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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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Listen to it all, carefully from a conference organised in Toronto in 2013.
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
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.
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch History Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
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.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya England / UK * Theology Christology Eschatology
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
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria England / UK
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Poverty * International News & Commentary Central America --El Salvador
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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1. In obedience to the commission that Jesus gave to his disciples the Church’s vocation is to proclaim the good news afresh in each generation. As disciples of our Risen Lord we are called to be loyal to the inheritance of faith which we have received and open to God’s Spirit so that we can be constantly renewed and reformed for the task entrusted to us.
2. The spiritual challenge of reform and renewal is both personal and institutional. A year ago we encouraged the creation of a number of task groups to discern what has been happening in parishes and dioceses, to ponder the implications of the From Anecdote to Evidence findings and to reflect on the experience dioceses have had in developing their mission and ministry. The groups were asked to explore specific aspects of the institutional life of the Church of England, where on the face of it, there appeared to be scope for significant change.
3. The work of these four groups - on the discernment and nurture of those called to posts of wide responsibility, on resourcing ministerial education, on the future deployment of our resources more generally and on simplification - is now being published. It will be the main focus for the February meeting of the General Synod.
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“This is an act of the most extraordinary brutality and barbarity This violence is demonic in its attack on the innocent, and cowardly in its denial of the basic human right of freedom of speech.
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In 1947, J R R Tolkien published a celebrated essay on fairy tales in which he insisted that their association with childhood was recent and unfortunate; it misled us into thinking that the genre was not worth serious analysis, not something to “think with”. Marina Warner’s wide-ranging and handsomely produced book Once Upon a Time will reinforce Tolkien’s insistence that these stories are very far from being a simple style of narrative to be outgrown. She surveys the literary history of the fairy tale, from the elegant fables of 17th-century French aristocrats to Angela Carter and beyond, discusses the feminist move to reclaim women’s agency from generations of patronising images of languishing princesses, and offers a particularly interesting analysis of recent film treatments of the classic tales. Her conclusion is that “fairy tales are gradually turning into myths”: paradoxically, in our day, it is adults who seem most to need and use them, because they are just about the only stories we have in common with which to think through deep dilemmas and to keep alive registers of emotion and imagination otherwise being eroded. The fairy tale now has to carry an unprecedented burden of significance, and it is not surprising that modern versions – retellings or radical rewritings, like those of Angela Carter – produce a darker, more complex, less resolved narrative environment than hitherto.
The point is that myths don’t need happy endings; they are not ways of resolving the unfairness of our experience or the frustration of our emotions. They provide a framework for imagining our human situation overall. But the fairy tale has its roots in a mixture of what Warner calls “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping”, depicting the hardest challenges we face as human beings and the possibility of “alternative plot lines”, ways out or through. But when we become culturally more suspicious of ways out, something changes: stories have to be coloured with a tragic palette, a recognition of what can’t be wished away.
This is fair comment up to a point, but there is a bit more to it....
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Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke said he believes that Dr Welby will “evaluate the situation” before confirming a date for the next Lambeth Conference which is due to be held in 2018.
Dr Clarke told The Irish Catholic that Archbishop Welby is still a relatively short time in office and that he needed some time to hear the views of the different Provinces about “what kind of Lambeth do we want, what would be appropriate.”
He said: “I think Archbishop Welby, like the good hard-headed businessman that he was, is taking a step back, trying to survey the scene, and seeing what is the best way for us to take counsel together and in what format.
“He is not a man who is going to be wrong-footed, nor is he going to be frog-marched,” Dr Clarke said.
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Crowther was the apostle of Nigeria and the inspiration of much more. He worked all over but especially in the South South (for the Nigerians here) or Niger Delta, in places like Nembe (which I have been to), Brass, Bonny. It is a hard place now, one can scarcely imagine what travel and health were like then. He was a linguist, a scholar, a translator of scripture, a person of prayer. Above all he loved Jesus Christ and held nothing back in his devotion and discipleship.
Those who opposed him were caught up in their own world. British society of the nineteenth century was overwhelmingly racist, deeply hierarchical. It resisted all sense that God saw things differently. In the India of the time the East India Company, ruling the land, forbade the singing of the Magnificat at evensong, lest phrases about putting down the mighty from their seats and exalting the humble and meek might be understood too well by the populations they ruled. The idea that an African was their equal was literally, unimaginable. Of course they forgot the list of Deacons in Acts 5, including Simeon Niger in Acts 13, or Augustine from North Africa, or the Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip baptised. They lived in an age of certainty in their own superiority. In their eyes not only the gospel, but even the Empire would be at risk if they conceded.
The issue was one of power, and it is power and its handling that so often deceives us into wickedness. Whether as politicians or Bishops, in business or in the family, the aim to dominate is sin. Our model is Christ, who washed feet when he could have ruled. Crowther's consecration reading was do not dominate, and it means just what it says. Each of us must lead by humility.
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Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve Archbishop Justin, and give your power of healing to those who minister to his needs, that Justin may be strengthened in his weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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The Archbishop was regrettably not able to deliver it at Canterbury Cathedral this morning due to suffering from a severe cold.
The Christmas story could be told simply with a happy ending where the gospel reading ended. ‘Shepherds are cold, shepherds see angels, shepherds head into town and see baby, and shepherds disappear into sunrise, happy’. If we end there, Christmas removes us from reality. Christmas becomes something utterly remote, about lives entirely different, fictional, naïve, tidy. That’s not Christmas. Jesus came to the reality of this world to transform that reality - not to take us into some fantasy kind of ‘happy ever after’ but to ‘Good News of great joy for all people.’
It is Good News precisely because God addresses the world as it is. Isaiah speaks of warriors and garments rolled in blood, of yokes on people’s shoulders, of oppression. We know that story; it is the lived reality of so many suffering today. Yet Isaiah announces the news of God bringing light, joy, and exultation, through a child!
It is ‘good news of great joy’ because a helpless baby (who is God) becomes the one who changes this world decisively. Differently to any other figure in human history Jesus breaks in, not to help us escape, but to transform and take hold of our past, our present and our future. This baby brings the promise of forgiveness, the certainty of love and the hope of peace.
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And yet, in the midst of the raging of hunger, disease and want we continue to rejoice in the love of God seen in the helpless, unknown baby in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. In that birth we see God taking on humanity, living every aspect of human life from birth onwards. How can we not be captured by this news? People have been called to worship Jesus in their billions through the centuries, so that with them and the angels we rejoice at the presence of Christ, the promised Saviour, and the hope that he brings to the world.
He comes as the unique Saviour for the world and yet we find ourselves separated by history, creeds, cultures and habits into a church that does not respond to him with one voice. This is not lack of mutual love. In the past year, traveling to 26 countries, I have been overwhelmed by the ecumenical love I have received, as well as by my reception in the Anglican Communion. One of the most moving meetings of the year was that of Christians from all over the middle-east and the Levant coming together at Lambeth Palace to pray for the future of their communities and to testify to their suffering and yet to their hope in Christ. The impressions of that day will not leave me.
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At once very much a man of God yet also a man of the world, the archbishop manages to combine both to put his evangelical faith into action, using his experience of business to push forward issues ranging from ethics in the City to payday lenders and poverty in the UK.
He has formed around him a team of expert advisers and cut through Lambeth Palace bureaucracy to ensure he has the people he needs to turn his vision into reality.
"It's a style of leadership nurtured in the business world. He doesn't mess around, and he has a very clear vision of where he wants to go," says Ruth Gledhill, contributing editor to Christian Today.
"His leadership has meant that you can feel a brightening and lifting of the atmosphere in church - and you think 'maybe we have got a future'.
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“Yet, at this time of great peril, I deeply regret that the British Government seems to be stepping back, rather than stepping up,” writes Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander in The Sunday Telegraph, as he juxtaposed the “no room at the inn” of the Nativity with the horrors being meted out on Christians in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and Sudan. “Just like anti-Semitism or Islamaphobia, anti-Christian persecution must be named for the evil that it is, and challenged systematically by people of faith and of no faith,” he exhorted.
And he pledged that an incoming Labour government will establish a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom along with a multifaith advisory council on religious freedom within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: “Supporting the newly appointed Global Envoy, this will help ensure a strong focus within the Foreign Office,” he assures. And he lauded Baroness Warsi for her commitment to faith and human rights and “the leadership she showed and the seriousness with which she took her responsibilities”, which was, he submits, “widely recognised...”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was so impressed with this homily that he dared to tweet it out to his 68.3k followers, which caused alarm and dismay to some condescending Tories, as though Justin Welby were being indelicately partisan and unacceptably inattentive to the constitutional constraints of his Office. He didn’t endorse any specific content: all he said was that it was “good debate”, yet this is inexplicably deemed to be “poor judgment by Lambeth Palace” (though the Palace didn’t tweet it: the Archbishop did).
We’ve been here before, of course. Last Christmas the tweeting was uncharitably critical of the Archbishop for not being “disciplined” in speaking about Jesus, which was laughably unjustifiable.
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[Archbp Fred] Hiltz also met with Nigel Stock, the bishop at Lambeth, about when and what the next primates’ meeting would look like. Hiltz said that although Welby had invited all primates to indicate support for a meeting, it was unlikely that there would be one before the end of 2015. The primates last met in 2011.
Hiltz also expressed hope that the next primates’ meeting would not be dominated by a single issue. “If we’re going to have a primates’ meeting, we need not ignore the same-sex marriage stuff, but we ought not to allow it to dominate,” he said. “The Archbishop himself said he wants to focus on prayer, evangelism and reconciliation.”
Another significant point of conversation was around the possibility of an Anglican Congress. “I think an Anglican Congress would be a great thing,” said Hiltz. “A Congress that was focussed around the church in and for the world could make for some very interesting conversations.” Although such a Congress would take some time to plan, Hiltz was optimistic about the effects it could have. He noted that the Anglican Consultative Council would have to be the driving force behind it. “It would take a lot of careful planning,” he said, “but I think it is time.” The last Anglican Congress was held in Toronto in 1963.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/hiltz-and-welby-discuss-marriage-canon-reconciliation#sthash.VXWT2mYW.dpuf
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Last week, I visited Sierra Leone very briefly, far too briefly in fact. The purpose of the visit was to meet and talk with faith leaders who have been among those leading the struggle against Ebola. What a difference! Living their lives at risk, passionately and deeply involved in the people around them, they demonstrated a love and a reaching out to the grieving, to the ill and to the frightened that was utterly inspiring. The orphans of Ebola are being cared for, not least due to the generosity from this country. All those I met spoke of that.
What made the difference? The war lords claimed to be Christians, but left no space for Jesus in their lives. On the first Christmas, the shepherds, kings, Mary and Joseph, took the decision to allow God to take the central space in their lives; God who gave them every choice and freedom by revealing Himself space for in the form of a helpless baby. We still remember them for their joy, their generosity, their sacrificial self-giving. King Herod refused space in life for anyone except himself and we remember him for his cruelty.
For me, in all the busyness of Christmas there is one essential: that I gaze again at the reality of Jesus, God himself, in human and helpless form, who comes to rule and reign in this world, not by force but by love, and that seeing Him, I give Him His rightful place in my life.
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In pursuing these goals, the Archbishop cuts a different figure from Rowan Williams, his predecessor. While Lord Williams was a cerebral theologian prone sometimes to obscurity and circumlocution, the current Primate is more of a practical doer, reflecting both his past in industry and his membership of the evangelising wing of the church. He has been a serious voice in the debate on banking ethics. He has also been pragmatic. He did not argue, for example, that the government should step in to quash payday lending. Instead he supported community-based credit unions, which can do a similar job to organisations such as Wonga, but not by charging eye-watering interest rates.
The challenges facing the Archbishop in the year ahead will only grow. Holding together the worldwide Anglican communion, which threatens to split over same sex relationships, will be perhaps his biggest test. At one end of the spectrum, the episcopal church in America has consecrated an openly lesbian bishop. At the other, African bishops have supported harsh anti–gay laws. As the Archbishop recently conceded: “Without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.”
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There is an old saying that, ‘Delegation without preparation is abdication’. When someone responds to the call to take up a senior post there is a pressing need and responsibility to prepare them for the demands of the ministry entrusted to them.
This is true especially for diocesan bishops, but also for all other aspects of the episcopacy, for deans, for leaders of large churches and great churches, in theological colleges and so forth. The Green report sets out a process which enables proper preparation for wider responsibility to be held within a clear Christian context of development of personal spirituality and prayer in order to be equipped and also to be dependent on the grace that we receive through the gift of the Spirit. Not to undertake this seriously is to put unreasonable stress on those in positions of leadership, neglecting to love them as we are called to do. In the midst of any vocational call there remains the constant need to remember the sacredness of the human person....
The Church, gathered and dispersed, stands as a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and God’s own people. The Green report is one of a portfolio of reforms being proposed cover the whole range of ministry, or to be accurate, will do once they are fully rolled out over a period of years. They will be introduced at General Synod in February and there will be opportunities for people to engage with and comment on the proposals. The reforms are rooted in a love for the whole people of God. They begin with the recognition that we can’t simply go on as we are if we are to flourish and grow as the Church of England. Our call is not to manage decline.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury is considering a landmark visit to China amid signs that the communist economic superpower is on course to become world’s “most Christian” country within a generation.
China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming extended the invitation during a meeting with the Most Rev Justin Welby and his wife Caroline at Lambeth Palace last month.
Despite decades of repression in the officially atheist country, Christianity has seen spectacular growth there in recent years.
If it continues at the recent pace, the number of believers in China is expected to overtake that of the US within 15 years and then outstrip those in countries such as Mexico and Brazil soon thereafter.
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The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has waded into the debate over withdrawal from the European Union insisting it could leave the UK “dangerously dependent” on the City.
He said leaving the EU would be a “deeply regressive” step and claimed Britain would have almost nothing else “distinctive” to offer outside it. Going it alone could turn the country into an “offshore financial facility”, he added.
The former Archbishop also said it was also becoming impossible to have a “reasonable conversation” about immigration in the UK at present.
And he suggested that hostility towards the EU was being fuelled by an increasingly assertive sense of English identity, partly as a response to Scottish nationalism.
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The origin of Christmas gifts lies in the Christian tradition that says God gave his son, Jesus, as a gift to bring us life; we reflect that generosity by giving gifts to each other. Of course, no gift, however pricey, can truly reflect the gift God gave the world in sending Jesus to share our suffering on the cross, bear the weight of our wrongdoing and offer us the hope of life.
However, our gifts can, in small ways, reflect and point to the self-giving love of God. But the most meaningful gifts are about expressing life, not luxury. This is especially true if, as money-saving expert Martin Lewis tells us, people feel pressured into tit-for-tat giving at Christmas – buying something equally as luxurious as what they’re given.
There is nothing wrong with giving something small, something that is meaningful and reminds the person that you care for them – something from a charity shop, perhaps. It also gives the recipient the freedom to buy you something similarly small but meaningful.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to reject the culture of consumerism this Christmas and not to feel pressured to lavish expensive gifts on family and friends.
The Most Rev Justin Welby criticised “tit for tat giving” and said that small and meaningful presents gave just the same caring message as those that cost the Earth.
He said that shopping in charity shops, or donating time to loved ones or worthy causes, could be as equally well received and would prevent the sense of dread that accompanies the arrival of credit card bills in the New Year.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has advised cash-strapped families in the UK to show they care about loved ones by buying Christmas presents from charity shops or simply showing kindness.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said that although gifts have become an essential part of the festive period, it is not all about financial outlay and people should not feel pressure to match what others give them.
Writing in the Christmas edition of Radio Times, he said people can show they care with offers of babysitting, dinner invitations to the elderly or giving time to the local community.
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I have spoken to numerous politicians on this, and I know well that, whereas it’s easy to be cynical, the reality is that there are huge numbers of people, both from government and opposition, all across the spectrum of opposition parties, who are absolutely committed to ensuring the wellbeing of their constituents and all the people in their country.
They are guided by a strong moral compass and we need to recognise that and not always be too cynical about what we see our politicians doing. The issue is how you turn that moral compass into practical action.
If we want to understand what is driving people to the point where they will put up with the shame of having to ask for help from a food bank (and people usually arrive with an unjustified sense of shame); if we want to find the practical solutions that will substantially reduce the numbers of people needing to do so; then the only way we can do this is by a collective effort, drawing on the wisdom of politicians from every political background, of food banks, charities and non-profits working in the sector, of retailers and of Government departments.
You might think from some of yesterday’s coverage, and today’s, that the report is asking the Government to move into the food bank sector. It’s not. It is far more interesting and creative than that.
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More help is needed to prevent families in the UK going hungry, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Justin Welby says food is being wasted in "astonishing" amounts, but hunger "stalks large parts" of the country.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he backed a parliamentary report, to be released on Monday, which aims to end hunger in the UK by 2020.
The report is expected to call for a new publicly-funded body, known as Feeding Britain, to make this happen.
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A few weeks later in England, I was talking to some people – a mum, dad and one child – in a food bank. They were ashamed to be there. The dad talked miserably. He said they had each been skipping a day’s meals once a week in order to have more for the child, but then they needed new tyres for the car so they could get to work at night, and just could not make ends meet. So they had to come to a food bank.
They were treated with respect, love even, by the volunteers from local churches. But they were hungry, and ashamed to be hungry.
I found their plight more shocking. It was less serious, but it was here. And they weren’t careless with what they had – they were just up against it. It shocked me that being up against it at the wrong time brought them to this stage.
There are many like them. But we can do something about it.
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He had not been surprised by the differences he found, which mostly arose from the diversity of very different cultures. He admitted that he disagreed “profoundly” with some of their views. The Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church in the United States are polar opposites, and the Archbishop was circumspect in speaking of both. He voiced his respect for the way that the Nigerians were coping with the pressures they were facing, especially the challenges of violence and corruption. They, and also the church in Pakistan, faced issues that would “buckle any other church”.
And although the church in America almost provoked an open schism with the consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, Welby said his visit had been something of a breakthrough. “It was a real gift in terms of communication. At least there was understanding why we disagreed with each other when we disagreed, rather than simply disagreeing and not understanding each other.” But he added: “The situation there is complicated, to put it mildly.”
Learning to disagree without hatred has been a theme of the Archbishop’s ministry. He argues that “good disagreement” is vital (although some churches did not accept that). He did not want to see the same level of bitterness that had characterised some disputes in the past. There had been a danger, he admitted, of parts of the Anglican Communion drifting into that.
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The Most Rev Justin Welby, in his frankest remarks on the subject to date, said that there could be “a sort of temporary separation”.
The archbishop, who has visited all of the fractious union’s 38 provinces over the past 18 months, said he found himself disagreeing “profoundly” with views espoused by some of them.
“I think, realistically, we’ve got to say that despite all efforts there is a possibility that we will not hold together, or not hold together for a while,” he told The Times. “I could see circumstances in which there could be people moving apart and then coming back together, depending on what else happens.”
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First, the report makes it clear that there is no avoiding the need for the exercise of soft power, and in fact the exercise of hard power (from sanctions to the use of violence) is itself only effective as an addition to the impact of soft power. It is soft power in its many ramifications that makes it possible for this country to exert a benevolent and beneficial influence in the world around.
I saw an example of that when at the degree awards ceremony for Coventry University some two or three weeks ago, one of the best modern universities: 60 per cent of students were from overseas; they are a powerful source of earnings, and they will return home with a brilliant education and an exceptional experience of the UK, in most cases they will be our friends for life.
Secondly, the report points especially to the rapid increase in complexity and what it calls hypersensitivity in the modern world. There has been an introduction of information technology, with more than five billion mobile telephones around the world; we have the growth of access to the world-wide web, which means you can sit in Kaduna and look at what is happening in London, you can look at the shops in New York, you have access to cultural influences of the most extraordinary kind; and the possibilities of this both for governments and for non-state actors are ever more powerful with the advent of the sophistication of modern computers.
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Archbishop Welby says while the event in the Vatican was a unique event, bringing together so many different religious leaders, it's also crucial to build on that momentum with a programme of implemention and he says he believes the Global Freedom Network has the ability to do that.....
In the Church of England, he says, two dioceses are already very involved in teaching and training people in awareness of this issue to help people ask questions of how they invest, where they buy things from and where those goods might be made.....
In the modern slavery bill currently going through the British parliament, he notes, there are obligations on retailers to look at their supply chains....the Anglican leader also says he's been involved in running ethical funds and has seen first hand the impact that they can have on pressuring retailers to stop the use of slavery in the manufacturing supply chains....
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined Pope Francis and other world Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders in Rome today to sign a historic declaration to end modern slavery.
The ground-breaking Global Freedom Network – which launched with backing from Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis in March 2014 [link] – brings together faith leaders in a commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.
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The debate about the monarchy will spring back to life when Her Majesty the Queen dies, as sadly we all must, but the next coronation will still be a huge state occasion, a moment that redefines the nation. That is why, for the first time, people of other faiths will be invited to take part.
That's a fact, in my understanding, although the Church of England will not yet admit it. The Archbishop of Canterbury and other church leaders who will devise and put on the service refuse to talk about a future coronation publicly, saying that to do so while the Queen is still alive would be "very improper". But privately, in conversations over the past 18 months, they have told me they accept the need to be "hospitable" to other faiths.
So Muslims, Hindus, Jews and others can expect an invitation to play some part in this grand occasion, which has been explicitly and exclusively Christian for a thousand years.
This dramatic shift will dismay traditionalists, as did Lord Harries on Friday.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, concluded a two-day visit to the Scottish Episcopal Church last night - bringing to a close his 37 visits to every Province of the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Justin and his wife, Caroline, were hosted by the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
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Evangelism is not a survival strategy for the church, but is instead an activity “central to being the people of God”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.
Because we worship a God revealed in Jesus Christ who was “sent out to sow, to gather, and to draw back in”, as Christians when we evangelise we reflect the nature of God, he said.
Archbishop Justin, who has made evangelism a priority for his ministry, was speaking at the Church Army’s annual general meeting in central London, where he addressed evangelists from across the UK and Ireland.
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Nobody can deny that Mr Welby has tried hard to keep the family intact. He has visited Anglicans in almost every part of the globe and was well received everywhere. But this week he acknowledged the deep divisions which, he told the synod, may be “too much to manage”. Anglicanism, he went on, is in a state so delicate that “without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.” Mr Welby also acknowledged for the first time that the splits are so great that the Lambeth conference, a once-a-decade gathering of global Anglican bishops, might never happen again.
The split is mainly but not solely over same-sex relations. At one end of the spectrum, the Episcopal church in America has consecrated an openly lesbian bishop; at the other end, African bishops have supported harsh anti-gay laws. By comparison, the issue of female bishops is not so divisive. But developing-world conservatives are also dismayed when their northern colleagues make liberal theological noises—by suggesting, for example, that Jesus might not be the only way to salvation.
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Amid loud sighs of relief in many quarters, and muffled moans from a traditionalist minority, the Church of England has cleared the last procedural obstacle to the appointment of women bishops. At a meeting on Monday of the church's General Synod, only around 30 of the 480 people present raised their hands against the necessary change in canon law. This means that a woman could be wearing episcopal purple by the end of the year, and a lady could join the ranks of the "lords spiritual"—Anglican prelates who sit in the upper chamber of Parliament—by next spring.
This was a big but expected landmark; a Synod vote two years ago, in which the measure narrowly failed to gain the approval of lay delegates, looks in retrospect like a rather weird anomaly. The change was overwhelmingly favoured by the leadership of the church, the clergy (one-third of which is female), and by public opinion—which matters for a church which aspires to be spiritual voice of a whole nation, however diverse or secular. The feelings of low-church evangelicals who oppose women bishops have to some degree been assuaged by a promise that one of their number will be appointed to high office; among high-church opponents, quite a few have taken up an offer to join the Roman Catholic church. So hard-line opposition to ladies in purple has gradually faded.
If this week is remembered as an important one by church historians, it may be for a different reason: it was the moment when the archbishop of Canterbury finally acknowledged that the Anglican Communion, the global family of churches numbering about 80m of which he is head, may be impossible to hold together.
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Half of the most senior bishoprics in the Church of England could be held by women in ten years’ time, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today after the general synod voted to permit their consecration.
The church was also challenged to end the next area of “prejudice” and appoint its first gay bishop.
The Most Rev Justin Welby hailed a “completely new phase” of the church’s existence and said that it could take as little as ten or 15 years for women to make up half of the house of bishops, the church’s senior leadership.
“It depends on how many people retire,” Archbishop Welby said. The church was building a large pool of candidates for its highest offices where “gender is irrelevant”, although he would not give any indication of which diocese would be the first to be overseen by a woman.
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For decades, interventions of the Archbishop of Canterbury in national debate were like a sporadic bombardment of small pebbles against the door of Downing Street. Justin Welby has changed all that. This week, payday loan companies are facing reform (or in some cases oblivion) as new caps on interest payments come into effect. That the industry finds itself in this position is thanks, in no small part, to it having been hooked around the neck by the Archbishop’s crosier.
Welby has inspired reform of the industry not by trying to set himself up as the leader of the opposition in a cassock, but by acting as an effective leader of the Church of England. His approach to the payday loan industry was not to demand that it be banned, he being aware that an even darker industry of doorstep loan sharks would replace it, but to compete with it head on. He took the church to the needy by supporting credit unions which will do the job of Wonga but without annualised interest rates of 5,853 per cent and threatening letters from fictitious firms of lawyers.
Welby’s intelligence on financial matters stands in direct contrast with that of his predecessor, Rowan Williams, whose pronouncements on current affairs so often came across as those of a lofty professor who had found himself in the wrong lecture hall. Straying from divinity to economics in a piece for this magazine in the middle of the 2008 banking crisis, Williams resorted to a generalised attack on markets and went on to demand a ban on short-selling. This rather missed the point that the traders who had been making money short-selling the shares of banks were only able to do so because they had spotted that the banks were in trouble before anyone else had. Their activities were a symptom, not a cause, of the banking crisis.
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A network of savings clubs in primary schools which could give pupils as young as four years old practical experience of money management is being proposed by the Church of England as part of a drive to raise the level of children’s financial awareness.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings is putting forward plans for a pilot scheme where savings clubs administered by credit unions in primary schools would encourage children to save small, regular amounts of money.
Children would also be given opportunities to take part in the running of the savings clubs, as junior cashiers or bank managers and their practical learning would be reinforced by classroom teaching materials.
The proposed teaching resources would cover areas such as understanding the role money plays in our lives, how to manage money and managing risks and emotions associated with money. The teaching pack would provide practical ideas for schools to promote values such as generosity including charitable giving and fundraising.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has appointed the Revd Anders Litzell as Prior of the Community of St Anselm, a radical new Christian community at Lambeth Palace.
Mr Litzell, 34, is an Anglican priest from Sweden, who has experience of the Pentecostal and Lutheran traditions as well as three provinces of the Anglican Communion. He will pioneer the Community, which launches in September 2015, and direct its worship and work. He will work as Prior under the auspices of the Archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community. Mr Litzell will take up the role on 5th January 2015.
The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full-time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining as non-residential members. The Archbishop hopes that the Community will be definitive in shaping future leaders to serve the common good in a variety of fields, as they immerse themselves in a challenging year of rigorous formation through prayer, study, practical service and community life.
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Working with his Rugby contemporary R. H. Tawney, the seminal Labour thinker, and William Beveridge, the architect of the welfare reforms which sought to banish the five giants of want, idleness, squalor, ignorance and disease, Temple’s book Christianity and Social Order, published in 1942, provided a challenging theological gloss to this vision: “. . . there is no hope of establishing a more Christian social order except through the labour and sacrifice of those in whom the Spirit of Christ is active, and that the first necessity for progress is more and better Christians taking full responsibility as citizens for the political, social and economic system under which they and their fellows live.”
After Temple’s death at the age of 63 after being Archbishop of Canterbury for only 30 months, Bishop Barry of Southwell asked angrily in The Spectator: “Is the Church so rich in prophets that it can afford to squander the gifts of God?” A contrasting view, expressed by Hensley Henson, was that he died just in time “for he had passed away while the streams of opinion in Church and State, of which he became the outstanding symbol and exponent, were at flood, and escaped the experience of their inevitable ebb”.
Although a much different world than that of 60 years ago, the weight of Temple’s greatness is still felt. Once described as “a man so broad, to some he seem’d to be Not one, but all Mankind in Effigy”, his wide informed vision checks our growing narrowness and self-obsession, his realism our Utopian perfectionism, his generosity of heart a worthy riposte to the mood of cynicism and anger epitomising the age and his statesmanship a powerful reminder of what it is to serve as the national church.
O God of light and love, who illumined thy Church through the witness of thy servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Archbishop Justin Welby said: “This week you have gathered to consider how our Anglican Communion can be more effective in working together and collaborating with other faith communities and secular partners to end modern slavery.
“It is a huge and daunting challenge – but it is a task that we must face. Evil will thrive if humanity stands by and does nothing while the most vulnerable suffer at the hands of traffickers and slavers.”
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has told how he broke down in tears at learning of the horror of child abuse within the Church of England.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said the details of sexual abuse dating back decades are “beyond description – terrible” and that he had been profoundly moved by the “shredding effect” of survivors’ experiences.
He also said the full scale of the abuse has not been revealed and that the failure of the Church was greater than other institutions such as children’s homes and the media because it purports to hold itself to a “far, far higher standard”.
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Hanging on by a wing and a prayer, the Lords Spiritual fight for their survival, writes David Maddox
For constitutional geeks the years 1871 and 1920 bear a special significance in terms of reform of that much debated body the House of Lords. The first date was the removal of the Irish Episcopalian bishops from the Upper Chamber, when it was finally accepted that Roman Catholicism and Presbyterian Protestantism were the churches of its peoples. The second was the removal of Welsh bishops, making the Lords Spiritual – as they are collectively known – an English-only body.
It is worth noting that there were never any Scottish bishops given seats in the House of Lords, because of the success of Scotland’s politicians in keeping the Church separate in their negotiations for the 1707 Act of Union.
So with this in mind, Archbishop Justin Welby’s appearance at the Press Gallery lunch yesterday was poignant at a time when political reform, devolution and English votes for English laws are so high on the agenda.
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The UK should not view immigration as a "deep menace", the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.
Part of the country's "strength and brilliance" lay in its long tradition of welcoming foreigners, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said.
But the process of immigration must be managed "prudently" to avoid "over-burdening our communities", he added.
He also said clergy had noticed a rise in "minor-racist, anti-foreigner, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic" sentiment.
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Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said he hasn’t heard directly from the Archbishop of Canterbury whether the next Lambeth Conference will be postponed, but “it’s pretty obvious that in all likelihood it would not be in 2018 because it takes three, four, years to plan.”
Hiltz responded in an interview with the Anglican Journal to media reports that the next Lambeth Conference, for which bishops from across the Anglican Communion usually gather every 10 years and which was expected to be in 2013, would may be delayed, perhaps until 2019 or 2020.
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The death of Stephen Sykes at the end of September — after many years of debilitating illness borne with great courage — has deprived the Anglican family of an unusually resourceful and penetrating theologian, who had a massive influence on a generation of younger theologians learning their trade in the 1960s and ’70s. When I went to Stephen for supervision in my student days, I found a teacher of exceptional commitment and integrity — and a very demanding one, who would relentlessly question clichés, inspirational vagueness, and attempts to be too clever. At a time when British theology departments were rather dominated by a combination of sceptical biblical scholarship and extremely cautious philosophy of religion, it was bracing and encouraging to find someone who believed so strongly in the actual study of doctrine as a serious intellectual exercise. The volume of essays on Christology (Christ, Faith and History) that Stephen edited with John Clayton in 1972 was and remains a significant moment in the revival of British systematic theology.
Part of the impetus for this came from Stephen’s unusual level of acquaintance with continental European theology, and he played a unique role in opening up conversations between continent (especially Germany) and island in areas other than New Testament scholarship. As so often, he saw his role as that of a bridge-builder and catalyst: much of his most important early work was in getting groups of theologians together to collaborate in fresh areas. I had the privilege of working with him and others on a book about Karl Barth in the late ’70s, when Barth was still shamefully little studied in the U.K. But he also produced significant work under his own name alone: a lucid little book on Schleiermacher, studies on atonement and ecclesiology, and of course some really groundbreaking work on Anglican identity. He was never happy with the rather lazy idea that there was no real theological distinctiveness about being Anglican — though he was also very suspicious of what he considered the Anglo-Catholic kidnapping of Anglican identity by means of an unhistorically narrow theology of the episcopate.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby Head of the Anglican Communion and his spouse Mrs Welby, would pay a three- day visit to Ghana, spanning Wednesday, October 29 to Friday, October 31.
The visit would be his first to West Africa, since his enthronement as head of the church in 2012.
Archbishop Welby and his entourage would be met at Kotoka International Airport by Right Reverend Dr Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, Anglican Bishop of Accra and Mr Jon Benjamin, British High Commissioner.
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Interviewed in 1979 when his father Robert Runcie was announced as the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury, James Runcie, then a 20-year-old Cambridge student, told a reporter he wasn’t terribly certain about things of faith. In the years that followed, almost imperceptibly, that started to change. Towards the end of his time at Canterbury the elder Runcie hinted as much. “For our children growing up, music was compulsory, religion was optional.” Now, he said, both his offspring seemed much “more interested” in the latter.
Religion and faith are at the fore in James Runcie’s Grantchester, which premiered on ITV October 6. His fourth novel in the series is due for publication next May. The chief character is a clergyman-cum-sleuth Canon Sidney Chambers (James Norton), whom Runcie cheerfully admits is a loosely based on his late father.
James Runcie builds in characters bearing associations with family and friends. Sidney is named after Sidney Smith, one of his father’s favourite vicars. In the first of the series Chambers is intrigued by a piano-playing German woman who loves Bach (James Runcie’s mother, Lindy, was a piano teacher). “I didn’t intend them to be a fictionalised, alternative biography of my father — and I still hope they aren’t — but one cannot easily escape a strong paternal influence.”
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... As I listened to our prayers of the people, which included ++Justin Welby as ABC, I thought “Why are we including someone who does not see us as part of the Anglican Communion?” Since GAFCON formed the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in 2008 we have been a part of that. I am not saying we shouldn’t pray for ++Justin Welby but should we be including him as a part of our “chain of command” so to speak? In terms of prayers, shouldn't we be praying for the head of FCA Rev Eliud Wabukala.
The ACNA parishioners are members of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. Our clergy orders are valid. ++Justin Welby’s statement confirms that we are formally separate from Canterbury Anglicanism (other than the historical roots). This is reconciliation for me. Being a member of FCA is a great place to be and it represents my understanding of orthodox Anglicanism. ++Justin Welby thank you for the clarification.
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Letting go so that we can be transformed is the hardest thing. Yet the possibility of inner change, of transformation of our lives and of our society, requires us to let go in order to receive from God, through Jesus Christ, all that He offers. While our hands are closed clinging to what we currently have, we cannot receive what He is going to give us. Bishops must not only be those who themselves let go distinctively and decisively, but also those who open the way for communities to come into the new life that God is offering.
A bishop is not a senior manager in a convenient administrative unit for putting together administration, payroll, and deployment of staff to necessary outlets. A bishop is above all a shepherd, carrying their pastoral staff, and like Middle Eastern shepherds generally leading the sheep. This is where the image breaks down a bit, because the people of God are not sheep to be herded, but individuals of infinite value to be loved, encouraged, liberated and empowered, themselves to be witnesses to those who do not know Jesus Christ, and to be themselvesshepherds wherever God has called them.
But for all that to happen, there has to be a letting go.
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