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"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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OK, so that’s what we are stuck with, the Shared Conversations. And I have been arguing amongst the LGBTI Anglican coalition, that we should not simply tolerate what we are being offered, which effectively is a two year delay.
I know from the conversations that we had with David Porter at Lambeth Palace that there is, for him at least, a clear intention that there will be a proper, motioned, discussion at General Synod in February 2017, with the intention of legislating for some kind of change in Church of England practice towards LGBTI people. But it’s going to be what they think they can get away with without upsetting the conservatives too much. So my guess is that it is going to be approval for the blessing of relationships in church, it certainly won’t be for recognising marriage. It certainly will not be for changing the quadruple lock and moving towards allowing equal marriages to take place in Church of England buildings.
Listen to it all below - quote is from 11 mins 20 seconds in.
The previous report from January 23rd, 2015 on a meeting with David Porter is here
Should a “transgender” person be allowed a ceremony of “re-baptism” at their local church? That is what a parishioner requested from the Rev Chris Newlands, Vicar of Lancaster.
“I said we don’t do that, but we did offer him, and then carry out, a service,” Mr Newlands told the Lancaster Guardian. “He was originally baptised as a baby girl, and to him it was about God knowing him by name.”
Mr Newlands mobilised his Deanery and put a motion on the House of Bishops’ agenda for the General Synod of the Church of England: “That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.”
That was earlier this year, but such services are already being performed.
Read it all from Christopher Howse at the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Baptism
One of our archdeacons said that: ‘An empty church is like the empty palace of a long-forgotten king and people walk past and say, “The king is dead.”’ That’s why when, for example, St Peter’s, Brighton, which was known as the unofficial cathedral of Brighton, was going to close, we said: ‘Please don’t close it. Please allow us to go there.’ And thankfully the Bishop of Chichester invited us to send a team there.
What is it that allows these church plants to fly?
I think a lot of people are unchurched, but there are also a lot of people who are ‘de-churched’. They’ve got a faith of some kind, but they’re looking for a church where they feel at home...There are quite a few people who like to have a relaxed, informal style. They like contemporary worship, a message that hopefully is practical for their life, and somewhere they can receive prayer and community. And it seems that those people are coming back to church.
Read it all
On learning of the death of Owen Chadwick, I was moved to tears. Immediately, I jotted down how much we were in his debt as a friend of scholars, mentor to many, pithy and witty writer, faithful priest, brilliant preacher, diligent professor, supervisor and administrator, with a vast hinterland of history and culture.
He was Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge for 27 years from 1956. When I read New Testament studies as a postgraduate there in 1979-1980, he gave me a small, inspiring grant to study the Catholic, Orthodox, and Reformed churches in Yugoslavia during the summer vacation.
I begin by considering his obituaries and his writing of history, and then will remember his own words on secularization and on the role of friendship in scholarship
Read it all
Finance Statistics 2013 contains information provided by parishes in their annual finance returns.
In the autumn of 2008 the recession hit the economy. For the charitable sector as a whole there was a noticeable decline in income . Parishes were protected during 2009-13 by the dedicated giving of donors, and donor income has increased at the same rate since 2007. However, the increase in donations has not matched the rate of inflation (Tables 3 and 4).
The past ten years saw income exceed expenditure every year until 2008, with a maximum surplus of £60 million in 2007. This was followed by three years where expenditure was greater than income, with a maximum deficit of £21 million in 2010. Parishes have responded well in curtailing expenditure, with the result that in 2013 there was a surplus of £33 million (Table 1).
Read it all [pdf] and the ever optimistic blurb from the CofE Press Office is here and here [pdf]. CofE Statistics for Mission in 2013 may be found here [pdf]
Rev Archie Coates, vicar of St Peter’s, Brighton, describes how a team from HTB rescued the city’s ‘unofficial cathedral’ in 2005. They now welcome over 1000 people into the church for weekend worship services.
'St Peter’s is one of Brighton’s iconic buildings, so when it was due to close there was a huge public outcry and 6,500 people signed the petition to keep it open.
The building is incredible, but it’s also a nightmare because it’s crumbling. I remember giving sermons wearing hard hats. We didn’t have any heating for four winters, so people used to come to church in a hat carrying a hot-water bottle.
I think this is a visual aid for the wider work. The local churches all said that when the building looks like it’s closed and dying on its feet, that sends out the message to Brighton that that’s what God is like as well. But equally if you could do the opposite – open it up, fix it up – then that would send out the message: ‘Wow, the Church is alive and God is on the move.’
When we began, we were about 30, including children: our family and about three other families. If you’re going to attract other people to come, there needs to be a certain group for them to come into, and it’s quite hard to do that with less than 30.
Read it all
Kings said he aims to serve rising theologians, including some in the Global South whom God might use as the Augustines of their time, much like the great fifth-century bishop and theologian, Augustine of Hippo.
On a 100-degree day in Salt Lake City, the crowd of 75 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center got a taste of what a new network of theologians might produce.
Beyond making peace with persecutors, the Church also has a God-given mission to stand with those who suffer the brunt of unjust systems, both economic and political, said the Most Rev. Francisco De Assis da Silva, Primate of Brazil.
“The charisma is to be beside, aside, or on the side of the people who are suffering too much from unjust structures in politics and in economics,” Archbishop da Silva said. He said a theology of liberation has weakened over time in Latin America as a more conservative, confessional theology gained traction in recent decades. But the time is right for another shift in theological discourse, in his view.
“We have a unique opportunity to change from a confessional position to a more engaged, a more incarnational, theological reflection,” da Silva said.
For his part, Kings said the Anglican Communion’s calling “is to be Catholic, evangelical, and ecumenical.” In practice, that involves the disciplines of meeting together as Anglicans. It also involves remembering how the Church, like the Trinity, is inherently interconnected.
Bishop Kings quoted from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s foreword to Living Reconciliation: “I am eager to encourage each of us to take full account of the way in which decisions of one province echo around the world. The impact of their echoes is something to which we must listen in the course of our decision-making, if we are not to narrow our horizons and reject the breadth of our global family.”
Read it all
A vicar who went on the run to Germany just before he was convicted of stealing thousands of pounds has been jailed for two years and eight months.
Simon Reynolds, 50, took more than £16,500 handed over to All Saints Church in Darton, Barnsley, for weddings, funerals and churchyard memorials.
Reynolds left Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday lunchtime after the jury went out to consider its verdicts on four counts of theft against him.
He never returned and a Europe-wide search began, with police involving Interpol and senior clergy appealing for the vicar to come back.
Alasdair Cambell, defending, told the judge that his client first went to his Sheffield hotel before travelling to Manchester Airport.
The barrister said Reynolds then meant to go Dublin but, in a state of stress, booked a flight to Dusseldorf instead, where he stayed with a friend.
Mr Campbell said this friend drove him back to his home in Farnham in Surrey, and the defendant then made his way to meet police in Sheffield.
Read it all
Former paratrooper Mike Overd was convicted under section 5 of the Public Order Act, which concerns causing harassment, alarm or distress by using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.
The judge at Bristol Crown Court told him that he should not have used the particular verse in the Bible – Leviticus 20:13 – because it uses the word "abomination". The judge suggested that there were other verses he could have chosen if he wanted to talk about what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Libby Towell, spokesperson for the Christian Legal Centre, who represented Overd, said: "The judge is effectively censoring the Bible and saying that certain verses aren't fit for public consumption."
Overd was given a fine of £200, and told to pay £1,200 in costs and compensation. This included a sum for the emotional harm caused to the homosexual man, who is also a Christian, to whom he was speaking when he quoted Leviticus.
Read it all
A Church of England rector who went on the run as he was convicted of pocketing thousands of pounds of fees from funerals and weddings is now feared to have skipped the country, police have revealed.
Interpol is now assisting in the search for the Rev Simon Reynolds, the Rector of Farnham in Surrey amid signs that he has made his way to continental Europe.
South Yorkshire Police made the disclosure as the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Tony Robinson, made a personal plea to the cleric to hand himself in, amid fears for his safety.
“Never forget we are praying for you,” the bishop, who has known Mr Reynold for several years, told him.
The 49-year-old, who previously helped oversee music and worship at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, walked out of Sheffield Crown Court - where he was on trial for theft from his former Yorkshire parish - during the lunch break on Thursday and did not return.
Read it all
The latest attempt to change the law on assisted dying, which is to be debated by MPs in a Second Reading in September, has faced opposition from critics from the Church of England and elsewhere.
The Private Member’s Bill, if passed, would enable terminally ill adults who are “voluntary, clear, settled, and informed” to end their life with medically supervised assistance.
In a blog post, “Caring for the vulnerable in a compassionate society”, published on the Church of England website on Wednesday, the Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church’s national adviser on medical ethics, said that the Assisted Dying Bill “has the potential to damage both the well-being of individuals and the nature and shape of our society”.
“Every person’s life is of immeasurable value and ought to be affirmed, respected and cherished by society . . . even when some people no longer view their own lives as being of any further value. . .
Read it all
We have just published a collection of experiences from across the Diocese.
This publication, Buildings on Sure Foundations, tells stories of how buildings that lay locked and empty have been reopened through a commitment of time, money and energy from those who longed to see them filled by new worshipping communities.
It also records simple things: an open door, a new way of using a space, a new welcome to the community.
“I was glad when they said to me, ‘let us go to the house of the Lord!'”
We hope to recount all these in more detail through Capital Vision 2020: the tale of one hundred new and renewed worshipping communities, and church buildings opened up to the communities around them; stories of possibilities in new and old places.
London’s churches are as varied and colourful as London’s communities. They are places where different strands come together, both temporal and eternal: places of quiet and prayer in a busy city; places of history and beauty; places of celebration and mourning; places of splendid ceremony and ministering to the poor.
Churches are also places where international visitors of all faiths and none can connect with God.
They are buildings on sure foundations, built with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone.
Read it all and you can read Buildings on Sure Foundations [pdf]
“at the heart of the Lie is the assertion that the unbridgeable chasm between those who advocate same sex marriage and those opposed to it can be overcome by a supposedly common dedication to ‘mission’…the Christian church has to surrender to the world in order to reach it, which is exactly the opposite of what the New Testament teaches us.”Bray concludes soberly: “will we accept public ridicule because we are standing up for truth? Are we so afraid of disestablishment that we will compromise the Gospel in order to preserve our increasingly imaginary secular privileges?”
Reform have issued robust Statements expressing dismay at the Gay Pride march at York Minster and the decision of TEC to prepare for celebrating same sex marriages in its liturgies.
One might expect conservative evangelicals to say this kind of thing but in fact in many circles there has been a reluctance to address these issues publicly. So it is encouraging to see evidence of a move away from the pietism which holds that issues of sex are an internal, pastoral matter, that Christians should not seek a return to “Christendom” which is implied by any critique of the culture, and that all attempts at mission must be preceded by grovelling apologies for “homophobia”.
Within the more “centrist” sections of evangelical Anglicanism there seems to be increasing frustration with revisionism, and the failure of orthodox Bishops to publicly hold the line on orthodox doctrine and ethics...
Read it all
‘From my seventh till my twelfth year I sang in the church choir. I knew God existed, but I had no idea you could have a personal relationship with him. After high school I had a gap year in the army: I was miles away from God there. Then I went to Oxford to read law and I got to know some committed Christians. I started reading the gospels again and the Jesus I met in the gospels matched the Jesus I saw in the lives of those Christians.
Someone asked me along to an outreach service and there, on Sunday evening January 20th, 1974, I committed my life to the Lord. On Wednesday after that I met my future wife, and on Friday I attended a missionary prayer group of Operation Mobilisation. That was not just your average week!
In April, Alison and I started going out. At her parents’ house, I encountered books, music and arts, which I had not grown up with. A whole world opened itself up for me to do with faith and culture. I thought: do I really want to be a lawyer? I went for theology. My Dad was furious. After two weeks, he gave up his resistance and said: “Give me something to read then.’’ I gave him the New Testament in the Good News version. He went away with my Mum for a week and read the whole thing. My mother, who had chronic colitis, had been healed by prayer shortly beforehand in a Charismatic Church, nearby. And my Dad saw me change. Through all these ways God was speaking to him. In November he came to church and when the vicar made the altar call, he went up to give himself to Jesus. A week later my sister did the same. So God drew the whole family to himself in one year.’
Read it all from here originally and and there is a translation into Spanish here
The vicar who is the star of a reality television show in which couples are married as soon as they meet has been criticised for allowing his clerical collar to give respectability to a “seedy” experiment.
The Rev Nick Devenish is one of five experts who selected six strangers to tie the knot in the Channel 4 show Married at First Sight.
The team vicar at the Church of St Mary & St Michael in Cartmel, Cumbria, analysed the participants’ understanding of marriage, what they wanted from their union and how well they understood the seriousness and commitment required. He was part of a panel of experts alongside a sex therapist, a psychologist and two anthropologists.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, accused the show of “inappropriate and rather seedy behaviour” and has said that a Church of England vicar should not have been involved.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Movies & Television Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
...Dodgson’s writing bears subtle witness to the wonders of both creation and its creator in ways that deserve more attention. He was a committed, lifelong member of the Church of England. Although he balked at taking Holy Orders, he was ordained as a deacon in the church in 1861.
While his doctrinal views parted ways with those of his high church ancestors (his great-grandfather had been a bishop and his father a clergyman), Dodgson shied from the religious controversies plaguing the church at the time, remaining essentially what would have been considered orthodox.
“Most assuredly I accept to the full the doctrines you refer to — that Christ died to save us, that we have no other way of salvation open to us but through His death, and that it is by faith in Him, and through no merit of ours, that we are reconciled to God,” Dodgson wrote in a letter to a friend in 1897, “and most assuredly I can cordially say, ‘I owe all to Him who loved me, and died on the Cross of Calvary.'”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Children History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
The religious historian Owen Chadwick, who has died aged 99, was one of the most remarkable men of letters of the 20th century. He held two Cambridge University chairs over a period of 25 years, was its vice-chancellor during the student unrest of the late 1960s, chaired a commission that transformed the structures of the Church of England, and declined major bishoprics.
His range of publication was exceptional: he was a master of the large canvas – The Secularisation of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century (1976) or The Popes and European Revolution (1981); of the full-scale biography such as those of Hensley Henson (1983), the stormy petrel of church politics, and of Michael Ramsey (1990); and of the cameo, as in Victorian Miniature (1960), his study of the fraught relationship between a 19th-century squire and parson, drawing on the papers of each, or as in Mackenzie’s Grave (1959), his wonderful story of the bishop sent to lead a mission up the Zambesi and whose disappearance brought out the best and the worst in Victorian Christianity and public life.
In addition to his one textbook – The Pelican History of the Church: The Reformation (1964), the first book on many reading lists for a quarter of a century – he produced several books for a wider readership, including A History of Christianity (1995) and a short biography of John Henry Newman (1983), but few articles or reviews.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books Education Young Adults * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
A church which put out an urgent appeal for financial help has been saved.
Grade II listed St John's church in Bemerton, near Salisbury, closed in 2010 when the heating broke and there was no money to fix it.
The building was declared redundant by the Church of England but supporters have raised more than £500,000 to turn it into a community centre.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life * International News & Commentary England / UK
The Bishop of London commented:
“The Studd brothers were great servants of two of this country’s most historic institutions: the Church; and the game of cricket. May their memory inspire England as they take on Australia this week at Lord’s.The Studd Brothers were from a large cricketing and evangelical family. All three captained Cambridge University, played for Middlesex and one, CT, played for England in the test match giving rise to the Ashes. CT was in the losing Engish side in the 1882 Oval match which prompted the Sporting Times mock obituary, ‘The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia’. CT and GB were both members of the touring side which recovered the Ashes in the winter of 1882-1883 during which the England captain was presented with the famous urn.
“The proud tradition of the Church and cricket together continues to this day. Once again, I’m delighted that the Diocese of London’s team continues to fly the flag and has reached the final of the Church Times Cricket Cup.”
CT went out to China on missionary work and remained there between 1885 and 1895. Invalided home, he did missionary work in England and America. He then went as a missionary to the Belgian Congo. Wisden records that ‘despite numerous illnesses and many hardships, devoted the remainder of his life to missionary work there.’ In the Congo, he built a church whose aisle measured 22 yards from end to end.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Missions * Culture-Watch Men Sports * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Christology Soteriology
Churchgoers are being encouraged to contact their MPs to highlight the risks involved in proposed legislation to legalise assisted suicide.
James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, has asked that parishioners either make an appointment to see their MP or write them a letter expressing their concerns about a Private Member's Bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday September 11.
The Bill is expected to seek to grant physician assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults, who have six months or less to live.
Bishop James, the Church of England's lead bishop on health care, said the proposed legislation, if passed into law, would have a detrimental effect both on individuals and on the nature of society.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Revd Dr Andrew Atherstone, Welby’s biographer, says Church growth is the ‘golden thread’ that ties all the reforms together. Welby, he says, wants people to see that decline is ‘not inevitable’. In Africa and China churches are booming. ‘Globally, church growth is normal,’ he says. Welby, he suggests, is ‘very optimistic about turning the Church of England around’.
Yet Atherstone admits that Welby’s tendency to focus on numbers ‘makes some in the C of E nervous’. One Church observer says the reason clergy are panicky about the reforms is that they seem ‘very bottom line — if you can’t get more punters in then you’ve failed’.
Atherstone suggests Welby wants the Church to be more entrepreneurial. The change to dioceses’ funding is intended to encourage that. Instead of the old model of one vicar looking after his medieval parish, the idea is to fund projects that no one has yet tried. Welby, says Atherstone, thinks the Church is too ‘safety-conscious’, smothering start-ups in paperwork.
Critics, on the other hand, say the reforms are merely depressing the workforce. Talented young clergy are ‘in despair’, they say — head office doesn’t seem to grasp what their ministry is really about.
Read it all from the Spectator.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Symon Hill, Christian writer and a coordinator of Christians for Economic Justice, said: "Jesus said that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.
"By hosting events sponsored by arms dealers, Church House Conference Centre is sending a clear message that they are happy to profit from those selling weapons to the dodgiest regimes."
Campaigners are calling on Welby, as President of the Corporation of Church House, for his "assurance that the conference center will never again host events which support and legitimise the arms industry."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On the basis of the well-known fact that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, we should ask first what has been going on in the English church in the last half century which has – shall we say – coincided with its collapse. Let me mention a few of what seem to me to be the most significant features.
The last fifty years have seen the rise of theological reductionism. Bluntly, this means that ancient doctrines, always previously proclaimed as true and the foundational beliefs of the church have been, in the jargon, demythologised. So Jesus was not born of a virgin and he didn’t rise from the dead. His miracles were really “acted parables” – that is more jargon for the claim that they didn’t actually happen.
Concurrent with theological reductionism has run a fifty years programme of liturgical “reform” which has seen the discarding of The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. This means that there is no longer observance of the rule that all the realm shall have one use. In fact, these changes mean that you have no idea what you’re going to find in a church service until the service begins. It’s a sort of churchy babel in which no two churches do the same thing and many priests and ministers seem to do as they like.
In addition to these changes, the bishops, the clergy and the synod have endorsed the secular mores of the age.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology
In a more ethereal sense, singing is an influence for a lifetime. Sometimes it has been derided as not cool but the real truth is that it is something beyond and altogether different; a gift from nowhere.
Well rehearsed, like all the best things in life, it becomes time to appreciate something deep and far more than oneself. It is an ultimate in sustained concentration, a skill too often denied at times by multitasking emptiness, in a rushed existence of stressed over-communication.
The last generation has witnessed the switch to an existence where pace of life is often overwhelming.
Music, whatever genre, is timeless in what it means. Recent reflections on British values are seldom encapsulated in the great Anglican tradition of making time in the present.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Music Psychology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Urgent action is needed to tackle climate change the General Synod pledged today in a wide ranging motion acknowledging that global warming is disproportionately affecting the world's poorest.
Members overwhelmingly backed a call for world leaders to seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 C - widely considered to be the threshold above which the impacts of climate change will be the most severe.
The motion on combating climate change, the Paris climate change conference and the mission of the Church, included a pledge to draw attention to an initiative to pray and fast for the success of the Paris talks.
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on the environment, introducing the motion, said: "In the last 150 years we have burned fossil fuels that took one billion years to lay down in the earth. The earth cannot sustain this level of consumption. This is about our 'reading the signs of the times' and 'seeking the common good'.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Around 1,000 apprentices from across Liverpool are set to take part in the UK’s largest graduation ceremony at the end of the month.
Organisers are keen to make sure attendance is as high as possible and have put out a call to make sure apprentices who are eligible should get signed up in time.
The ceremony will take place at the Anglican Cathedral on July 30 but Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Hub, who are in charge of the event, say apprentices need to register by July 21 to guarantee their places.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Education Religion & Culture Young Adults * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology
Where do we find the antidote to fear? Where do we find the capacity to be prophets of grace and hope, joyful, fervent and clear against injustice in a world of martyrdom and torture, or of inequality and greed? Even in the days of William Temple, his call to a different model of life was ignored, mocked and opposed by the government of the time, when he brought before them the needs of the poor. The language of opposition was the same as today.
Few of us like criticising; we know that, thank God, we have much to praise in our society, much for which to give thanks, under governments of all colours now and for years past. Yet, under this and every government the church is constantly called to a loving critique of the secular powers.
Temple asked what right has the church to speak? So how do we keep our nerve, and find the way to overcome our fears and inhibitions, in love but also with passion for the poor, for the environment, for justice, for the lost, how do we obey the Spirit who sent Amos and John the Baptist?
The answer is found in that great reading of the hymn of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics
Read it all (page 12).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * South Carolina * Theology Christology Soteriology
Yesterday, Felix, a special touch was felt by you as a number of us surrounded you and placed our hands on your head. If you have a recollection of someone pressing your ear, that was me! That moment of ordination was not a kind of mysterious masonic initiation ceremony but an incorporation in an apostolic calling that, wonderfully, takes us back to the very times of the Lord.
Just over fifty years ago, the great Austin Farrer, surely one of the greatest Anglican theologians of the 20th century, preached at the Ordination of a priest and used these words:
‘Here before you is a new made priest; and what does he do? What place does he hold in the mighty purposes of God? The answer is before you. He is not special in himself, he is special because the sacraments are special. Apples don’t drop from the sky, they grow on apple trees. And sacraments don’t hurtle down here, they grow on the great planting tree of the Apostles’ ministry; the tree planted by Christ when he called twelve men and made them his ambassadors; a tree which has grown and spread and thrown its arms out through history. So, a priest is a living stem, bearing sacraments as its fruit, to give you the body and blood of Christ. And that’s not all, the man who bears the sacrament is sacramental himself. He is, one might almost say, a walking sacrament’.
Read it all.
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Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday included a proposal to allow local control over liberalising Sunday trading.
The campaign in the 1990s for more Sunday trading was presented as a matter of freedom: “We should be able to shop on Sunday if we want,” but it was not about creating a more just society – it was about trying to find business advantage. A determined lobby successfully argued against total deregulation to preserve some of the value of a shared day off and some protection for retail workers and associated employees.
The legislation, which was passed in 1994, was a compromise which tried to balance rights and opportunities for all sections of society. That must still be the objective today.
Retail and associated workers are hardly well off, and it is they who will pay the price of longer opening hours on Sundays. While most of their bosses will still enjoy weekends off, many retail workers already find they have no choice over Sunday working. They have lost, for a large part, the premium payments they enjoyed at first. In addition, they will face more childcare costs, which will probably be more expensive on a Sunday, or lose precious family time.
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This Report, (GS1999B) available on the Church of England website, is the subject of a debate at the forthcoming General Synod and is very welcome. I would like to draw together a particularly timely strand in the report.
Paragraph 43 tells us bishops will
“be teachers, whose task it is to ‘uphold sound and wholesome doctrine, and to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange opinions’ (C 18) so as to ‘hand on entire’ the Christian faith (Ordinal) – to ensure, including by example, the vitality of proclamation and the richness of teaching and formation; “
What this paper helpfully exposes is the error of the theologically entrepreneurial and innovative bishop and the erroneous suggestion that their opinions over against the tradition of Jesus and the settled teaching of the church might be prophetic.
Read it all - the report is being debated on Saturday July 11th by General Synod
Clergy and lay members are being invited to a series of “facilitated conversations” behind closed doors, aimed at breaking down divisions between different factions over issues such as homosexuality.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, hopes encouraging people to take part in frank face-to-face discussions will help break the deadlock over what has become one of the most toxic issues in the Church.
A similar tactic led to breakthrough over the issue of women bishops which was finally agreed last year after decades of argument.
Read it all
It is the contention of evangelicals that they are plain Bible Christians, and that in order to be a biblical Christian it is necessary to be an evangelical Christian.’ So wrote John Stott in 1970. To drift from evangelical convictions is to create a perverted form of Christianity.
Melvin Tinker argues that we have a problem: it is no longer clear who or what is an “evangelical Christian.” Can an evangelical be defined doctrinally?
Tinker answers with a resounding affirmation. It is not enough to have shared institutions and even shared heroes. What is needed is a shared gospel. To many that statement will sound blindingly obvious, and yet it is increasingly rejected by so-called evangelicals in the Church of England.
This is because, argues Tinker, evangelicals have been heavily influenced by liberalism in its rational, experiential and institutional forms. You end up with a modern evangelical ‘Humpty Dumpty’ perched unsteadily between classical evangelicals and postmodern liberals. It is looking increasingly unlikely that Humpty will fall off into the traditional fold.
Tinker has been in hot water recently over comments made in a radio interview. What he gives us here is a robust statement on the biblical foundations of evangelicalism. In many ways what he says here is far more contentious. Will we heed his call to get our house in order?
“It is certainly time that the ill-fated affair that evangelicalism has been having with liberalism should end and for the movement to regain confidence in its defining convictions once more.”
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...How does one with a clear conscience institute a man into a living who you know is not going to proclaim the gospel? This issue has been around a lot longer than the question of instituting women into such positions. How does one work in a ‘senior staff’ team with people who deny fundamentals of the faith or add traditions which amount to a subtraction? The answers are not easy. One common ploy is to adopt what can be called the Anglican fairytale; that despite our apparent differences, deep down we are all one and on the same side. A more moderate rationalisation is conciliation or compromise for the sake of influence. This is not very different from the sell-out to the academy. There does, however, seem to be the need to deny reality in adopting either approach. Regarding the former, it is manifestly not the case that the likes of Jeffrey John and John Stott are on the same team. Relating to the latter, the increasing number of ‘evangelical’ names added to the episcopal list has hardly resulted in a more orthodox and spiritually vigorous national church as evidenced by dwindling congregations and ordinations.
In 1984, Dr. Francis Schaeffer made a passionate appeal to the world evangelical constituency to stop its ‘worldly accommodation’. In its place he called for ‘loving confrontation’, not for its own sake but for the sake of truth and the glory of the God whose word is truth and the ultimate well being of the people he has made. The need for such confrontation remains, more so than twenty years ago. Liberalism in the threefold form we have identified has made significant inroads into Western evangelicalism and more specifically Anglican evangelicalism. Confusion results on matters of belief and behaviour when there should be clarity; compromise where there should be conviction with a resulting fragmentation and drift. Perhaps the fragmentation should continue and realignment around the centre needs to occur for a more authentic and robust evangelicalism to arise. It is certainly time that the ill-fated affair that evangelicalism has been having with liberalism should end and for the movement to regain confidence in its defining convictions once more.
Read it all [pdf]
Report on Monday Afternoon Business and [Audio]
Press release: General Synod welcomes climate change policy
- Climate Change and Investment Policy (GS 2004)
- Farewells, Prorogation and Dissolution
Monday Morning July 13th
Report on Monday Morning Business and [Audio]
Press release: Urgent action needed on climate change urges Synod
Order Paper of Business for Monday
- Small indaba group work on 'The Environment'
- Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church (GS 2003) - [The Bishop of Salisbury wanted the Church to 'fast for climate justice on the first day of each month' - by amendment Synod rejected this by 160 for, 147 against and 13 abstentions - moving on, the Bishop of Sheffield wants climate justice to be included as essential to Christian formation and catechesis - Main motion on climate change as amended carried 305 for, 6 against and 4 abstentions - Synod went to lunch.]
Sunday Afternoon July 12th
Report on Sunday Afternoon Business [Audio]
Order Paper of Business for Sunday
- Christian Initiation: Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language (GS 1958B and 1958X) - [Dumbed down version removing reference to the Devil and replacing the resurrection of Christ to life "raised your son to life" with the apparently more accessible "Jesus, who has passed through the deep waters of death and opened for all the way of salvation". Voting on additional baptismal texts passed by 2/3 majority by orders - Bishops: for 23 against 1 abstentions 1; Clergy for 114 against 6 abstentions 5; Laity for 126 against 10 abstained 6]
- 51st Report of the Standing Orders Committee (GS 1991) Proposed text of the Standing Orders (GS 2000)
- Legislation - Administration of Holy Communion Regulations (GS 1992) – Final Approval
- Leeds Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England - National Debate (GS 1928A and GS 1928C)
- Presentation by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns - [Press Release: Church should reflect reality of multi-cultural society]
- Presentation: Introduction to Group Work and Bible Study on the Environment
- Financial Business: The Archbishops' Council Budget and Proposals for Apportionment for 2016 (GS 2002) [Audio]
Saturday Afternoon July 11th
Report on Saturday Afternoon Business
[Afternoon Audio] and [Evening Audio]
Order Paper II - Saturday business
- Farewells [to the former Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham by the Archbishop of Canterbury "no secret that Michael was on the Crown Nominations Commission..in one sense or another, I owe him something"]
- Private Members' Motion from Canon Simon Killwick on Senior Leadership [passed as amended] (GS 1999A AND GS 1999B)
[Probably the most interesting and contentious debate of the day - see:
- - this background note from Canon Chris Sugden;
- - Blurb from the CofE
- - the full report is at GS 1999B here]
- The Church: Towards a Common Vision: Report from the World Council of Churches (GS 1986A)
- Church Commissioners' Report and Archbishops' Council's Report [GS 2001]
Saturday Morning July 11th
Report on Saturday Morning Business - [Legislation: Safeguarding, Terms of Service, Diocesan Stipendiary Funds and Faculties to do works to churches]
Synod gives final approval for Safeguarding legislation
Friday Afternoon July 10th
Report on Friday Afternoon Business - [Part Audio]
- Welcome to Anglican and Ecumenical Guests
- Address by Archbishop of Uppsala Dr Antje Jackelén [Audio] [Pro-gay activist from liberal Church of Sweden which in 2009 consecrated a partnered lesbian as Bishop of Stockholm]
- Archbishop of York's Presidential Address [Audio]
- Report by the Business Committee (GS 1988)
- Appointment to the Archbishops' Council (GS 1989)
- Appointment of Secretary General (GS 1990)
- 51st Report of the Standing Orders Committee (GS 1991) [and GS 2000 - Consolidated Texts of the Standing Order (further information: STV regs as to be amended, Table of Consolidated Origins and Table of Consolidated Destination)] [voting and meeting arrangements]
- Legislative Business [Holy Communion and enabling distribution of Holy Communion by lay communicants including children]
- - 500 Amending Canon No. 35 (GS 1964D) - Canon for Enactment
- - 501 Administration of Holy Communion Regulations (GS 1992 and GS 1992x Explanatory Memorandum) - Preliminary Consideration
- Presentation on behalf of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investing Bodies
- Questions and Answers - Booklet and Supplementary Questions and Answers [Audio]
■ Press release about Agenda
■ Full Daily Agenda and Timetable
■ Brief Agenda and Papers
■ Live Video Feed when in session or listen here for prior recordings
■ Twitter: #synod and it may be worth following: CofE Official Synod tweets; and @C_of_E if interested.
Church leaders, trade unionists, and politicians have expressed concern over government plans to relax the Sunday-trading laws.
Currently, large stores can open for up to six hours on Sundays, but the Chancellor, George Osborne, used his Budget speech on Wednesday afternoon to announce his plans to devolve responsibility for Sunday-trading laws to directly elected mayors and local authorities.
The move has come in for sharp criticism. The Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham tweeted: “Sundays are only day people who work in shops can bank on some time with their kids. I will oppose this all the way.”
The leader of the shop workers’ union USDAW, John Hannett, said that the Government should “honour the promise of a full consultation and parliamentary process for any proposed changes to the Sunday Trading Act....'
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Soon after 7/7 the families and the friends of the victims compiled a Book of Tributes. It is a taste of the ocean of pain surrounding the loss of each one of the victims. The tribute book is also very revealing about the character of the London which the bombers attacked.
The majority of the victims were young. They came from all over the UK and all over the world. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Humanists. There are in the book tributes in Italian, French, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Tamil, Polish, Farsi, as well as English.
London is an astonishing world-in-a-city but beyond the diversity the book also conveys a unifying agonised outcry – this was a terrible crime which robbed us of beloved sons and daughters, partners and friends.
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As the Steering Group of Reform met last week, the events surrounding the blessing of the Gay Pride march in York could not be ignored.
Whilst the Reform Steering Group stands opposed to homophobia, nevertheless they were unanimously of the view that it was an offense to all bible-believing Christians for the Minster to endorse, without qualification, the activities of York Pride with the intention of “affirming the LGBT community”.
They appreciated the Archbishop of York’s statement affirming the “traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behavior” and agreed with him that God loves and values all people, whatever their sexual orientation, and that that same love should be shown by Christians. They hope that the Archbishop of York is prepared to stand by the whole of Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” and the Dromantine Conference of Anglican Communion Primates Communiqué which affirms this teaching.
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Downing Street has today announced the appointments of two new Bishops in the Diocese of London. The Revd Rob Wickham, Hackney Area Dean and Rector of St John at Hackney, is to become the new Bishop of Edmonton and the Revd Ric Thorpe, the Bishop of London’s Adviser for Church Planting and Rector of St Paul’s Shadwell, is to become the new Bishop of Islington. In addition, the Bishop of London has confirmed that Prebendary John Hawkins will become the new Archdeacon of Hampstead.
Commenting on the three senior appointments, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO, said:
“Rob brings to the London team an enormous amount of experience and, in his eight years in Hackney, he has helped to provide a distinctive Christian contribution to the regeneration of his community. He will be well supported by John as Archdeacon of Hampstead, who has already experienced serving in an archidiaconal role in the area. They will form a highly effective partnership when they take up their roles in the autumn.
“As Bishop of the revived See of Islington, Ric will expand on his important work to date, supporting those involved in new Christian ventures, as well as applying the lessons learned for pioneers in training. He will harvest and share experience of church growth strategies as well as supporting people beyond the Diocese who are interested in the London experience.”
Read it all.
A spokesman from Church House, Westminster, said: “The Church of England has always maintained that a common day of rest is important for family life, for community life and for personal well-being. Increased Sunday trading will inevitably lead to further erosion of shared leisure time when a majority of people can count on being able to do things together. It will have an impact on community activities of many kinds, amateur sport, contact across extended families and religious observance. It seems quite contrary to the objectives of the Big Society, which once helped to shape policy and which the Church of England enthusiastically supported. Any further erosion of shared community life, whether that is driven by central or local government, will be detrimental to all of us.”
Bishop Colin added: “Clearly we await with interest to see what the Chancellor is actually proposing but it would be very sad for many people if Sundays were to become just like every other day of the week in terms of shopping. Even with the current levels of shop-opening there is something different about Sundays for most people – and certainly for most families – with its change of pace and we would be unwise as a society to encourage that to disappear.”
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R S Thomas, who died in 2000, was a priest and a poet, described as lacking charity and patience, and known for his crabbiness, his poetry however captures some of the realities around about life and faith, about pondering some of the deeper things of life, as we do in a service such as this one.
I wonder whether you have had a Romeo or Juliet moment? Balancing gravel in your hand, throwing it up at a window, wondering if it will be heard? Maybe it actually happened for you, the window really and literally opened and someone responded to your voice. Or, maybe sometime in your life, you have called out, perhaps in prayer, just wondering if anyone is there at all.
The poem is an illustration of faith in most of our lives today, some of us detecting the slight movement of a curtain, be it a hunch, a mysterious coincidence or a curious inquisitiveness to push at the door, or throw that stone up at the window, just to see what might happen.
Today, that curtain has moved that bit more noticeably for all of us as we observe faith in action. As these candidates respond to God’s call on their lives by being ordained. 25 being ordained in services here today, and of many hundreds being ordained across the country over the last few weeks.
Read it all.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is turning to the pioneer of the Alpha course to inspire parishes to evangelise.
The Revd Nicky Gumbel, vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton church in South Kensington, London, is due to address 850 diocesan representatives at Proclaim ’15, a national Catholic evangelisation gathering in Birmingham on Saturday.
The Alpha course is a 10-week introduction to Christianity borne out of the charismatic Evangelical movement and is now used by more Catholic churches worldwide than Anglican ones.
Clare Ward, home mission adviser to the bishops’ conference said Mr Gumbel had been invited to help parishes shift their mentality “from maintenance to mission”.
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“Today, the survivors and families of the 7/7 London attacks continue the journey that those of Tunisia have just begun. Our hearts grieve with those who lost loved ones ten years ago, and with those so suddenly and cruelly bereaved less than a fortnight ago. We hold them all before God and our spirits call out to Christ to strengthen them.
Read it all.
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Shops across the country will be able to stay open for longer on Sundays, George Osborne will announce in this week’s Budget.
The Chancellor will use his first Budget as Chancellor in a majority Tory Government to begin a massive shakeup of Sunday trading laws that currently prevent businesses opening for more than six hours.
He said that “there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday” and that businesses need the change to ensure that they can compete with online retailers.
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“We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality and we have not fully heard it,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, a year ago. But one of his own bishops says that sticking with the traditional line leaves the CofE suspended in mid-air like Wile E Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon, desperately trying to maintain an impossible position.
“The Church is like a cartoon character who has run off a cliff and is frantically moving his legs faster and faster in the hope it will save him, when he knows there is nothing underneath,” says the Right Rev Alan Wilson, one of the more plain speaking bishops.
“There are about a billion human beings on the planet who have access to same-sex marriage in their country or jurisdiction, so the thought that this is going to go away – or that it is just about a few people in San Francisco – is just wrong.”
He believes a fundamental shift in understanding is happening within the wider Church. “The Evangelicals in particular are in a wibbly wobbly place.”
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From the Church of England Evangelical Council
1. Calls for God to be referred to as 'she' which are a direct challenge to the revelation in the Scriptures that God has given of Himself, as Father and Son. God is neither male nor female and beyond human understanding of gender, but the inspired revelation we have received does not allow us the liberty to describe Him as Her, and any attempts to pray to God as our 'mother in heaven' are to be resisted.
2. A serving Bishop appearing in an employment tribunal to oppose a colleague who is upholding church teaching and discipline (which does not endorse same-sex marriage) and, in his testimony, describing the canonical definition of marriage as 'lousy'.
3. The endorsement of Gay Pride through a public prayer of blessing on the recent march outside the Minster Church of the Northern Province.
4. The Shared Conversations as constructed are revealing that the traditional view on same sex relationships is not held by a large proportion of the diocesan representatives and comes across as a minority view. The overarching question and theme for the Conversations is the church's response to the changes in our culture, and not a study of the provided texts and existing teaching of the Church of England. We are told that no particular outcome is expected or sought by these conversations, but the current position of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, arising out of the plain meaning of the scriptural texts, appears to be poorly represented by the diocesan representatives and this is of real concern, as we had hoped for a proper conversation and engagement.
Faced with the gap between these examples and the publically stated adherence of all clergy to the doctrinal base of the Church of England, we reaffirm and celebrate that base as the inheritance of the Church of England. We believe that all called into leadership should give and maintain their assent to it, and be guided by it, in their teaching and ministry.
We therefore invite evangelicals in all the English Dioceses to renew a commitment to praying...
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Known as the “red carpet curate” for his appearance at glitzy film and theatrical premieres, he wants to make the church relevant to creatives struggling with life and their spirituality.
We meet in a public relations office in Soho, the heart of London’s theatreland. (The PR executives are donating their time for free.) His dog collar is accessorised with a bright blue jacket, bowler hat and a multicoloured scarf. The flamboyance reflects his vivacious and garrulous personality. “I am groovy. I am theatrical. I am loud,” he says, redundantly. “I love people. Not everyone gets me.” Yet, he says, he is also a “contemplative soul”.
It is the larger ambition that is so arresting. For Rev Feital is on a mission to create a social enterprise — called the Haven — in central London. This is part of the Diocese of London’s strategy, Capital Vision 2020, which aspires to reach new people and engage with the creative arts to find fresh ways to convey the church’s message. The steering committee is being put in place, which Rev Feital says will include a City investor as well as representatives from the music, film and fashion industries.
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The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO, said:
“In his many publications and in his teaching in St Mellitus College, Graham has demonstrated a generous orthodoxy which combines depth with clarity. He has continually combined teaching with pastoral care for those preparing for parochial and other ministries. His whole ministry in a sense has been in support of the ‘local church’ for which he has a passion. As Area Bishop he will be able to develop this theme in his ministry as he serves the remarkably diverse Christian communities in West London.”
Graham trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall, was a curate in Exeter, later returning to Wycliffe as a tutor in Historical Theology and eventually becoming Vice Principal. In 2005, he helped found St Paul’s Theological Centre, which is now part of St Mellitus College. Graham is the author of many articles and several books, most recently, ‘The Widening Circle – Priesthood as God’s way of Blessing the World’, published in 2014. He is married to Janet and has two grown-up children.
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Anne is currently vicar of St Peter’s Church in St Albans, a ‘small, historic city’, where she describes her role as ‘growing a vision for an outward-focused mission and ministry’. Previously, she has worked as a youth worker in West Sussex and then Nottingham, where both Anne and her husband Steve explored a call to ordained ministry.
In 1999, after a joint curacy in another challenging area of inner city Nottingham, Anne and Steve moved to Derby where Anne was Chaplain at the University of Derby and Derby Cathedral for six years. Steve pursued a different path and is currently a part-time tutor with the Church Army and a half-time consultant, trainer and researcher in mission and contemporary culture.
Having moved to Manchester in 2005, Anne served as a Residentiary Canon of Manchester Cathedral and as Chaplain to the Bishop of Manchester where she says she ‘loved the city centre cathedral ministry, but also had a privileged opportunity to learn a lot about the challenges and opportunities of a complex urban diocese’.
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Those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults know only too well the risks associated with residential care. In 2012, of the 16,500 children who were found to be at high risk of sexual exploitation, more than a third—35%—were children living in residential care. It seems to me that these amendments would add additional strength to the general direction of the Bill, which we on these Benches happily support. We also draw on the research and briefing of the Children’s Society.
Places which care for children, young people and vulnerable adults in either residential or supported care facilities can easily become targeted by people who, via grooming and addiction to psychoactive drugs, use control to lead children and vulnerable adults into other very serious kinds of abuse. I note the point that the noble Lord made that accepting the amendment would put this offence on the same footing as that of supplying drugs outside a school, which the Bill already makes an aggravating factor.
My colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol told me that last year, in his own city of Bristol, 13 men were convicted of a string of sexual offences involving sexual abuse, trafficking, rape and prostitution of teenage girls as young as 13 years old. Their tactics were clear: in return for drugs and alcohol, young girls were forced to perform sexual acts with older men. Much more could be said but I want to support these amendments because, as I say, they would help this vulnerable group to receive additional protection.
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After her ordination in 1996, Ruth served for fourteen years as a parish priest in Nottingham in one of the poorest areas in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. During this time she served as an Area Dean and was made Dean of Women’s Ministry for the diocese in 2007. In 2010 she took on the role of Parish Development Adviser in the Diocese of Southwark, based in Bermondsey. In 2013 she swapped inner-city life for Wiltshire.
Speaking in advance of today’s announcement, Ruth said, “I am surprised and amused to be chosen as the next Bishop of Taunton as I grew up in a non-conformist church where women held no roles of leadership. I am delighted to be heading to Somerset to join the diocesan team in this wonderful part of the world, moving ‘next door’ as it were. It will be a great privilege to meet and serve everyone who lives and works in the county.”
“In a diocese with such a mix of rural and more urban parishes, each I’m sure with its own distinct personality, I’m really keen to experience how our churches and the diocese are meeting those different needs. And how we can engage in the process of transformation, one which changes lives, both our own and others, and then influences the way in which we are ‘Church’ and brings about a renewed sense of community.”
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Four prominent Anglo-Catholic clergy in the Buckinghamshire region of Oxford Diocese have joined their evangelical colleagues in speaking out against Bishop Alan Wilson.
‘The definition of Marriage within the Canon Law of the Church of England is in accord with that of the whole Church for almost 2000 years. It is a matter of serious concern that a Bishop of the Church of England, who is one of those “ordained to be shepherds of Christ’s flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles” (Common Worship Ordinal) should describe that definition as “lousy.” ‘
The Rev’d Canon, Fr Victor Bullock, Vicar of Fenny Stratford
The Rev’d Canon, Fr Gary Ecclestone, Vicar of Hanslope & Castlethorpe
The Rev’d Fr Andrew Montgomerie, Rector of Iver Heath (and trustee of Prayer Book Society)
The Revd Fr Ross Northing, Rector of Stony Stratford with Calverton
This very public move by key Anglo-Catholics appears to utterly undermine Wilson’s claim during a number of radio interview this past Sunday that opposition to his public statements was limited to a small number of objectors. On the contrary, I understand that a letter is circulating which has a growing number of signatories. This isn’t going away, in fact quite the opposite. Wilson’s attempts to dampen the fire have failed. Conservatives I’m speaking to are outraged by his radio interviews and according to one prominent figure in the ongoing discussions,
“[Bishop Wilson’s letter] has made things worth as it has displayed a total lack of understanding of what it is that people are unhappy about. I am delighted that more and more people are being encouraged to speak out to show him that we are not a ‘potty’ fringe group”
It’s fair to say that the Oxford Diocese has reached a crisis moment.
Read it all
Capitalism that cannot find £200 for a highly-motivated individual, with good skills, is simply not adequate to the task of creating a stable society.
That hard-working, self-starting man will be on my mind tomorrow, when I take part in the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism in the City of London. This brings together leading figures from business, finance and public policy committed to creating economic systems which will encourage a long-term prosperity that is broadly shared. I am sure I will learn a great deal. I also hope to contribute in a small way, bringing a perspective informed by both economics and theology.
A Christian understanding of inclusive capitalism begins with the nature of God, who in Jesus Christ reached out to include all humanity in salvation. What that looks like for each individual is purpose, calling and a destiny with God. The New Testament teaches us that none of this happens because we are good - in fact, St Paul says in his letter to the Romans that Christ died for us while we were still God’s enemies. It happens because God sought to include all human beings in his love and purpose for them, if they would accept his invitation.
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This case comes hard on the heels of an attempt sponsored by Unite to establish that a beneficed parish priest is employed by his bishop or enjoys the status of a worker, thereby paving the way for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims. That was roundly rejected by the Court of Appeal in April. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment sketched the history of the relationship between church and state and more particularly the jurisdiction of royal or civil courts over clergy from the investiture controversy in the 11th century right through to the establishment of the modern ecclesiastical courts. He appears to have accepted the proposition that employment tribunals could determine such questions as an attack on the balance that has been struck. Similar considerations apply to the Pemberton case, although the legal analysis is distinct.
While many will feel sympathy for Canon Pemberton, it should be remembered that even in the secular field, activities outside the workplace can result in a lawful termination of employment, although rarely. It should also be remembered that when ordained as a priest, he not only took an oath of canonical obedience to his bishop but also declared that he would fashion his own life “according to the way of Christ” and to be “a pattern and example to Christ’s people”.
What that amounts to cannot be a matter of private judgment. Plenty of other homosexual priests have at some cost followed the House of Bishops guidance and previous similar utterances from the hierarchy.
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An impression was given that he was merely following orders that led the tribunal judge to suggest that the Church of England’s position on same-sex marriage was a ‘busted flush’. The deafening silence from Lambeth Palace and Bishopthorpe hung over proceedings. In contrast, the Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, acting as an expert witness for Jeremy Pemberton, was characteristically and defiantly dismissive of the Church’s orthodox view that marriage is between a man and a woman as a “lousy definition” of matrimony.
Thankfully, clergy in his diocese are now calling for Bishop Wilson’s resignation and refusing his Episcopal ministry. About time, he has for too long been at odds with the Church of England’s teaching. But his decisive and courageous defence of Jeremy Pemberton and his willingness to speak his mind and court controversy, contrasts with the timidity of his colleagues who are supposed to be defending the Church of England’s doctrine. I suspect that this willingness to confront the indecisive handwringing of the Church of England may yet give Jeremy Pemberton a victory in his tribunal case. It is however, likely to be a short-lived victory – the Church of England has protections and exemptions. Further, the courts of the land have no business adjudicating on the doctrine of the Church of England.
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...Eighteen months ago, the Archbishop of York stated publicly that the Church of England could not provide blessings for faithful, monogamous gay couples in civil partnerships or marriages. Yet here, in York, his staff, with his approval, have given a public blessing to a large number of people celebrating homosexual relationships and practice, many of whom are involved in lifestyles which do not fit in even to the more narrow category of “permanent, faithful, stable”. Some no doubt feel that this is a public demonstration of the effectiveness of the church’s witness to marginalised people, but for others it is a strong symbol of the church blessing immorality, and meekly capitulating to, and being willingly co-opted by, the dominant powers of the age who are in rebellion against God and his Anointed.
Many had hoped that while the new morality was rapidly taking hold in the C of E at least the Archbishops would hold the line. This statement will ensure that for orthodox Anglicans here and around the world, this hope is rapidly disappearing. Some might say that the C of E is becoming an increasingly unsafe place for bible-believing Christians.
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Living, breathing buildings which exist to serve God
Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries has praised the important role of cathedrals in national life, highlighting the Government's award last year of £20 million for fabric repairs to cathedrals in the First World War Centenary Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund.
He was speaking at the launch of a new book showcasing the Church of England's Cathedrals, today at St Paul's Cathedral.
Cathedrals of the Church of England has been written by Janet Gough, who is the Director of ChurchCare, the Church of England's Cathedrals and Church Buildings division. The book features short descriptions of each cathedral, and is illustrated with photographs including some specially commissioned images by Paul Barker (best known for his photographs over many years for Country Life)*.
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This week began with Katherine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (TEC) of the USA, preaching in Westminster Abbey; it will end, we are told with Canon Michael Smith of York Minster blessing the York Gay Pride March. In between we have seen the Bishop of Buckingham describe doctrine that he swore to teach and pass on as ‘lousy’.
Nowhere in any of this has there been the clear message of the Gospel that despite our rejection of his ways we are all loved by God and can find forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not surprising, then, that the majority of the world’s Anglicans now look to the Primates of Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) for Leadership – the only question is whether after weeks like this one, those in the Church of England who wish to proclaim this Gospel will be forced to follow the same path.
“Christianity is based on revealed doctrine, enabling individuals to live rightly before a Holy God as followers of Jesus Christ. He tells us how to live in all areas of life, including in areas of sexual behaviour. No denomination is at liberty to invent its own doctrine or to sacrifice revealed doctrine on the altars of contemporary fashion. We cannot be authentically Christian whilst simultaneously rejecting the teaching of the one we claim to follow.”
Rev Simon Austen – Rector of St Leonard’s Church, Exeter Diocese
“York Minster’s leading the way in the Gay Pride march is symbolic of what the Church of England’s leadership is doing generally on this issue – leading people away from the clear teaching of the Bible and the Gospel. It exposes the sham of the consultation process for what it is – a means by which the church can validate homosexual activity. One would hope that the Archbishop of York would do his duty and speak clearly, upholding the Bible’s position.”
Rev Melvin Tinker, St John’s Church, Newland, York Diocese
“I am deeply disappointed that Alan Wilson persists in undermining the teaching of the Church by his overt support of those who have gone against the clear rules governing clergy discipline. Describing the Church’s teaching and doctrine as “lousy” is quite breathtakingly arrogant and not language that one would expect from a senior leader in the Church. Were I in secular employment and so at odds with the leadership and core values of the company that employed me, I would resign forthwith as a matter of conscience.”
Rev Will Pearson-‐Gee -‐ Rector of Buckingham, Oxford Diocese
“The Bishop of Buckingham courts publicity for his revisionist agenda and gets it. He has sadly become a figure of disunity in the Oxford Diocese and a cause of grief to many faithful Anglican Christians. The version of marriage he espouses is incompatible with Biblical Christianity.”
Rev Will Stileman – Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Maidenhead and Chair of the Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship
“Sooner or later everyone in the Church of England will have to decide whether they have confidence in what God says about marriage and human sexuality in the Scriptures. If we are not willing to trust what God says is good for us and for our society then we lose the claim to be authentically Christian. And in the course of time God will make it plain that our claims to be Christian are hollow. Jeremiah 7:28 speaks of truth perishing and being cut off from the lips of God’s people, and the prophet is clear about the disastrous consequences of that”.
Rev Mark Burkill –Vicar of Christ Church, Leyton, Chelmsford Diocese
“The Bishop of Buckingham is a runaway train, and has lost the confidence of many of the clergy in the Diocese of Oxford who would have him nowhere near their churches. There is now a crisis of leadership in Oxford Diocese, shown in the fact that the Diocese was unable to appoint a Diocesan Bishop who can work with Buckingham. The Bishop of Buckingham thinks he can make up doctrine on the hoof to suit his own revisionist agenda. That is not how the Church of England does things”.
Rev James Paice, Vicar of St Luke’s Wimbledon Park, Southwark Diocese
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For me, the low point came in reading the testimony of Richard Inwood yesterday. I need to exercise some caution here—until very recently Richard was my Acting Diocesan Bishop. My strong impression is that he has been put in a very difficult position, in effect the key player in the most pressing issue of the moment for the Church, on which national Church issues might hinge, but perhaps without the support from the centre that one might have expected.
if there is ‘no harm’ when clergy defy their bishops, then we are heading for a time of institutional chaos, when everyone ‘does what is right in his (her) own eyes’. As we move into a more clearly post-Christendom context, where residual loyalty to the institutional church is disappearing faster than the bath-water down a plughole, this is going to be a practical disaster.
But the underlying issue is (intriguingly) the one that the tribunal judge intervenes on. If doctrine has been breached, but no harm will come, what (he asks in effect) is the point of doctrine? If the bishops of the Church of England have lost confidence in the importance of right doctrine, and the danger of wrong doctrine, then we are all in deep trouble.
as Anthony Thiselton points out in The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, for the first Christians doctrine was about their fundamental disposition in life; the claims of the creeds and credal statements weren’t simply claims about facts, but what they based their life on. They really believed that ‘The truth will set you free’ (John 8.32). That is why doctrine matters, not least in this area of what it means to be created, male and female in the image of God, and the implications of that for sexual behaviour. If the bishops do not believe that wrong doctrine in this area is harmful, then now is the time to abandon any theology of marriage. In fact:
“Christianity is based on revealed doctrine, enabling individuals to live rightly before a Holy God as followers of Jesus Christ. He tells us how to live in all areas of life, including in areas of sexual behaviour. No denomination is at liberty to invent its own doctrine or to sacrifice revealed doctrine on the altars of contemporary fashion. We cannot be authentically Christian whilst simultaneously rejecting the teaching of the one we claim to follow.” (Rev Simon Austen, Rector of St Leonard’s Church, Exeter Diocese) [Ref from here]
That is why the ministry of teaching is at the heart of Anglican understandings of what it means to be deacon, priest (presbyter) and bishop. That is why, in the Articles, preaching and the sacraments go hand in hand—teaching must lead to action, but action without teaching is like a ship without a rudder.
I sincerely hope that senior bishops in the Church will now speak up and correct the impression that has been given. Doctrine does underlie this issue; doctrine does matter; wrong doctrine causes harm. If they don’t speak now and publicly, I cannot see but that it will be the end of the Church of England as we know it.
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The 50m-long rainbow flag, at the heart of the Pride parade on Saturday (June 20), will be unfurled on the steps of the Minster for the first time.
Canon Michael Smith of the Minster will launch the parade. He said:
I am delighted to be involved in the York Pride Parade as it prepares to start again, this year, from the steps of the Minster.
At York Minster we invite everyone to discover God’s love through our welcome, worship, learning and work, and I am looking forward to sharing with other local organisations in welcoming and affirming the LGBT community from our city and beyond and saying a short prayer and a blessing as they begin their Parade.
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See also: Telegraph - CofE’s top female cleric: I would have ‘no problem’ with blessings for gay marriages
The Dean of York, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull – tipped as a future bishop – says effect of the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage is ‘dreadful’
With thanks to Kevin Kallsen at Anglican TV
See: Reform/Oxf’d DEF: Evangelicals call for the Church of England to uphold the gospel of Jesus Christ.
First, Vaughan Roberts of St Ebbes Oxford, one of the largest churches in the diocese, appeared on BBC Radio Oxford. You can hear a brief grab from him here on the Charles Nove Show (available for 30 days from the time of broadcast) at 1:10 into the programme followed by Alan Wilson. Roberts says,
In any line of work if you as a leader of that organisation find yourself in a fundamental disagreement with that organisation and then you publicly speak against it, the only sensible option is to resign. He must be in a very difficult position and if he finds that he doesn’t now support this view on a fundamental issue (of marriage) by the organisation he is called to serve and to lead - obviously he should resign.
An hour later Will Pearson-Gee, the Rector of Buckingham Parish Church appeared on the BBC Radio Berks Sunday morning show. The full audio of his interview and a response from Wilson is below.
It’s worth noting a couple of things at this point...
Read it all [h/t Stand Firm]
Watch Bishop Alan Wilson speaking in October 2014 here
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See also: Milthorpe School: York Pride – Wear a Rainbow Day
At Millthorpe, we will be dressing the outside of the building in rainbow bunting and rainbow flags and staff and students are invited to wear a rainbow piece of clothing, accessory or sticker, if they wish to do so. Students must wear full school uniform but can wear an additional piece of rainbow clothing or a rainbow accessory on top of their uniform. In addition, they will have the opportunity to collect a rainbow sticker and/or rainbow hand stamp from school, to show their support for equality between lesbian, gay, bisexual and straight people in York.
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- Reform/Oxf’d DEF: Evangelicals call for the Church of England to uphold the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Statement on her gay pride blessing decision by wannabee bishop Vivienne Faull
- York Mix: Minster teams up with York Pride in historic show of LGBT support
- Anglican Unscripted 186 - How to make a Brit mad!
- Prominent Oxford Diocese Evangelicals call for the resignation of Bishop Alan Wilson
Renovation work to Derby Cathedral has discovered remains of the previous church, long thought lost.
The six-month, £670,000 project will upgrade heating and electrics, as well as seeing large areas repainted.
The 14th Century church was demolished and rebuilt in the 1720s and it was believed all trace of the older building had gone.
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The new Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has been enthroned at Bury St Edmunds Cathedral.
The Right Reverend Martin Seeley formally took up his position in Suffolk following his consecration as a bishop at Westminster Abbey last month. Some 900 people attended the service.
The cathedral dean said bishops should "challenge injustice".
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A bishop has been asked if the “hot potato” issue of a clergyman marrying his partner in a same-sex marriage was delegated by the archbishop of Canterbury, to avoid a Church of England split.
Former acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham Richard Inwood was asked if the Most Rev Justin Welby decided “to leave it (the issue) alone, politically,” in allowing individual bishops to handle such a breach of the church’s rule as they saw fit.
The bishop replied: “To paraphrase the TV programme [House of Cards], you may say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.” Inwood was speaking at an employment tribunal for Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who has made a claim for discrimination against the bishop.
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The 1944 settlement, the basis for governing religious education, school worship, and denominational schools for the past seven decades, should be replaced with an agreement in tune with modern reality, a former Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke, said this week.
Mr Clarke calls for the change in a pamphlet, A New Settlement: Religion and belief in schools, cowritten with Professor Linda Woodhead, a colleague at Lancaster University, where he is a visiting professor in politics and religion.
"It is clear to us", they say, "that the educational settlement between Church and State formalised in the 1944 Education Act, and reflected a different era, no longer serves its purpose."
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... Rt. Rev. Graham Kings, who in July takes up a newly created seven-year post, mission theologian in the Anglican Communion, believes a fourth element is needed to make the Anderson-Venn vision complete: self-theologising.
This fourth self, he says, now needs to come to the fore, especially the largely unrecognised work of Anglican theologians from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. “It is these theological voices which need to be heard more clearly throughout the Anglican Communion,” he says.
“It’s a partnership to find and publish new voices,” Kings adds. The post is an initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church Mission Society, and Durham University. Kings has been awarded an honorary visiting fellowship at Durham, will be employed by CMS, will work in the Lambeth Palace Library, and will serve as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Southwark, London.
Step one will be a series of seminars around the Communion for theologians, particularly from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. There are two further elements: coordinating writing-sabbaticals for hard-pressed theologians of the Global South and publishing a series of books on Anglican theologies. Sabbaticals are being planned at colleges in Durham, Oxford, Cambridge, and at Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies.
Kings, an original member and mentor in the founding of Covenant, the weblog of The Living Church, has been Bishop of Sherborne in the Diocese of Salisbury since 2009.
Among the tasks ahead for Kings is setting up an endowment fund at Durham to ensure, after his seven years, a stable foundation for mission theology in the Communion. Another dream is encouraging theologians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to serve in the role of peritus (Latin for expert) in conferences of the Communion
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[Joseph] Stiglitz is also particularly critical of the banking system: “If they (the banks) are too big to fail and they know it, excessive risk-taking is a one-sided bet: if they win they keep the profits, if they lose, taxpayers pick up the tab.” He summarises this as socialising losses while privatising gains.
Furthermore, there is a growing chorus of opposition to lax executive pay habits. Fidelity Worldwide Investment has urged companies make their long-term incentive plans less short term in nature, or face votes against remuneration at annual meetings. Last year the Church Commissioners opposed executive pay deals in two-thirds of the companies where they have a holding.
Adam Smith, said to be the father of modern economics, wrote: “Servants, labourers and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be ﬂourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.”(2)
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What is happening?
The Revd Jeremy Pemberton is taking the Archbishop of York and Bishop Richard Inwood (who was the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham) to an Employment Tribunal over the refusal of Bishop Richard to grant Mr Pemberton a licence. Jeremy Pemberton was offered a job with the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as a Chaplaincy Manager, but the NHS terms of employment required the appointee to hold a formal denomination’s recommendation.
Why was Jeremy Pemberton refused a licence?
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The Bishop of Buckingham has described the Church of England's teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman as "a lousy definition".
The Rt Rev Alan Wilson was speaking at a discrimination case brought by Canon Jeremy Pemberton against the Church.
He was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain by the then acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham after he married his partner.
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"The Church of England continues to be committed to the provision of high quality RE in schools which is vital for a balanced understanding of the world today where more than 80% of the population are people of faith. The Church strongly supports the statutory requirement for collective worship in all schools and there is plenty of flexibility in the provision to enable all pupils to benefit without compromising their faith or lack of it. Where there are real objections it is a parent's right to withdraw their child from worship, and the very few who take up that right demonstrates that schools have found exciting and creative ways of using collective worship to further children's spiritual and moral development. There is no expectation of commitment and the exposure to the range of religious traditions encourages community cohesion." --[The] Revd Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer
Traditional Christian teaching could effectively be “criminalised” in some settings under David Cameron’s plans for new anti-extremist banning orders, a top Anglican theologian and former Parliamentary draftsman has warned.
The Rev Dr Mike Ovey, a former lawyer and now principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, a training school for Church of England clergy, said proposals for new “Extremism Disruption Orders” could be a “disaster area” for people from all the mainstream religions and none.
Mr Cameron and Theresa May have signalled that the new orders, planned as part of the Government’s Counter-Extremism Bill, would not curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but the promotion of other views deemed to go against “British values” even if it is non-violent and legal.
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Thinking of oneself as "Church of England" or "Anglican" is increasingly irrelevant, clergy have suggested, responding to last week's statistical analysis indicating that Anglicans were in steep decline in the UK....
The Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall, writes (Letters) that parish priests and deans are leading "increasingly post-denominational" communities.
He points to the decline in confirmations, even in churches that are growing, as "a version of the same story. . .
"Confirmation suggests an ownership of a specific denominational identity, which is simply not part of the deal for most people. I would suggest that even most people of my generation, and certainly those of my children's, find denominational identity increasingly irrelevant."
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Declining numbers at services should not necessarily be a cause of despair for churches because people will still “encounter God” without ever taking their place in a pew, the Church of England’s newest bishop designate has insisted.
Dame Sarah Mullally, the former NHS Chief Nurse for England who has been named as the next Bishop of Crediton, said clerics must recognise that young people are as likely to hear the Christian message through social media sites such as Facebook or in cafés as in a church.
In a remarkably varied career, the 53-year-old mother-of-two has now risen to the top of two very different professions.
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Following allegations of human rights abuses, bribery and corruption the Church Commissioners and Pensions Board have raised serious concerns with SOCO International and its board since November 2013 and intensively since December 2014. Our concerns specifically address four main areas relating to the company's operations in and around Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The four main areas are:
• The instigation of a wide ranging and transparent independent enquiry of SOCO's operations in and around Virunga National Park.
• Amendment of the previously issued statement agreed between SOCO and WWF to remove any room for doubt about SOCO's intentions within existing or future boundaries of a World Heritage site so that there are, without exception, no circumstances in which SOCO would conduct further exploration or production activities in the Virunga National Park or any other World Heritage site.Following allegations of human rights abuses, bribery and corruption the Church Commissioners and Pensions Board have raised serious concerns with SOCO International and its board since November 2013 and intensively since December 2014. Our concerns specifically address four main areas relating to the company's operations in and around Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The four main areas are:
• The instigation of a wide ranging and transparent independent enquiry of SOCO's operations in and around Virunga National Park.
• Amendment of the previously issued statement agreed between SOCO and WWF to remove any room for doubt about SOCO's intentions within existing or future boundaries of a World Heritage site so that there are, without exception, no circumstances in which SOCO would conduct further exploration or production activities in the Virunga National Park or any other World Heritage site.
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Most of our schools are rated good or outstanding, with pupils attaining academic benchmarks. But we want more for our children. Church of England schools focus on spirituality and creativity which values the arts and religion as much as it looks for the beauty in maths, the wonder in science and the emotional understanding enhanced through poetry and music.
We also focus on the development of character and virtue that enables pupils to play their part in transforming the neighbourhood and world in which they live. That is why we are delighted to be one of fourteen from more than a thousand applicants, to be awarded a grant from the DfE Character Fund to carry out a substantial research project examining how various approach to teaching and pedagogy might better develop not just resilience and grit but ways of thinking which lead to service and mutual understanding.
We are also pleased to be developing ways in which schools and colleges can help communities live well together. This is not simply about fundamental British values which might be driven by the fear of extremism, but flows from a desire to use the diversity that is present in our schools to demonstrate what living well together really means.
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The Archbishops' Council are delighted to announce William Nye has been selected to be its next Secretary-General and Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England. He will succeed William Fittall who is retiring at the end of November after thirteen years in this post.
William Nye was selected unanimously by a panel comprising both Archbishops, seven other members of the Council (including two officers of the General Synod) and the Chair of the Appointments Committee. The recommendation of the panel was unanimously endorsed by a meeting of the full Council in May 2015.
William Nye brings 25 years of experience from the Civil Service and Whitehall. His roles and departments have included National Security at the Cabinet Office, Diplomacy, Intelligence and Defence at HM Treasury and Arts at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
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A couple of deans have offered measured comments on Richard's blogsite, and the Dean of Liverpool has written a longer, and in my view splendid, response in a blog of his own. In it, he invites Richard to experience for himself the extraordinary diversity of activity in that great cathedral comprehensively including prayer and pilgrimage, outreach, social care, the arts, Christian community and a whole lot else.
I want to ask a few questions of my own.
1. Isn't Richard's concept of how God speaks to human beings a bit selective and narrow? Doesn't God make himself known in an infinite variety of ways, not simply through the spoken word (or even Word)? Cathedrals are numinous sacred spaces that speak of the divine not only through their buildings but also in the life and activity of their communities: daily prayer and worship, music and the arts, a common life of love and service, all of which play a part in building up the people of God and communicating faith.
2. Doesn't Richard underestimate the key role liturgy plays in speaking of faith? Wesley called the eucharist 'a converting ordinance'. Paul says that the breaking of bread is to 'show forth the Lord's death until he comes' - show forth being a strong, outward-facing missionary word. He wants the church's worship to be so compelling that guests coming in from outside have no choice but to conclude that 'God is among you'. The huge investment of care that goes into cathedral worship is at the heart of our witness to the gospel. People have been converted through coming to midweek choral evensong. (You don't believe me?)
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I’ve just devoured James Rebanks‘ The Shepherd’s Life, which is a fascinating and brilliantly written account of his life as a shepherd on the Cumbrian fells (with a little international consultancy on the side to help with the bills). As near as I can reckon, it tells us non-farmers what it really means to live with that connection to a place and to a way of life which is almost completely foreign to a market society. Looking at it from the outside, why would anyone work so incredibly hard for such little reward? But that question only makes sense when you’re thinking of ‘work’ and ‘life’ as two different things. You contract for work in order to have enough money to get on with the things you really want to do.
But for farmers – or at least for Rebanks – it’s not like that. The life and the living are one and the same thing. You have to make enough money to survive, so you work as cannily as you can to maximise your return. But that’s not the heart of it. Rebooks begins by talking about the way sheep on the fells are ‘hefted’ to a specific area. Even though there aren’t any fences, they know their territory, and that’s where they stay. It’s their space. As a one-time walker on the Cumbrian fells, I can attest to the indignation of a Hardwick sheep when confronted by a stranger carrying a knapsack. One definitely gets the feeling that they’re thinking ‘if I had proper teeth, I’d be after you …’.
Rebooks leaves the reader to makes the connection with himself and his fellow farmers. But they too are hefted to their places. Not necessarily the individual farm, because people move from time to time. But to the area, the territory, they are inextricably linked. A lot of Church of England clergy feel just the same about their parishes.
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The next Bishop of Crediton is to be the Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral.
Dame Sarah, a former nurse, had a distinguished service in the NHS before ordination, culminating in her appointment as the government’s Chief Nursing Officer for England in 1999, when she was the youngest person to be appointed to the post.
She was ordained in 2001 and served her curacy in St Saviour’s Battersea Fields, initially as a self-supporting minister. She left her post as Chief Nursing Officer in 2004 to take up full time ministry becoming a Team Rector in Sutton, Surrey in 2006. In 2012 she was installed as Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral.
She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2005 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to nursing and midwifery.
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The city of Hull was bombed several times by Zeppelin airships during World War One. Saturday marks the centenary of the first raid.
Civilians in Britain had been largely unaffected by the war but in January 1915 the first Zeppelin raids on other parts of the UK had shattered the illusion of safety.
On its way to Hull six months later, on June 6, Zeppelin L-9's presence was first spotted just after 19:00 by intercepted wireless traffic when it was 100 miles away over the North Sea.
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(The Dear Deans letter to which this responds may be found here--KSH).
Now, Liverpool Cathedral is not perfect. Your piece is a challenge to me. What might we do better, where are we falling short and failing to make the most of the opportunities which the Lord is presenting to us? But nor is Liverpool Cathedral unique! Here’s the thing: in its inherited tradition, ours probably is the most Evangelical of all the Cathedrals in England. I guess it is, anyway – though we now manage that in an intentionally non-partisan, non-tribal way, delighting in the contributions of the Anglo-Catholic and liberal bits of the CofE. But given that Evangelical inheritance, maybe I’ve found a greater appetite for evangelism here than I might have found if I had been appointed Dean anywhere else. But I can assure you that when I am talking to my fellow Deans about what’s going on here, I absolutely don’t encounter sniffy contempt. Not one bit. They rejoice with me, and sometimes I think they’re a bit wistful on account the scope which both our architecture and our long tradition gives us. Because, for all your frustration, the fact is that the Deans do understand and embrace the missionary challenge we face. Of course, the mission is understood differently in different places – you’d expect that in the Church of England. You’re surely not asking for every Cathedral to be an outpost of HTB.
Here, by the way, is an excerpt from the report which Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York, has just given (as its Chair) at the annual meeting of the Association of English Cathedrals. (I don’t have her permission to quote from it, but I think she’d be delighted if it reaches a wider audience!) She cites some recent research to be published imminently by Grace Davey which ‘will show how cathedrals are an important means by which the passive majority becomes acquainted with the forms of religion performed by the active minority… The location of cathedrals on the border between the religious and the secular enhances this capacity. She goes on, ‘many English Anglican cathedrals are working with this liminality with creativity and effectiveness. And towards the end she notes, ‘Many of those who now affiliate to cathedrals have relatively little knowledge of Christian faith, or of the Church of England. Most cathedrals are now offering routes by which newcomers to faith may discover more. Intentional discipleship in cathedrals marks a significant shift away from the assumption that those who worship with us seek anonymity’.
This, I think, is the particular ministry of Cathedrals, and I’m confident all my colleagues know it, value it and want to make the most of it. How we are doing so will differ according to several variables: theological standpoint is only one; architecture and location are significant too. But take heart: there is much effective evangelism taking place. Maybe we could all be making more of precisely the interface you cite, when Choral Evensong meets Tourism Central; but don’t assume that’s the whole deal. And also, give us a break: the Church of England is on a journey, and Cathedrals are on board. You can be sure that the language of mission is more and more mainstream even in Cathedrals and that when the Deans meet to talk, we even talk, at least some of the time, about making Jesus known. We remember that that is what we were ordained to do, I promise.
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We must emphasise a mutual belonging to our society, and toughen up religious teaching if we want to achieve spiritual harmony
The term “religion” has increasingly come to have a perjorative connotation, suggesting at least legalism, hypocrisy and hocus pocus, if not downright violence and evil. But most people are not “secular” in the sense of denying the existence of a spiritual realm. Rather than taking the trouble to distinguish between good and bad religion, they instead take the easy option of believing in some kind of “spirituality”, which allows them to acknowledge a spiritual domain without having to belong to an organisation and live by its rules. Their awareness may be vestigial, increasingly distant from historical Christianity and more and more idiosyncratic, but it is there.
For the churches, this can be a point of contact, but we have to realise, more generally, that if spiritual beliefs are to make a lasting impact on society, they need a means of social expression. Soft focus “spirituality” does not make any demands about social responsibility, delayed self-gratification or the importance of the family. This is what the churches have done until now. There seem to be no other candidates in the field. The choice is between even more individualism, and “making it up” as we go along, or some kind of revitalisation of the social aspect of belief. Will our churches rise to the challenge?
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Follow Up: A National Secular Society tweet in response to the Bishop--
Bishop says schools should “teach the faith”. They absolutely should not. Need objective education about religion. http://t.co/lIiyitWk3h— Secularism UK (@NatSecSoc) June 6, 2015
With thanks to Kevin Kallsen at Anglican TV
It leaves me asking a basic question. Do we have any interest in the conversion of England – or even the survival of faith within the CoE?
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This is not even the end point in feminist theology. Others like Rita Nakashima Brock state
“The feminist Christian commitment is not to a savior who redeems us by bringing God to us. Our commitment is to love ourselves and others into wholeness. Our commitment is to a divine presence with us here and now, a presence that works through the mystery of our deepest selves and our relationships, constantly healing us and nudging us toward a wholeness of existence we only fitfully know. That healed wholeness is not Christ; it is ourselves.” [my bolding] Rita Nakashima Brock, “The Feminist Redemption of Christ,” in Christian Feminism: Visions of a New Humanity (ed. Judith Weidman; New York: Harper & Row, 1984), 69.
And so we come full circle. Feminists have determined that Jesus cannot save them so they have to save Him. The attempt to make Jesus a symbol or a metaphor detracts from His humanity. In detracting from His humanity they are also diminishing our humanity; male and female. The feminist spirit is not new. It began with Eve doubting what God had instructed and trying to become more than she was created to be; wanting to be equal to God. There is an element of symbolism here. Feminism is giving birth to a new Christ and with this new Christ, a new gospel is needed also. In order to make their new narrative work, they must change the Christology of the church. This is the spirit of this age and it has infected the true church however, Jesus has not changed. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
“Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Jesus came to reveal the Father. It is a major work of the church to reveal the Son. To obfuscate the person and work of Jesus Christ is to confuse His revelation of the Father, confound soteriology and grieve the Holy Spirit.
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10. Referring to God as “Mother” is part of an overall plan to eradicate any sign of patriarchy from Christianity - Depend on it. Calling God both “Mother” and “Father” is only the first step. God as “Father” must be removed completely. There is an agenda therefore, to alter the very foundation principles and theology of Christianity so that they worship another god altogether, and you only have to read the new age feminist theologians to understand that the goddess they want to worship is nothing like “Our Father in Heaven” instead it is “Earth Mother”. In other words, calling God “Mother” is not an alternative form of Christianity. It is not Christianity at all.
11. To Call God “Mother” is to worship a pagan Goddess - Why are women priests so afraid to be called “priestesses”? I asked one once. She said, “It sounds too pagan.” Indeed. Likewise, why are they so timid about calling the new god they worship a “Goddess”? Because it sounds too pagan. Don’t be deceived though. It won’t be long before they will embrace these terms. A new generation will not be so shy and will say, “Yes, you’re right. I am a priestess and I worship the goddess. So what?” And having accepted the goddess worshipping priestesses who will be able to say “Boo!”?
12. Calling God Mother opens the door to New Age Witchcraft - Why are people so dense about this? One only has to read the new age feminist theologians themselves to discover that the religion they are sympathetic to is none other than the worship of the Nature Goddess–the God of this world–aka Satan. Of course “enlightened” people will sneer at such an accusation, but feminist theologians themselves call for the complete abolition of the Father God and the embrace of the Mother Goddess. These feminist theologians have been very influential in the Anglican church. I was there. They were all over the place in the women’s ordination movement. That’s where it is headed, and the reason anyone who can’t see it is because they won’t see it.
Read it all and Part 2 is here
The decline in the proportion of British people who identify as Anglican has accelerated in the past decade, new analysis from NatCen statisticians suggests.
The proportion who say they are Anglican in the British Social Attitudes survey has fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. In the past decade, the proportion has fallen by two-fifths: from 28 per cent in 2004.
The researchers say that the survey results suggest that the number of Anglicans has fallen by as many as 4.5 million over the past ten years, from about 13 million to 8.5 million.
The biggest group remains those who say they have no religion: 49 per cent, up from 43 per cent in 2004 and 31 per cent in 1983.
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The Church of England has launched a new version of the clerical directory Crockford, delivering a daily update to the 157 year-old directory of Anglican clergy in the UK and Ireland.
The new subscription site has been designed to allow daily updates to details about people and places listed in Crockford, as well as featuring a completely new layout, with clearer language to explain clergy roles as well as more free content.
The latest edition of the website also provides a guide to the structure of dioceses and churches, enabling people to 'thumb through' their local church context.
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Here is a wedding symbolizing and remembering God’s final great act of creation – man and women in his image, different but coming together in intimate partnership for fruitfulness and stewardship. God is present, but incognito, and sees that the wine – the spiritual heart of celebration and shalom – has gone. V6 mentions jars were used to hold water for Jewish purification ceremonies. They are empty. Religious ceremonies, whether Jewish, Christian or otherwise, only point to the spiritual, supernatural dimension to life – they cannot in themselves connect us to the life of God. What Jesus has come to do is to restore the ‘God dimension’ to our humanity which religious works in themselves can’t do. But of course at that time in the story Jesus had not yet gone to the cross to die for our sins, he had not yet risen from the dead, breaking through death and showing God’s plans for eternal life for all who believe in him; he had not yet sent the Holy Spirit – so at that time his hour had not yet come. But for us it has come!
So Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding is a picture of a divine restoration of humanity as originally intended: communities of celebration in relationship with God the Father who saves, communicates and sustains by his Word, built on the foundation of men and women in happy marriages. Instead of worship and witness being confined to empty religious forms, the presence and the truth of Christ and the free flowing new wine of the Spirit spill over into the whole of life. This is what churches are called to model.
But of course this brings huge questions for our day. What about people who are not married, and what about same sex marriage? Here are some brief thoughts:
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The Archbishops' Council has today announced the appointment the Revd Canon Dr Ian McIntosh has been appointed as the new Head of Formation in the Ministry Division.
Ian is currently Principal of the Eastern Region Ministry Course and recently served as president of the Cambridge Theological Federation.
The new role of Head of Formation includes responsibility for the Division's work in both discernment and initial ministerial education. Ian will take up his new role at the start of September 2015.
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The Church of England is urging vicars to broadcast their Sunday services live on the internet because some people find it too “scary” to attend in person.
Official advice from the CofE’s Church House headquarters in London encourages parishes to take advantage of new technology making it possible to broadcast through a mobile phone as a new way of “spreading the word”.
It recommends trying out new streaming services as a means of catering for those unable to attend because of ill health or travelling abroad as well as to reach those who might be curious but wary of publicly joining in services.
The advice, written by Tallie Proud, the Church’s digital media officer, provides basic tips on everything from taking a steady shot to remembering to keep their mobile phone battery charged while streaming.
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Women And The Church (known as ‘Watch’), the pressure group calling for the use of ‘female language’ to describe God, know that such a change would lead to bitter rows in vestries and thunderous denunciations in the General Synod, the Church of England parliament.
But they are ready for battle. Watch ran — and won — the campaign for women bishops.
They are not to be confused with the loopy Christian feminists who danced in circles, clutching ‘healing crystals’, in the Seventies. No one listened when that lot demanded that God be called ‘She’, as they did incessantly.
Watch, in contrast, is led by a group of politically savvy networkers. These women are embedded in the ancient structures of the Church.
Watch’s members love to point out that the Bible uses feminine imagery: God is compared to ‘a woman in labour’ in the Book of Isaiah.
But throughout the Gospels Jesus constantly refers to God as ‘Father’ — most famously in the Lord’s Prayer.
Referring to God as ‘Mother’ drives a horse and cart through Scripture. Such an innovation is guaranteed to split the C of E as never before.
And much of the anger would come from Christians whom feminists are desperately anxious not to upset — women from immigrant backgrounds. African, West Indian and Asian Anglicans — who keep many inner-city British parishes alive — think feminised worship is tainted by paganism.
For many of them, referring to God as a woman is, indeed, a form of goddess worship, something they have fought against in their countries of origin.
We should also ask why this particular question has arisen now. One influence is the fashion for rewriting history to highlight the role of women in biblical times.
Much of this is based on bad scholarship and wishful thinking. Several books portray Mary Magdalene as the real leader of the Apostles. They are about as plausible as The Da Vinci Code.
The Church of England is not good at telling the difference between necessary modernisation of its practices and secular fads. Nothing has done more damage than its embarrassing attempts to be ‘relevant’.
In some parishes, every other sermon is about climate change, on which the vicar poses as an expert even though he’s done no more than skim-read The Guardian.
And do you remember those hideous cathedral youth events billed as ‘raves in the nave’?
Despite weighty theological arguments, the ‘God as She’ proposal falls clearly into the category of gimmick.
Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned us that the Church could be extinct in 25 years’ time unless services become more spiritually fulfilling.
Calling God ‘She’ will not achieve that fulfilment. The proposed twist of language will do nothing to stop the decline of Christian faith in this country.
On the contrary, it will make worshippers squirm. And nothing empties pews faster than that.
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I’m not sure that the reason millions of Brits are staying away from church is that they’ve explored the case for Christianity and found it wanting. Rather, most don’t know enough about Christianity to know whether they’re Anglican or not. What passes for religious education in schools is a joke; more comparative anthropology than anything, with Buddhism getting about as much space as Christianity. Sunday schools are no more. Whenever I’ve met secular university audiences I’ve been struck by the extent to which really bright young people know next to nothing about Christian doctrine.
The loss of faith has all sorts of repercussions. It was affecting the way the FA crowd on Saturday sang Abide With Me, that poignant expression of Christianity: hymn singing is one of the things young males don’t do any more.
But the losses go further. Yale professor David Brooks has written a much-discussed book, The Road to Character, in which he laments the way his students no longer have the language, the concepts, to talk about things like the common good, altruism, virtue. (They may of course do so in terms of evolutionary self-interest instead.)
One thing religion does is enable you to talk about these things; it’s more or less what Christianity is about. Even those of us who aren’t Anglican should be wishing Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, well in his bid to re-evangelise England. If the CofE dies, an awful lot of good will die with it.
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How typically hypocritical of today’s Church of England leadership to preach one thing but do the opposite.
During the election campaign, Anglican bishops made the highly political move of issuing a 52-page letter urging Christians to resist the power of big business.
Their call for an end to the free-market ideas embodied by Margaret Thatcher, which they claimed were ‘entrenching inequality’ between rich and poor, infuriated the Tory Party.
Yet just a few weeks later, Church leaders now appear to be happily embracing big-business values.
For the latest report by the Church Commissioners, who handle the C of E’s investments, reveals that they awarded a £75,000 pay rise to their director of investments.
The 18 per cent increase, at a time when the Government has imposed a public sector pay freeze, brings Tom Joy’s total salary package to £409,000.
Of course, the Church has to employ the best financial brains to look after its investments, but such a large amount of money will shock many parishioners working hard to raise funds.
Indeed, Mr Joy is not the only person being well-rewarded by the Church. Ten of the commission’s 229 staff earn more than £100,000 a year.
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Membership of the Church of England has dropped sharply in Britain in the last two years while the number of Muslims has grown, a new survey has revealed.
The British Social Attitudes survey found that the proportion of British adults describing themselves as Anglican has fallen from 21 per cent in 2012 to 17 per cent in 2014, a loss of around 1.7 million. That brings the number of Anglicans in Britain to 8.6 million people.
The proportion of Catholics remained roughly stable at 8 per cent, or just over 4 million, as did that of “other” Christians, including Methodists, Presbyterians and non-denominational Christians.
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