..The Church of England has just released what is known as the Pilling Report, the conclusions of a Working Group commissioned by the House of Bishops to report and make recommendations on issues of human sexuality. I am sorry to say that it is very flawed. If this report is accepted I have no doubt that the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Communion, will have made a fateful decision. It will have chosen the same path as The Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada with all the heartbreak and division that will bring.
The problem is not simply that the Report proposes that parish churches should be free to hold public services for the blessing of homosexual relationships, but the way it justifies this proposal. Against the principle of Anglican teaching, right up to and beyond the Lambeth Conference of 1998, it questions the possibility that the Church can speak confidently on the basis of biblical authority and sees its teaching as essentially provisional. So Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth conference, which affirmed that homosexual practice was ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and said it could ‘not advise the legitimisation or blessing of same sex relationships’, is undermined both in practice and in principle.
The proposal to allow public services for the blessing of same sex relationships is seen as a provisional measure and the Report recommends a two-year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ throughout the Church of England which is likened to the ‘Continuing Indaba’ project. This should be a warning to us because it highlights that the unspoken assumption of Anglican Indaba is that the voice of Scripture is not clear. This amounts to a rejection of the conviction expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles that the Bible as ‘God’s Word written’ is a clear and effective standard for faith and conduct.
As a matter of conscience, one member of the Working Group, the Rt Rev’d Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead, was unable to sign the Report. He issued a dissenting statement which I strongly endorse as an alternative way forward which honours the authority of Scripture and expresses a deep pastoral concern for the transforming power of the gospel in a society which is moving into ever greater confusion about sexual morality and identity.
We should pray earnestly that the English House of Bishops steps back from endorsing this Report, but the developing situation in the Church of England, the historic Mother Church of the Communion, underlines the need for our Global Fellowship to build on the success of GAFCON 2013 and implement our commitments. As we noted in the Nairobi Communiqué, the GFCA is becoming an ‘ important and effective instrument of Communion during a period in which other instruments of Communion have failed both to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us.’
Note: The CofE House of Bishops consider the Pilling Report at their meeting on Tuesday, December 10th. Please pray for Christ's Church of England.
A prayer by R. Samuel, received via email–
we repent of our sins
and ask for saving grace
to rescue us from impending
In every imaginable way
we have strayed from your
paths; gone to bed with Satan
and allowed the Spirit of Babel
to deceive us.
Deliver us from false cries of “revelance”;
disperse the darkness with your fiery light.
Let the evil one taste
afresh the blade of your Word.
Let Christ’s truth strengthen
us, especially the brethren in
the COE. Stir hearts and raise
a mighty intercession for your
Holy Bride in the UK.
Grant wisdom to your Bishops
as they deliberate over the report
and give them, especially the ones
who love your Word, the courage
to stand firm and to
testify to the Truth. Bind them
close to yourself, as they
speak the truth in love. Let
Holy resolve prevail in this dark
Recommendation 16. We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest,
with the agreement of the relevant PCC, should be free to mark the
formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service
but should be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not
believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage. (Paragraphs
120, 380–3) [Pilling Report Page 151]
Read it all and the 18 recommendations on pages 149 to 152
The Bishop of Birkenhead has issued a dissenting report at page 119 including:
after much prayer and soul searching, I have concluded I cannot sign.
The next Bishop of Bath and Wells has been announced. The announcement from Downing Street was made at 9am and confirms the next Bishop of Bath and Wells will be the Rt Revd Peter Hancock. His current role is Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, which he has held since September 2010.
Bishop Peter says he is "delighted" at the prospect of becoming the 79th Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Before his ordination to the episcopate, Bishop Peter served two curacies before serving as a parish priest for 13 years in the Diocese of Portsmouth. Later he became Archdeacon of the Meon - a position he held for 11 years.
Local dignitaries including cabinet minister and MP for Twickenham Vince Cable MP and Richmond Mayor Meena Bond came together for a special service to mark the 150th anniversary of the consecration of St James's Church, Hampton Hill.
The service, presided over by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, also brought together representatives from Hampton Hill Junior School and the school choir the mark the special occasion.
Rather than focusing on zombies as campy characters in B-movies, our sermon series reimagined zombies in a more symbolic way. Zombies became the bad ideas that have popped up at various misguided moments in the church’s history and, for whatever reason, can’t seem to die off. They keep coming back and, in some cases, exert a kind of stranglehold on the life of Christians and the ministry of the church.
And the way we fight off these zombies is with better ideas — with good, solid theology that reflects the grace of God, the compassion of Jesus and life of the Spirit.
During our six-week series, we exhumed and battled all kinds of zombies. One Sunday morning, we focused on belief. As Christians, does it matter what we believe? Most would answer in the affirmative. But are there times in the church’s life when Christian faith has become only about believing certain things to be true? Absolutely. Many de-churched folks can trace their journeys out of their congregations to the day that they stopped believing all of the fantastical things they were being asked to believe.
Father Jerry Sherbourne, an active-duty U.S. Army Chaplain, and former Anglican priest, was ordained a Catholic priest Sunday, December 8, 2013 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Through the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the imposition of hands, Archbishop Broglio ordained him during a 10:00 a.m. Mass.
Father Sherbourne is now a Catholic priest, incardinated in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a special Church jurisdiction established by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining distinctive elements of their theological, spiritual, and liturgical patrimony.
In preparation for his transition from Anglican to Catholic, Father Sherbourne underwent a two-year formation program approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Holy See, a process that included his ordination as a transitional Catholic deacon.
Rolihlahla Mandela was nine years old when a teacher at the primary Methodist school where he was studying in Qunu, South Africa, gave him an English name - Nelson - in accordance with the custom to give all school children Christian names.
This was common practice in South Africa and in other parts of the continent, where a person could often be given an English name that foreigners would find easier to pronounce.
Michael Luo strolls through midtown Manhattan to a sushi lunch, musing about his latest apartment renovations and the New York Knicks. But when conversation turns to his work these days—reporting for The New York Times on loopholes in current gun laws—Luo turns serious. "My wife would much prefer it if I covered something else," says Luo. "It has certainly led to some apprehension." While working on a story about mental illness and guns, he had to notify his editor where he was going and when he left—similar to his reporting protocols while briefly working in The New York Times's Baghdad bureau.
Yet it's this kind of serious journalism that has earned Luo, 37, the George Polk Award for criminal justice reporting, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists while at the Associated Press, and a job at The New York Times, where he has worked since 2003. He has covered everything from the last two presidential campaigns to Hurricane Katrina to the war in Iraq. Most recently, Luo has zeroed in on the gun industry and the wide availability of firearms—earning him a Pulitzer Prize nomination and frequent spots on the paper's front page.
Luo became a Christian as an undergraduate at Harvard University, and today attends Redeemer Presbyterian with his wife and daughter. He recently spoke with Paul Glader, a journalism professor at The King's College and former staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, about his faith and his work.
O Lord God, heavenly Father, who through thy Son hast revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away: We beseech thee to keep us steadfast in thy Word and in true faith; graciously guard us from all sin and preserve us amid all temptations, so that our hearts may not be overcharged with the cares of this life, but at all times in watchfulness and prayer we may await the return of thy Son and joyfully cherish the expectation of our eternal salvation; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.
The House of Bishops of the Church of England met for two days in York on December 9 and December 10. This meeting was the first at which 8 women regional representatives attended the meeting as participant observers with the same rights as Provincial Episcopal Visitors.
Over its meeting the House covered a wide range of business including discussion of women in the episcopate, the Pilling report, the approval of experimental liturgy for Baptism, changes to legislative approaches on Safeguarding and discussion of the Anglican-Methodist covenant.
St Mellitus College was formed in 2007 by Mellitus’s latest successor, Richard Chartres – the man who preached at the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton and at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher. His diocese and that of Chelmsford got together with the famous evangelical church of Holy Trinity Brompton, which nurtured the Alpha Course and the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. They formed the first wholly non-residential theological college.
The idea – which, like most “new” things, is actually extremely old – is to train would-be priests in theology while at the same time making them work in parish churches. The study is academically rigorous – Hebrew, Greek and all that – but always balanced by ministering to actual people. It is the godly version of learning clinical medicine scientifically while also treating patients.
It is also new in combining the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England with the evangelical Protestant wing. Two groups which had traditionally been at war had come to see that their differences were mostly trivial. They realised they were united in what they like to call “a generous orthodoxy”.
"We found out today that Isaac took his life," says the email sent by Darling Murray, a coordinator at Summit Church in Orlando. "We are obviously deeply deeply devastated and saddened beyond words by this news. The tears keep coming and coming as we mourn. We are praying for his family and this congregation as we walk through this together."
Officials of Northland, a Church Distributed, said they are still awaiting the police report on Isaac Hunter's death, but the church confirmed his death in a statement posted on the Northland website.
"By now you may have heard that Pastor Joel and Becky's son Isaac Hunter died today. All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we're feeling," said the statement by Vernon Rainwater, a Northland pastor. "We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this ... Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven."
House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on an $85 billion package to fund the government past Jan. 15, avoid another federal shutdown and end the cycle of budget crises that have dominated Washington for much of the past three years.
The deal did not include a key priority of House Democrats who wanted an extension of long-term benefits for the unemployed. But Democrats said they would continue to press Republicans on the issue in hopes of preventing more than 1 million people from losing their unemployment checks at the end of the month.
Wall Street faces more intensive government scrutiny of trading after U.S. regulators issued what they billed as a strict Volcker rule today, imposing new curbs designed to prevent financial blowups while leaving many details to be worked out later.
The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and three other agencies formally adopted the proprietary trading ban. The rule has been contested by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and their industry allies for more than three years.
Wall Street’s lobbying efforts paid off in easing some provisions of the rule. Regulators granted a broader exemption for banks’ market-making desks, on the condition that traders aren’t paid in a way that rewards proprietary trading. The regulation also exempts some securities tied to foreign sovereign debt.
On June 28 this year, Italian police arrested a silver-haired priest, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, in Rome. The cleric, nicknamed Monsignor Cinquecento after the €500 bills he habitually carried around with him, was charged with fraud and corruption, together with a former secret service agent and a financial broker. All three were suspected of attempting to smuggle €20m by private plane across the border from Switzerland.
Prosecutors alleged that the priest, a former banker, was using the Institute for Religious Works – the formal name for the Vatican’s bank – to move money for businessmen based in the Naples region, widely regarded in Italy as a haven of organised crime. Worse still, Scarano (who, together with the other men, has denied any wrongdoing) had until only a month earlier been head of the accounting department at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the treasury of the Vatican.
The arrest, and the headlines that screamed across the Italian press, was the latest shock for the Holy See....
The interplay between the experience of excessive phenomena and the power of distance is important. We naturally elevate presencing over distance—it’s better to know something, to gaze upon it and see it for what it is, than to be struck by the infinite distance that exists between us and particular phenomena. Western culture’s suspicion of universal claims of logic and reason has all at once created a concern for a subjective experience. We want something that strikes us personally, and I think Christianity affirms this in many ways.
The excessive phenomena, which philosopher Jean-Luc Marion calls “over-saturated phenomena”, are those things which overflow our intuition, and in their overflowing, we encounter a distance that can’t be traversed. By their nature, these phenomena demand an experience, and thus demand an openness to them. Distance is an important part of this over-saturation because it protects the divine; in a way, it does the exact opposite of what most apologetics do. Rather than formulating systems to make sense of the divine, these phenomena present to us an experience of God, while all at once protecting divine mystery. So despite the intense excessiveness of the experience, it also creates an infinite gap, which allows us to succumb to the experience, rather than ascend a ladder and intellectually confine it....So does this mean that apologetics have no place in Christianity? Absolutely not....
Brian Pellot: Let’s start with some of your general impressions of North Korea. Very few foreign journalists have reported from there in recent years. Why did you go?
John Sweeney: North Korea is the darkest place on earth, both literally and metaphorically. You can actually see how dark the country is from space. It’s almost as if it isn’t even there. It’s also the darkest place I’ve ever been to in terms of information. I used to be a war reporter. I went to Ceaușescu’s Romania, Saddam’s Iraq, Gadhafi’s Libya. I’ve been to about a dozen tyrannies. In Iraq and Libya, I’d meet people who would let you know their government is full of ####. That didn’t happen in North Korea. It feels like bad science fiction there. It’s like walking inside the “The Matrix.” It’s really weird and creepy. I wanted to shed some light on this dark state to show how North Korea is using nuclear blackmail against the West. Behind the mask of this, there is an immense human rights tragedy unfolding.
- See more at: http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/12/10/bbcs-john-sweeney-north-koreas-zombie-gods/#sthash.Woi7GkV8.dpuf
As the Affordable Care Act's deadline for getting health insurance approaches, 30% of U.S. adults still say that they, or a family member, have put off medical treatment in the past year because of the cost. This figure has been stable since 2005, but is higher than it was between 2001 and 2004.
Uninsured Americans are more than twice as likely as those who have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance to say they put off medical treatment. Fifty-nine percent of the uninsured have done so, compared with roughly one-quarter of those with Medicare or Medicaid (22%) or private health insurance (25%).
What strikes the analyst of the “War on Christmas” stories, or at least what struck me, was the difference in tone by sets of writers or broadcasters on both, or all, sides of the “culture wars”—there’s that “war" image again—as they dealt with the events, personalities, and trends. The Mandela stories did justice to the flaws of the imperfect human who led causes for freedom in South Africa and inspired strugglers globally, but almost all were written in respectful, humane tones. After all, the Mandela effect is one of reconciliation, even though it was born of conflicts past, whose after-stories linger.
In contrast, both, and all, sides in “The War on Christmas” stories were disrespectful, never empathic. Their authors gave no sign that they could understand why those on the other side were stirred to battle, and they gave every sign that they regarded their side in the argument as totally right in their self-chosen Total War.
After decades of raising children and climbing the corporate ladder, they're weary of the same old routine. But they're so caught up in high-pressure jobs that they don't have the time and energy to figure out what to do next.
Enter the career break.
Inspired by high-school and college students who take "gap" or "bridge" years, more baby boomers are taking an extended leave from the working world. Their goal: to relax, re-energize and reflect upon what they want to do next—which often means heading down an entirely new and more fulfilling career path.
...the launch by the Church of England of a phone app that gives the prayers and Bible readings of the day might short-circuit the arcana of religious practice. You could say your prayers with the help of your smartphone on the top deck of a bus.
Or it could be doubly alienating: a barrier for those who don’t know what worshippers get up to at Evensong, to whom Mag and Nunc sound like the names of glove-puppets, and a parallel wall excluding those who don’t really know what an app is. There are such folk.
I’ve just test-driven the ordinary online content provided (free) on the Church of England website by clicking on the link “Join us in Daily Prayer”....
The Church of England is on the brink of appointing its first gay bishop.
The Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John, came within one vote of being recommended as the new Bishop of Exeter, The Times has learnt. The successful candidate to succeed the Right Rev Michael Langrish is to be announced soon.
This is thought to be the first time that Dr John has made the shortlist for a diocesan post, although he has been longlisted several times. It means that he is back on the “list” of candidates for bishoprics. Senior insiders believe that it is only a matter of time before he gets a diocesan post, with the money being on the liberal-catholic diocese of Europe.
Britain’s most senior judges are preparing to make a landmark ruling over attempts to introduce a ”right to die” under human rights legislation.
A full panel of nine Supreme Court Justices, headed by Lord Neuberger, the court’s President, is to be convened next week to hear the culmination of three separate legal challenges to the current ban on assisted suicide.
The three cases have been put into one “super-case” to allow a sweeping judgment on the current state of the law in England and Wales.
The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today welcomed eight women as participant observers to its meetings. The welcome follows the election of the eight senior women clergy from regions across the country.
In February of this year the House decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The necessary change to the House's Standing Orders was made in May.
Almighty God, source of justice beyond human knowledge: We offer thanks that thou didst inspire Karl Barth to resist tyranny and exalt thy saving grace, without which we cannot apprehend thy will. Teach us, like him, to live by faith, and even in chaotic and perilous times to perceive the light of thy eternal glory, Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, throughout all ages. Amen.
Eternal God, who rulest the world from everlasting to everlasting: Speak to our hearts when men faint for fear, and the love of many grows cold, and there is distress of nations upon earth. Keep us resolute and steadfast in the things that cannot be shaken; and make us to lift up our eyes and behold, beyond the things that are seen and temporal, the things that are unseen and eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Despite rampant commercialization, the holiday season also has become a lifeline for nonprofits. One-third of all giving now takes place during the last three months of each year. About 18 percent of all giving to nonprofits last year occurred in December alone.
So far, it looks like that giving spirit will soar higher this year.
The Blackbaud Index, which measures charitable giving trends, announced last week that giving nationwide grew 2.3 percent for the three months ending October 2013 compared to the same time in 2012. Online giving increased almost 10 percent.
Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.
It has become conventional wisdom in recent years that America is in decline, perhaps terminally so.
Josef Joffe, a professor at Stanford and editor of the German weekly magazine Die Zeit, turns this mindset on its head in his new book: The Myth of America's Decline."
It's a cyclical phenomenon," Joffe says of the predictions of America's decline. But just as "declinists" were wrong about Russia in the 1950s and Japan in the 1980s, current forecasts about America playing second fiddle to China will also prove wrong, he says.
The Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to Nelson Mandela on Sunday at a special thanksgiving service for the life of the South African leader.
"Great injustice is overcome only by great courage. Evil can never be placated, it must be defeated. That means struggle, and struggles demand courage," Archbishop Justin said in a sermon at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square.
The service, which was led by the Vicar of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, the Revd Dr Sam Wells, featured a live link to Christ the King church in Sophiatown in Johannesburg.
Iain Dale: You said once that you’re always averse to the language of exclusion and what we’re called to do is love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us, how do you reconcile that with the church’s attitude on gay marriage?
Justin Welby: I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that. I think that where there is… I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way… you know that the love that there is is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say. And civil partnership is a pretty… I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage…
Iain Dale: But if it could be made to work in a way that’s acceptable to the church you would be open to discussions on that?
Justin Welby: We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life. And it’s such a radical change to change that.
I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.
It is at the intersection of genetic variation, personality and choice that the show presses into new territory. What does it mean to be free? Which will predominate in the long run, genetics or environment? What are the legal and moral limits to biological exploration? Who has the power to create, control and manipulate life? As the clones begin to figure out their place in a larger scientific experiment, they are sucked into a world of danger, intrigue and philosophical and scientific speculation, all while having to raise children, finish a dissertation or escape a destructive boyfriend.
The show is suspenseful and addictive. By the time you finish watching the first season, you may not even realize that it’s examining deep questions about the meaning of selfhood.