Saturday, 10 February 2007

Five reasons men hate church (in Australia)

1. Church meeting styles are ‘feminine’
2. Church leadership model is weak and not compelling
3. Church is boring and safe. There is no risk.
4. Church doesn’t relate to a man’s world
5. Blokes like to get their hands dirty
Read more

Inclusive Church seeks £100,000 for campaign against Conservatives

So that InclusiveChurch can really make a case for an open, broad and inclusive Anglican Communion. We need the resources to be able to make a real contribution to the preparations for the Lambeth Conference, and be at the Conference itself. We need at least a small office and a General Secretary. �100,000 will enable us to have the resources we need for the next 2 years. We won�t ask for funding again within 2 years, if this appeal is successful.

Who we�re up against.

We find ourselves up against people who, quite simply, insist on excluding themselves from the most inclusive church that has ever been. That is not, of course, how they would put it. On the contrary, they keep on wanting to exclude others from the church. They call themselves names like �Reform�. They issue grand-sounding Covenants. But in the end, they want to slam their church doors shut. They don�t want women priests, they certainly don�t want women bishops. As for gays, it seems that they don�t want them in church, or in the community, or in the country, or on earth.

We aren�t saying that everyone should think the same.

We are saying we believe the church should have room for a breadth of views and a breadth of people. We value diversity because it is God given. Read more

Ed: those ?s are in the original post!

Diocese of London adopts "Seven Commitments"

We recognise the need for a clear sense of our identity and deep roots but also the imperative to present the gospel afresh in our generation in a world city that struggles to comprehend where its own well-being might lie and how the Christian faith could be relevant.

And so the Church in the Diocese of London assembled in Synod on November 25th 2006 to make the following seven commitments.

1. We are committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in 21st century London
2. We are committed to equipping the servants of Jesus Christ
3. We are committed to telling the story of Jesus Christ afresh for this generation and especially for the young
4. We are committed to serving London and all her people.
5. We are committed to expressing God's Love in our World City.
6. We are committed to making four Capital Investments
7. We are committed to generating the resources in finance and property to enable the church to respond adequately to the London Challenge

Link here.

Livingstone adviser accuses Wilberforce film of 'prettifying' slave trade

A British film about the abolition of the slave trade has been condemned by black leaders for reducing the suffering of Africans to “a mere bit part”.

Lee Jasper, equalities adviser to Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, accused Michael Apted, the director, of “prettifying” the horror of the slave trade by focusing on the abolitionist William Wilberforce and his parliamentary struggle two centuries ago.

The row threatens to cast a shadow over the abolition bicentennial commemorations at a time when schools are giving unprecedented attention to the issue and when focus on modern-day slavery, such as the trafficking of women, has never been more pressing. Read more

God help UK Christian charities

[...] It is quite a Blairy idea that faith groups can provide his famous Third Way between market forces and government control.

But it turns out that, while the works of faith groups are sometimes welcomed – and almost always needed – the faith of faith groups is too much for the authorities. Thus if a Christian group prefers to employ Christians to do its work, that is discriminatory. If it offers prayer as one of the activities available to its clients, that is anti-diversity.

Another charity, which wishes to remain anonymous as it tries to rebuild itself after the loss of council funds, helped get disaffected black youths out of gun and drug crime. A council officer accused it of "brainwashing" and "being a cult". When asked why, he said that no other course in the field had been nearly so successful, so there must be something funny about it. He did not like the charity's video projector used in its courses, which showed a logo saying "We empower youth".

But of course, for a Christian, faith and works go together, the latter flowing from the former. Works without faith would be like a body with limbs, but no heart. Read more

Among Episcopalians, division is prevailing topic

[...] Dozens of Episcopal churches have left or split up across the country in protest over a combination of these actions and theological differences. Among the casualties: two Virginia parishes that trace their heritage to colonial times. Most have sought oversight from more like-minded Anglican bishops in South America or Africa.

And while the dissidents are a minority of the 2.4-million-member Episcopal Church, there is talk that they will form a rival denomination that could become the new U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion. Read more

Time Magazine: Nigeria's "Blunt Bishop"

Archbishop who has raised fears of a schism in the Anglican church over attitudes towards homosexuality has chosen a different battle at home, the fight against corruption and the "dirty game" of politics.

[...] The Right Rev. Martyn Minns, bishop for the Virginia churches allied with Akinola (and who has known him for decades), thinks the outcry around such issues smacks of armchair condescension by First Worlders ignorant of Nigerian realities. "It's vital that we begin by trying to understand [his] setting," Minns says, "before we apply it to our particular concerns." There can be no doubt that congregants in his newly formed Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) are happy with Akinola. "I've never seen a guy as full of the Holy Spirit as he is," says Warren LeHardy, communications director at St. Stephen's Church in Heathsville, Va. "He's absolutely on fire in love with the Lord and the Bible." Yet when Akinola cheerfully outlines his hopes for CANA--"Hopefully, in another year, we will have two or three, maybe five or 10 more" U.S. bishops, he tells TIME--it is hard not to conclude that he sees American Episcopalians as missionary targets who need to be taught the true Word in much the same way as the Muslims at home. [...] Read more

New Primates elected in Hong Kong, Middle East

Ed: Election, what's an election? ;-)

The Rt. Rev Paul Kwong was elected as Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH) by bishops, clergy and deputies of the Anglican Church who met at St. Paul's Church February 3 to choose a successor to the Most Rev. Peter Kwong who has served as Primate since 1998. [...]

Mouneer Hanna Anis elected Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Members of the Central Synod of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East met in Cyprus on February 5 and elected Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis of Egypt, provincial secretary, as its new president bishop. Read more

Article (Telegraph): gays, marriage and Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spoke up this week for marriage. His words were judged, if not directed, against worldwide divisions among Anglicans on the ordination of practising homosexuals.

Dr Williams's previous intervention – in support of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor over the refusal of Catholic adoption agencies to facilitate adoption of children by gay couples – had been greeted by many with surprise. For, before his appointment to Canterbury in 2002, Dr Williams was seen as sympathetic to stable homosexual relations.

He had long supported the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. His theological attitude to homosexual relations depended in part upon finding in the Bible a condemnation of homosexual acts performed for gratification, but no biblical distinction between such acts and homosexual disposition. Read more

Article (Times): teaching theology through hymns under threat

[...] By the second half of the 20th century, British Christians were waking up to the possibility that hymns had become alien to those they were trying to attract to services. Whatever the merits of the hymn had been, plugging the Church into popular culture was no longer one of them and hymns were more likely to estrange than engage visitors.

Many attempts have followed to reinvigorate traditions of singing in worship. Electric bands are replacing pipe organs; worship songs and choruses are replacing 18th and 19th-century hymns; and computerised projection screens are beginning to replace hymn books. A number of very fine songs and hymns have been added by contemporary writers to the diet of English-speaking churches. Yet the question grows daily more pressing: is the era of the congregational singing of hymns — and songs — ending as a fruitful part of Christian life and worship in Britain?

If the answer to that question is “yes”, it challenges most acutely those churches that rely more heavily on hymns as a vehicle for theological teaching than on liturgy. Read more

Article (Guardian): revised House of Lords must not include clergy

Jack Straw's white paper on reform of the House of Lords is supposedly an attempt to "modernise" the upper chamber. Unfortunately, that ambition falls at the first hurdle with the government's complete refusal to abolish the anachronism that is the bench of bishops. According to Mr Straw, not only should the bishops stay, they should also be supplemented by representatives of other religions.

But by not completely ruling out ex-officio clerical representation, the government is missing a perfect opportunity to bring Britain's parliament into line with the rest of the western world. Read more

Schori, Carey differ on condition of Episcopal Church

She's the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the leader of a denomination in which women weren't ordained priests less than a generation ago.

Now she leads close to 2.5 million people who call themselves Episcopalians, members of a church that some believe is in serious trouble [...]

Schori acknowledges the pain and anger of those who feel they need to leave, but she denies claims the church is ripping apart at the seams.

“No, no, no. A handful of congregations that make up a tiny portion are tied up in knots—maybe one half of 1 percent—but most are faithful and going about the business of following the gospel” the bishop said.

On the same day, eight miles away, another member of the clergy has a different take on current events.

“”We are undergoing all sorts of problems at the moment on the issue of practicing homosexuality,” said Lord George Carey, who served as the archbishop of Canterbury—head of the Church of England—from 1991 to 2002. Read more

Peachtree City (US) congregation votes to leave TEC, join CANA

The following press release was received Feb. 8: St. Andrew’s-in-the-Pines (Peachtree City, Ga.) to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Atlanta.

The downward spiral of The Episcopal Church (TEC) came home to Peachtree City, Ga., this past weekend when a local parish, St. Andrew’s-in-the-Pines, voted 145 to 67 (or 68 percent) on Sunday, Feb. 4 to separate from the national church and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

The church’s vestry, or governing board, subsequently voted to honor the parish’s overwhelming desire to depart from TEC. Read more

Nigeria: "TEC should repent or depart"

[...] We in CAPA want to say clearly and unequivocally to the rest of the Communion: the time has come for the North American churches to repent or depart. We in the Global South have always made repentance the starting point for any reconciliation and resumption of fellowship in the Communion. We shall not accept cleverly worded excuses but rather a clear acknowledgement by these churches that they have erred and "intend to lead a new life" in the Communion (2 Corinthians 4:2). Along with this open statement of repentance must come "fruits befitting repentance" (Luke 3:8). They must reverse their policies and prune their personnel. Read more

Canadian Professor: episcopal appointment shows race matters more to Anglican church than doctrine

Anyhow, what strikes me about this appointment is how enthusiastic about this news is Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and exactly how he justified this extraordinary appointment: "It's important to remember that we elect bishops for the church," he said. "We don't elect bishops for national jurisdictions."

Well, yes. But this is the same Archbishop who has stood with New Westminster bishop Michael Ingham against the idea of appointing bishops to shepherd orthodox congregations in Canada who no longer respect their current bishops who teach against the doctrine of the church and flout its ethical norms. When it comes to churches that resist Ingham's crypto-Hinduism and his support for same-sex marriages, suddenly Archbishop Hutchison gets all territorial again: one region, one bishop. Read more

Schori: "we all remain in chains" without gay equality

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who faces the prospect of fracture between the liberal Episcopal Church USA and the more conservative Anglican Communion, spoke without apology Thursday about her convictions that gays and lesbians are entitled to full rights.

Her visit to the Triangle, where at least three churches splintered after a gay bishop was ordained in 2003, came just before a trip to Tanzania next week. There she will meet with 38 heads of the national churches of the Anglican Communion, including some who have indicated they will not sit at a table with her.

Jefferts Schori, 52, said Thursday she would not waver from forging a new way forward for the 2.4-million member Episcopal Church. That new way includes a commitment to the full equality of gays and lesbians, which she and many others in the denomination see as a new civil rights issue.

"Our labors in this church continue to sing of hope for the full flourishing of all God's children, black, white, native, Asian, women, men, gay and straight," Jefferts Schori said. "As long as any of us is restrained by custom, law, prejudice or bigotry, we all remain in chains." Read more

Anglican split goes far deeper than gay dispute

The worldwide Anglican Communion is on the brink of schism, with African prelates leading a charge against the U.S.-based Episcopal Church for consecrating a gay bishop. A showdown is shaping up for an Anglican summit next week in Tanzania.

But the split in the 77-million strong Communion runs far deeper than the dispute over Gene Robinson, the gay cleric made bishop in 2003, historian Philip Jenkins thinks.

Liberal Anglicans in rich countries and traditionalists in the Global South read the Bible in such different ways that they could be in quite different churches, he argues in his recent book “The New Faces of Christianity.” Read more

Archbishop of Canterbury's speech on National Marriage Week

[...] If someone comes along and says ‘give me your life’ you don’t normally just say ‘okay’. You enter into a covenant, a relationship of mutual risk and mutual promise - and that’s how you get a life. You know that someone else has a life invested in yours, as yours is invested in theirs. That seems to me really the bottom line of why marriage matters, not just for this society, but for any human society. That risk of investing yourself on another person, letting them invest themselves in you so completely, that’s about how we grow, about how we become human, and unless that relationship models for the whole of society what’s possible for human beings, we have a desperately impoverished society - and you’ve heard already this morning something of the nature of that impoverishment. Read more

Archbishop attacks "chattering classes" over marriage

The Archbishop of Canterbury has attacked the "north London chattering classes" for failing to appreciate the benefits of marriage.

Dr Rowan Williams criticised opponents of the institution for failing to recognise married couples as heroes who give stability to society.

Speaking at parliament at the start of National Marriage Week, he said they could not see the wider cost to society of marriage breakdowns.

"What we're up against is a society that has painfully low expectations of relationships," he said. But his words will be interpreted as a swipe at New Labour as north London is seen as the birthplace of the party. Read more

Lords role for bishops under attack

For nearly 100 years, attempts to reform the upper house have ended in failure. Their lordships have been stripped of their veto over financial matters approved by the Commons, especially the Budget, and Harold Macmillan brought in life peers to give the Lords some semblance of modernity.

Now Tony Blair, in one of his last acts as Prime Minister, is determined to introduce democracy to the Lords, which means we the people will have a vote on who sits in the chamber.

Just how many members will be directly elected will be down to MPs, who will have a free vote before Easter on options ranging from a fully-appointed chamber to a 20%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 80% or 100% elected element. An innovative alternative vote system will be used to ensure they reach a decision, avoiding the deadlock of 2003 when all options for reform were rejected.

But the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England will remain although the Government believes there is a strong case for a more flexible approach which would allow the church to determine which bishops entered the House of Lords on the grounds of their suitability rather than on their seniority. Read more

Accurate definition of ‘evangelical’ up for debate in theology, politics

One out of every four adults who call themselves “evangelical” is not a “born-again” Christian, according to a recent report from the Barna Group. And that’s just the beginning of the confusion surrounding the term "evangelical."

For instance, some political pundits tend to qualify evangelicals mainly as people who vote against abortion rights and gay marriage. Many Roman Catholics think they’re evangelical. Most Mormons don’t.

The confusion has progressed so far that some “progressive evangelicals” have decided to forego the term completely, opting instead for the ambiguous label of “red-letter Christian." Read more

Brighton landmark church declared "redundant" by Diocesan Pastoral Committee

Ed: You can view St Peter's website here The location of St Peter's can be seen here (at the Y intersection of pink roads, below the College), and the abundance of surrounding crosses may indicate the problem. If anyone has any comments, please leave them here.

Brighton and Hove has been given two weeks to save its most prominent church - known as the "city's cathedral" - from closure.

Wardens, parishioners and residents are in shock after learning St Peter's Church in York Place, the parish church of Brighton, is expected to shut.

A letter from the Diocesan Pastoral Committee, a Church of England body in charge of churches in the city, said that "after much heart searching" they were going to recommend that the landmark building be made "redundant". Read more

Bishop of Winchester: Primate of TEC at Tanzania "could destroy Communion"

[...] The best outcome of all will be for the Primates to hold together, with no one leaving the meeting, in clear support for the Windsor Report and of their own affirmation of it at Dromantine in Northern Ireland nearly two years ago - and looking forward to the completion of the Covenant for the Anglican Communion on which work has recently begun under the leadership of Archbishop Drexel Gomes of the West Indies.

And the most damaging outcomes? The Meeting could prove unable to join in affirming the Windsor Report as the Anglican Communion's "road-map"; some of the Primates could walk out of the meeting; especially, the "Global South" Primates could lose their cohesion, and they and Archbishop Rowan (the ABC) could fail to agree on the way forward, and some of them could walk out. Perhaps most controversially, the Primate of the Episcopal Church might be seated as a full member of the Meeting - and I am in no doubt that this would destroy the authority in the Communion, and in the eyes of our Ecumenical partners, of the Windsor Report. Read more

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Past mission strategies in the Diocese of Chelmsford

Some people may think I am being cynical about the present Deanery Vision exercise aimed at developing a 'mission strategy' for the Diocese of Chelmsford. On the contrary, I simply have a memory! Over on my 'Ugley Vicar' blog is a list of similar 'strategies' from 1992-2007. I count more than ten in fifteen years!

John Richardson

The Dilbert guide to (Diocesan) strategy

Dilbert tells you what you need to know about strategic planning.

And see my blog report here on our own Deanery Vision consultation.

A reflection by PB Schori: Christ in the stranger's guise

As the primates of the Anglican Communion prepare to gather next week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I ask your prayers for all of us, and for our time together. I especially ask you to remember the mission that is our reason for being as the Anglican Communion -- God's mission to heal this broken world. The primates gather for fellowship, study, and conversation at these meetings, begun less than thirty years ago. The ability to know each other and understand our various contexts is the foundation of shared mission. We cannot easily be partners with strangers. Read more

Article (Virtue Online): Mrs Schori's false gospel

The new Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has revealed herself to be the mistress of a post-modern deconstructed gospel that pushes earthly salvation, while placing atonement and eternal salvation right outside the orb of Christian conviction.

The 52-year old former oceanographer gave an interview to USA TODAY in which she expounded on what she believes the Christian Faith is all about.

She says she sees two strands of faith: One is "most concerned with atonement that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent." But the other is "the more gracious strand," she said.

It "is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward. God became human in order that we may become divine. That's our task."

Mrs. Schori wants us to reach out to a lost world, not with the timeless message of the Good News of God's salvation through faith in the risen Christ, but with social action. Read more

Tom Wright interviewed by Ruth Gledhill

Ed: this interview is bringing Wright some stick, eg on the Fulcrum website, and on numerous blogs linked by Thinking Anglicans.

"There are many in America who are trying to have their cake and eat it, who are doing the schismatic thing and then accusing those who object of being schismatic." This is what Bishop of Durham Dr Tom Wright told me in a wide-ranging discussion we had on the forthcoming Primates' Meeting in Tanzania. He was quite unequivocal. He said too many in TEC are guilty of "doctrinal indifferentism." The Covenant Design Group in Nassau successfully produced a good document, he said. The Primates have little choice but to follow Windsor at the meeting next week. And if Windsor is followed, then Gene Robinson and those who consecrated him should voluntarily absent themselves from the councils of the Communion, including the Lambeth Conference, unless they express regret in the terms set out in Windsor. Read more

European judgement may affect RC case on adoption

There are moves afoot in Europe for a judgement in the European Court in a controversial gay adoption case to be brought into play in the battle in Britain between the Roman Catholic Church and the Government over the Sexual Orientation Regulations. In 2002 the Court ruled by four to three that Paris social services, and subsequently the French government, had not breached the European Convention on Human Rights when it rejected teacher Philippe Frette's application to adopt on the grounds that he was gay. Now some members of the Bruges Group believe this judgement could help the Catholic Church in Britain. Graham Eardley, the group's West Midlands representative and a member of the CofE's Lichfield diocesan synod, told me: "The Government has made a rod for its own back by introducing the Human Rights Act to the country. But in essence we wish the Catholic Church well. Freedom and liberation should exist on both sides. I hope they will use this to win the argument." Read more

Presiding Bishop Schori: God's "dream of life" overcomes oppressive and cruel systems

[...] Metaphors of fishing and abundance were central as Jefferts Schori -- preaching at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, now in its 100th year -- addressed the Sunday gospel reading in which Jesus calls his disciples to cast nets that yield new followers in the faith.

The dream of God is "a better life for all the world, and not only for one country," Jefferts Schori said in Spanish during her homily for the Synod's closing Eucharist. "What is the dream of the Episcopal Church in Cuba?"

She spoke of "a sea of possibilities" for ending human suffering -- from the local sharing of nutritious vegetables to caring for the elderly and infirm -- outlining how the "abundant life that God dreams for all creation" overcomes the death inherent in "oppressive and cruel systems." Read more

Orthodox Episcopalians Present Solution for 'the American Problem'

In quest for a solution to "the American problem" within the Anglican Communion, a group of Orthodox Episcopalians have proposed a new compact that called for no further delay in resolving the divide.

In the "Interim Compact of Anglican Loyalty," Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC) urged for a new orthodox Anglican structure in North America that would operate independently from the worldwide Anglican body until the Communion formally rids the American continent of the Episcopal Church and charters a reliable replacement province for orthodox Anglicans. Read more

Thousands seek Jesus through Church's internet campaigns

Following the recent Churches Advertising Network (CAN) multimedia campaign, thousands of Jesus’ MySpace friends and acquaintances clicked through to visit “Jesus’ official homepage” at

The hugely popular “Where will you find him?” beer glass campaign saw Jesus gain 2,300 “new friends”, and more than 57,000 people viewed his myspace profile.

Many of these wanted to know more about the famous carpenter from Nazareth, whose myspace site describes him as also “interested in beard care, extreme water skiing and mass catering (parties of 5,000 a speciality)”.

Use of the internet to find out more about Jesus and his teaching has increased recently thanks to this and other campaigns such as the Church of England’s Advent website: Read more

Lord resigns from Ely PCC over "churchmanship clash"

IT may not generate the mass murders of sectarian conflicts between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq or Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland in the latter half of the 20th century, but the normally sedate Hemingford villages have been riven by a clash between evangelicals and liberals in the Church of England.

The rift has led to the resignation of Lord Hemingford - the church's patron, though the patronage is suspended - from the parochial church council of the more conservative St Margaret's, Hemingford Abbots. Read more

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Bishop of Lichfield's Evangelism Sunday Message 2007

Here's a message I wish was from our own Diocesan Bishop. "18 months ago each monthly Bishop's Staff meeting was dominated by the need to tackle the Diocesan debt and to cut stipendiary clergy posts ... but for the last 3 or 4 months we've sailed through the item on finance at our meetings, we've almost reached the end of the planned cuts, and we've increased the number of ordinands."


Tuesday, 6 February 2007

House of Bishops’ Amendments to General Synod Private Members’ Motions

These motions are set for debate on Wednesday morning and afternoon February 28

Lesbian and Gay Christians

The Bishop of Gloucester to move:

‘Leave out all the words after “this Synod” and insert the words:

“a. commend continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion;

b. recognise that such efforts would not be advanced by doing anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions - 1978:10; 1988:64; 1998:1.10; and

c. affirm that homosexual orientation is itself no bar to a faithful Christian life or to full participation in lay and ordained ministry in the Church”

Civil Partnerships

The Bishop of Liverpool to move

‘Leave out all words after ‘this Synod’ and insert the words

“ a. acknowledge the diversity of views within the Church of England on whether Parliament might better have addressed the injustices affecting persons of the same sex wishing to share a common life had it done so in a way that avoided creating a legal framework with many similarities to marriage;

b. recognise the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement as a balanced and sensitive attempt faithfully to apply the Church’s teaching to civil partnerships; and

c. note the intention of the House to keep the matter under review.”

Read more, including the original motions, on Anglican Mainstream.

Petition 10 Downing Street to delay introduction of Sexual Orientation Regulations

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to to Delay the passing into Legislation of the Sexual Orientation Regulations for England and Wales. Sign here

Blog (Paul Roberts): Diocesan strategies are "decline management plans"

[...] Most lay people now know that when you hear senior clerics talk about a new ’strategy’, you reach for your gun. For the past 15 to 20 years, when dioceses have produced documents called strategies, what they have really produced is decline management plans. The primary trigger for change has been financial. The costs of running the ministry have gone up (mainly because of pension costs, and decline in central funding). The income is static. The financial support base (the proverbial bum on pew) is static or declining. A plan is needed, otherwise the diocese will go bankrupt.

In essence this means paying for fewer priests across the board. So a round of consultation ensues. This usually involves putting together groups of lay representatives who have little knowledge of each other’s situation, together with the clergy and some senior diocesan person. The result, in nearly every case, is some kind of boxing and coxing affair so that none of the churches have to close, priests (either existing or future) are shared across various kinds of combinations, and laudable things are said about the need for collaborative and lay ministry (as if these weren’t already happening). I have friends right across the Church of England, and it seems that there is very little variation on this theme. [...]

"Low genetic component" to same sex attraction

Same sex attraction (SSA) as shown by twin studies is predominantly due to highly individual reactions to things, people or occurrences in the environment, and has an unusually low contribution from genetics, pre-natal influences or post-natal upbringing. Twin studies sum up all possible influences known or even those yet to be discovered. By contrast, for opposite sex attraction (OSA), the accidental component is quite low and common factors predominate. This argument (Whitehead, 2007) is based on data published in the last seven years and universally accepted. Read more

London "crime capital of Europe"

Britain has the highest rate of burglary in the European Union and is also nearly top of the league for assaults and hate crime, according to a recent survey.

The EU crime and safety survey names the UK as a "high crime country" and says the risk of becoming a victim of the 10 most common crimes is, with the exception of Ireland, the highest across the European Union.

London also emerges as the "crime capital of Europe" with the likelihood of becoming a victim - mostly of a range of petty crimes - said to be higher than all other EU capitals and even higher than cities such as Istanbul and New York. Read more

Pope Calls for Believers to Reject Abortion & Euthanasia

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has re-emphasised his call for Catholics everywhere to reject abortion and euthanasia.

The Pope said Sunday 4 February that life was something given by God, and was not to be cut short under the “guise of human compassion”.

The statement came out just days after a doctor in Italy was cleared of any wrongdoing by a medical panel, after he had turned off the life support machine of a paralysed man at the centre of a euthanasia ethical battle. Read more

American lifestyles mix compassion and self-oriented behaviour

How do the lifestyles of Americans define them - by their capacity to "do good" for others or by their willingness to indulge themselves?

A new nationwide survey from The Barna Group shows Americans exhibit both traits - willingness to sacrifice and impulses toward self-oriented behaviors.

The research examined 20 lifestyle elements, exploring what Americans do in a typical month - both to engage with people around them as well as to indulge their own perceived needs and preferences. On balance, adults are more likely to claim acts of kindness and responsible civic behavior than to admit to self-oriented activities. But the study also demonstrates millions of Americans engage in routines that benefit themselves, often flouting moral boundaries to do so. Read more

Sin "not the centrepiece of the Christian message" - Schori

[...] Before her installment last November, Jefferts Schori had questioned Jesus Christ as being the only way to God and told the Associated Press that she does not believe that "one person can have the fullness of truth in him or herself." She also expressed her support for the consecration of homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions.

The presiding bishop further told USA Today that more important than atonement and repentance is living like Jesus in this world.

[Sin] is pervasive, part of human nature," but "it's not the centerpiece of the Christian message. If we spend our time talking about sin and depravity, it is all we see in the world," said Jefferts Schori in the interview. Read more

Archbishop's "coded swipe at New Labour" over marriage

The Archbishop of Canterbury launched a stinging attack on those who fail to appreciate the benefits of marriage today and described married couples as heroes who give stability to society.

Dr Rowan Williams said the “commentating classes of North London” - whose own marriages often failed - were unable to see the wider cost to society of marriage breakdown.

Although Dr Williams did not refer directly to Tony Blair or his cabinet, his comments will be seen as a coded swipe at New Labour.

Many influential figures in New Labour lived close to Mr Blair in Islington, north London, in the early 1990s before he became Prime Minister.

They argued that marriage should be relegated to the same moral status as cohabiting. Read more

Wedded to marriage - Archbishop speaks clearly

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out in favour of traditional marriage before, but rarely with such forceful eloquence as he did yesterday. At the launch of the 10th National Marriage Week, Dr Rowan Williams talked of the "prosaic heroism" of earlier generations of married couples which had helped create the stable society so many still enjoy.

He said that the committed relationship of a husband and wife in marriage says to society, and most importantly it says to the children of that marriage, that it is possible to live as a human being "not afraid that at any moment that you are going to be let down, abandoned, left to yourself, someone has actually committed to be there for you". Read more

Monday, 5 February 2007

Quote of the week from Welsh rugby international?

Is this the 'quote of the week' from Welsh rugby international Brent Cockbain?

Anything goes in rugby, anything you can get away with and maybe you can call that cynical. You cheat and cheat until you get caught out and then you cheat some more, you've really got to play on that edge.

Read his column in full here.

Hereford Diocese Gets Christians Talking with New DVD

For the first time ever, the Diocese of Hereford has produced a study course for its parishioners. ‘Something to Talk About’ has been produced as a DVD and training for leaders has already started.

“It’s the first time we have attempted anything as ambitious as this,” said Peter Massey, Lay Training Officer for the Diocese of Hereford. “New technology has obviously helped us, and we have all the written materials on the DVD alongside drama, interviews and explanatory sequences.”

‘Something To talk About’ is a five-week course aimed at groups of churchgoers coming together and thinking about the way they do and do not talk about their Christian faith. Read more

Bishop of Bristol: If you want to succeed, don't pay the pioneers

There are two additional problems with the model of front-loading full-time salaries: first, there is little evidence that these projects, with the notable exception of church transplants from large churches and projects that receive an influx of transfer growth (which isn’t really what we’re talking about), can make themselves cost neutral within a limited time frame. Secondly, given the money available to most dioceses, if we follow this model, we’re not going to get much started. In God’s economy, we can’t afford to do that.

I believe there are leaders out there who are committed to pioneering new forms of church without the mixed blessing of paid ministry. We want to find ways to support them in that process and give them empowering accountability. I want to be meeting with people who come to me with their vision and tell me that they’re going to drive a white van to make it happen, not ask me to pay for it. Let me know if that’s you. Read more

Abp of York fears UK "police state"

THE Archbishop of York warns today that Britain is in danger of turning into an Idi Amin-style police state.

Dr John Sentamu, who fled Amin's Uganda in the 70s, hit out after Home Secretary John Reid proposed increasing the time that terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 70 days.

Citing earlier attempts to introduce a 90-day limit, he said: "If you detain people, you must have a chance of successful prosecution.

"The Home Secretary has not produced evidence to show that in 90 days you can prosecute.

"Why does he want all these days? So the police can do what? Gather more evidence?

"To me that becomes, if you're not careful, very close to a police state in which they pick you up then say later, 'We'll find evidence against you'. Read more

Article (Guardian): Homosexual equality is a moral crusade

[...] The public change in attitudes towards homosexuality is not just the waning of a taboo. It is not just a case of a practice losing its aura of immorality (as with premarital sex or illegitimacy). Instead, the case for homosexual equality takes the form of a moral crusade. Those who want to uphold the old attitude are not just dated moralists (as is the case with those who want to uphold the old attitude to premarital sex or illegitimacy). They are accused of moral deficiency. The old taboo surrounding this practice does not disappear but "bounces back" at those who seek to uphold it. Such a sharp turn-around is, I think, without parallel in moral history. Read more

Drive to bar Schori from Primates' meeting

The Archbishop of Canterbury's efforts to defuse the bitter Anglican row over gays looked increasingly doomed last night after conservative leaders threatened to bar a leading liberal from a crisis meeting in Africa next week.

Dr Rowan Williams invited Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the new head of the liberal American Church, in the hope that the warring factions might reach a compromise if they could talk face-to-face.

The primates' meeting is regarded as a last-ditch attempt to avert a formal split over homosexuality, and Dr Williams has even asked conservative American bishops to fly in to appear even-handed.

But in a humiliating blow to the Archbishop's authority, senior conservative leaders privately wrote to him last month warning that he had no right to invite Bishop Schori to the summit without their consent. Read more

Bishops to move substantial amendments in Synod sexuality debates

The House of Bishops does not believe that it would be in the interests of the Church of England or the Anglican Communion for the Synod to attempt to pass a motion that was either so ambiguous as to cause confusion and misunderstanding or so clear-cut as to exacerbate the polarisation that already exists. A member of the House will, therefore, be moving on behalf of the House a substantial amendment which, if carried, would enable the Synod to make a positive statement without creating fresh divisions. Read more

Article (Giles Fraser): Bloggers killing debate

[...] Yet, despite the social unacceptability of sending hate mail, those who post comments on websites — also known as bloggers — are able to get away with the most disgusting bile, wrapped in the clothing of anonymity. “Comment is free” is what The Guardian calls its blog site. Comment is cheap, more like. Sadly, nasty and insulting comment drives away all the interesting stuff. Who wants to get involved in a serious discussion only to end up trading abuse?

What is doubly preposterous is that many such bloggers regard themselves as the vanguard of the open society, doing the morally commendable job of protecting free expression. Thus they pretend that saying the most unpleasant things is some sort of moral virtue. In this way, the new hate mail gets to provide itself with moral cover. Read more

Carey: Anglicans should not demonize one another

As a divided Anglican Communion nears a worldwide leaders gathering, the former head of the global denomination says they should not "demonize one another."

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey told Duke University in an interview that the Episcopal Church broke from a 1998 resolution that all bishops in the Communion had agreed to when the U.S. body ordained an openly gay bishop. Nevertheless, Carey emphasized that "there are good, noble people on both sides of the argument." Read more

Sydney to ordain 40 men, 6 women

St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, in George Street will see another very large ordination tomorrow, Saturday 3rd February, commencing at 10.00am.

This is, once again, the largest ordination service to be held in the Anglican Church of Australia this year, and indeed in other Christian denominations.

Dr Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney will ordain 40 men and six women candidates to the Diaconate in the service, and one other women will be commissioned as a Diocesan Lay Worker.

The Special Preacher at the Service will be the Rev Dr John Woodhouse, Principal of Moore Theological College where the candidates have spent either three or four years theological training in preparation for their ordained ministry. Read more (scroll down page)

Orange Lodge backs Catholics on adoption

[...] Those who were once fierce foes within Christianity and even within the realm of traditional religion are beginning to recognize the threat to religious freedom being imposed by the growing intolerance for traditional morality. Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Muslims are defending one another's freedom of religion against attacks from the religion of anti-morality which is increasingly finding devotees in government.

The trend could not be more clearly illustrated than with the news this week that the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, traditionally known for its mortal conflict with the Catholic Church, has officially backed Catholic leadership on the question of homosexual adoption. Read more

Being nice makes clergy cranky

The Church of England ­ parent church of my own denomination, the Episcopal Church -- reports that its parishes are a "toxic cocktail" of bad behavior, full of parishioners with "neurotic personality disorders bordering on the psychotic."

This not-so-good news comes from a recent study of the state of the church in England. The study has received a good deal of press because it introduces a new disorder -- irritable clergy syndrome. This syndrome occurs as a result of clergy attempting to be nice to everybody all the time, according to the experts who conducted the study.

Naturally, I am attracted to the notion of irritable clergy syndrome. At last, an excuse for my bad behavior! When I'm short-tempered or just not very nice, it's because I can't help myself -- I have a verifiable, clinical-sounding Syndrome! Read more

New uses for Europe's redundant churches

For the Muslims of Clitheroe, collective worship has never been easy. It's been 40 years since the first Asians settled in the little town close to England's industrial heartland, but the 300-strong community has struggled ever since to find a suitable site for a mosque. No longer. In December the town council finally approved plans for the conversion of a handsome but derelict structure: a disused Methodist chapel. Read more

Article (Telegraph): Williams should let Anglican Communion fade away

[...] The question now is how much damage the end of the Communion would do to the Church of England. That depends partly on Dr Williams. The Established Church is founded on an English pragmatism that finds space for Catholic and Protestant, liberal and conservative. Alas, that pragmatism cannot be exported.

The Anglican Communion is one of several supra-national bodies (such as the Commonwealth) whose ambitions no longer correspond to reality. Dr Williams should let it fade away, and instead apply his intellect to holding together our national Church. Read more

Most students believe provision needed for religion

OVER THREE-QUARTERS of students in Britain believe that further education should make provision for religious needs, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Focus Consultancy, also found that 55% of those questioned felt that “values, beliefs and faiths” were important in their lives.

The findings follow on from the last education white paper, in which the government highlighted the benefits of integrating faith into colleges. Read more

Article (Charles Raven): Key issues arising from the UK Civil Partnership Act

While it is possible to argue that in terms of words on paper the Church of England has maintained biblical teaching on marriage, the reality is the reverse. Key Issues Arising from the Civil Partnerships Act 37 Such a fiction can only be maintained by ignoring the facts of the political and ecclesial context, in summary that-

(a) The Civil Partnership Act is a deliberate attempt to create an new social institution of same sex marriage.

(b) The Bishops of the Church of England continue to tolerate without any effective discipline behaviour which is clearly at odds with its claimed allegiance to historic biblical teaching.

In an increasingly decadent society, the Bishops blur the boundaries between right and wrong and confuse those who are called to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. If they cannot any longer shepherd the Church in a godly way, we must look for other shepherds who can, while in the meantime local clergy should conscientiously reject the ministry of those shepherds who are harming the flock. Read more