender and politics and homosexuality, which testifies to Christ.
So here is the problem. By saying that “sexuality or whatever” is irrelevant to the witness of Christians to the resurrection, the Archbishop probably intends to say that the debates preoccupying the church are petty compared with the task of winning disciples to Christ through word and deed. Whatever he meant to say, he has run the risk of being misunderstood in two ways: suggesting that sexual morality is not important to Christian witness, and more specifically, that to be “gay” (by which most hearers would assume, sexually active) is completely compatible with authentic resurrection-based Christian Faith. Julian Mann in his recent piece reminds us that the opposite is true according to Romans 6:2-4: the resurrection of Christ was physical, and so not only speaks of his victory and his Lordship in a spiritual sense, but demands physical and moral change in obedience and faith from his disciples in response.
The Archbishop’s sermon is superb in its reminder that the empty tomb needs daily interpretation to the world by Christians in all their rich variety. But by using the word “sexuality” in its context, (which he did not need to do), he has at best run the risk of being misunderstood. At worst he has prejudged the outcome of his own ‘Conversation’ process, and opposed the teaching of his own church, by suggesting the moral neutrality of homosexual practice.
Read it all.
Listen to it all, carefully from a conference organised in Toronto in 2013 and see also Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General.
An Unoffficial Transcript follows:
I will be speaking as Josiah, not as an archbishop or bishop. I will speak in my own capacity as a member and a child of the Anglican Communion. I am saying this because before the last Primates Meeting [Dublin], I wrote an article urging all primates to make the attempt to be there, and someone in England quickly alerted the Church Times editor to say: ‘Oh, he’s not an archbishop, so don’t take him seriously. Please take me seriously because: I am a child of this Communion; my parents served this Communion until the Lord called them home; and I have been a bishop now for 23 years. So I speak as Josiah.
My topic is ‘Why the Instruments still matter.’ Bottom line - yes, I believe they still matter, and the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East essentially gone into my farm, he has done some work, but honestly my sisters and brothers we are all very passionate about this Communion, and my own recommendations are going to be even more radical than that of the Archbishop, because he is a Primate, I am not.
Now I want to begin with a personal experience I had as a member of the Lambeth Commission that produced the Windsor 2003 document. Our first series of meetings, one of us was not present, and the second time we reconvened, she was there. And Lord Eames who was our chairman asked her: ‘being a judge, look go through the job we did while you were away and come back to share with us’. So she spent the whole morning looking at what we had done and she came back and said: ‘oh you guys are brilliant you have done a good job.’ And we were sort of, you know, preening ourselves, felt we had done a good job, and suddenly you know like a whiplash, she asked: ‘who are you writing for?’
And there was this frightened silence. We never thought along that line at all. We thought we were speaking for the entire Communion. And so we went on discussing, and eventually we concluded that we were actually writing for 70% of Anglicans. The question you will ask is what about the remaining 30%? We discovered that, on the left we have 15 % who will not care about what we were discussing and on the right another 15%. And we discovered that the 15% on the left are what I, Josiah, would call Extreme Conservatives, and on the right we have Extreme Liberals.
Brothers and sisters let us not deceive ourselves, within this Communion we have conservatives and liberals. We have Extreme, and I use that word Extreme as a student of Islam, because we no longer use Fundamentalism for Muslims who are terribly radical, we call them Extreme Muslims. And that is the way I want us to understand this concept because we have to agree, otherwise there will be no communication.
So when you hear me say Extreme Liberals and Extreme Conservatives, I am talking about those who are really radical and they are not interested in being together. I have a petition for you towards the end of this from Lord Ramsey, what he has to say - sorry, Professor Seitz, what he has to say - about these two extreme groups. Brothers and Sisters, I believe as Anglicans and Episcopalians, that in spite of the serious problems we face today, 70% of us want us to be together. We want to stay in and checkmate each other.
I am unashamedly an evangelical, charismatic Pentecostal evangelical, and I don’t hide that. However, I believe there are liberals who are genuinely Anglicans and I have come to realise that if we want to stay as a family, we have got to checkmate each other. So 70% and I believe a majority of us here this afternoon are either evangelicals or liberals, and we want to stay in. So I am assuming I am addressing people, Anglicans, who actually are committed to our Communion and they want to be together. Unfortunately what I perceive as happening today, is that the 15% Extreme Evangelicals want to impose their ecclesiology and theology on the 70% and the 15% Extreme Liberals want to do the same. That is my understanding as a sociologist of what is happening today in this Communion.
Lord Carey reminds us and I quote: ‘that the Anglican Instruments of Unity have a reason primarily out of conflict and a desire to be true to our ecumenical goals'. Lord Ramsey reminds us that our main goal is to unite the church of Christ, as Anglicans. To unite the church of Christ, certainly we have not achieved this goal and therefore I believe the Instruments, useful as they may be, need to be re-evaluated in the light of the problems we face today.
I owe what I share with you to Professor Radner in a paper he gave in 2010, Lord Carey himself and Canon [Colin] Cranston who wrote a beautiful article on the ACC, so most of what I will be sharing with us comes from these sources and other books I refer to.
Our problem has to do with Authority. The Anglicans are scared of the word authority. And Lord Ramsey on page 3 of his book ‘The Anglican Spirit,’ he said: ‘The difference between Christianity that can make do without the papacy, is already a Christianity in which changes of belief and sentiment are taking place.’
This statement is the reason, as I understand it, for the Instruments of the Anglican Communion, so the assignment for us is to justify why these Instruments still matter today. I am hoping that in spite of the damage already done to this communion, together at this conference and after, we shall make every effort in the words of Lord Carey ‘to find positive ways of healing our wounded Communion’ today.
There are four of these Instruments and the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East has referred to them; quickly – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting.
Let me take on the Archbishop of Canterbury – not in person, don’t tell me that, the office as an instrument. In the words of Lord Ramsey, and I quote:
‘The Anglican Communion has always looked and enjoyed the closest of links with Rome and varieties of Protestant Churches. Anglicans have insisted on certain things - not a particular ideology, but simply what we believe to be basic Catholic facts and principles, which are: the Scriptures, the sacraments of salvation [baptism and eucharist], the creeds, and the apostolic ministry embodied in the historic episcopate. Given those basic facts and principles, Anglicans seem ready to be in communion with other Christians and create united churches with them.'
The Archbishop of Canterbury represents the Communion in these ecumenical contexts and roles. The Archbishop of Canterbury is described as our symbol of unity. This office should and I believe will remain, but why should it remain? Listen again to Lord Ramsey, he said ‘[the very term]..Anglicanism is one produced by the situation of sad disunity, and the disappearance of Christian disunity might well mean the disappearance of the word “Anglicanism. Until that happens we believe that God has given us real work to do [as Anglicans], and “Anglicanism” describes that work”
The Archbishop of Canterbury represents this movement. This Instrument therefore is an essential, at least until the entire church becomes one.
In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s matter, in the ongoing mission of Anglicanism, how do we make it relevant? How do we make it an essential Instrument of Unity?
1. According to Professor Radner, he gives us some of the things the Archbishop of Canterbury does and Lord Carey himself. One - we are told, the ABC has direct power to invite or withhold invitation to the Lambeth Conference. However, to the last conference, the same African Primates who would desire Rulership disobeyed the Archbishop of Canterbury.
2. The Archbishop of Canterbury in a real sense has a personal ministry of recognising whom he is in communion with, even though the ACC deals with the legislative processes.
3. The ABC by his office has the goal and the vision for the Communion in the words of Lord Carey, and I quote: ‘The Communion may be to quote the familiar mantra of the Communion, episcopally led and synodically governed but this leadership can only be conducted with the agreement of the Communion and its Instruments'
4. In certain final cases only an Archbishop of Canterbury can intervene internationally, and Lord Carey here is speaking about the situation in Rwanda when we had the genocide.
And finally, as the office is presently, the Archbishop of Canterbury, yes he is only primus-inter-pares, he is President of the Anglican Communion; that means he presides over each of the Instruments of Unity.
What are my proposals? If we are going to retain this Instrument of Unity:
1. In addition to the ratification of a new constitution, and chairing the ACC in the light of the threat by some groups to create their own church within the Communion, I would propose that in tenor with the Gospel principle of persuasion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, needs to consult a bit more regularly with the Primates and some senior bishops and archbishops within the Communion on an annual basis. That is not happening now.
2. It would be helpful for the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint, in consultation with Primates and senior bishops and archbishops from some provinces liaison officers who will keep the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury well informed of situations from their parts of the Communion. It is not happening now.
So, all our former Archbishops of Canterbury including the present one have always resisted a patriarchal or papal role within the Communion’s affairs. The truth is they have a very real influence, which no other Primate or archbishop has. They can steer, they can push, and lead, but they cannot rule.
I speak now as an African Anglican Christian, but educated in the West. This last quotation, i.e. the Archbishop of Canterbury can steer, he can lead, but he cannot rule I find it problematic as an African. To put it mildly, African bishops and Archbishops find this concept of “can’t rule” difficult. This from my limited experience is at the root of a significant number within the Conservative 15% from Africa who think the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is ineffective, and so they will want to take over the entire Communion. They believe he is too weak, and I am happy the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East has alluded to that. African Primates, bishops, archbishops, they believe that the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is too weak.
The ecclesiology and theology of most African Anglicans are built around autocracy. To a number though, few but loud, African archbishops, bishops and Primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury should rule, not only steer, push or lead. Thus in this Instrument, lies what I am afraid could be described as a clash of cultures, and I think this group, because we are committed to keeping this Communion together, we need to take that very seriously. There is a clash of cultures. I will develop that as we go on.
Now I move very quickly to the Lambeth Conference.
Let us be reminded that this Instrument came into being as a result of the Colenso crisis of 1867. Since 1998, this Instrument has come under severe criticism, because it does not represent clergy and laity. May I remind us what the Correspondence Secretary in the person of Bishop Selwyn of the Anglican Communion said to the General Convention of the PECUSA at Baltimore in 1871. Please listen, I quote you. He was preaching at the Convention and he said: ‘There should be “no servile uniformity” in the church, but if there be but a recognised authority, which all are willing to obey, the whole of our church is interested in obtaining this happy combination of elastic freedom with efficient control”
I believe that here we have a sketched out essence of the Anglican ideal of authority.
The invitation to the Lambeth Conference of 1897 was sent out by Archbishop Benson before his death in 1896 - Archbishop Temple who succeeded him kept faith with the invitation Archbishop Benson wanted Lambeth Conference wanted to take. So Archbishop Benson wanted Lambeth Conference to take decisions on the organisation of the Anglican Communion. What I want to share with us now, will help us to make suggestions to our Primates, to the archbishops on why this Instrument of Unity still matters.
I say again, he made proposals for committees to work on the following, and I want us to listen:
1. a central consultative body;
2. a tribunal of reference; and
the positions and functions of the Lambeth Conference.
American bishops became suspicious and were vehemently opposed to any attempt to establish any authoritative relation to the See of Canterbury in America. I want you to think as far back as that time. So what is happening now is not new.
The committee on the organisation of the Anglican Communion recommended the establishment of a tribunal of reference to which might be referred questions submitted by the bishops of the Church of England and colonial and missionary churches. Again the Americans were opposed to this. As far as they were concerned the purpose of Lambeth Conference should continue to be for talk and consultation, and not for decisions or to exercise authority on behalf of the Communion. This is as far back as 1867.
My observation – looking back, that was the initial intention of what this Instrument was set up to achieve, though it was the Colenso Affair that forced the first Lambeth Conference to hold. By the 2008 Lambeth Conference, we had weathered the storm for over 100 years and as said by Professor Radner, the last Lambeth Conference, which the Primates also mentioned that, did not give an impression to the world of a united family called the Anglican Communion. There is no doubt that this Instrument of Unity has played some important roles in our life together as a family.
However, in the light of the discordant voices within it today and for the Instrument to continue to matter in our communal life together, there is a need to give it some new lease of life.
What are my proposals?
I believe we have to ask ourselves: should the Lambeth Conference continue to be for talk and consultation and not for decision, or exercise authority on behalf of the whole Communion? We need to go back and ask questions and challenge our American brothers and sisters.
At the Lambeth Conference of 2008, decisions were not even allowed. It is my humble submission that that decision was very unfortunate. I believe it was an opportunity to look at the proposed Covenant and actually make recommendations from the Covenant, if even as the Primate has just shown to us the fourth section is terribly problematic.
My submission is that this Instrument, that is the Lambeth Conference still matters, and therefore it is my proposal that we urgently set up a commission to have a second look at the intentions of Archbishop Benson who sent the invitation to the 1897 Lambeth and see how we can adapt some of his ideas to the 21st Century.
I now move to the Anglican Consultative Council.
I take the fact that we all know why it was set up, you can read the Lambeth Conference of 1968. That was when it was set up - everything is there. And the question is: does this Instrument still matter in the Communion today? Again speaking as an African Anglican bishop and having sounded the opinions of Africans, Asians and Arab colleagues, it is my opinion that for this Instrument to carry the church furthest along in its ecumenical responsibilities in promoting the unity, renewal and mission of Christ’s church, two changes need to be given an urgent consideration:
1. I believe and I submit that the Council needs to be headed by an experienced clergy in Episcopal status. Going back to 1867 when Bishop Selwyn was appointed Correspondence Secretary of the Anglican Communion, the fact that he was a bishop made relationship much easier. He related to other bishops as colleagues and they were able to discuss as church fathers. For a General Secretary to write letters of instruction and send to a diocesan bishop tastes sour.
2. The ACC needs to come directly under the oversight of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He already chairs the meetings. The General Secretary should be responsible to the ABC, and not to present himself or herself as the executive running the entire Communion, that’s how we see it now. This will create a better rapprochement between the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting and the planning of the subsequent Lambeth Conferences. This Instrument is a very important one and I am hoping that some of the suggestions I have made and the ones that will come from the group here will be passed on to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates for implementation.
Finally the Primates Meeting
– this the youngest of the Instruments, first met in 1979 and in recent years it did take the lead in trying to stop the crisis that has almost succeeded now in tearing the Communion apart. Professor Radner has given us a list of the achievements of this group. However, in the words of Lord Carey, and I quote: ‘the one Instrument of Unity that seems to have been emerging into a position of strength in recent decades is vigorously resisted by the ACC which feels threatened by it, while certain provinces, notably in North America, desiring total autonomy theologically from Communion while at the same time imposing total autocracy within their boundaries.’ – that’s Lord Carey, not Josiah.
Because we are Anglicans, or Episcopalians, we need not be hesitant or embarrassed about empowering our Primates in the church to have real and special authority at the communal levels. It is for this reason that I would strongly support this Instrument of Unity with the following recommendations:
1. That each Primate, coming to the Primates Meeting attend in the company of two other senior bishops who specialise in some specific area relevant to whatever is to be discussed. I propose this - I propose two representatives so as to have both the liberal and conservative opinions expressed during the discussions. I think it is about time Anglicans, we stopped running away from the fact that we are two groups within this Communion, the liberals and the conservatives, and if a Primate attends the Primates Meeting with a bishop representing each of these political parties – you know they will struggle there, they will argue, and the agreement – I mean, they don’t have to agree, but there will be opportunity for understanding. That is why I am proposing that.
2. That recommendations from Primates Meetings should be taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the ACC for input from the other two segments that make up the Communion. This reconstituted ACC, as recommended above, will therefore act as a clearing house.
In my recommendations for the ACC, what I have proposed again is that being headed by a bishop, we have the house of laity, we have the house of clergy. It means it is like a synod, and decisions taken there, could be taken to the Primates at their meeting, they will look at it with all the theological advisors and they will be able to, sort of, streamline it, and if the Primates agree, having had it from the ACC it means implementation at the provincial level would be a bit easier.
It is therefore my submission for your consideration, that this enlarged Primates Meeting should be able to recommend decisions to the entire Communion for implementation at each provincial level.
In conclusion, we have two political parties, and we must begin to encourage debates. We don’t have debates, and I am now speaking as an African. In Africa we don’t have enough debates.
The sort of unity we have in Africa is what Bishop Selwyn calls servile unity – you don’t ask – you don’t ask questions – you don’t query. Actually among the Yoruba people, when they address the bishop, they address him as someone you don’t question. It is totally unChrist-like. It’s unbiblical and dare I say here, it is actually un-Islamic, because it is not according to the tenor of the Koran and the Hadith. So we must encourage debate. I do share the position of bishop Seitz, that within us, we operate as if we are two enemies; the conservatives the evangelicals and we are not willing to accommodate each other. If this Communion is a gift to us – I will believe it is a gift – if this Communion has a mission, which is to unite the church, we must learn to accommodate one another. The Conservatives have been very arrogant, the Liberals have been very despotic, and I believe we both need to ask the Lord for forgiveness. I do not share the opinion of some people who say the Instruments have no use – no I don’t believe that.
I end by sharing with you my experience as a boy in the military school in the 60’s. Each time we were going out for map-reading, the captain who was in charge would always say to us: ‘boys, if you don’t know where you’re going, where you’re heading, at least you remember where you are coming from. My sisters and brothers, we do not want the Extreme Liberals and Extreme Conservatives to lead us to where we do not want to go, but we know where we are coming from. Let’s get to work and make Archbishop Benson’s dream come true. Thank you.
For more current related background and events see:
- Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General
- Anglican Unscripted 171: The End of the ACC?
- The GAFCON Chairman’s Easter Pastoral Letter
- Andrew Symes: Sexuality is irrelevant to Christian witness, says Archbishop
- Bishop Mouneer Anis's talk at the same conference
In every town and village in this country, in almost every country round the world churches stand as mute confession of the resurrection. They stand, but like the stone at the tomb they cannot speak. Only witnesses can speak, and in God's values no witness more or less important than any other. Mary Magdalene became a witness of what she had experienced: "I have seen the Lord".
Cathedrals and churches make great statements, but without words. Witnesses are those people who know Christ; lay or ordained, old or young, gender, politics, sexuality or whatever irrelevant - all are equally witnesses. The resurrection happened, and it changes our view of the universe. Once we have seen the reality of the risen Jesus nothing else should be seen in the same way as before.
To witness is to be a martyr. I am told by the Coptic Bishop in England that the Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last month died proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. They are martyrs, a word that means both one that dies for their faith and one that witnesses to faith. There have been so many martyrs in the last year. On Maundy Thursday, three days ago around 150 Kenyans were killed because of being Christian. They are witnesses, unwilling, unjustly, wickedly, and they are martyrs in both senses of the word.
Christians must resist without violence the persecution they suffer and support persecuted communities, with love and goodness and generosity.
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In this empty hallway, there’s nothing expected of us at this moment. The work is out of our hands, and all we can do is wait, breathe, look around. People sometimes feel like this when they’ve been up all night with someone who’s seriously ill or dying, or when they’ve been through a non-stop series of enormously demanding tasks. A sort of peace, but more a sort of ‘limbo’, an in-between moment. For now, nothing more to do; tired, empty, slightly numbed, we rest for a bit, knowing that what matters is now happening somewhere else.
–Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
The Most Revd Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon has been appointed to be the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
Dr Idowu-Fearon currently serves as Bishop of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) where he has earned a global reputation in the Church for his expertise in Christian-Muslim relations.
He was selected out of an initial field of applicants from Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Since 1998 the Most Revd Dr Idowu-Fearon has been Bishop of Kaduna, and he is the current Director of the Kaduna Anglican Study Centre. Before that he served as Bishop of Sokoto, Warden at St Francis of Assisi Theological College in Wusasa, and Provost of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kaduna.
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The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the prospects for a free and fair Presidential election in Nigeria in 2015, and (2) progress made by the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission towards minimising the possibility of electoral fraud. [HL5761]
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The British Government is closely following developments ahead of Nigeria’s presidential and gubernatorial elections on 28 March and 11 April respectively. This vote will set Nigeria’s course for the next five years and beyond and as Africa’s largest democracy its impact will be felt well beyond its borders. It is vital the elections go ahead without any further delay on 28 March.
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Most of the music for compline was by English composers, all immaculately sung as plainsong by the senior trebles and adults of the cathedral choir. The centrepiece of the service was Herbert Howells's motet, "Take him, earth, for cherishing", based on a poem by the Roman Christian poet Prudentius, and composed for John F. Kennedy's memorial service.
The RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, preached a sermon that emphasised the brutality of medieval wars and the tumultuous life and times of Richard III, a "child of war", a "refugee in Europe", whose reign was marked by unrest and who remained a controversial figure in the continual re-assessment of the Tudor period, "when saints can become bones and bones can become saints".
Baptism did not give holiness of life but gave it enduring shape, he reflected, describing the king as "a man of prayer, of anxious devotions". The Franciscans, Cardinal Nichols believed, would have buried Richard with prayer, even though that burial - which followed the ignominious parading of his naked and violently wounded body through the streets after the battle - had been hasty. He ended with the prayer that Richard "be embraced in God's merciful love".
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nd so his question to all those who have the freedom to speak in the Church and for the Church is 'who do you really speak for?' But if we take seriously the underlying theme of his words and witness, that question is also, 'who do you really feel with?' Are you immersed in the real life of the Body, or is your life in Christ seen only as having the same sentiments as the powerful? Sentir con la Iglesia in the sense in which the mature Romero learned those words is what will teach you how to speak on behalf of the Body. And we must make no mistake about what this can entail: Romero knew that this kind of 'feeling with the Church' could only mean taking risks with and for the Body of Christ – so that, as he later put it, in words that are still shocking and sobering, it would be 'sad' if priests in such a context were not being killed alongside their flock. As of course they were in El Salvador, again and again in those nightmare years.
But he never suggests that speaking on behalf of the Body is the responsibility of a spiritual elite. He never dramatised the role of the priest so as to play down the responsibility of the people. If every priest and bishop were silenced, he said, 'each of you will have to be God's microphone. Each of you will have to be a messenger, a prophet. The Church will always exist as long as even one baptized person is alive.' Each part of the Body, because it shares the sufferings of the whole – and the hope and radiance of the whole – has authority to speak out of that common life in the crucified and risen Jesus.
So Romero's question and challenge is addressed to all of us, not only those who have the privilege of some sort of public megaphone for their voices. The Church is maintained in truth; and the whole Church has to be a community where truth is told about the abuses of power and the cries of the vulnerable. Once again, if we are serious about sentir con la Iglesia, we ask not only who we are speaking for but whose voice still needs to be heard, in the Church and in society at large. The questions here are as grave as they were thirty years ago. In Salvador itself, the methods of repression familiar in Romero's day were still common until very recently. We can at least celebrate the fact that the present head of state there has not only apologized for government collusion in Romero's murder but has also spoken boldly on behalf of those whose environment and livelihood are threatened by the rapacity of the mining companies, who are set on a new round of exploitation in Salvador and whose critics have been abducted and butchered just as so many were three decades back. The skies are not clear: our own Anglican bishop in Salvador was attacked ten days ago [in 2010] by unknown enemies; but the signs of hope are there, and the will to defend the poor and heal the wounds.
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At the beginning of December  I went on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for a few days to the north of Iraq, to Kurdistan, first to Erbil, the Kurdish capital, and then a three-hour journey to Dohuk. I went to see and know at firsthand the situation of the many thousands displaced by the forces of the Islamic State, which in August last year over-ran Mosul, Iraq’s second city, and then swept across the Nineveh plain, with its many Christian villages.
In one camp, in the grounds of Mar Elias Church, they were putting up their Christmas crib. It was in a tent, a tent like those which had been the shelter for families who had had to flee from their homes, their culture, their churches. As they put up the tent, and placed the nativity figures in it, of Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child, with the shepherds and the angels, it was a indeed a reminder of the reality of the Incarnation: God chose to come down into our midst – he pitched his tent among us.
The advance of ISIS forces, with their distorted fanatical interpretation of Islam, and appalling associated brutality, echoes the invasion of the Mongols centuries earlier, which likewise had devastating consequences for the Christian population of what is now Iraq. Christians and Christianity in the Middle East are under threat as never before. They find themselves ground so often between upper and nether millstones – between the conflict between Sunni and Shia, or between Israel and Palestine.
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Right now, in Syria and Iraq, militant Islamists are taking over churches by force and turning them in to mosques. In the Church of England, apparently, all that’s needed is an ask. On March 6, in the heart of London, St. John’s Waterloo hosted a Muslim prayer service or “Jummah” in the sanctuary, on consecrated ground. Apparently the “Inclusive Jummah” was exclusive of anything Christian—hence what appears to be the covering up of all Christian imagery so as not to offend the worshippers.
Can you think of anything more bewildering, more offensive to Anglican followers of Jesus Christ and others who are suffering persecution at the hands of radical Muslims—watching their children beheaded by ISIS in places like Mosul, Iraq because they would not deny Jesus Christ? Watching their loved ones burned alive in hundreds of Anglican churches in Northern Nigeria by members of Boko Haram? Watching their relatives and friends be blown up during Sunday worship services by Islamic extremists in Pakistan?
Would it seem to them simply “a strange and erroneous opinion”?
And what sense could they possibly make of the relative silence and inaction of the bishops in the Church of England who are overseers of this church—the Bishop of Southwark, the area bishop who directly oversees this congregation, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury who is, apparently, the patron of St. John’s?
Well, there has been an “apology” by the Vicar of St. John’s, in a joint statement from the Bishop of Southwark. But in fact it isn’t an apology at all. The apology is only for the “offence” that it caused, for the “infringement” of the “guidelines and framework” of the Church of England. There is no acknowledgement that this service denied a core doctrine of the Christian faith. No acknowledgement that it was simply wrong to cover up Christian symbols and to permit a prayer service that begins with the assertion that only Allah is God and Muhammed his prophet.
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In his sermon the Archbishop said: "The world needs the witness of those who have made the journey from enemy to friend, who are no longer strangers and aliens, who are being built together into an altogether different community in the household of God. And if there is any community who knows this, not simply in heads but in hearts, it is here in Northern Ireland.
"There remain huge challenges, because reconciliation is a fragile flower that always finds itself in the cold climate of the human heart, and can only be nurtured by the warmth of love, of fellowship, of mutuality, of the Spirit of God from whom it comes.
"Despite those challenges you have embarked with enormous courage on the long road to reconciliation and you are the symbol of hope for so many around the world. Don’t give up. Make it work. It is a gift of God toyouforthe world. It is held in your hands as a treasure. It is something that comes from the peace of God.”
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As our nation honours at this service all of you who served in Afghanistan – forces personnel and many others, alongside so many of other nations – I ask you to hear those same words today, reverberating around our land: great is your faithfulness. You know about faithfulness.
Today is a moment for us to say thank you: thank you to all who served, whatever your role.
We thank you for your faithfulness: you who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured. I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.
We also thank those of you who stayed behind, who let your loved ones go
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[At the]International Bankers’ banquet on Wednesday night...the evening’s highlight was the speech by (old Etonian) Archbishop of Canterbury, a former school friend of livery master Mark Seligman. Justin Welby mused that “we all inherit baggage from our predecessors” and reassured the audience: “We [the Church] know more about losing the plot than any of you”. Banks should “change the way they operate and interact.” The impact was immediate. One top banker in the audience, who won a sweepstake on the length of the Archbishop’s speech (16m 21s), was about to pocket the winnings. He then thought better of it. And offered the money to charity.
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Armed Forces charity bosses believe the full impact of the Afghanistan conflict is "yet to be seen" as the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and senior members of the Royal Family prepare for a service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, and Prince Harry - who served two tours during the conflict - will also attend tomorrow's ceremony, held to mark the end of combat operations in the country, honour veterans of the campaign and remember the servicemen and women who lost their lives.
The families of some of those killed will also take part in the commemorations and v eterans of the 13-year campaign will march past the cathedral in a parade.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury...[Tuesday] night hosted a reception for inter-religious and community leaders at Lambeth Palace.
Speaking at the annual event, which brings together members different faith groups to foster relationships, Archbishop Justin Welby reflected on the theme of reconciliation, which is one of his ministry priorities.
The event was attended by a wide range of people from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Christian traditions.
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As a Christian it is my deepest conviction that in Jesus Christ, God comes to call every one He has made. Everyone has been summoned in Jesus Christ. For in Jesus Christ, God has poured out his love and his grace, his forgiveness and his mercy, his faithfulness. God would not be doing this without you or I.
Evangelism is then a joyful proclamation of what has happened. It’s the news of Jesus Christ. His life as the light breaking into this dark world for us. His death as the fount of our redemption. His resurrection as the hope of all. This news must be told, or how will people know?
We live in a world where hope is in increasingly short supply. Cynicism about politics is the opposite of hope. Fear is the opposite of hope. Where there is no hope we turn on each other to give ourselves security – temporarily, briefly. When we’re filled with hope, all things become manageable, even the greatest fears. Who can keep quiet about such a fact?
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Without becoming naïve, people needed to have greater faith in the “other”, Lord Williams said, and reject political and media rhetoric that fosters panic and mistrust of politicians, people in public life, organisations or charities.
“Our politics and our media really thrive on mistrust,” he said. “It seems the basic emotion we’re encouraged to feel by quite a lot of political and media rhetoric is a sort of mild, subdued panic.
“There comes to be a corrosive, circular, enclosed world in which what you are always longing for is a good reason to not trust someone. I don’t think that can be good for us.”
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The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea to Lambeth Palace yesterday.
Archbishop Paul Kim is visiting London and Canterbury with directors from the Christian Broadcasting System of Korea (CBS) to give them a better understanding of the Anglican Communion.
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I am going to speak today, principally, about why discipleship compels us to be concerned with matters of politics and active participation in politics, and a little about some of the issues we face.
We should never lose sight of the fact, when we are engaging in politics as to why it matters so much. We have the great good fortune, whichever party we support, whichever part of politics we come from, to be able to do that without fear in this country. And let us today remember that in many parts of the world, and particularly in Northern Iraq, in parts of Libya, in Northern Nigeria, that were we to gather in a room like this today, it would be almost certainly the cause of our death. And usually in a very terrible way.
And so the business of engagement in politics is in part a celebration of what we have in this country. And a proclamation that we are deeply committed to a society where freedom of expression and justice are at its heart. Where nobody is excluded because they are poor or rich, or one ethnic background or another or a sexuality. But they are all included with equal value in their opinions.
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The Church of England’s “Shared Conversations” were officially launched in a low key manner at the February Synod: the website http://www.sharedconversations.org/ went live, and two booklets were published under the title “Grace and Disagreement”. The first of these booklets, subtitled “Thinking through the Process”, explains how facilitated discussions around the divisions over sexuality were recommended by the Pilling Report of November 2013. We now have a clear insight into the philosophy behind these “Conversation” meetings which begin after Easter, and the questions those taking part are going to grapple with on our behalf.
the guidance given in this booklet does not seek to defend and uphold that teaching (as one might expect from an official publication) but repeatedly assumes that it is up for negotiation, and even that those who still believe in it are the minority. The booklet tries to be “neutral” in giving equal weight to different views, and moves towards the conclusion that the important thing is not whether homosexual relationships are right or wrong in the eyes of God (since apparently we cannot ultimately know this for certain), but how we reach a place of “Good Disagreement” and model it to a world where bitter and even violent conflict is often the default position.
There is a positive reference to discussing the suggestion in the Pilling Report of “Pastoral Accommodation”, whereby the Church would retain its traditional understanding of marriage, but allow services of prayer for Dioceses and congregations to “mark” commitment, virtue and faith in a same sex relationship. A version of this has been agreed by the Church of Scotland, whose report is commended for further study in the companion booklet (along with other essays written from different viewpoints). The author denies categorically that the Conversations have a pre-agreed outcome or that they will be manipulated in any way. This is despite the clear steer towards a “mixed economy”, based on an understanding of church as having almost limitless diversity, because of uncertainty about truth. The whole tenor of the document assumes that no matter how far apart and incompatible the views of the participants, because of “the warmth of shared faith” (Pilling), unity in the institution can be maintained.
In terms of relating to the worldwide Anglican Communion, the document shows awareness of how a decision for example to bless same sex relationships in the C of E could damage relationships and cause mission problems in other Provinces. The “Continuing Indaba” project of the Anglican Communion Office is endorsed as a solution: it has had a clear influence on the plan for Shared Conversations. However, it was previous incarnations of this Indaba process as used by American and Canadian revisionists, promoting “conversation” while facts were created on the ground in the blessing of same sex relationships and appointment of non-celibate gay clergy and Bishops, which split the Communion in 2003. Its principles and methods have been rejected as wrong by what has become the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans or the GAFCON movement. In a recent Pastoral Letter the GAFCON Primates say:
“we reject the process of “Indaba” as it is being implemented. Rather than seeking true resolution, it has been consistently manipulated only to recruit people to unbiblical positions. “Indaba” as currently practiced, is a fiction advancing human desires that are not informed by Gospel truth.”
This recent history has been airbrushed out of the “Grace and Disagreement” document.
The deliberate lack of clarity on theological foundations underlying the Conversations will be seen by many as a denial of the truth of the Gospel and undermining the ethical witness of the Church. Many orthodox Anglicans believe that the Conversation process is biased towards a revisionist agenda, and irredeemably flawed...
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"The terrible cruelty of the murders in Denmark, Libya and Nigeria call for deep compassion for the bereaved and killed. The killers seem to rejoice in ever more extreme acts carried out to inflict ever greater terror. We must all weep with those affected, and know that in the love of Christ all evil will be overcome.
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Dr Martin Davie, a widely respected Church of England theologian, has exposed serious flaws in ‘Living Reconciliation’, a book published recently by the Anglican Communion Office to champion its ‘Continuing Indaba’ project.
While recognizing that there are some helpful insights, he describes the book as ‘sadly lacking’ because it offers a highly distorted account of reconciliation, one that is not grounded in the teaching of the Bible, despite the claim by the Anglican Communion Office that ‘The Bible is central.’ See here.
Dr Davie shows that biblically the ministry of reconciliation is first and foremost evangelism and he writes ‘The New Testament’s emphasis is not on people learning to live with what divides then, but learning to live out what unites them’. In sharp contrast, the writers of ‘Living Reconciliation’ are focused inwards on what they see as the pressing need to live with difference within the institutional Church.
Furthermore, there seems to be no limit on what those differences may be. The book assumes that the deeply divisive teaching of such Anglican Churches as the Episcopal Church of the United States on same-sex sexual relationships are within the bounds of what is acceptable within a fellowship of Churches.
But the problem goes well beyond this particular flash point. Dr Davie sees that the 'Continuing Indaba' model of reconciliation actually undermines the Anglican Communion’s witness to the gospel because it is ‘effectively a blank cheque for the acceptance of any and every possible form of deviation from New Testament Christianity.’
The review is published by the Church of England Evangelical Council and can be found at http://www.ceec.info. It is a powerful reminder of how essential GAFCON is for the future of the Anglican Communion when confusion about the gospel is actually being encouraged by its central institutions.
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Seventy years ago our nations and peoples were at war. Over three days in February allied bombers brought death and destruction on a scale and with a ferocity it is impossible to imagine. In the rage of war our hearts inevitably harden and increasingly brutal and devastating force is unleashed.
Walking together as friends requires talking together in truth. As Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf challenges us: “To remember wrongdoing untruthfully is to act unjustly.”
Much debate surrounds this most controversial raid of the allied bombing campaign. Whatever the arguments, events here seventy years ago left a deep wound and diminished all our humanity. So as a follower of Jesus I stand here among you with a profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow.
Healing such wounds requires enemies to embark on the journey to become friends, which starts with our memories of the hurt we have suffered and ends with a shared understanding of the hurt we have caused each other.
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Anglicans gathered with other faith leaders in London to set recommendations for how faith communities can work collaboratively, together with governments and national and international stakeholders, to end sexual violence in conflict. The two day inter-faith consultation was convened by the We Will Speak Out coalition and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office – see our coverage of the meeting here.
The Anglicans taking part in the meeting were: Mathilde Nkwirikiye (Anglican Church of Burundi), Archbishop Henri Isingoma (Anglican Church of Congo), Revd Joseph Bilal (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan), Vijula Arulanantham (Church of Ceylon), Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil), Bishop Margaret Vertue (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Ellinah Ntfombi Wamukoya (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Christopher Cocksworth (Church of England) and Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Church of England).
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Read the introduction to the release of the 2 booklets
Booklet 1: Essays for Participants from Phil Groves [Continuing Indaba], Loveday Alexander [Liberal], Ian Paul [Open Evangelical], and a further one used by the Church of Scotland when deciding to permit clergy living in sexually immorality to be ordained [more about the resulting splits here and here].
Booklet 2: 'The thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church'
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Dr Martin Davie is tutor in doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and served at Theological Consultant to the House of Bishops
Through all our differences we belong to one another: not through our choice, but God’s. Those who follow Christ are relatives – we are related through our Shepherd. You may choose your friends, but you are stuck with your relatives.
So we do not have the option, if we love one another in the way that Jesus instructs us, simply to ditch those with whom we disagree. You do not chuck out members of the family: you love them and seek their well-being, even when you argue. (p.xiii)
The Bible (see Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 1 Timothy 1:19-20) and the Christian tradition would both disagree with the Archbishop’s argument. They would hold that it is legitimate to exercise the disciplinary power (the ‘power of the keys’) granted by Christ to his Church (Matthew 16:19, 18:18, John 20:23) by excluding people from the Christian community.
The theological rationale for the exercise of discipline by the Church in New Testament times and subsequently is helpfully explained by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship. In his chapter on the Church as the community on the saints Bonhoeffer writes that the Church:
…is a community of men and women who have genuinely encountered the grace of God, and who walk worthily of the gospel by not casting that grace recklessly away.
In his chapter on ‘The visible community’ Bonhoeffer also makes clear that such discipline must extend not only to sinful behaviour, but also to heretical teaching:
It is not always easy to see where a legitimate school of thought ends and heresy begins. That is why a doctrine may be tolerated in one Church and proscribed as heresy in another (Revelation 2:6, 15ff). But once a heresy has become an open scandal it must of necessity be proscribed. The heretical teacher must be excommunicated and all personal intercourse with him avoided (Galatians 1:8, 1 Corinthians 16:22, Titus 3:10, 2 John 10ff). The word of pure proclamation must visibly bind and loose. The space which the Church claims for its proclamation and order is thus made clear as an ordinance of divine appointment.
In summary therefore, although Living Reconciliation provides us with a useful reminder of a number of things that all Christians need to bear in mind, it does not provide us with a useful blueprint for the future of the Anglican Communion. This is because its account of what reconciliation involves does not do justice to what the New Testament teaches about reconciliation and because its emphasis on living with difference and celebrating diversity fails to do justice to the need to reject forms of theology and practice that are contrary to the message of reconciliation given to the Apostles. A blanket affirmation of difference and diversity simply will not do.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was “often deeply embarrassed” by some failings of the Church of England in tackling anti-Semitism,
Justin Welby said people should be shocked by the rise in anti-Semitism and described it as “blasphemy”, as he hosted the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism at Lambeth Palace.
The Archbishop said the spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK and the Paris terror attack on a Jewish supermarket had made the report more timely. “The need for increased police patrolling of Jewish neighbourhoods in response to security concerns was a “peculiar and remarkable obscenity when we are in the midst of commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz”, he said.
The problem of anti-Semitism was “deeply embedded in our history and the culture of Western Europe”, the Archbishop acknowledged as he praised the all-party group for highlighting “the stark reality of rising anti-Semitism in this country and the key responses necessary to counter it”.
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and Interview with David Porter and Malcolm Brown: Welby Scheme: ‘It’s Not Necessarily About Sitting Down Arguing Over The Scriptures' - Porter
and for comment on Facilited Conversations and Reconciliation CEEC: Martin Davie on ‘Living Reconciliation’
Question 31 asked today:
Question: Can the House confirm whether or not the report of the meeting between the LGBTI Coalition and David Porter concerning the Shared Conversations about sexuality which was posted on the Changing Attitude website on 23 January is accurate? If it is accurate, how is it compatible with what was said about the purpose of the Shared Conversations in GS Misc 1083?
The Bishop of Sheffield to reply on behalf of the Chair
Answer: Private Conversations have been offered and held with individuals and groups from a range of views and constituencies within the church to enable the process to move forward addressing the concerns that each have expressed. I am assured that what has been said at all of these private meetings is in keeping with the purposes of the conversations as set out in GS Misc 1083
Update: there were two supplementary questions of which this a rough record:
Christopher Hobbs "in the light of that Changing Attitude Report which should" [not have been given] asked whether there were plans for a Synod debate on the results of the facilited conversations. The Bishop of Sheffield stated that it was planned to bring it to Synod in July 2016 but the the shape of that had not been determined.
Simon Butler asked about the safety of LGBT persons to disclose information in the facilitated conversations including their bishops not attending. The Bishop of Sheffield said there had not been agreement in the House of Bishops so it would be dealt with on a diocese by diocese basis, although the planning for the conversations had been designed for them to be as safe as possible, but it was for people attending to take responsibility for the extent they disclosed information.
More information will be provided when the audio is available.
...the biggest hill to climb is that at every point in the church we might be so urged on by the love of Christ, the good news of salvation, that we break the historic pattern, which in many parts of our church goes back centuries, and become those who with all our faults, all our failings, all our divisions and sins and misunderstanding – because, let us be clear, if we wait until we’re fit to witness, we will wait forever – we become those who, with all those drawbacks, are nevertheless humble, gentle, transparent, hospitable witnesses to Jesus Christ, so that the world may know.
That is a challenge which takes us straight back to the life of the local church or chaplaincy, to the cathedral, to every point at which there is a Christian, because at every point at which there is a Christian there is a witness. And it takes us back here to be those who serve and love the witnesses, so that they are liberated to a joyful ministry of witness. All that we are doing here must be held in that context of the worship of God and the sharing of the good news.
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How did you decide to focus on baptism, the Bible, the Eucharist, and prayer as the four essential elements of the Christian life to write about?
Dr. Williams: Simply by looking at what Christians actually do to announce that they’re Christians, throughout the ages and throughout the world. It would be hard to recognize as Christian a body that had none of these practices. And all are mandated by Jesus in different ways: he tells his friends to evangelize and baptize, to search the Scriptures, to break bread in his memory, so as to receive his life into theirs, and to pray.
The Bible is a collection of books written over centuries. How do they all fit together in a cohesive message?
Dr. Williams: The cohesion comes through the fact that it is the set of texts read and accepted in a cohesive community—the community of those whose lives are being shaped by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Christ is the center of Scripture for the Christian and provides the perspective in which diversity can be held in the right kind of tension. And the church both gives Scripture its unity be treading it in the Spirit of Christ and receives its unity from Scripture as the book which provides a universal common language.
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...Mr McKillop stresses that credit unions are only an alternative to payday lenders, not a competitor. “The model of very short-term lending is not good as a form of financial help. So though many credit unions can make instant loans, they will look at your finances and see if this is a one-off, a way for you to get back on top of your money.”
Last June, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, launched a scheme to promote credit unions in churches and train volunteers to give financial advice. Martin Groombridge, chief executive of London Capital Credit Union, said it “definitely raised our profile”. Piloted in London and Liverpool, the scheme is set to be introduced around the UK in about a year, potentially marketing credit unions to hundreds of thousands more people.
The Rev Paul Collier, vicar at Copleston church and community centre in Peckham, south London, said debt and payday loans came up as a big concern in his conversations with local organisations, schools and other faith communities. “The older members of our congregation were educated by their parents to avoid debt at all costs, but many have seen their children getting into deep trouble,” he said.
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David Porter is Director of Reconciliation to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Malcolm Brown is Director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division in the Church of England
Documents from Church of Scotland's Decision to be used.
Listen to it all [Soundcloud] [about 11 minutes long] and see also for background David Porter Lays Out Justin Welby’s Sexual Immorality Plans for the CofE
Interviewer: So I’m here with Malcolm Brown and David Porter and we’re going to talk about the College of Bishops Meeting and what might happen at the College in the week ahead.
Malcolm, how have we got from the Pilling Report to what’s going to be happening at the College of Bishops this week:
Malcolm Brown: Well as you know the Pilling Report actually recommended a process of conversations with facilitators as one of its key recommendations given the intractable nature within the church of some of the questions that it looked at. I think it is common knowledge that the Pilling Report was not, or the Pilling Group, wasn’t unanimous - there was a minority report from one of the bishops, but I think the mood of the whole group, including the bishop who wrote the minority report, was that the experience of sitting down together, and it did actually take about two years for the Pilling Group to come to its report, that process had been extremely eye-opening for everybody who was involved.
I think whether it was the right way of doing this or not, the group was brought together as a bunch of bishops and advisers whose views were very much at odds with each other from the start. Now those didn’t coalesce into an agreement or a consensus but what did happen was that each of them heard a lot from why each of them believed what they did. They began to take each other seriously as people journeying in faith, and even though that did not lead them onto the same journey, it led them into a degree of respect for each other they had never really plumbed before. So the recommendation to move to conversations, carefully designed, with facilitation, across the whole church in fact, is an attempt to say that the real fruit of the Pilling Report wasn’t the attempt, doomed attempt perhaps, to come to agreement, it was the fact that we had learnt to respect each other in new ways, and to understand something of why people who disagreed profoundly, believed with such passion the things that they did.
Interviewer: David can you tell us something about the process that the Bishops are going to be engaged in over the next few days?
David Porter: Well quite simply it is what is says on the tin, it is a process of shared conversation. It is about creating space that they can feel a certain amount of confidence and because somebody’s there holding the ring so that all voices will be heard, that people will be able to engage with each other in a respectful way, to come and to talk about the change that we see in the culture around us in relation to questions of human sexuality and the diversity that exists within the church about how we should respond as people of faith to that. And the process that we have designed is aiming to bring the bishops through a series of conversations where they themselves draw on the various resources, materials that have been provided, their own experience, their own knowledge, their own understanding of Scripture, to look at various aspects of this challenge about what actually is going on out there – how are different groups within the church and different perspectives in the church being held and articulated – and then how do they as bishops respond to that, how do they see that impacts on the church’s mission, the church’s self-understanding.
So that’s the nature of the process.
It’s not sitting down talking to text, it’s not talking about the Pilling Report, it’s not necessarily sitting down arguing over the scripture, although I am sure a certain amount of Biblical discourse will take place.
It’s about saying to busy leaders, as with all of the church, Let’s just take a breath, create the space and talk and see how we then can get a greater understanding of what we think our response as a church should be and why we differ on that.
Interviewer: What do you think would be the ideal outcome? You say you have designed, there have been people who have designed the process. What would be the ideal outcome that that process has been designed to elicit?
David Porter: For me the ideal outcome will be that people will be able to articulate with a measure of empathy the views of others that they don’t agree with, that allows them therefore to see in their relationships with them that they also are seeking to be faithful to the Tradition of the Church, the teaching of Scripture and the Calling of Christ - in our Mission to the world. And that we develop that rapport, that capacity to Disagree Well that means that when we get to the process which is beyond the shared conversations when decisions will need to be made, because you can’t leave it in this space forever, the way that we approach the making of those decisions is done in a way that honours the fact that we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and that even though we disagree, we are going to do that in a way that reflects that reality as much as the reality of our own convictions on these issues.
Malcolm Brown: There’s also something lurking here that’s about some things that the church is particularly good at or ought to be good at and that’s offering the world in general a different model of how you can conduct rancorous debate, really difficult debate. And a parallel I’ve drawn once or twice is with the very, very different issue of fracking where my department is caught up in that at the moment, and where a senior geophysicist said to me a while ago: ‘there’s almost no space for rational discussion if this. Everything is taken to be pushing you to one pole or the other in the argument.” And that is actually true of so many areas of our public life – that debate isn’t about where can we agree, where to we disagree, it’s about I’m right, you must therefore not just be wrong but Bad. Now I don’t think actually that is how the church through the centuries has conducted itself. We’ve had our differences, sometimes they’ve been quite bitter, but we’ve also had other ways of doing things which reflect more our commitment to the mind of Christ and the way in which Reconciliation between warring factions was somewhere quite central in His ministry. And if we can get this right, and that’s an if, I think we have a gift here that others may want to emulate.
David Porter: And I think that highlights how this is actually different from happened under the Women Bishops Process, because people are saying this is facilitated conversations, and yes the Women Bishops Process was with a goal in mind because the church had expressed its overwhelming mind. It had reached a legislative cul-de-sac and we used facilitated conversation with a goal to move out of that cul-de-sac and get a way forward.
We are using the Process of Conversation, because what that process showed us was that sitting round talking in a different context that isn’t in the debating forum or the legislative forum does change the game. We are using the lesson of that, but not with the same goal in mind. We are not facilitating this towards an outcome. We are facilitating it towards a shaping of the relationship so that when people do get to the point where outcomes are important and important decisions have to be made, this witness to how, is “look how these Christians love one another” because of how they Disagree Well.”
Interviewer: You’ve both been responsible for drawing up some of the materials that will inform the discussions as they go ahead; have you got a word about what people can expect to find there?
Malcolm Brown: First of all I hope that the materials will lead them very gently and carefully through the process that David has outlined so that some of the fears that are not certainly intended to be substantiated are dispelled. There is a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations about hidden agendas and things like that. I hope that we’ve unpacked that sufficiently in the light of Pilling indeed to show that that isn’t the case. That this is as David has described it.
So, there is a lot of process, there’s a lot of reassurance I hope, that says that this is what it says it is and it’s not something hidden.
There’s also a certain amount of modestly academic material that we are sharing with participants. This isn’t by way of discussion papers, this isn’t about saying what do you think of this, what do you think of that, but it is so that those who participate will mainly have at least a rudimentary body of shared reading. They will have read the same things we hope, and will therefore at least understand that some of the things they may not have been exposed to before are actually quite serious arguments. So for instance there are some things that the Pilling Report attempted and didn’t do very well, there are other things that Pilling didn’t even attempt.
On Scripture which is very central to all these arguments, Pilling began to open up some of the discussion among scholars, but in the case of the resources for the Conversations we’ve gone to scholars who have a higher standing among Biblical scholars, who I hope are going to be able to present their case in a way that those who disagree with it can at least see the sense of. These are scholars who do not try to overclaim, they are aware of the stronger and the weaker arguments in support of their position but they take very different viewpoints.
We’ve also tried to expand a bit on the international experience of talking about sexuality within the Anglican Communion, and most interestingly we’ve borrowed, with permission, a fascinating paper that was debated at the Church of Scotland General Assembly back in May on how churches through history have dealt with profound disagreement ..
David Porter: and the other material we have provided is some reflection on what a Process of Conversation is about, and the emphasis being that by and large a lot of people will not change their view and their understandings of process of this, but they may change as people and how they hold that view in relation to the Other. And that reflection on what the process emphasises that – emphasises our responsibility to those we disagree with, as brothers and sisters in Christ. It talks about if you do win the argument how do you care for those who are on the other side of that debate. Because this is as important, at how we conduct it is as important, as whatever conclusions we come to. And that is what we are trying to emphasise through the shared conversations. That we need to give attention to this, as much as the issues under discussion.
Interviewer: David Porter Malcolm Brown thank you very much.
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The choice to respond in faith or not is right through the Bible. The choice of truth and error is right through the Bible. In the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, we see above all in the history of Israel and in the teaching of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 30:11 ff) and all those books that link in closely to that pivotal book of the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy alone the word ‘choose’ comes more than 20 times; it is fundamental to our understanding of what it is to relate to God and to the world.
We are those who have space, who have free will, who have choice – and then bear the consequences.
For these reasons, even more fundamentally than international law, freedom of religion is a fundamental human right – now enshrined in international law – and should be treated as equal, not subordinate, to other human rights. And for those of us who are Christians, let’s just be quite clear that the church, including the Church of England, has a poor record in this as in many other areas, but perhaps in the last 300 years has begun to learn a little of where it went wrong.
Because human beings are in the image of God, our religious beliefs are a core part of what it is to be human. They form us into who we are; they provide foundations for our deepest convictions, and motivations for our sincerest actions.
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Creativity is a basic human function, and a good economy is one that enables creativity to happen. That is why full employment matters, investment in education is essential, skills development is core, and businesses of all kinds should be given the space to develop and create wealth (and to fail), to create employment and prosperity for the society in which they live, it is a God-given call and function.
The market is an extraordinarily efficient mechanism of distribution in a complex society and hugely liberating of human creativity. No better form of allocation of resources has been found, and the alternatives have always led to inhumanity or even tyranny. At the same time the market cannot create or sustain the shared morality needed to ensure that it works carefully and lovingly at every level.
Adam Smith famously spoke with equal conviction of the dangers of market manipulation as he did of the invisible hand. The experience of 2008 shows that the complexity of human motivation and greed can never be left to the market to deal with. There is no such thing as a level playing field if human beings are involved, and there is no such thing as a fully fair and free market. It doesn't exist.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has posted a blog warning Christians not to tweet their disagreements. Electronic communication, he says, lacks the human touch, and in particular the kinds of modulations of tone and the face-to-face aspects of relationships which make it possible to disagree productively.
“Social media does not show tears in the eye, a hand on the arm when saying something painful, body language that speaks of inner turmoil, deep distress – even gentle respect. It is simply there – usually forever,” he writes.
This seems at first sight ungrateful: there must be people who have turned to God because the internet made them lose their faith in humanity. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the schism in the Anglican Communion would have happened much more slowly and perhaps not at all without the help of the internet. Quite possibly the Reformation would never have caught on without the printing press, either. Nothing so promotes self-righteous outrage like the honest communication of sincerely held beliefs.
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Tone is equally difficult to achieve; electronic media has no volume control. The US President Teddy Roosevelt spoke of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Electronic media speaks loudly and carries a big stick – through it we have no other means of speaking, especially in the compressed form that is often used.
For disputes within church communities, Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel makes it quite clear that personal interaction is essential – yet all of us feel that when someone has done something wrong, we should all say so! Electronic media breaks through locked doors, and pierces people painfully. It is not for all of us to set everyone right on everything. There’s a point at which we need to leave it to those who know people to speak to them personally and quietly – in spaces where the tone is subtle and full of love. That is how people can be put back together rather than torn apart and left lying around in electronic media space.
Love often says don’t tweet. Love often says don’t write. Love often says if you must rebuke, then do so in person and with touch – with an arm around the shoulder and tears in your eyes that can be seen by the person being rebuked.
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David Sheppard, in his years in Liverpool, worked hand-in-glove with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Derek Worlock (a third of all Catholics in England are in the province of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool) , and between them they transformed the attitude of the city. When they both arrived, within a few months of each other, they found a city that was still sectarian: it had both the largest Orange Lodge, the Protestant community, outside Ireland, and also the largest branch of Sinn Fein, the nationalist political wing of the then IRA outside of IReland. It was a place of riots. John Lennon sung Imagine - “Imagine there is no heaven” - was written after watching the inter-sectarian fighting in Liverpool. Yet Sheppard and Worlock lived together in harmony, met and prayed together, and set an example which transformed the life of that city and transformed the attitudes of Britain to sectarian difference. In the 1980s there were great riots, the worst riots that Britain has seen until 2011. They tackled with prophetic and powerful words the appalling poverty into which the city had sunk, and they never let up in their work for the common good.
That, as we know, is the theme of this conference, and I want to to explore very briefly some of its more awkward theological angles, to set some context for the next few days.
First of all, to use the old phrase of liberation theology, is God’s bias to the poor. It is very clear in the New Testament reading that we’ve just heard read. We often hear it in our culture as a rather agreeable and heart-warming little ditty about good news for the poor. In the exceptionally hierarchical and deeply unequal society of the time of Jesus it was provocative in the extreme. He had taken the passage, and claimed that in him alone was it fulfilled. It is no wonder that there was outrage.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in New York yesterday for a series of events on economic inequality and the common good convened by Trinity Church Wall Street
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And at the heart of the Genesis story of the creation of human beings is the essential nature of the human being, both male and female, existing to know God intimately and to walk intimately with God. There is an equality of worship, in adoration of the presence of God; there is an equality of revelling and feasting in fellowship with God in the Garden. Equality is a gift in creation, it is the foundation of equality before the law, equality of voice in the public square, equality in righteousness. Walter Brueggemann makes a similar point in his commentary on Isaiah 59. The post exilic community in Israel is deeply flawed not by its lack of worship, of which there is plenty, but by its inequalities in justice, in voice, in inclusion of all who accept Torah, regardless of wealth and status.
The first point to make is thus that inequality contrasts with the basic equality that exists before God. That may well not make it wrong, but as I will come back to when looking at the issues of the use of power, it raises a significant question mark. Is it possible, where there is gross inequality, for equality in worship and fellowship to be maintained?
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Q. In the wake of the attacks in Paris, do you think Islam is a religion of peace?
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A. It’s an incredibly complex question, and as Christians we have to recognize the slightly thin moral ground, the slightly thin moral standing, that we have. We only have to go back to the Balkans 20 years ago and Srebrenica to find Christians killing 7,000 Muslim men. So there’s an element of, Let’s not be too quick to stand in a glass house and throw stones.
However, there is within many faiths, traditions, at the moment, a stream that says: “We need to change things, we need to change them quickly, and the way to do that is through violence.”
There are aspects of Islamic practice and tradition at the moment that involve them in violence, as there are, incidentally, in Christian practice. The answer to that is not to condemn a whole religious tradition with one simple sentence, but nor is it to pretend it’s not happening.
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Colin Coward reports:-
David began by outlining the history which has brought us to where we are from the much more optimistic beginnings nearly a year ago.
It began with the Pilling Report which was struggling to land (as he put it) at the time he was appointed. The Pilling group was an ill-conceived exercise in the first place, ill-conceived in part because formulated by a male only group initially. It was marked by a lack of coherence and incompetence in the Church.
David expressed the hope that things are changing and that we are getting to a more emotionally and relationally intelligent place. I suspect all of us present were profoundly reassured to hear this.
The College of Bishops trial the process
Moving on to the College of Bishops meeting in September when the Shared Conversation process was trialled, David said it didn’t work as hoped because the culture of good facilitation met the culture of the College of Bishops and some of the old school bishops refused to play ball. Good process hit the dysfunctional nature of the Church of England.
The Church of England is the primary problem Province for the Anglican Communion because the other Provinces no longer really know what the Church of England is.
The bishops only allowed a day and a half for the process and ran out of time. Now the regional Conversations will involve 2 nights away to ensure proper process. The intention is to have equal numbers of laity and clergy and men and women, with 20% under 30 and a minimum of two who are openly LGBT or I, together representing the known views around the diocese.
Planning for fracture
The intention is to change the tone of the conversation and take some of the toxicity out of it, acknowledging that there is no agreement between, say, us and Reform. David assumes there will be a fracture and when it happens, it will be small and done with profound sadness, with a measure of grace, disagreeing well. The Conversations are a process in which it is hoped to find grace in each other where there are profound disagreements. Maybe 80% of the C of E will hold together with fractures at either end of the spectrum.
Where do we go from here?
A regional advisory group is being formed, composed of one representative, probably a bishop or senior. Part of the purpose of this group seems to be to reassure the rump of bishops who still don’t want to engage with the process.
David believes the General Synod can’t put off a debate and vote on the core issues affecting the place of LGBTI people in the Church of England beyond the February 2017 meeting. This for me was the most significant new piece information I gained on Tuesday. David does not control the timetable or agenda of General Synod but he does have direct authority from the Archbishop of Canterbury, so this ambition may well be realised...
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The proposals are presented in a report written by Lord Green, a former British trade minister and HSBC chairman, and prepared with outside help from Christopher McLaverty, a former talent leadership chief at BP, an oil supermajor. As much as £2m ($3m) has been set aside to enact the “talent management programme”, which will provide 150 bishops with the means to study at INSEAD’s campus in Fontainebleau, France, over the next two years. The aim is that clergy, who often come into a high-profile post within the church with little training, are given more adequate preparation for their role, including the ability to build and manage a high-functioning support team. “Simply arriving at moments of appointment and then looking to see who might or might not, by a process of amounting to chance, have suitable preparation and gifting, is to abandon all responsibility,” Mr Welby wrote in support of the Green report.
Sending bishops to business school will kickstart a “culture change for the leadership of the church”, the report says. But it admits that the preponderance of phrases such as “talent pool” and “alumni network” peppered throughout the paper may put off more staunch theologians. Yet that hasn’t stopped the language of business breaching the pious institution. In an appendix of Lord Green’s report, the net promoter score (NPS), a loyalty metric developed by Bain & Company, a consultancy, is presented with a straight face as a hypothetical way of evaluating the benefit of the mini-MBA. With a fictionalised NPS of +75 (on a scale of -100 to +100), the church appears to be confident its plans will be well-received.
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Much of England is experiencing economic crisis. Our economy appears to be, in one sense, a tale of two cities – one being a growing and constantly improving London (and the south-east generally), and the other being most, but not all, other cities, alike in that they are each trapped in apparently inevitable decline.
Of course, London has many economic problems of its own. While on a national level entire cities are being cast aside and left to their own devices, one cannot walk the streets of London for long before realising that this national trend is happening at an individual level in this massive city. There is poverty around the corner from every multimillion and multibillion pound industry – individuals and families similarly trapped in apparently inescapable circles of despair.
This sketch of our current plight will not come as news to many. It is the reality we experience and see on a daily basis. And I believe that many of the prescribed remedies that so often accompany this diagnosis are deeply flawed.
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Britain under the Coalition is a country in which the poor are being “left behind” and entire cities “cast aside” because politicians are obsessed with Middle England, the Church of England says today in a damning assessment of the state of the nation.
In a direct and unapologetically “political” intervention timed for the beginning of the General Election campaign, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, warn party leaders are selling a “lie” that economic growth is the answer to Britain’s social problems.
Questioning David Cameron’s slogan “we're all in this together” they condemn inequality as “evil” and dismiss the assumption that the value of communities is in their economic output as a “sin”.
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Entire regions of the country are trapped in an apparently inescapable economic downward spiral. It is "a tale of two cities", and turning the tide will come only through a commitment to solidarity, the Archbishop of Canterbury says.
"The hard truth is that [many cities and towns where there is long-term decline] are in what appear to be lose-lose situations," he says. "Already in decline, the road towards recovery and growth is made even more difficult. . . As the south -east grows, many cities are left feeling abandoned and hopeless."
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The note from the Archbishops, published on Monday, speaks of the "urgency" of the challenges that the Church faces. These include diminishing congregations - attendance has declined by, on average, one per cent a year over recent decades - with an age profile "significantly" higher than that of the general population, and ordination rates "well below" those needed to replace the 40 per cent of the parish clergy who are due to retire in the next ten years.
The current reliance on an increase in individual giving to keep financially afloat is not sustainable, it warns. "The burden of church buildings weighs heavily and reorganisation at parish level is complicated by current procedures."
The Sheffield formula, introduced after the 1974 Sheffield report to determine targets for the number of stipendiary priests in each diocese, and taking into account congregation size, population, area, and number of church buildings, is "no longer generally observed".
The distribution of funds under the Darlow formula (used since 2001 to allocate national funding to dioceses with the fewest resources to assist with their stipends bill) has "no focus on growth, has no relationship to deprivation and involves no mutual accountability".
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The Church of England will no longer be able to carry on its current form unless the downward spiral its membership is reversed “as a matter of urgency”, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned.
It could face a dramatic shortage of priests within a decade as almost half of the current clergy retire, according to the Most Rev Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu.
Meanwhile dwindling numbers in the pews will inevitably plunge the Church into a financial crisis as it grapples with the “burden” of maintaining thousands of historic buildings, they insisted.
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