Saturday, 29 December 2007

ABp Jensen writes on Global Anglican Future Conference

[...] Since 2003, patient attempts have been made to call the offending North Americans back to biblical standards. Many American Anglicans are now more aware of the distress which their actions have caused others, and regret this impact. At the same time, however, others have condemned attempts by Global South Bishops to provide ministry for the orthodox Christians who still wish to be Anglican, but cannot continue to do so in the fellowship of the American churches. Individuals, parishes and even dioceses have left the original church, becoming associated with other dioceses in other parts of the world, and with new bishops being appointed from overseas to care for the disaffected.

Such has been the fall-out that it is now clear that we will never go back to being the Communion which we once were. There has been a permanent change. We live in a new world. Some American Anglicans are as committed to their new sexual ethics as to the gospel itself, and they intend to act as missionaries for this faith, wishing to persuade the rest of us. The problems posed by the American church are not going to remain in North America. This means that the rest of the Anglican world must be vigilant to guard the teaching and interpretation of scripture. Bound up in this are other issues such as Anglican identity, fellowship, theological education and mission. How are we going to help each other remain true to the authority of God’s word? How are we going to help each other to preach the gospel of God’s transforming power and grace? These matters require urgent attention. Read more
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Global Anglican Future Conference announced

Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are to invite fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008.

The event, which was agreed at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi last week, will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith. The Holy Land is the planned venue. From 15-22 June 2008, Anglicans from both the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings of the church will make pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out, to strengthen them for what they believe will be difficult days ahead. Read more
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East London clergyman calls for 'deep changes' in Church

[...] The Church of England is at least a decade overdue making deep structural change ("One in five bishops face sack as top-heavy CofE cuts costs," report, December 27).

It has too much of almost everything, except worshippers: too many dioceses, too many bishops, too many old and expensive church buildings; too many administrators who talk and do nothing. It needs to cut, and cut deep, but not at the expense of parish clergy. Read more
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Thursday, 27 December 2007

Making music with a (Muslim) message

They sing about God - not drugs and gang warfare.

"It's a positive message and Islam is a positive way of life," says Mohammad Yahya, the elder of the duo known as Blind Alphabetz.

The group chose their name because they say so many people are blind to the topics they sing about.

Mohammad and Abdul Rahman, are a little nervous about what to expect when they first turn up at Southfields Primary School in West London for a workshop with two classes. Read more
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Benazir Bhutto's death a 'body blow for democracy' says Bishop Nazir Ali

The death of Benazir Bhutto today is a "body blow for freedom and democracy in Pakistan" said the Bishop of Rochester the former Bishop of Raiwind Lahore.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali told Times Online that the Pakistani opposition leader and former Prime Minister had been his "personal friend for many years".

"Her murder by extremists is a body blow for freedom and democracy in Pakistan. It raises serious questions about the government’s ability to provide security for its citizens when even one as eminent as she can be killed in this way," he said.

"I do hope the general elections can still be held and that the cause of democracy can survive this catastrophe",the Bishop added.

"My prayers are for her husband, children and family that they will be comforted at this time of grief. She will always be remembered for her commitment to Pakistan and her courage in public life.” Read more
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Rowan Williams' Christmas sermon

[...] The birth of Jesus, in which that power which holds the universe together in coherence takes shape in history as a single human body and soul, is an event of cosmic importance. It announces that creation as a whole has found its purpose and meaning, and that the flowing together of all things for the joyful transfiguration of our humanity is at last made visible on earth.

'So God henceforth will be human, and human beings caught up in God. He will walk around in their company, eat with them and drink with them. He will stay with them always, the same for ever alongside them, until this world is wrapped up and done with'. Read more
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Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), June 15-22, 2008, The Holy Land

Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are to invite fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008.

The event, which was agreed at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi last week, will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith. The Holy Land is the planned venue. From 15-22 June 2008, Anglicans from both the Evangelical and Anglo-catholic wings of the church will make pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out, to strengthen them for what they believe will be difficult days ahead.

At the meeting were Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Peter Jensen (Sydney), Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishop Don Harvey (Canada), Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) representing Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone), Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America ), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England). Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester, England), Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted by telephone. These leaders represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world. Read more
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Church 'must ditch materialism'

A "celebrity" vicar who spent three weeks living as a hermit for a BBC documentary has accused the Church of England of lacking holiness and urged bishops to slash their pay.

Peter Owen-Jones, one of the Church's best-known clerics, said that the Church had become too associated with the trappings of money and power and must rediscover its essential spirituality.

The Sussex parish priest, who was an advertising executive before he was ordained, shot to prominence after presenting a BBC series on the history of the Church two years ago.

In his new three-part documentary, which begins on Jan 4 on BBC2, Mr Owen-Jones travels to China, India and Egypt to explore Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and ascetic Christianity, including the stint in the cave. Read more
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One in five C of E bishops faces sack

More than a fifth of the Church of England's bishops could face the axe under new proposals being drawn up by its leaders.

Secret documents discovered by The Daily Telegraph reveal that the Church Commissioners - the financial wing of the Church of England - are considering reducing traditional funding for the hierarchy.

The proposals come in the wake of criticism that the Church is top heavy and the bishops too costly, while congregations are shrinking and parishes are strapped for cash.

But they are likely to anger some bishops, who feel they are already overstretched and undervalued. Read more
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Don't knock the Church of England's bishops

When, in 1942, Winston Churchill nominated William Temple for Canterbury, he remarked that he had chosen the only half-crown article in a sixpenny bazaar.

That was too harsh on the bishops of the time, but how does the bishops' bazaar compare today?

In monetary terms, their services are less valued now. A diocesan bishop receives £36,230 a year, and an auxiliary suffragan bishop only £29,560.

That is less than a teacher, though we expect great things of bishops.

But, as we report today, instead of finding ways of attracting better candidates, perhaps by increasing the amount they receive to a level where they might no longer wonder how to pay for the children's shoes, the Church Commissioners, in a secret document, have recommended that more than a fifth of bishops should simply be abolished. Read more
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Monday, 24 December 2007

Jewish Roots of our Faith

Jewish Roots of our Faith

Saturday 26th January 2008
10 am to 5 pm
A Bible teaching one day Conference
at Christ Church, Billericay, Essex. CM12 0PB

Please ring 01277 630144 or email office@christchurch-billericay.co.uk to book a place

(Tea and coffee provided. Please bring your own lunch)

Guest Speaker:
Michael Cohen
(a former Rector of Christ Church, Jerusalem and one-time Regional advisor with CMJ –
Church Ministry to the Jews)

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Rowan Williams: The stable door is open, anyone can come in

Year after year, church attendance at Christmas continues to defy the trends. Disconcerted clergy find themselves putting on an extra carol service or Christingle. Cathedral deans start worrying about health and safety regulations as the number of people standing at the back is still growing five minutes before the service starts. And in spite of all the high-profile antiGod books published this last year, I suspect it’s not going to make much difference to these swelling numbers in church over Christmas.

So what’s going on? I don’t think it’s that people’s doubts and uncertainties are all magically taken away for a couple of weeks in December. But once in a while people need a chance to face up to the bits of themselves that they cheerfully ignore most of the time – a chance to notice what might be missing in their lives.

And Christmas gives us just this. It gives us a story to listen to. It gives us a sense that what matters most deeply to us matters to God too. And it gives us a moment of stillness in a more and more feverish environment. Read more
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Sunday, 23 December 2007

Alister McGrath: 'Losing our religion?'

Fewer people may now go to church every Sunday, but that doesn't mean Britain is suffering from a crisis of faith, argues Alister McGrath

The decline in British church attendance continues. Parents who go to church are less and less likely to pass on their faith to their children. The "Decade of Evangelism" seems to have done little to reverse this trend. As many congregations grow older, there is no sign of young people queuing to fill the empty pews.

The figures hide significant variations. About 50 per cent of British church congregations are slowly dwindling - but 15 per cent are holding their own and 35 per cent are even growing. There are important surges in attendance at Christmas services, especially at cathedrals. Organised religion may be in decline, yet a concern for spirituality remains important for many. Read more
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Andrew White's Christmas in Baghdad

Yesterday, after I left my prefabricated hut in Baghdad's heavily fortified International Zone and made the journey of just one mile to St George's, the city's Anglican Church, I was greeted by more than 150 excited children.

"Abouna, Abouna," they cried, using the Arabic word for "Father". "This year we are going to have the best Christmas ever!"

I have to be escorted to my church by Iraqi Special Forces in armoured cars. As I took off my bulletproof clothes, I thought about the children's optimism. Read more
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What can the Church of England do to win back worshippers?

Roman Catholicism, bolstered by an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa, has overtaken the Anglican Church as the nation’s most dominant religious group, figures obtained by the Sunday Telegraph reveal.

A survey by Christian Research shows that the number of people going to Mass last year stood at 861,000 compared to only 852,000 Anglicans worshipping each Sunday. Leading figures from the Church of England have warned that it could become a minority faith.

And just this weekend, the Catholic Church won its most high-profile British conversion in recent years when Tony Blair announced his adoption of the faith.

What action should the Church of England take to attract more followers? Is its moderation holding it back as viewpoints become more polarised? Read more
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The changing face of British Christianity

Pastor Michael is in full flow. Arms outstretched, he strides purposefully across the stage, extolling the glory of God. ''Something has touched me inside and I'm waiting to explode," he thunders, drowning out the gospel choir and fixing his gaze heavenward. Below his platform, a swaying sea of worshippers cheer and clap.

As they chant ''Hallelujah", Pastor Michael's voice soars. ''We need an eleventh-hour miracle," he cries. ''Our God is a miracle-worker!"

The response is immediate. The congregation choruses ''Amen" over and over. They surge towards the stage, their hands outstretched toward the charismatic Nigerian preacher, begging him to lay his hands on them. Read more
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Britain has become a 'Catholic country'

Roman Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as the country's dominant religious group. More people attend Mass every Sunday than worship with the Church of England, figures seen by The Sunday Telegraph show.

This means that the established Church has lost its place as the nation's most popular Christian denomination after more than four centuries of unrivalled influence following the Reformation.

Girls from the Salisbury Cathedral Choire School rehearsing
Girls from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir School rehearsing. While church-going declines, cathedrals fare better

Last night, leading figures gave warning that the Church of England could become a minority faith and that the findings should act as a wake-up call. Read more
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Saturday, 22 December 2007

Spot the Essex clergyman in historic painting

Ed: Can anyone help with this? "However there is one elusive model and that is the priest at the window. He is described as a 'clergyman from Essex' and I have tried to identify this character through the Church of England Diocese of Chelmsford but with no success."

A Painting depicting one of the most famous episodes in the history of a Mearns town is set to be restored to its former glory.

Volunteers at an Aberdeenshire church are raising funds to pay for the £2,000 restoration of the 1865 work by George Washington Brownlow, Baptism from a Stonehaven Jail.

The painting, which hangs in the town's Tollbooth museum, is owned by the Bishop of Brechin, the Rev John Mantle.

It depicts a turbulent time in the history of the Scottish Episcopal Church, following the Battle of Culloden in 1746, and shows a clergy-man behind bars baptising a bairn.

George Masson, a member of St Ternan's Episcopal Church, Muchalls, is now leading a fundraising drive to raise the money needed to pay a professional to conserve the piece.

He said: "It is a wonderful painting and the difference when the expert did one tiny area was amazing.

"The colours are very vibrant and it would be nice to see it restored to the way it should be.

"It is a very important work and at one time or another every episcopal church in Scotland will have displayed a copy."

As part of the project Mr Masson is also hoping to conduct further research into those depicted in the painting.

He added: "Most - if not all - of the locals Brownlow used for his models in the painting have been identified.

"In fact I know of at least three descendants, myself included, of people in the painting.

"However there is one elusive model and that is the priest at the window.

"He is described as a 'clergyman from Essex' and I have tried to identify this character through the Church of England Diocese of Chelmsford but with no success."

Mr Masson is hoping Press and Journal readers may hold the answers and is appealing for anyone with information about the painting to contact him on 01224 733583 or by e-mailing george.masson@limeone.net Read more
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See of Canterbury to be replaced by Lagos or Singapore?

[...] It is theoretically possible for the Anglican Communion of Churches to engage in prayerful negotiation over a period of time and then decide that the time has come, in God’s providential guiding of the Anglican Way, for the central and unifying See to be elsewhere—e.g. Lagos or Singapore—and for the Church of England, which gave its name (Ecclesia Anglicana) to the Anglican Communion , to be demoted to one of the ordinary members of the 38 current Churches, rather than its first member.

If this is what the Global South and their American supporters desire, then it would surely be good for them to stay for the time being within the traditional patterns and procedures, and, within this context initiate the discussions to test out how many Provinces favor this radical change. Their present criticisms and threats to boycott Lambeth 2008 are surely not the way for godly and reasonable church leaders to deal with an institution of 1410 years of existence.

Unity in truth and Truth in unity is what the Anglican Communion has stood for historically, even though this has been an ideal, and rarely an attainment.

This ideal needs to stay in place, all Bishops invited to Lambeth Conference in July 2008 should plan to attend, submitting to the historical vocation of the See of Canterbury to issue invitations and to be the president.

Once there, the Bishops of the Global South can ensure that any moves to seek to change the primacy of Canterbury can begin in charity, missionary concern and in prayerfulness. Read more
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Richard Starkey: Prince Charles can save the nation, when the Church of England can't

[...] "is it now time for the monarchy to throw over the Church of England?" he asks, thrillingly, in his programme. "After all, the sometime national church, despite the splendours of its architectural inheritance, is now in fact weak, divided, and fast shrinking into a mere sect. If religion still has strength in this country, it lies elsewhere, in evangelical Christianity and radical Islam, and neither is very promising material for royal ceremony."

To compound this, says Starkey, "the notion of public service has effectively been abandoned. Every political party now buys into business values, and into the notion that by definition business must run things more efficiently."

What's left, he argues, is a moral vacuum - and a position for Prince Charles to step into, if he so wishes. Read more

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Friday, 21 December 2007

This Government has relentlessly undermined the rule of law by its vague legislation and constant meddling

[...] This erosion of the rule of law is not the avoidable consequence of poorly drafted legislation. It is impossible to state clearly what constitutes a hateful remark, a hostile environment or neglectful parenting. If the Government wishes to rule out such things, it can only pass vague laws and delegate the power to interpret them to its agents.

It must replace the rule of law with “the rule of men”. Knowing whether your actions make you liable for punishment is not a matter of reading the legislation but of predicting the sensibilities of the authorities.

And not just towards your actions but towards you. Despite their risky assertions, polemical atheists and evangelical preachers have little to fear from the religious hatred law because the authorities who wield it at their discretion have different targets in mind, such as BNP politicians and Islamic radicals. Justice may be blind but the Home Secretary is not.

The second erosion of the rule of law comes from the Government's open contempt for the idea that the law defines the scope of the Government's interest in you, that you can be on the wrong side of the Government only by being on the wrong side of the law. For example, it is not illegal to have fat children. Yet we know that the Government disapproves of parents who do, since it sends them letters pointing out their children's obesity. “We've got our eye on you,” they insinuate. To which a free man should respond: “If I have committed a crime, arrest me; otherwise, leave me alone.”

But this generation of Labour politicians cannot leave us alone. For they are convinced that they have attained a new level of moral insight and feel duty-bound to improve us. There is no topic on which the Government does not have some recommendation for how we should behave: from what we say about homosexuals, to what we eat, to how we raise our children. They admonish and cajole and “educate” and hint at impending penalties for those who do not fall into line. Read more

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Schori Appoints Three Bishops to Seek Lambeth Invitation for Bishop Robinson

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has appointed three bishops to “consult” with the Archbishop of Canterbury about extending an invitation for Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to attend the Lambeth Conference next summer in England.
The Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana, one of the three appointed by Bishop Jefferts Schori, confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail message which he said was sent to all members of the House of Bishops on Dec. 19.
“I’ve been asked to be part of a private conversation, and before that conversation even begins, I think it is best not to discuss details in the media,” Bishop Little said, adding that he personally remains committed to the Windsor Report and its recommendations. Read more

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Theological training threatened by cuts

(Ed: According to the article, these cuts will not affect trainee imams.)

THE UPTURN in young ordinands coming forward for training in the Church of England could be checked, after a government move to redistribute £100 million to finance more first degrees.

The Higher Education Funding Council has been forced to find £100-million-a-year cuts by the Treasury. On 7 December, it announced that it plans to save the bulk of this by not funding second qualifications that are equivalent to, or less than, a person’s existing qualification. Most theological qualifications come into this category.

The cuts, due to be implemented next autumn, would leave the Church up to £1.5 million a year short, experts warned this week.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Monday that he was very worried about the cuts and had already received representations about them. But he did not yet know the full extent of the likely impact on the Church. The cost to the Church was likely to be about £2500 per candidate. Read more
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Thursday, 20 December 2007

Three (Christmas) Cheers for Rowan Williams

There are some really terrible headlines in the papers at the moment about what Rowan Williams 'said' about the Christmas story:

"It’s all a Christmas tall story" The Times
"Three Wise Men are just a legend, says Archbishop of Canterbury" The Daily Mail
"Archbishop says nativity 'a legend'" Daily Telegraph

I'm sure there's plenty more around like this. The only problem is, none of it is true. Instead, one 'journalist' seems to have fed on another. (So no surprise there, then.)

The story is based on a lengthy interview with Simon Mayo on Radio 5 live. You can hear the whole of it, which is very wide-ranging, here. You can read a transcript of the relevant bit of the Archbishop's conversation here. And you can see the bit where he overlaps with Ricky Gervais on Youtube here.

You'll notice the Archbishop uses the word 'legend' as follows (Simon Mayo is describing an archetypal Christmas card - manger, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, star, three kings, snow):

SM And the wise men with the gold, frankincense, and Myrrh - with one of the wise men normally being black and the other two being white, for some reason?

ABC Well Matthew's gospel doesn't tell us that there were three of them, doesn't tell us they were kings, doesn't tell us where they came from, it says they're astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire. That's all we're really told so, yes, 'the three kings with the one from Africa' - that's legend; it works quite well as legend.

SM But would they have been there?

ABC Not with the shepherds, they wouldn't. So if you've got shepherds on one side and three kings on the other, there's a bit of conflation going on.

Notice the difference? Matthew doesn't tell us the 'legendary' bits. Matthew does say 'they're astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire.' If you're still not convinced, listen to the whole interview. Earlier, we get this critical question:

SM It comes round every year that we're not being Christian enough or people don't know where Bethlehem is, people have never heard of Mary and so on, so this is a sort of an almost a tradition of Christmas, isn't it really. But I wonder, if people have got a traditional religious Christmas card in front of them, I just want to go through it, Archbishop, to find out how much of it you think is true and crucial to the believing in Christmas. So start with … the baby Jesus in a manger; historically and factually true?

ABC I should think so ...

And from a man not given to dogmatic statements, read in the context of everything else he says in the interview, I'll take that as a 'Yes'.

So credit where it's due, and three cheers for RW!

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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

The Goddess at Her Church

In the 'you couldn't make this up if you tried' category, I offer this video from Her Church, the Ebenezer Lutheran Church. Thanks to Peter Ould's blog for the tip-off.

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Monday, 17 December 2007

Changing Attitude responds to Rowan Williams' Advent letter

Ed: Read in conjunction with the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent letter, this is precisely why many of us in Chelmsford feel it is wrong for our Diocesan Bishop to be a patron of Changing Attitude. Listen, yes - we are listening here. Be a patron, no.

... It is impossible for the church to welcome LGBT people until there is a change in the discipline of the church and the interpretation of the Bible. Read more

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Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter Offers Little Hope for Orthodox Episcopalian

The Archbishop of Canterbury believes that tensions between The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the wider Communion - an ongoing crisis for more than four years - have been sufficiently answered by The Episcopal Church and "it would be unrealistic and ungrateful to expect more from TEC in terms of clarification."

In his yearly Advent letter to the Anglican Communion, Dr. Williams said that "whatever our individual perspectives, I think we need to honor the intentions and the hard work done by the bishops of TEC. For many of them, this has been a very costly and demanding experience, testing both heart and conscience. But now we need to determine a way forward."

His words offer little hope for orthodox Episcopalians who are leaving weekly by the thousands, with dozens of parishes and one diocese, possibly three or more, ready to depart the denomination for ecclesiastical safety in African and Latin American provinces. Read more
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Why atheists are so angry

If you haven't seen my “God v. Atheism” debate with philosopher Daniel Dennett, you can view it at Tothesource.org. You should read the comments in response to the debate both on my AOL blog as well as on the atheist site richarddawkins.net. From the atheists you hear statements like this: "D'Souza is a goddamned idiot." "Odious little toad." "D'Souza is full of s**t." "A smug, joyless twit." "Total moron." "Little turd." "Two-faced liar." Etc, etc. Now admittedly the topic of God v. atheism can be an emotional one, but you will find no comparable invective on the Christian side. Why then are so many atheists so angry?

One reason I think is that they are God-haters. Atheists often like to portray themselves as "unbelievers" but this is not strictly accurate. If they were mere unbelievers they would simply live their lives as if God did not exist. I don't believe in unicorns, but then I haven't written any books called The End of Unicorns, Unicorns are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion. Clearly the atheists go beyond disbelief; they are on the warpath against God. And you can hear their bitterness not only in their book titles but also in their mean-spirited invective.

Here is a second reason the atheists sound so angry. They are not used to having their sophistries exposed. For the past three years the new atheists have had a virtually free ride. Dawkins and Hitchens make outrageous claims ("religion poisons everything") and media pundits like Lou Dobbs and Tim Russert fawn all over them. But in the past few months I've been meeting the leading atheist spokesmen in open debate, and challenging them on the basis of the same reason and science and evidence that they say vindicates their claims. Read more
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Anglican Church continues to divide

Churches in California and Canada have decided to split from the Anglican Communion due to disagreement over how the church should minister to homosexuals and doctrinal matters.

The Diocese of San Joaquin and churches in British Columbia will instead align with the Argentinean Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. province of the Anglican Communion which serves 77 million members world-wide.

The AP reports that Saturday, the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to split from the Episcopal Church because of their disagreements over the Bible and homosexuality.

The homosexual issue is not a key issue. It is a concern, but it is not the central concern,” said Reverend Van McCalister a spokesman for the diocese.

McCalister says that some in the diocese have been disgruntled for decades over the authority of scripture and the relationship to the historical church. ”Some folks have been concerned since 1955 when Bishop Pike said he no longer believed in the doctrine of the trinity, no longer believed in the resurrection, or the virgin birth, and the church was unwilling to discipline him,” said McCalister.

On Saturday, clergy and lay members from the diocese voted 173-22 to remove all references to the national church from the diocese’s constitution. Read more
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Greg Venables welcomes San Joaquin back into full fellowship in the Anglican Communion

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our one and only Lord and Savior. By an overwhelming majority of nearly 90% (173 to 22), our Annual Convention voted Saturday, December 8th, to uphold the authority of Holy Scripture and thereby preserve our place in the worldwide Anglican Communion and with the See of Canterbury by realigning our Anglican identity through the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas under the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Archbishop and Primate.

This historic and momentous decision by our Annual Convention was the culmination of The Episcopal Church’s failure to heed the repeated calls for repentance issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and for the cessation of false teaching and sacramental actions explicitly contrary to Scripture.

However, we are no longer operating under the looming shadow of this institutional apostasy because our Annual Convention wisely and prayerfully accepted the gracious invitation for sanctuary from the Southern Cone. Under a plan developed with their House of Bishops and ultimately discussed between Archbishop Venables and a number of other Primates and Bishops we were offered hope by the Southern Cone. I wish to emphasize that Convention’s action is not a schism over secondary issues but a realignment necessitated by false teaching as well as unbiblical sacramental actions that continue to take place in The Episcopal Church. As our new Archbishop so succinctly put it: “Christianity is specific, definable and unchanging. We are not at liberty to deconstruct or rewrite it. If Jesus was the Son of God yesterday then so He is today and will be forever.” After our Annual Convention voted to accept the invitation from the Southern Cone, the first words to the Diocese of San Joaquin from our new Archbishop were these: Read more
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Canada's thought police pursue author

Celebrated author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian judicial panels on charges linked to his book “America Alone."

The book, a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, argues that Western nations are succumbing to an Islamist imperialist threat. The fact that charges based on it are proceeding apace proves his point.

Steyn, who won the 2006 Eric Breindel Journalism Award (co-sponsored by The Post and its parent, News Corp), writes for dozens of publications on several continents. After the Canadian general-interest magazine Maclean's reprinted a chapter from the book, five Muslim law-school students, acting through the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress, demanded that the magazine be punished for spreading “hatred and contempt" for Muslims.

The plaintiffs allege that Maclean's advocated, among other things, the notion that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada's liberalized, Western civilization. They insist such a notion is untrue and, in effect, want opinions like that banned from publication. Read more
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Saturday, 15 December 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter to Primates

Ed: This is a long and technical letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion detailing some of Rowan Williams' concerns and expectations about the current divisions in the Communion and his hopes for the Lambeth Conference in 2008. It can be read here.

Read a comment on the letter here.

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Thursday, 13 December 2007

Church 'fury' over Council 'hijacking' of Christmas


The Church of England has written a spoof hymn bemoaning the "hijacking" of Christmas by a local council.

The hymn, a reworking of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, accuses Warrington Council of forgetting the meaning of Christmas with its choice of Christmas lights.

Rather than invoking a traditional Christmas spirit, the local authority has erected lights bearing the message "Recycle for Warrington".

The Diocese of Manchester said Christians in Warrington, Cheshire, have been "insulted" by the decision to link the festive season with a recycling promotion.

It has accused the authority of "using a secular agenda to remove overtly Christian symbols".

The Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Rev David Gillett, said: "I am quite surprised to see the usual Christmas greetings replaced by the slogan Recycle for Warrington.

"The various faith communities in Warrington all share the common belief that we should care for our environment and celebrate festivals in an appropriate way.

"For the majority of Warrington's population the celebration of Christmas is an important time. I hope that next year the council will reinstate Christmas." Read more
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Bishop of Wakefield aims to make an impression

WITHOUT the gift of prophecy, it's difficult to be certain. But there's a good chance that tomorrow there'll be more people in Wesley Owen's, the bookshop in Vicar Lane, Leeds, where they do religion, than there will be in the next door Chinese supermarket where they go in for Szechuan sauce and star anise.
Why? Because there's a book signing being done by a Yorkshire church leader who has been dubbed an ecclesiastical Rory Bremner.

Stephen Platten, bishop of Wakefield, does, for instance, a remarkably good Robert Runcie, the now deceased former Archbishop of Canterbury who was his old boss when he was the primate's secretary for ecumenical affairs at Lambeth Palace. Platten captures with amazing accuracy the voice of Runcie, which was a strange mixture of Malcolm Muggeridge and Frankie Howerd.

Not that there is likely to be any mimicking of anybody by the Bishop of Wakefield at tomorrow's book signing. The exercise is rather too serious and weighty a matter for any episcopal tomfoolery.

Stephen Platten, like all his brother bishops, along with probably every vicar in the land, is painfully aware of the fact that the Church of England has tragically lost touch with the vast majority of people and urgently needs to recapture their hearts and minds.

It must, that is, win back the unchurched millions by somehow bringing them to a renewed sense of knowledge about and confidence in God. The challenge, as he admits in his new book, Rebuilding Jerusalem: The
Church's hold on hearts and minds, is immense.

How to even begin? Platten, who has been Bishop of Wakefield since 2003, and was previously Dean of Norwich, thinks the tired old CofE must show more of a commitment to the poor. He also believes there's a need for a rediscovery of engagement with mystery. Read more
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Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Chicago Consultation: "Gay agenda is gospel agenda"

Anglicans from around the world met near Chicago December 5-7 to build international coalitions and develop a strategy for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the life of the church.

Meeting at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, the 50-member group known as the Chicago Consultation urged leaders of the Episcopal Church to permit the blessing of same-gender relationships and to remove barriers that keep gay candidates from being elected as bishops, according to a news release from the group.

"Some people call it the gay agenda, but we call it the Gospel Agenda," the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago, co-convener of the Consultation, said in the release. "We are asking our church and our communion to see what God has created and know that it is good."

The Consultation also called upon Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to invite New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson as a full participant to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Robinson, a member of the Consultation, is the only diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion living openly in a same-gender relationship.

"We wanted to affirm Gene," said Diocese of Washington Bishop John Bryson Chane in the release, "but we also wanted to affirm all of the anonymous gay and lesbian Christians who have graced the church with their God-given gifts -- even when the church has been unwilling to receive them."

Participants from Africa, England and New Zealand joined Anglicans from Central, North and South America in "pledging to work against schismatic leaders who have sought to gain power in the Communion by turning marginalized groups against one another," the release said.

"Homophobia is a sin whose end time is now," said the Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford University, in a paper opening the Consultation.

Human institutions are riddled with systemic evils, she said. "Our calling is to discern which ones are ripe for uprooting and to take the lead in eradicating them, beginning in the garden behind our own house." Read more
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Rowan Williams interview with Oi! magazine online

Worth a read - here, at the Archbishop's website, or download the pdf from Oi! magazine here.


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Inter Milan football strip offends Muslims

Ed: Just out of curiosity, I Googled the following phrases:
"Offends Muslims", 12,300 results
"Offends Christians", 3,189 results
"Offends Jews", 1,770 results
"Offends Buddhists", 221 results
"Offends Hindus", 376 results
"Offends Pagans", 149 results

I also found for the phrase "insulting Christianity" 1,950 results, compared with "insulting Islam", which produced 327,000 results!

A football strip worn by Italian team Inter Milan is at the centre of a legal row after a lawyer claimed it offended "Muslim sensibilities".

Players wore the new strip – a white shirt with large red cross on it – in a Champions League match last month against Turkish team Fenerbah├že to celebrate the club’s centenary.

But a Turkish lawyer, Baris Kaska, took exception to the "Crusader-style" cross which he said symbolised "Western racist superiority over Islam".

He claimed the offending shirt reminded Turks of an emblem of the Christian order of the Knights Templar.

Mr Kaska, who specialises in European law, has lodged a complaint in a local court against the club.

He is seeking damages, and is appealing to Uefa to annul the match, which Inter Milan won 3-0.
Read more

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ABp Williams: Family and God keep me going - even if they all think I'm an idiot

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, stops work at 6pm so he can watch The Simpsons. He is more afraid of what his wife Jane thinks than he is of the Editor of the Daily Mail. And he believes that gay clergy should adhere to the Bible and not act upon their sexual preferences.

Dr Williams spoke of the insecurities and anxieties of high office in the Church of England in an interview with three teenage reporters from the youth magazine Oi!.

He told one of the interviewers, 17-year-old Georgie Gothard, who said that she was 12 weeks pregnant and did not know whether she should keep the baby, that he could never advise anyone to have an abortion and that the 24-week limit was too high.

“Personally, I believe a child is a gift from God and you wouldn’t give a gift back, would you?” he said.

And he confessed that, although at £60,000 a year he earns less than a headteacher, he enjoys his job – “at least the nonpolitical side of things”. Read more

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Anglican gay rows harm relations with Rome

Divisions over sexual ethics could be harmful in the relations between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church, a cardinal in Rome said.

Speaking to the Pope and cardinals in a private meeting three weeks ago Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity, said that there were disagreements with the Anglicans that had stalled talks.

"While progress is being made on theological divisions, new divergences are emerging in the ethical field," he said.

"These concern in particular the questions related to the defence of life, to marriage, to the family, and to human sexuality.

"Because of these new divisions that are being created, common public witness is significantly weakened, if not impossible." Read more
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ABp of Wales: Dr Williams 'in an invidious position'

[...] Dr Williams has previously spoken out in favour of gay clergy while saying he knew of one homosexual couple who had done an excellent job of raising a child.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, indicated the Church in Wales is similarly split over issues like same-sex adoption and the ordination of gay clergy.

He said Dr Williams was in an invidious position in having to hold together the Anglican church worldwide by trying to ensure his own liberal views do not alienate more conservative elements within the faith.

Dr Morgan said, “The point is that there are his personal views and then there are the views of the Church which he represents.

“The position of the worldwide Anglican community is that it’s not opposed to gay clergy – it’s opposed to gay clergy who are practising homosexuals.

“On the gay adoption issue some people would argue that it’s necessary to have people of the opposite sex to bring up a child.

“But like Archbishop Rowan I can think of one particular couple, who have brought up a child fantastically well that no one else wanted.”

Dr Morgan, who is in favour of the ordination of gay clergy and says homosexual couples should not be automatically barred from adoption, has to walk a similar tightrope.

“That’s my personal position and I’m not sure that the Church in Wales is at that point either. There are different views within the Church in Wales and I suppose what’s important is that we should remain in dialogue with one another.

“We shouldn’t take up entrenched positions from which we launch grenades at one another. I feel we’re a bit beleaguered at the minute.” Read more

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Rowan Williams: Practising homosexual clergy "don't adhere to Bible"

(Ed: In the same interview he also expresses opposition to abortion.)

[...] Mylie Veitch, 18, asked him for his views on a gay friend of hers who is considering adopting with his partner.

Dr Williams said: “This is a big one. I have questions as to whether same-sex couples can provide the same stability as ‘normal parents’. I have no answers really, just questions.

“Many would argue that we need a balance of men and women to bring a child up. However, I have seen one fantastic example of same-sex parenting first hand and I suppose stability is another key consideration.”

Asked about his support for gay clergy, he replied: “I have no problem with gay clergy who aren’t in relationships, although there are savage arguments about the issue you might have heard about. Our jobs mean we have to adhere to the Bible. Gay clergy who don’t act upon their sexual preferences do, clergy in practising homosexual relationships don’t. This major question doesn’t have a quick-fix solution and I imagine will be debated for many years to come.” Read more

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Archbishop of Canterbury 'aware of' Southern Cone Realignment proposals

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, seems prepared to let the American Episcopal Church (TEC) work out its problems with parishes and dioceses leaving the denomination without interfering in their internal affairs.

Dr. Williams is being kept appraised of the situation in the United States and will apparently not comment publicly on the situation, but is letting events unfold, VirtueOnline Was told by Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone.

Newspaper reports suggesting that there is a split between Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables and Dr. Williams are not true, he told VOL. Read more
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BBC News: US Church splits over gay rights

A Californian diocese has voted to become the first to break away from the US Episcopal Church in protest at its support for gays in the Church.

Delegates of the San Joaquin diocese in Fresno voted 173-22 to secede.

It follows years of disagreement with Church authorities triggered by the consecration of a gay bishop in 2003.

The Episcopal Church is the US wing of the 77m-member Anglican Communion, which is threatened by a deep split between conservatives and liberals.

The Episcopal Church says that in recent years 32 of its 7,600 congregations had left, with another 23 voting to leave but not taking the final step.

San Joaquin is the first of the Church's 110 dioceses to complete the split.

In a later vote, the diocese accepted an invitation to join the province of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America. Read more
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'Continuing Episcopalians' making plans to reconstitute Diocese of San Joaquin

Local leaders, along with those from the wider church, are already making plans for the continuation of the Diocese of San Joaquin following a vote to disassociate from the Episcopal Church.

Michael Glass, a San Rafael, California-based attorney who represents congregations and individual Episcopalians who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church, told Episcopal News Service (ENS) December 11 that he, local leaders, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop David Booth Beers, and leaders from Episcopal dioceses surrounding San Joaquin "are coming together very soon to finalize our coordinated efforts to provide for the leadership needs, the legal and pastoral issues, and the financial concerns of our brothers and sisters in San Joaquin, and to provide for the continuation of the diocese."

The Rev. Robert Moore will meet with the group as well. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori appointed Moore "to provide an ongoing pastoral presence to the continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin," said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop. Read more
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Inclusive Church condemns support for Duncan, Iker

Sir

Canon Killwick and Prebendary Houlding (Letters, 30 November) both claim that the main rationale for supporting Bishops Duncan and Iker (News, 23 November) is "the threat of action under church law". In contrast Fr Kirk erroneously claims that a doctrinal offence is the issue.

The recent actions of these bishops, and of their diocesan synods, are clearly contrary to the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church. It is passing strange for members of General Synod to express support for unlawful behaviour in any other province. If the Bishop of (say) Rochester or Blackburn were openly to egg on their diocesan synods to pass resolutions purporting to dissociate from the Church of England and join (say) the Province of the Southern Cone or the Church of Ireland, would they expect the Archbishops of Canterbury or York to stand idly by? Of course not.

The Presiding Bishop is to be commended for her gentle but firm tone in writing to ensure that these (and other) bishops are fully aware that their actions will have consequences. She knows full well that a small minority of disgruntled Episcopalians, well-financed by wealthy conservatives, were plotting and scheming, long before the election of the current Bishop of New Hampshire, to get The Episcopal Church excluded from the Anglican Communion.

We hope the Archbishop of Canterbury will take at least as firm a line as the Presiding Bishop is doing, in responding to the request of the Canadian church. He should make clear that the recent actions of the Southern Cone in both the USA and Canada are wholly unacceptable to the Communion at large.

Yours

Canon Giles Goddard

Read here
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Tuesday, 11 December 2007

UK Muslims warned against 'victim culture'

The Conservative peer who helped negotiate the release of the primary school teacher jailed in Sudan for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohamed, attacked her fellow British Muslims today for their "victim culture".

Baroness Warsi, a Conservative spokeswoman on community cohesion, also criticised Labour for its "patronage politics" and for having encouraged the "divisive concept" of multiculturalism.

Lady Warsi, 36, born to Pakistani parents in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, is the youngest member of the House of Lords. She came to public notice earlier this month when she was asked by Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer, to accompany him to Sudan to mediate the release of Gillian Gibbons, who had been jailed for insulting Islam. Read more
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Average age of murdered London teenagers is just 16

The average age of teenagers murdered on the streets of London is just 16, an Evening Standard study has revealed.

We also discovered that children as young as 13 are being charged in connection with the deaths.

Even before the murder of 14-year-old Jack Large - who became the 25th teenager murdered in the capital this year - senior police officers described 2007 as the worst in living memory.

Jack, who died after being knifed on a Chigwell estate on 30 November, was one of 16 teenagers stabbed to death.

Another eight were shot and one was beaten to death. Read more
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Ruth Gledhill's Blog: Anglican experiment "is over"

his lovely photo has reached my desk from the latest CANA consecrations, reported by BabyBlue, who has a video. The story is also on Thinking Anglicans. Martyn Minns delivered an address to the CANA council that preceded the consecrations. The Times' Tom Baldwin reports today from Washington today that San Joaquin has formally severed its ties with The Episcopal Church, the first to do so. Meawhile, Jim Rosenthal has taken time out from his St Nicholas duties to issue a denial that Rowan Williams has endorsed the actions of Gregory Venables in providing a safe haven for dioceses such as San Joaquin. Read more
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Calls to 'depose' retired Bishop in Chelmsford

Ed: Pretty wearisome stuff, but the Liberal blog 'Thinking Anglicans' features numerous calls for the removal of the license of retired Bishop John Ball who attended the recent consecrations to CANA in North America. For the record, Bishop Ball wrote to the other bishops in Chelmsford informing them of his attendance before he went.

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Monday, 10 December 2007

Rival Anglican group sets up in San Joaquin

Ed: Since the vote on Saturday that the diocese of San Joaquin should disaffiliate for the time being from The Episcopal Church, a rival group within the diocese has set up a website, with the following welcome:

Those of us who remain Episcopal within the Diocese of San Joaquin extend our thanks and appreciation for the overwhelming expression of love and support that we have received from faithful Episcopalians and Anglicans throughout The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We are committed to the very challenging tasks that we are now faced with, including but not limited to, supporting and protecting the clergy that have stood with us, maintaining and growing the parishes that retain their Episcopal affiliation, providing support and leadership to those who are in the minority in their current parishes, informing and gathering those who have left over the years in response to words and actions they found oppressive and marginalizing. To those within our diocese who have not felt represented by Remain Episcopal but have a desire to remain loyal to The Episcopal Church, please know that we do not exclude those who may feel their opinions and beliefs differ from ours. Read more

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Four new bishops consecrated for CANA

On Sunday, 9 December 2007, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) held the consecration of four new suffragan bishops in the USA: Roger Ames, David Anderson, Amos Fagbamiye, and Nathan Kanu. These four will join Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and Suffragan Bishop David Bena in leading CANA. Read more

Amongst those attending the service was retired Bishop John Ball, who ministers in the Diocese of Chelmsford. Bishop John was also one of those who signed a letter of welcome to the new bishops. The other signatories were:

Bishop Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes and President of the Church of England Evangelical Council
Bishop Colin Bazley, former Primate of the Southern Cone,Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Chester
Rev Dr Richard Turnbull, Chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council
Rev Richard Bewes, former Rector of All Souls Langham Place.
Dr Philip Giddings, Convenor of Anglican Mainstream and member of General Synod
Rev Geoffrey Kirk, Director, Forward in Faith
The Venerable Michael Lawson, Archdeacon of Hampstead
Rev Geoffrey Kirk, Forward in Faith.
The Rev David McCarthy, Rector, St Silas, Glasgow
Mr Paul Boyd-Lee, Chair of 1990 Group in General Synod
Mrs Sarah Finch, Member of General Synod
The Rev Paul Perkin, Chair of the Covenant Group for the Church of England and Member of General Synod
The Rev David Banting, Rector of St Peters Harold Wood
The Rev David Phillips, General Secretary, Church Society
The Rev Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s Oxford
Mrs Alison Ruoff, member of General Synod
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream and member of General Synod

More links on the Thinking Anglicans (Liberal) blog here.

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TV clip Archbishop in Mugabe protest

The Archbishop of York dramatically cut up his dog collar during a live television interview yesterday, and vowed not wear it again until Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe is out of office.

Dr John Sentamu made the gesture on the Andrew Marr show. He removed his dog collar, saying: "As an Anglican this is what I wear to identify myself, that I'm a clergyman. Do you know what Mugabe has done? He's taken people's identity and literally, if you don't mind, cut it to pieces. In the end there's nothing." Read more
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UK Muslim apostates threatened over Christianity

Sofia Allam simply could not believe it. Her kind, loving father was sitting in front of her threatening to kill her. He said she had brought shame and humiliation on him, that she was now "worse than the muck on their shoes" and she deserved to die.

Sofia Allam received death threats after leaving the Muslim faith for Christianity
Religious persecution of the kind Sofia suffers is increasingly common in Britain today

And what had brought on his transformation? He had discovered that she had left the Muslim faith in which he had raised her and become a Christian.

"He said he couldn't have me in the house now that I was a Kaffir [an insulting term for a non-Muslim]," Sofia - not her real name - remembers.

"He said I was damned for ever. He insulted me horribly. I couldn't recognise that man as the father who had been so kind to me as I was growing up.

"My mother's transformation was even worse. She constantly beat me about the head. She screamed at me all the time. I remember saying to them, as they were shouting death threats, 'Mum, Dad - you're saying you should kill me… but I'm your daughter! Don't you realise that?'?" Read more
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Basra's murderous militias tell Christian women to cover up or face death

On her first day at Basra University this year a man came up to Zeena, a 21-year-old Christian woman, and three other Christian girls and ordered them to cover their heads with a hijab, or Islamic headscarf.

“We didn't listen to him, and thought he might just be some extremist student representing only himself,” she said. The next day Zeena and two of her friends returned to class with uncovered heads.

This time a man in the black clothes of the Shia militia stopped them at the entrance and took them aside. “He said, 'We asked you yesterday to wear a hijab, so why are you and your friends not covering your hair?'. He was talking very aggressively and I was scared,” Zeena recalled.

The girls explained that they were Christians and that their faith did not call for headscarves. “He said: 'Outside this university you are Christian and can do what you want; inside you are not. Next time I want to see you wearing a hijab or I swear to God the three of you will be killed immediately',” Zeena recalled. Terrified, the girls ran home. They now wear the headscarf all the time. Read more
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Prison does not work, we need more university researchers

Two letters in the Times in response to this article along with Peter Kirk's comment, but taking issue with 'Theodore Dalrymple' (a pseudonymn), not me ;-).

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Sunday, 9 December 2007

TEC Presiding Bishop Eyes New Leadership for Diocese of San Joaquin

The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said after she learned that clergy and lay delegates to the diocese’s annual convention voted today to approve the second and final reading of a constitutional amendment to leave The Episcopal Church and accept an offer of affiliation from the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

“We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church receives with sadness the news that some members of this church have made a decision to leave.” Read more
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I wish you a very Christian Christmas

[...] In Britain we're well-rehearsed in the "Winterval v Christmas" debate. We welcome the school Nativity play that has morphed into a hybrid celebration of Diwali, Hannukah, or Russian Orthodoxy. We may balk when we read that children's choirs are banned from singing traditional carols in shopping malls, and that Santa has been replaced by a "more inclusive pixie" in a school in Brighton. But if the end result is a multicultural society at ease with itself, then so be it.

The galling reality is that the practitioners of other faiths don't care how we celebrate. They accept the Christmas story as just that, an entertaining story. They consider the bank holidays that mark it to be a bonus, and think we're mad to neuter our celebrations in the way we do. But we remain consumed by fear of causing offence, and the unthinking, politically correct, "Christianophobic" jobsworths who run our institutions are to blame.

And so we have the ludicrous situation reported this week whereby travellers to Bahrain - an Islamic country - find the airport fulsomely decorated for Christmas, with Santas in abundance, while O Come All Ye Faithful blasts from the duty-free electronics store. At Heathrow, there are minimal decorations and no carols in case Muslim passengers or airport employees are offended. Read more
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San Joaquin votes to leave Episcopal Church, realign with Southern Cone

Delegates attending the 48th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on Saturday, December 8, overwhelmingly voted to leave the Episcopal Church and to align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield asked for a moment of silence in deference to those who opposed the change, reminding the gathering that he "knows what it feels like to be a minority" before the vote tallies were read. The results, by orders were: 70-12 clergy and 103-10 vote in the lay order to effectively remove all references to the Episcopal Church from its constitution and describe the diocese as "a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury."

"The Episcopal Church receives with sadness the news that some members of this church have made a decision to leave this church," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. "We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness. We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership." Read more
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Calif. diocese votes to split with Episcopal Church over role of gays, lesbians

An Episcopal diocese in central California voted Saturday to split with the national denomination over disagreements about the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

Clergy and lay members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted 173-22 at their annual convention to remove all references to the national church from the diocese's constitution, according to spokeswoman Joan Gladstone.

The Fresno-based congregation is the first full diocese to secede because of a conservative-liberal rift that began decades ago and is now focused on whether the Bible condemns gay relationships.

The diocese, in a later vote, accepted an invitation to join a conservative South American congregation of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. member of the global Anglican Communion.

The decision is almost certain to spark a court fight over control of the diocese's multimillion-dollar real estate holdings and other assets. Read more
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Episcopal Diocese Votes to Secede

The Diocese of San Joaquin voted on Saturday to cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the first time in the church’s history a diocese has done so over theological issues and the biggest leap so far by dissident Episcopalians hoping to form a rival national church in the United States.

Fissures have moved through the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members, and through the Communion itself since the church ordained V. Gene Robinson, a gay man in a long-term relationship, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

Traditionalists at home and abroad assert that the Bible describes homosexuality as an abomination, and they consider the Episcopal Church’s ordination of Bishop Robinson as the latest and most galling proof of its rejection of biblical authority. Read more
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Saturday, 8 December 2007

Government bid to reshape childhood

Ed: A headline that 40 years ago would have read "Russian Government ..."

Children as young as two are to be offered free nursery care in a government drive to intervene in the lives of disadvantaged children at the very earliest stages of their development.

The subsidised places, to be targeted at poorer parents, are part of a major overhaul of early-years learning that children's secretary Ed Balls will present to the Commons next Tuesday.

Balls will also announce extra support for disabled children and their families, because the extra expenses they incur often tip households into poverty. Read more
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Guns out for battyboy [homosexual men] bashers

[...] It is time to challenge the hierarchy of discrimination that puts the rights of racial minorities and religious groups high above those of women and gay rights. Too often culture or faith are cited as excuses for attitudes that would never be forgiven in, for example, white working-class men. Read more
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Dutch government campaign targets "religiously orthodox" on homosexuality

The Netherlands has led the world in the introduction of the homosexual political movement. Now it is going to be leading the way to cracking down on dissent from the officially "tolerant" position on homosexuality, particularly among those Dutch citizens who "follow a more orthodox religious lifestyle".

The coalition government has agreed to earmark 2.5 million euros from 2008 to 2011 to promote homosexuality as normal in social areas. The government said that the money will be spent on programmes specifically targeting young Muslims in schools, sport clubs or neighbourhood associations.

Ronald Plasterk, minister of education admitted that Dutch homosexuals enjoy the same rights as everyone else, "socially the acceptance is not automatic among certain ethnic minorities or people who follow a more orthodox religious lifestyle."

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to institute same-sex "marriage" and allow homosexual partners to adopt children.

The policy will extend, in as-yet undisclosed programmes, to Dutch foreign aid donations. Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders told Parliament, "The Netherlands will promote equal rights for gays as much as possible. We will not avoid awkward discussions about this." Read more or read Revelation 13:17.
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