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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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It would make a nice little seasonal home, the real estate agent tells a caller — and with pews included, there will be plenty of place for company to sit.
The former St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Lawrencetown, a registered municipal heritage property built in the 1840s, is up for sale for $22,000.
It was deconsecrated in 2008 and is now owned by Michael Bailey, a wildlife conservationist from Victoria, B.C.
The environmentalist says he learned about the church through friends, and bought it about a year and a half ago.
Read it all.
The Church of England consecrated its first woman bishop on Monday, the culmination of years of efforts by Church modernisers to overcome opposition from traditionalists - one of whom briefly shouted a protest during the service.
More than two decades after the Church allowed women to become priests, 48-year-old mother-of-two the Reverend Libby Lane became Bishop of Stockport in a ceremony at York Minster, a Gothic cathedral in northern England.
The protest came as John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, asked the congregation whether Lane should be consecrated as Bishop.
Read it all.
In a statement shortly after being consecrated, Bishop Libby said she had been encouraged by the thousands of messages of support she has received since the news of her appointment was announced. She said:
"Archbishop Sentamu has observed, "the way that we show our faith and our love for one another is with two simple things, prayer and parties." Today is an occasion of prayer and of party - and I am thrilled that so many want to share in both. I cannot properly express how encouraged I have been in the weeks since the announcement of my nomination, by the thousands of messages I have received with words of congratulation, support and wisdom. I've heard from people of all ages, women and men - people I have known for years, and people I have never met; people from down the road, and people from across the world.
Read it all.
Not surprisingly, a mild sense of panic leaks out of all the reports. I imagined Archbishops standing in the road shouting: "The car is stuck in a ditch! Quick! Grab the tools nearest to hand and get it out!" But, the more I read, the more I worried that the hard questions that needed to be asked had been sidelined: why the vehicle fell into the ditch; whether it needed a different engine and new running gear; and whether it was going in the right direction in the first place.
The failure to get to grips with the terrain is particularly apparent. It is said of the society of which the Church is part that it is a "secularised, materialistic culture, often experienced as a desert for the soul", "built on the . . . presumption that I get to make my life up". This is a troublingly paranoid and unevidenced projection, and it urgently needs to be married to the existing research on cultural values, social change, and the reasons for church decline which could inform it.
As for the nature of the Church, and the priorities for its recovery, it is simply assumed that the improvement depends on more and better clergy; that only congregations can fund it (with a fillip from the Commissioners); and that being a Christian is a matter of "discipleship".
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Secularism
The Church of England has consecrated its first female bishop during a ceremony at York Minster.
The Reverend Libby Lane, 48, has been ordained as the new Bishop of Stockport in front of more than 1,000 people.
The Church formally adopted legislation last November to allow women bishops, in a move which ended a centuries-old tradition of exclusively male bishops.
The move continues to divide some Anglicans. The service was briefly delayed by an opponent of the changes.
Read it all.
A Blackburn vicar has held a 10-minute silence in protest over the upcoming installation of the Bishop of Burnley.
Changes have been made to the Reverend Philip North's ceremony because of his opposition to female bishops.
The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said the arrangements were made "for prayer, not politics".
The Reverend Anne Morris, who serves the same diocese as Rev North, replaced her sermon with the protest over the changes, at St Oswalds in Knuzden.
Read it all.
Hundreds of Ethiopians made a pilgrimage to Liverpool to mark a 2,000-year-old festival.
Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church descended on Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to honour the Timkat tradition.
The festival celebrates Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan with a 24-hour spectacular of singing, chanting and prayer.
One of the highlights of the celebration is the parading of the Tabot – replicas of the tablet of stone on which the 10 commandments were inscribed.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia
...most viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.
Downton Abbey is set in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies of Downton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.
Viewers should note the almost complete absence of Christianity from the storyline. The village vicar is an occasional presence, and church ceremonies have briefly been portrayed. But Christianity as a belief system and a living faith is absent—as is the institutional presence of the Church of England.
Political life is also largely absent, addressed mainly as it directly affects the Crawleys and their estate. This amounts to a second great omission.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Movies & Television Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has today issued the following statement:
With great joy and thanksgiving the Church of England will, in the next two weeks, see the consecration of two fine priests, The Revd Libby Lane, and The Revd Philip North as bishops, respectively, of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester, and of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn. Nothing should be allowed to constrain our joy, our prayers and our thanksgiving, on either occasion.
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Education * Economics, Politics Economy * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
n his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can "inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them."
Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: "What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church's understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ."
Read it all and note the whole report is there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Environment Agency’s pension fund has urged BP and Royal Dutch Shell to invest in renewable energy and do more to tackle climate change.
The government-backed agency’s £2.5bn fund has teamed up with more than 150 other investors, including the Church of England and several large local authority pension funds. They have filed shareholder resolutions urging both oil companies to take more action on global warming.
“It was an easy decision,” said John Varley, chairman of the Environment Agency pensions committee. “We believe that it is vital to manage climate risk within investments and that all shareholders have access to clear information to assess how these companies are managing risk and protecting shareholder value.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market Energy, Natural Resources Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
[The] Rev Canon Eridard Kironde Nsubuga and Rev Paul Kiptoo Masaba will be consecrated and enthroned as bishops on May 17 at St Mark’s cathedral, Luweero, and April 12 at St Peter’s cathedral, Kapchorwa respectively. The house of bishops sitting at Lweza training and conference centre on January 15 made the election.
[The] Rev Nsubuga, who has been elected as third bishop of Luweero diocese, has been serving as archdeacon of Ndejje since 2013. Prior to that, he served as provost and vicar of St Mark’s cathedral, parish priest and diocesan secretary. He received a bachelor’s degree in Applied Theology from the University of Gloucestershire, and Redcliffe College in UK in 2003.
Read it all.
The town of Upper Island Cove is marking a significant milestone this weekend — the 200th anniversary of St. Peter's Church.
The head of the Anglican Church of Canada, Primate Fred Hiltz, will join Bishop Geoffrey Peddle and Reverends Arch Young and Bill Strong for the celebrations.
"Well we are just delighted that [Hiltz] is making this special trip to come and be with us," said Strong.
"You wonder sometimes if we just do what we do, and it is delighting for [St. Peter's] for the head of the diocese and the national church to come and celebrate with us. It will make a big difference to a lot of people."
Read it all.
Since the late 1960s overall church attendance in Britain has dropped steadily, along with adherence to the Christian faith. The proportion of people calling themselves Anglican fell from 40% in 1983 to 20% in 2012. But in pockets, mostly in London and the south-east, churches are thriving. Much of the energy has come from large African Pentecostal churches and from an influx of Roman Catholic immigrants from Eastern Europe. But there is growth in the Church of England, too. Most of this comes from “church plants”, based on a model imported from America in which a group of people move from a thriving, often evangelical, church to an ailing one, and turn it around.
Several big London churches, such as Holy Trinity Brompton (where the popular Alpha course started) and St Helen’s Bishopsgate, have been planting churches in the capital for decades. More recently Holy Trinity Brompton has started to reach farther afield. It was behind the plant to St Peter’s and has also sent people from its London congregation to Norwich and Bournemouth. Some members of the St Peter’s congregation have in turn set up another plant in Hastings.
Most church planters explain that they felt called by God to move. But more mundane things drive them, too. Being part of a team under an entrepreneurial leader is exciting; their friends may also be relocating.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Young Adults * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
The annual number of candidates for ministry needs to increase by 50 per cent within five years, according to a report by a task group looking at ministerial education in the Church of England.
The report, Resourcing Ministerial Education, one of a series published this week as part of the Archbishops' programme for renewal and reform of the C of E, calls for "a cohort of candidates for ministry who are younger, more diverse, and with a wider range of gifts to serve God's mission".
To achieve this, it proposes an eight-fold increase in training programmes that helps those under 30 to explore vocations, from the present 30 participants a year to 250. At the other end of the age scale, it suggests dropping the national selection process for candidates over the age of 50.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Good morning. The British Museum opened its doors on this day in 1759, the first national public museum in the world. Sir Hans Sloane had gathered 71,000 artefacts from many parts of the world and these formed the core of the collection. 5,000 visitors a year to begin with has grown to six million annually now. As success stories go, the British Museum is hard to beat.
I must have been eleven when I first went there. I recall being surprised that not everything in the British Museum came from Britain. My juvenile and literal mind needed broadening. Fortunately my education provided windows onto different cultures and histories. At places like the British Museum many of us realise how much we have to learn from countries we’ve never visited, people we’ve never met and things which happened long before we were born.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch History Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Following interventions by a few high profile Christians, some people are suggesting that the Church of England's position on the 'Assisted Dying Bill' lacks clarity. For once, nothing could be further from the truth. In February 2012 the current law was debated by General Synod, a representative body made up of bishops, clergy and lay people. No member of Synod voted against a resolution to support the law as it stands. It is relatively unusual to find an issue which attracts such an overwhelming consensus of opinion. This is one such issue, and the reasons for that massive level of agreement were well rehearsed.
Foremost among them is the view - shared by many people of other faiths and none - that every person's life has an intrinsic value regardless of circumstance. Whatever they themselves or other people may think of their 'value' to society, and despite any apparent lack of productivity or usefulness, nothing can alter their essential significance as human beings. To agree that some of us are more valuable than others when it comes to being alive would be to cross an ethical Rubicon. Until now, our society has regarded this as self-evident. That is why we have 'suicide watch' in prisons; and why we try to stop people killing themselves by jumping off bridges or cliffs or high buildings. It is why doctors undertake to give only 'beneficial' treatment to their patients, and why we attach so much importance to human rights legislation.
Then there is our fundamental responsibility as a 'civilised' society to care for and protect the most vulnerable among us.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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”.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
(For detailed information on the bill, you may go here)-KSH.
I shall not address the elements of the Bill in exhaustive detail. Others have far greater expertise in each of the areas concerned. However, I want to make some points about the Bill’s provisions in their own terms. As I do so, I believe that it is important to step back and see the proposed changes in the context of broader trends in how we live, govern ourselves and seek to ensure the security of our people.
I begin where local churches begin: trying, under God, to be agents of reconciliation; building communities marked by trust, mutual respect and care, and not by fear and suspicion. In many places, faith communities are coming together to build understanding and break down prejudice and stereotypes. Yesterday, in response to events in Paris, in my previous diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, faith leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other communities enacted a day of fasting as a sign of mutual commitment and dependence on God in seeking peace for all. They stood in solidarity with one another. In my current diocese of Durham, where the numbers of adherents to faiths other than Christianity are relatively small, work is continually done by the faith communities in places such as Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields, Stockton and Darlington to build strong community relationships. The Near Neighbours programme nationally has had a significant impact on every place in which it is run.
This groundswell of community building is, and is seen by faith groups as, the most powerful force against radicalisation, especially among young people, on whom so much of the sense of risk tends to be focused. The Department for Communities and Local Government is doing some excellent work supporting local initiatives in this field. Groups with wider knowledge than local churches, such as the Quilliam Foundation, emphasise that this type of work in the community is vital to the Prevent Strategy.
Read it all (starts toward the end of column 673).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Developing Discipleship aims to renew and deepen a conversation about discipleship across the Church of England.
The conversation will begin in General Synod when we meet in February. I hope it will happen in local churches and in dioceses in the coming months.
At the February General Synod, the paper will provided a context for the important conversation and debate about the reports from the four Task Groups to be published later this week.
Read it all and please note the links at the bottom for the paper (a 12 page pdf) and the online discussion site as well.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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".
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
2015 will be for Lincoln Diocese a 'Year of Discipleship', where our emphasis will be on helping one another to grow as followers of Jesus; to become more faithful, joyful and confident. A variety of events and resources are being planned, and the information will be released on his as dates and venues are confirmed.
The Year of Discipleship begins on January 18th, when all congregations are encouraged to commit themselves to the journey. There is a short 'Liturgy of Commitment' which can be used during your usual worship: you might like to use it at the end of the Eucharist in place of the prayer of offering our souls and bodies to God, or for you it might fit better somewhere else.
Read it all and see what you make of the resources.
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Britain is not a secular state, with Anglican Bishops sitting in the House of Lords, and the church makes regular forays into British domestic politics.
But some say it is too partisan on occasions and too involved in domestic politics.
Watch it all (3 minutes and 20 seconds, approx.).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
Meanwhile, church leaders in Mombasa have condemned the killing of the church official. Anglican Church of Kenya Bishop Boniface Kalu said the government should pursue the killers and brought them to book.
He called for protection of all church leaders especially in Mombasa where unknown assailants have been targeting churches and Christians.
"As we condemn this heinous act we are at the same time asking the government to provide protection to churches and their leaders because they have become targets by criminals," he said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As Nigerians prepare for the February 2015 general elections, a cleric of the Anglican Communion in Delta state, Venerable Felix Okonkwo has cautioned Christians to be wary of the All Progressive Congress (APC) saying it is an "Islamic party" with fanaticism as its mantra.
In his sermon during a special thanksgiving service in honour of Ifeanyi Okowa, the governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Delta State, Ven. Okonkwo told the congregation: "As Christians we have a right to our faith, Nigeria belongs to all of us. If you look at the party, you will agree with me that it is out to promote and propagate the ideas of Islamism. We cannot support such a party. If you go through APC you will know that they have nothing good for this country. Their business is to kill and destroy."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Leading figures in Uganda today announced they will be holding a day of celebration to remember an Anglican Archbishop who was assassinated for opposing the Idi Amin regime.
At a ceremony at Namirembe Cathedral today notaries - including Uganda's Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugund, the former Prime Minister Professor Apolo Nsibambi, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and other bishops - announced a major event to remember 20th Century martyr Archbishop Janani Luwum.
Every 16th day of February for the last 37 years a small function to commemorate the late archbishop has taken place place at Mucwini primary school where the late Archbishop rests.
Read it all from ACNS.
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.
Read it all.
As Andrew Lloyd Webber calls for Wi-Fi in Churches, the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, explains how it may work.
Listen to it all but before you listen, guess the number of parishes there are in the Church of England which is mentioned during the interview [the segment starts 20 minutes 58 seconds in; it lasts about 4 minutes)].
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK
Britain’s fear of criticising Islam has led to a self-imposed ‘blasphemy law’, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has warned.
Lord Carey’s comments come days after the brutal slaughter of journalists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, which printed cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed.
He added that the Press should be encouraged to print controversial material, even if Muslims find it offensive.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It is unbelievable that a modern democracy only managed to get round to disposing of these embarrassing laws so recently, but I find it even more shocking that a de facto blasphemy law is operating in Britain today.
The fact is that publishers and newspapers live in fear of criticising Islam. BBC guidelines, we have learnt recently, forbade the publication of images of the founder of Islam, even though this prohibition has not always been universal or absolute in Muslim history. Hastily revising its own guidelines, the BBC has now re-entered the 21st century, even picturing a Charlie Hebdo front cover on Newsnight featuring a cartoon of Muhammad.
Yet since 1988 and the hounding of Salman Rushdie and his publishers over The Satanic Verses, there has been a threat over free speech posed by radical and political Islam. I wish back then we had dealt with it. Every publisher and newspaper at the time throughout the world should have concertedly published extracts from The Satanic Verses to spread the risk and challenge extremist notions of blasphemy and apostasy, which surely apply only to consenting Islamic believers and not to ‘kaffirs’ and ‘heretics’?
Yet since 1988, the spectre of extremist censorship has reared its ugly head time and time again.
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...not only was I starting to feel left out during dinner table conversations about the latest viral phenomenon, I also realised that social media was the best way to disseminate my writing work. I wrote to be read, not so my words would simply disappear forever into the cloud. If I had ideas, I needed to get them out there.
However, aside from sharing my articles, I’ve actually had some difficulty in knowing what else to say. Well meaning techy friends gave me advice: find your ‘thing’ and just be interesting about it. But it’s felt like a hard task to be witty and engaging about my ‘thing’ which happens to be the subject of religion and spirituality. As an Anglican chaplain and commentator on religious affairs, my ‘thing’ is a deeply held desire to draw near to the divine and see others do the same – try packing that in 140 characters! It’s a rather complex and personal subject to generate regular pithy soundbites about.
All I knew is that there were certain things I didn’t want to say. More than anything I wanted to avoid becoming one of those people who post inane details about their personal life alongside random spiritual hash tags (e.g. ‘Fed the kids now off to prayer meeting #meetwithjesus’), as if by shoehorning references to God into commentary about everyday life they might make spirituality seem more normalised and appealing.
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Jane Alexander was a teenager before she set foot in a church, and she wasn’t baptized until she was in her mid-20s with her first child.
Her parents, confirmed atheists, actively discouraged religion but encouraged music in their young soprano. That was her window into Christian faith and it changed her life, eventually.
Soft-spoken with a disarming smile, Alexander has been Edmonton’s Anglican bishop for the past six years. She’s one of a handful of females who hold this prominent job in Canada.
She has also just taken on a major leadership role in the city as head of Mayor Don Iveson’s ambitious task force on poverty.
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The Christmas services of the Cathedral are attended by a number of representatives from various government agencies and other religious groups. On Christmas Eve, we welcomed a representative from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his cabinet, a representative from Pope Tawadrous II of the Coptic Orthodox Church and from the Grand Imam. The Governor of Cairo and the Minister of Local Development attended personally. This year, though, the imam of the local mosque, just one blocks away, sent a request. He, too, wanted to wish the church Merry Christmas.
On Christmas Day, the imam and eleven worshipers from the mosque came to the offices of the diocese. The group stated that it is important to recover the spirit of unity that characterized centuries of Muslim-Christian relationships in Egypt, which has long been a religiously diverse society. “We must put our hands together for the future of our beloved country, Egypt,” one of the visitors said. I responded by saying that when I hear the call for prayer, Allahu Akbar, “God is great,” I am reminded of two things: I am challenged to pray regularly, and I remember that God is great. Christians, too, believe that Allahu Akbar. And if we all believe that God is great, we can let God be God, and refrain from judging others. The imam left me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and an invitation to visit them at the mosque.
Later that evening, when I went to celebrate Christmas at St. Mark’s Pro-Cathedral in Alexandria, I encountered a group of fifteen Muslim young people who attended the service in order to share the joy of Christmas with their Christian friends.
In the media, we often hear only the stories of clashes between religious groups, violence done to one another, tensions that erupt into aggression. But we also experience stories of grace, friendship, and kindness. Following many tumultuous years, I am encouraged to see so many signs of a new spirit among Muslims and Christians in Cairo, and throughout Egypt. As we celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, I invite you to pray with me for peace in the Middle East, remembering that God is great, and He is with us.
May the Lord bless you!
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The Church of England's Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the C of E's 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access.
The director of the Cathedral and Churches Buildings Division, Janet Gough, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Church was ideally placed to build up a national network.
"We will be talking with those involved to explore how to build on the existing projects, such as the diocese of Norwich's WiSpire programme, and the provision of free WiFi for all visitors at individual cathedrals such as Chester, Canterbury, Ely, and Liverpool, to link up and expand WiFi coverage countrywide."
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The Diocese of Winchester retains oversight of Church of England legal matters in the Channel Islands, despite the islands splitting from it.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, ended a 500-year-old relationship when he moved the from Winchester to his own diocese in 2014.
Details of the interim arrangement have now been released.
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For some years I worked in two parts of the West Midlands—wonderful places to live and work; I have many friends there still—but they were both characterised as areas that had extremely low aspirations. It was one thing to change the school but if the child went home and was told repeatedly, “Actually, that sort of thing does not make any difference to us. You are wasting your time”, all the work was undone. There needs to be a profound social and cultural change in the family as well.
That was one of the things that struck me when I was reading the comments in the interim report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility, which reported back in 2012. It summarised its conclusions into seven “key truths”. I will pick out just the first four, which show precisely this connection. The first key truth was:
“The point of greatest leverage for social mobility is what happens between ages 0 and 3, primarily in the home”.
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Three local village churches celebrated a special milestone on Sunday 4th January, as they came together to congratulate their vicar on ten years of service to the community.
St John’s in Peasedown and St Julian’s in Wellow are part of the St J’s Group of Anglican Churches, which have been led by Revd Matthew Street since he took up the posts of ‘Rector’ and ‘Priest-in-Charge’ in 2005.
The united parish of St Julian’s Shoscombe and James’ Foxcote are also part of the group – having joined after a Church of England clergy reorganisation in 2010.
Matthew, along with his wife Jane and their daughter Hannah, moved to the Peasedown Vicarage in Church Road after a short stint as curate at Holy Trinity Church in Combe Down, Bath.
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Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has said that the 2015 elections will determine Nigeria's future.
Okoh, who spoke at the dedication and hand-over of St. Peter's Church, Umuchu, Anambra State, built and donated by a philanthropist, Godwin Ezeemo, at the weekend, said the importance of the election is one reason why nobody should sit on the fence.
"Nigeria has a very big project this year and that is the elections. You cannot be neutral. Get your own voter's card to decide who will rule over you", he said.
Okoh, however, also predicted that the country will be greater than what it is now and that the evil of insurgency "cannot be the end of Nigeria. Everybody must join hands and fight evil of insurgency".
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The Asante-Mampong Diocese of the Anglican Church has been inaugurated amid outpouring of joy and praises to God.
The diocese is the second to be created in the Ashanti Region after Kumasi and comes over a century after the introduction of the Anglican faith to the region.
The Asantehene, Otumfo Osei Tutu 11, was among traditional rulers, the clergy and other high profile personalities in public service, politics and business who joined in the celebration of the occasion at a special church service held on the theme “Working together to grow the harvest”.
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In summary, the rationale behind the PMM is:
funeral services of suicides conducted by Church of England clergy may be in contravention of Canon B38; and
removing this canonical bar [on the use of “the rites of the Church of England” in these circumstances] “would send a very positive message to society at large, particularly if presented in the context that it was actually recognising current practice.”
Not quite the “legalization of suicide” or a “U-turn on funerals” of the headline; essentially an alignment of canon law with current custom and practice that will have little perceptible impact on the families of those involved. If clergy adherence to canon law were a major concern to the Church, infractions such as these are not necessarily the place at which one would start. As the Revd Gavin Foster has observed:
“the requirements of Canon Law were perceived by clergy to be distant, ‘other’, far away and irrelevant to the everyday life of the Church. [Anglican] clergy seemed to be only vaguely aware of the requirements of canon law and would frequently (and quite often knowingly) breach them.”
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Jonathan Clark, the Bishop of Croydon who is backing the drive, said: “Detaining people indefinitely in prison-like conditions without judicial oversight is unjust, ineffective and inhumane.That’s why Citizens UK are calling on people of goodwill across the country to join them in taking this issue to their parliamentary candidates.
“We will ask politicians to pledge their support for a time limit on the detention of adults – and to work with us… to make it happen.”
Separately, more than 30 charities and organisations are now calling for a time limit of 28 days’ detention.
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The world’s churches have become an arena for the debate over whether it is better to tackle global warming by divesting from fossil fuel companies or by holding shares and engaging with energy groups to spur more climate-friendly business models.
The World Council of Churches, which represents around 560m Christians in 140 countries, has adopted a divestment strategy for its SFr16.7m investment portfolio. Its finance policy committee decided in July that fossil fuels should be added to the list of sectors in which the council would not invest.
“The use of fossil fuels must be significantly reduced and by not investing in those companies we want to show a direction we need to follow as a human family to address climate changes properly,” said Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary.
But the Church of England, which has an investment portfolio worth around £9bn, has opted for engagement. It announced last month it would use its stakes in Royal Dutch Shell and BP to urge the companies to cut their carbon emissions and invest more in renewables.
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If the Lloyd Webber plan ever comes to fruition, the whole concept of Church Wi-Fi will only be of any value if churches actually do something proactive with it. In its own way it will act as a potential catalyst for them to reach out and offer something bigger that can bless their communities. It will only succeed, though, if churches have an understanding of the needs around them, and the vision to put something together that is dynamic and relevant to the 21st-century lives of those who visit.
Traditionally, churches tend to lag behind the prevailing culture and technologies, often playing catch-up when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities on offer. The gospel has no need at all to be tampered with - God’s truths are eternal – but the method of delivery needs to updated with every generation if the message is to be effectively presented. Andrew Lloyd Webber is no fool with a harebrained scheme: he sees the potential for churches to be vibrant and provide the lifeblood for the communities around them. The more we see the lead of pioneers such as Tubestation being followed, the greater the likelihood that churches – and the Christian faith – will regain local prominence and community approbation. And if free Wi-Fi comes as standard, then that just makes things better still.
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The Oscar-winning composer behind Jesus Christ Superstar is planning an even more ambitious scheme to connect the nation with its Christian heritage – wi-fi in every church.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose father was music director at a London church, said the initiative would put the increasingly deserted buildings back at the centre of their local communities.
The theatre impresario behind musicals including Cats and Evita has been in talks with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who is ‘actively’ considering the project.
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A stained glass window design commemorating Winston Churchill has been revealed.
It will be installed at St Martin's Church in Bladon, Oxfordshire, where the wartime prime minister is buried.
The window includes imagery of a Spitfire, a gas mask and a cat.
Robert Courts, chair of the parochial church council, described it as a "rich mixture of the Bulldog Churchill... and equally Churchill the man".
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The Church of England is embroiled in a row over proposals to sweep away laws that forbid a full Christian funeral to people who have taken their own lives.
Most clergy now regard suicide with far more sympathy than when ‘self murder’ was still a crime, and the move will be seen as reflecting a growing acceptance as more Britons choose to end their lives in clinics such as Dignitas in Switzerland.
But some critics within the Church say the reforms will ‘legalise’ suicide, which should still be regarded a serious sin.
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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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“At my age, [Armagh] didn’t seem an obvious career opportunity” he chuckles, and one is left with the impression that having lost Linda, his wife, and mother of their two grown-up children, after a long illness in 2009, he would have remained content in Meath and Kildare until perhaps retiring in his late sixties.
He would have been expected to maintain his sustained ecumenical outreach and perhaps to have increasingly indulged his love for writing about theology and history, having written three books already, including A Whisper of God (Columba 2006).
But now, health permitting, he can remain in the top post in the Church of Ireland until he is 75. While there is little time for writing and scholarship, there are even greater opportunities for ecumenical endeavour for a Church leader who trained as an historian at Trinity College Dublin and as a theologian at King’s College London.
His role involves doing three jobs: being diocesan bishop in Armagh where he doesn’t have an assistant bishop, being a national Church leader/Primate of All-Ireland and being an Anglican bigwig, one of 38 Primates in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
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Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe has hailed the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) for standing firm and rejecting same sex marriages unlike some other churches in the West.
Mr Membe told the congregation that had gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the Dar es Salaam Diocese in the city that he was encouraged when the church in Tanzania stood firm and stressed to its foreign counterparts that same sex marriages will not be allowed in this country.
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In CS Lewis’s story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which..[was] on our movie screens...[in 2005] the land of Narnia is under a curse that means that it is always winter but never Christmas. Of course, it is never winter at Christmas time in Australia, but we can nevertheless understand what a terrible curse this is! Narnia is stuck in hard times, with no cause for celebration. Its creatures are suffering, with no highlight to look forward to.
Like the Narnians, many Australians will be doing it tough this Christmas. For some, it is a time when relationships are strained to the limit, when the cracks in our marriages, our families and our friendships seem to widen. For others, the strain is financial, as we see what the neighbours have and we don’t. Yet others find it difficult to join in the festivities because the world just doesn’t seem like somewhere worth celebrating. Wars, hurricanes and child poverty press in on our hearts and minds, refusing to be pushed aside, even for a day.
My challenge to you this Christmas is to lift your eyes from your daily struggles and see what lies around the corner. To the great surprise of the children in CS Lewis’s story, Father Christmas turns up in Narnia to hand out gifts. His appearance is a sign that the curse on the land is breaking, and a better world is on its way.
Of course, this is just a story, but it points to an event in history that we must understand in order to have any hope at Christmas time. The birth of Jesus around 2000 years ago was the beginning of a new hope for the people of the world. It was like the first spring flower pushing through the winter snow—the first sign that things were looking up.
Christians believe that Jesus was a gift to the world from God himself, to give us hope.
When Father Christmas handed out gifts in Narnia, he didn’t indulge the children with toys they didn’t need or appreciate. Rather, his gifts prepared them for the battle ahead with the dark forces they would confront.
In the same way, the Bible tells us that in Jesus God gave us a gift we desperately need. The Gospel of Luke records for us the words of one man called Simeon, who saw the young Jesus, took him in his arms and said “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people”.
Jesus was sent to rescue us from sin and judgement (that’s what salvation means), to make God known to us, and to assure us that God is not off in his heaven ignoring us, but is closely involved with our world and our troubles.
But the gift must be acknowledged—if you ignore God’s gift, you do so at your peril, for without Jesus there is no clear hope to see you through the wintry days.
Christmas should focus our thoughts on where we are headed. I urge you to take time this Christmas to acknowledge God’s gift of Jesus, to read about him in the New Testament, and to understand how he has broken the curse of sin and guaranteed those who trust him a better future.
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Dickens and Disney’s Tiny Tims both hope that those who feel pity for a poor crippled boy in church “… will think of Him who made lame men walk” at Christmas time.
This was a lesson that Dickens meant for adults, as well as children.
There is no separating the generosity we owe to others from the generosity God has shown to us by sending his son to give us new hearts. Christmas shouldn’t just bring out the best in us once a year; it should transform our lives—as it did for Scrooge. Dickens knew where he wanted to end his story, and finished it accordingly:
“Some laughed to see the alteration in [Scrooge] but he let them laugh ... he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed that knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!”
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One of the great contributions of CMS to African Christianity was its encouragement and support of the mission of ex-slaves in West Africa, led by Samuel Ajayi Crowther and his associates.
As Yale professor Lamin Sanneh has noted, this movement brought a new world order into being, a world order achieved not through colonial power or military might but by something radically opposite. Its agents were drawn from among the world's most repressed and downtrodden who became champions of freedom, dignity and enterprising evangelical faith.
The outcome was a high-octane faith that exulted in the freedom Christ offered. The principles of anti-slavery and freedom became keynotes of a massive movement that few white people fully comprehended. At one stage Sierra Leone was sending a higher proportion of its population into missionary service than has ever been achieved anywhere.
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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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It is time to tell again the long-neglected story of Samuel Ajayi Crowther, writes Gareth Sturdy.
If you know the name, it probably resounds as that of a hero. Such heroes, unacknowledged in their own time and then ignored by their immediate successors, end up being the Really Important Ones. Their stature is so great that it is missed entirely up-close, gets larger the more distant you are from it, and can only been seen in its true glory from space.
If the name is unknown to you, then you are the victim of a cover-up. How else can you have missed one of the most important Africans of the modern era?
It is an opportune moment to reassess Crowther in the light of new understanding. A light that glares at the cover up and reveals a significance greater than that so far ascribed to him by even his most loyal champions.
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Everything is turned upside down. Much to everyone’s astonishment it’s not Augustus who is the real son of God, the saviour who bring good news of peace – no, it’s Jesus. And the proclamation is made not in the public forum in front of the Roman citizens but to the shepherds on the hill sides, who were the social outcasts. And as the narrative unfolds Simeon and Anna proclaim that this child, Jesus, is the one who will become the saviour of God’s people, not Augustus or for that matter, any earthly ruler, especially those who govern by the sword and with violence.
Now so much of our celebration of Christmas has sanitized these insights. Take popular carols, such as ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ or ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ which give us a romaticised, privatised interpretation of Christmas, which, though I love them too, have no little bearing on the world in all its pain and suffering. These carols give us a piety which is only about feeling an inner sense of peace. Now there is nothing wrong with feeling inner peace. It’s just that here in Luke chapter 2 the events are profoundly political. This is the Christ who is born into a country which has been occupied by foreign forces, where its people are oppressed and where he comes to bring peace founded in justice.
And so let’s return to where we started: that cold Christmas day in 1914 where peace broke for a few hours. It did not come from the politicians who were safely back in Blightly tucked up with their families in the warm with their turkey lunch. Peace did not come from the generals – they certainly didn’t order a cease fire. No, it came because ordinary soldiers, recalling the events of Christmas, put down their weapons and dared to venture out into no man’s land.
If we are going to find true peace in our world today, it will not come primarily through the politicians and certainly not through the soldiers who may keep the peace, but cannot alone establish it.
Peace will come when ordinary men and women like you and me, dare to climb out the trenches that we have dug to protect ourselves, the trenches of fear, of greed, of hatred. Can we show similar courage to that of the First World War soldiers who stuck their heads above the parapets?
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Almighty God, who didst rescue Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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"In Australia, 2014 has not brought us the turmoil of a world war but we still saw many signs of our broken world, with the strains of discord, hatred and fear. We experienced the pain of loss and the frailty of life, especially young life, which hit us hard...."
"Even in the cradle of Christianity, we heard of persecution, destruction and the seeming triumph of evil." he said.
The Archbishop referred to our crying out in prayer, amid grief and pain.
"At times like this we rush to prayer and we expect God will be listening. Our turning to God in prayer is only possible because of God's own 'Christmas truce'." Dr Davies said.
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Any religion, however, which has imperial rather than charitable ambitions is very dangerous. The global city of London plays host to refugee communities from parts of the world devastated by violence, inflicted under the cloak of religion. All religions are exposed to the temptation denounced by the prophets as “idolatry” - making a god in our own image. Idolatry is the process by which a bruised and humiliated ego surreptitiously reascends to worship some projection of its own rage and lust for power.
The nativity plays taking place in so many of our church schools tell a different story of how God so loved the world that he was generous and gave himself to us in a vulnerable child. That child points the way to a generosity of spirit which, thank God, I see all around us as the year comes to its end.
One of the most cheering carol services I shall remember from this year was to support the London Air Ambulance. This independent charity, which has to raise two thirds of its funding from donations, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Over the years the air ambulance team has brought skill and hope to 31,000 critically injured patients within the M25.
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I can bring it so neare; but onely the worthy hearer, and the worthy receiver, can call this Lord this Jesus, this Christ, Immanuel God with us; onely that virgin soule, devirginated in the blood of Adam but restored in the blood of the Lambe hath this Ecce, this testimony, this assurance, that God is with him; they that have this Ecce, this testimony, in a rectified conscience, are Godfathers to this child Jesus and may call him Immanuel God with us for as no man can deceive God, so God can deceive no man; God cannot live in the darke himself neither can he leave those who are his in the darke: If he be with thee he will make thee see that he is with thee and never goe out of thy sight, till he have brought thee, where thou canst never goe out of his.
--John Donne (1572-1631), Preached at St. Pauls, upon Christmas Day, in the Evening, 1624
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology
In the Christmas Story, on the night when Jesus was born, we are told that an angel appeared to shepherds living in the field, keeping a careful watch that night over their flock. God’s unapproachable light (glory) shone around them. And suddenly a heavenly choir of angels appeared praising God and offering a blessing of peace on earth (this was a fantabulous gig earth has not witnessed again!)
Light came into the world with Jesus Christ – born to live among us, as one of us, on Christmas Day. Hallelujah! His radiant light (glory) and life enables us to know what real life is; he is God made visible. As we reflect that light and life in what we do and say, we too show others what God’s love looks like. We ourselves become a light to help others find their way to the very heart of God. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Don’t go where the path may lead; go where there is no path and leave a trail.”
In St. John’s Gospel, Chapter One, which is read out on Christmas Day, Apostle John tells us that: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” These words came to me vividly in August when I was praying for peace in the Chapel of St John at York Minster during my Vigil of "Hope and Trust for the Peace of the World". Throughout the vigil, part of the First Movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, performed by Jacqueline Du Pré, was played. It is a very moving piece of music which tells of the futility of war. People from all over the world joined me in praying for mercy, justice and peace. It was a breath-taking demonstration of solidarity from so many people in the face of the horror and pain of the violent conflict we have witnessed in so many countries this year.
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Looking back to my childhood, I can see that this was what Alice did for me. I loved the thought of plunging down a rabbit hole and falling into a new world, or pushing through a mirror on the wall and stepping into topsy-turvy-dom. In those imaginary places, the laws of normal life didn’t apply any more. Nothing was what it seemed. And yet it didn’t feel any the less real. In some ways, these worlds of fiction seemed almost tangible, populated by characters you got to know. Yes, in the end Alice has to wake up from her dream. But her journey has changed her. And those of us who travel with her.
I don’t reckon it’s fanciful to think about Christmas in this kind of way. It’s a time of year when we not only dream about a kinder, fairer, better world, but even dare to try living it out. How? By thinking of other people through Christmas greetings, the presents we give as symbols of our love and care, noticing the needs of others far and near and responding with compassion. We long for a new start for our world, our society, ourselves and those we care for. And in small ways, we enter into the spirit of that new beginning.
These are the dreams, the hopes, the vision embodied in the Child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
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“Marsden was probably born in 1765 and grew up in the Yorkshire area of England....
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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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The Primate and Anglican Metropolitan Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana, the Most Reverend Professor Daniel Yinkah-Sarfo has asked Ghanaians to unite to fly high the flag of the nation.
He said Ghanaians should overcome partisan politics and ethnic divisions and find common ground to promote socio-economic development.
He made the request in a Christmas and New Year goodwill message he issued in Kumasi.
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The debt-ridden Anglican church in western New South Wales is facing staff cuts and a bishop who become a part-time priest.
The Anglican Diocese of Bathurst covers almost a third of NSW but it's in dire straits.
Its development fund is facing debts of more than $39 million and Supreme Court action by one of the creditors, the Commonwealth Bank.
As well as asking parishes to contribute by possibly selling property, the Bishop's registry will lose four staff.
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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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Vicki Wells, churchwarden at St Peter’s, Hale, where Lane has served for the past seven years, said: “Our congregation has increased threefold since she came here. It speaks for itself.”
Amid what is seen as a happy pre-Christmas tonic for the C of E, which took lots of public criticism as the bishop debate dragged on, Reform, the conservative evangelical network, was a lone contrarian voice. “Though it grieves us it comes as no surprise,” said Prebendary Rod Thomas, Reform’s chair.
Behind the scenes, Archbishop Welby has lobbied and worked with great energy to win the case for women as bishops. His right-hand agent was Canon David Porter, a seasoned negotiator whose work in Northern Ireland crafted a peace formula there. Porter needed to overcome misgivings of conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. He did so by gathering key players in one room to hammer out a compact their constituents could support, having blocked earlier legislation in the synod in November 2012. Welby has said that he hopes the House of Bishops will have a 50/50 male-female balance within 15 years.
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In recent months, Church leaders have expressed concern about the departure of a rising number of Christians from the Middle East.
The civil war in Syria and the advance of so-called Islamic State militants in Iraq have led to appeals for greater support for some of the world's oldest Christian communities.
Read and listen to it all.
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Who, in the age of the internet, online gaming, Facebook and 3D televisions would want to move a pointer around on a board in the hope of getting a message from the spirit world?
The astonishing answer is, quite a lot of people! The story turns out to be true. Promoted by an apparently dreadful film (sponsored by Hasbro, the toy firm that holds the rights to Ouija boards), sales of the £20+ boards have gone through the roof. And it’s not just me who is mystified. As Simon Osborne wrote in The Independent: 'What better time to talk to dead people for fun than the festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus?'
Hunger for the supernatural
This is yet another phenomenon reminding us that, for all the bold claims of new atheism that the world is moving into an age of rational thought in which every form of the supernatural is rejected, the 'on the ground' reality is very different. The hunger for the supernatural, the paranormal and the mystical remains intense and almost universal. Indeed, it seems that the more a 'universe without God' is talked up, the more people flock to the supernatural. If atheism is true, it's very odd that no one seems to be following it.
A Ouija board is not, in any way, a game....
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At the first Christmas Jesus did not have it so easy.
He too came as a stranger, in his mother’s womb, but his was a humble birth in a poor stable; there was only just enough room for him.
The ox and ass made for a smelly and unhygienic maternity ward.
His first guests were a bunch of shepherds, in those days society’s outcasts; the last people you or I would probably invite to our celebration of a new birth.
All this, however, was God’s deliberate choice.
God wanted to be with those on the edge who did not have much room.
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What can we expect of the Shared Conversations?
By Stephen Hofmeyr QC, Acting Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, writing in the Church of England Newspaper.
The Church of England is embarking on a process of “shared conversations” which has two objectives. The first objective is ‘to clarify how we can most effectively be a missionary church in a culture which has changed its view on human sexuality’. Amen! The revealed truth of the gospel is God’s truth for all people, everywhere, in every age. Therefore, the issue about being an effective missionary church is not about whether we are free to change what God has taught, but how to communicate God’s truth in a culture that has changed its view. In areas of human sexuality, that will require a communication of the Bible’s teaching about the body and sexuality which a generation ago would have gone without saying. So long as the scope of this first objective is correctly understood, it presents a wonderful opportunity. The second objective is ‘to clarify the implications of what it means for the Church of England to live with … “good disagreement” on these issues’. What are the possible outcomes of these shared conversations?
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The 46-year-old Bishop Samuel Gidudu of North Mbale Diocese was consecrated on November 16, 2014 at St Matthew’s Cathedral, Buhugu in Sironko District. The father of three, who is married to Ms Esther Gidudu, spoke about growing up amid wealth and then getting lost in a vice which nearly cost him his calling.
QN: Bishop Gidudu, how did you feel when you heard you were the bishop-elect of North Mbale Diocese?
A: (Laughs). At first, I thought the person who called to give the information was fooling me but I later asked myself, “Why should I be a doubting Thomas?” I composed myself and prayed about it and from then on, I started receiving calls from all over the country congratulating me upon the election.
I was actually humbled by the election. I believe that it is the amazing love and grace of God that I was appointed to be the next shepherd of the Christians of North Mbale Diocese.
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There is little doubt that those in favour of changing the law on assisted suicide have talked up a storm. In spite of peers expressing very mixed opinions during debates on the Assisted Dying Bill, the casual observer might be forgiven for thinking that all that remains to be done is to find effective safeguards ensuring that vulnerable individuals are not pressured into requesting assistance for ending their own lives; otherwise the matter is a done-deal. Leaving to one side, the rather important point that finding effective safeguards is proving as elusive as finding the Holy Grail, recent announcements from the medical profession have helped to bring some much-needed perspective to the debate.
The Royal College of Physicians’ recent announcement that, in the light of a thorough survey of its members, it will continue to oppose a change in legislation, is significant...
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The Church Commissioners have welcomed the news that they are the UK's second most charitable giver in the publication of City AM's list of the World's top 20 donors.
The list, published this week, named the Church Commissioners as the eighth highest donor in the world - and second in the UK - giving £207.84m in charitable donations to support the Church of England. The total giving, which supports the Church's ministry around the country, is highlighted in the Commissioners annual report for 2013, which announced that the performance of the investment fund exceeded it's target of RPI +5% per annum, returning 15.9% for during the year.
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Are you planning a visit to an old church during the Christmas season? Maybe you're a regular church goer or you might only set foot inside a religious sanctuary once a year.
However often you attend, administrators of downtown churches in St. John's say everyone should be concerned about the future of these historic buildings. Congregations are struggling with structural problems, exorbitant heating costs and fewer and fewer people in pews.
Between Patrick Street in the west end and King's Bridge Road in the east, there are nine churches. One church is Presbyterian, two are Anglican, two are Catholic and four are United Churches. St. Thomas's Anglican church is the oldest, built in 1836. The newest is Cochrane Street United, opened in 1915 during the First World War.
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Read it all (HT: Anglican Journal).
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There we are: Evangelicals are hidebound and change-allergic, straining attempts at compromise. Never mind that Archbishop Welby – who, as the Times itself says, "backed the push for female bishops" – is himself widely known as an evangelical.
There's also a glitch in the Times saying that Libby Lane's appointment will test the compromise. If Thomas' concern is male oversight for conservative churches, why wouldn't he be satisfied with a female suffragan who draws her authority from a male bishop? He should have been asked, don’t you think?
Nor does the article's grasp of history sound much better. Not when the story says, "The tradition of all-male bishops dates to the Church of England’s break with Rome five centuries ago, in the days of King Henry VIII."
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Listen to it all (a little over 3 1/2 minutes).
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Currently, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the House of Lords. The remaining 21 seats are occupied by Bishops in order of seniority (length of service). Under the current system, it would be many years before women bishops were represented in the Lords.
The Government’s Bill, which is supported by the Church of England, proposes a modification of this rule for the next ten years....
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Women bishops would be fast-tracked into the House of Lords, under government proposals set out... [yesterday].
Ministers want to change the law to allow female bishops to take up the "spiritual" seats in the Lords, when they become available.
Usually they are allocated to the most senior or longest-serving bishops.
On Wednesday, Reverend Libby Lane was announced as the first female bishop for the Church of England - a month after a historic change to canon law.
The general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July and formally adopted legislation on 17 November.
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A parish priest, the Revd Libby Lane, is to be the first woman bishop in the Church of England, it was announced on Wednesday, one month to the day after the passing of legislation to enable women's consecration.
Ms Lane, Vicar of St Peter's, Hale, and St Elizabeth's, Ashley, will become the Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan post in the diocese of Chester, when she is consecrated in York Minister on 26 January.
"This is unexpected and very exciting," she said, after the announcement was made in Stockport Town Hall. "I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God."
The Archbishop of Canterbury said that he was "absolutely delighted. . . Her Christ-centred life, calmness, and clear determination to serve the Church and the community make her a wonderful choice."
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Parents have spoken of their disgust after a clergywoman told children that Father Christmas is not real.
Rev Margaret McPhee made the mistake during a choir concert for primary school children from Stalham Academy, in Norfolk.
During the service at St Mary's Church in the town, the curate asked pupils what they thought Christmas was about.
When one child said "Father Christmas", she replied that he was make-believe and not real.
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When we meet in the Crewe YMCA, she has just been touring the building surrounded by a small cloud of cameras and journalists and is preparing to say goodbye to her congregation at a party this evening. They only found out this morning that she would be leaving them to become a bishop. When we talk about the church at St Peter’s Hale, Lane seems a little emotional as she is clearly sad to be leaving them behind, but for the rest of the interview, she is as polished as any politician I’ve ever interviewed.
The first ever woman bishop, appointed after years of campaigning and fighting in the Church of England, is so keen not to cause any more fights that she tries to avoid saying anything particularly striking during the interview. She refuses to put herself on one side or another when I ask whether she sees herself as a liberal, a conservative, an evangelical, or something else. Speaking in that special Anglican way – a slightly slower-than-usual pace of words that linger a little longer over vowels, especially ‘God’, which becomes ‘Go-od’, and thoughtful-sounding pauses – she says:
‘I would describe myself as a Christian and as a passionate Anglican and that’s how I would describe myself. I have been formed and shaped by a whole breadth of the Church of England’s tradition and experience and been really enriched by that and I want to hold onto that breadth and the richness that I have got in Christ and all the traditions of the Church.’
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The Rev Libby Lane supports Manchester United and does a mean line in solving cryptic crosswords. And, as of January, she will be consecrated to the highest office in the Church of England yet held by a woman.
Yesterday Mrs Lane, 48, was named as the first female bishop only weeks after the church voted to clear the way with one of the most significant reforms in its history.
The Oxford graduate and her husband were one of the first couples to be ordained together in 1994 when the church lifted its ban on women entering the ministry after 70 years of theological and political controversy. She is also the dean of women in ministry for the diocese of Chester, and has spent the vast majority of her 20-year church career serving in the northwest.
Read it all (requires a subscription) and the Times also has an accompanying editorial on this news 'The first female bishop is long overdue, but the greater battle lies ahead'.
Fair returns to savers, fair interest rates on loans and the aspiration to be a flagship credit union are among the aims of the Churches' Mutual Credit Union Ltd (CMCU) which has received formal authorisation from the regulatory authorities today. This has been a rigorous process undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. CMCU plans to begin to offer its services to those eligible for membership from February 2015.
CMCU has been formed for and with the help of the Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales. CMCU President, Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, said, "I am delighted at the news of authorisation. CMCU will help many, even in its first year of operation and, in due course, it should become a significant financial resource to the church and individuals throughout England, Wales and Scotland. CMCU will enable a virtuous re-cycling of money within the church community, through a combined portfolio of savings and loan products."
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The Development and Appointments Group would like to thank Lord Green for this report and for his leadership of the group charged by us and the Archbishops to review the way in which the Church prepares clergy for senior posts and how they are encouraged to develop and grow in their discipleship and leadership in mission once they are appointed. I would also like to thank the members of various task groups who contributed as ideas were developed, and those who have taken part over the longer term - in shaping source material through being members of nomination panels, participating in diocesan consultations for bishops and deans and participating in research projects. This work has emerged from a long period of reflection on the complexity of senior clerical leadership - a ministry in which we are called to be priests, prophets and theologians as well as to be leaders of Christ' great gift, the Church - a body which needs constant nurturing and stewarding to ensure that its organisational life flourishes and resources our call to mission.
The report challenges the nature and quality of the support currently provided in both areas - a challenge we must take seriously as we become increasingly aware of the extent of the issues facing the Church in its witness to and sharing of the Gospel.
Read it all and follow the link to the full report.
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In its bid to promote free, fair and credible elections, the Anglican Church of Lagos Diocese has planned to mobilise, sensitise and monitor the 2015 elections in Lagos State, as indicated by Rev. James Odedeji, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese.
He disclosed this in a press conference in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday. He said that the process had been carried out for the past 15 years and it had been profitable to the state.
According to Bishop Odedeji, with the permission of the federal government, "we have set up a forum for candidates running for the Lagos gubernatorial election to say or read to the people their manifesto in their forth-coming Vintage Government Election Debate to hold in January."
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Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter's, Hale, and St Elizabeth's, Ashley.
As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minster on Monday 26 January 2015.
Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter's Hale and St. Elizabeth's Ashley.
She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.
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The Church of England is poised to announce the appointment of its first female bishop marking the end of centuries of all-male leadership.
The Daily Telegraph understands that a female priest has been chosen as the new Bishop of Stockport which has been vacant since May when the previous holder, the Rt Rev Robert Atwell, was made Bishop of Exeter.
The historic appointment comes just four weeks after the Church of England’s ruling General Synod formally enacted a change to canon law opening the episcopate to women for the first time, ending 40 years of legislative wrangling and almost a century of campaigning.
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In a speech to the Ecclesiastical Law Society in Westminster that offered a staunch defence of the Church of England as an important counterweight to the upheaval created by successive governments, Mr Grieve said: “The desire for addressing [public] discontent is genuine, but we often seem to lurch from efforts at promoting optimism based on economic indicators to hand-wringing expressions of sympathy with our electorate’s concerns.
“There seems little sign at present that any of these exertions are really helping restore the nation’s confidence in existing or reformed political processes and institutions.”
He seized on plans concocted by Chris Grayling, the justice minister, to repeal the Human Rights Act and found a “British bill of rights”.
“I think this proposal is illustrative of a growing trend, which affects successive governments irrespective of party,” he said. “Those in power are failing to look at issues in the round and in the long term.”
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Fighting the "evil giant" of climate change and ending violence against women and girls should be among the key themes for new global development goals from 2015, the Bishop of Sheffield has told the House of Lords.
The Rt Rev Steven Croft said there had been "major" achievements as a result of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by world leaders in 2000.
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A radical overhaul of the Church of England's leadership is under way.
A key report, still unpublished, sets out a programme of "talent management" in the Church. The report has been signed off by the two Archbishops, and a £2-million budget has been allocated. It was discussed by all the bishops in September, and the House of Bishops on Monday. A spokesman said on Wednesday that the Bishops "welcomed the implementation plan prepared in the light of those discussions. Details will be published next month."
The Church Times has seen the report, Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A new approach, prepared by a steering group chaired by Prebendary the Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, the former HSBC chairman. It speaks of a "culture change for the leadership of the Church", and outlines a two-stage process.
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KAY Goldsworthy has been elected as the Anglican Bishop of Gippsland.
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