Thursday, 15 March 2007

Stephen Bates: Anglicans should make the break

QUESTION: What is the one thing you would most like to see happen by this time next year?

I would like to see the division of the worldwide Anglican communion. Despite his prolonged and selfless efforts to keep it together over the last few years, Archbishop Rowan Williams ought to fail, because the communion has become irreconcilably divided over the issue of homosexuality. It would be better for the two factions to move apart, so that they can stop sniping at each other and start focusing on other issues. Read more

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Stained glass window back in Church-turned-Gurudwara

A stained glass window taken from a Sunderland church has been reinstalled – eight years after it was removed.

When Christ Church in Ashbrooke was sold in 1999 its stained glass windows were removed and stored in a London warehouse – until now. Read more

Church advertising too old for 21st century

Churches are using the advertising methods of the 1950s to try to reach a 21st century audience, says a British author of a new book, How To Be Heard In A Noisy World: Church Publicity Made Easy.

Says author Phil Creighton: “With scruffy posters, meaningless or naff slogans, and dated information, many of our churches are promoting the church as boring, hopelessly irrelevant, out of date and amateur.” Read more

Episcopal leaders in Utah speak up for gays

Taking a public stand against the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion's recent push to limit the role of gays and lesbians in the church, representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah spoke out Tuesday in a document directed at fellow church leaders and the media.

The eight-page position paper, signed by the Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish and several local Episcopal deputies, was designed to "respond critically and constructively" to recent restrictions on ordaining gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions. Read more

Government to monitor children from birth

Babies will be assessed on their gurgling, babbling and toe-playing abilities when they are a few months old under a legally enforced national curriculum for children from birth to five published by the government yesterday.

Every nursery, childminder and reception class in Britain will have to monitor children's progress towards a set of 69 government-set "early learning goals", recording them against more than 500 development milestones as they go. Read more

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Glasgow Cathedral Provost's Blog offers Swedish same-sex blessing liturgy

Ed: The blog of Kelvin Holdsworth offers a translation into English of the new liturgy for same-sex blessings produced by the Swedish Lutheran Church (no relation to Martin Luther), apparently in response to innumerable requests.

Gay sex immoral says US general

Gay rights groups in the US have complained after the country's top military commander said he believed homosexual acts were "immoral".

Marine General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he backed the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding homosexuality. Read more.

US church bans weddings in solidarity with gays

Declaring a 'holy fast,' Grace Episcopal Church has decided to stop performing all wedding ceremonies because its bishops bar the blessing of same-sex unions.

'We are called to join the fast that our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ have had to observe all their lives,' said the church's rector, the Rev. Robert Hirschfeld, in his sermon Sunday. Read more

Canada Anglican leaders promote same-sex blessings

No core Anglican doctrines should prevent the blessing of same-sex unions, Canadian Anglican leaders said in a decision that could set their church on a collision course with the global Anglican Communion.

The decision Sunday strengthens the alignment of the Anglican Church of Canada with the U.S. Episcopal Church against attempts by the broader Anglican Communion to fight same-sex marriage and the ordination of homosexual clergy. Read more

Monday, 12 March 2007

ABp of Mexico becomes patron of Inclusive Church

InclusiveChurch is pleased to announce that the Archbishop of Mexico, the Most Revd Carlos Touche-Porter, has agreed to be Patron of InclusiveChurch.

The Archbishop said "As an Anglican committed to promote inclusiveness and diversity in our Church, I rejoice, celebrate and support the ministry of Inclusive Church. May the Anglican Communion continue to be a house of prayer for all people, where everyone is welcome, valued and respected." He is Presiding Bishop of La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico and a Primate of the Anglican Communion. Read more

Closure threat to Norfolk village church

It is one of the most notorious Norfolk episodes in living memory - a skirmish between church and school that led to the longest strike Britain has ever seen.

But now the church at the centre of the row in Burston, near Diss, could be closed for good, with the congregation most weeks struggling to get into double figures.

Just a handful of Burston's 600-strong community come to church on Sundays, leading Church officials to threaten pulling the plug on the historic building unless the village's Christians come forward to be counted.

The blow comes as other Church figures around Norfolk make clear their frustration at presiding over ever-declining congregations that spend more time worrying where money will come from than on their spiritual wellbeing. Read more

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Evangelical Lutherans should be more 'evangelical' says head

The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is turning things around to make the denomination more "evangelical."

"I suppose one of my greatest frustrations in six years as presiding bishop is, it just feels like we haven't been able to turn around what I think is a deep ambivalence and resistance in this church to being what we claim in our name, and that's evangelical," said ELCA Presiding Bishop the Rev. Mark Hanson, according to the ELCA News Service. Read more

Should cathedrals charge entrance fees?

Should cathedrals charge visitors an entry fee? The issue has surfaced again because York Minister, which controversially introduced charges in 2003 to tackle an annual deficit of £600,000, has hiked them again.

The 50 pence rise introduced today isn’t much; adults will now have to pay £5.50, while students and senior citizens will have to fork out £4.50. But it is the principle of the thing. Why should anyone, even tourists, be forced to pay to enter cathedrals? Isn’t the spirituality of these buildings a free gift to all? Should the Church welcome the intrusion of Mammon into the domain of God?

Give more and help church pay its bills, says vicar

Ed: One for all you vicars out there.

A MALVERN church is facing severe financial difficulties unless worshippers donate more money.

The Rev. David Nichol of Holy Trinity Church, Link Top, has already used this month's issue of the parish magazine to appeal for parishioners to give more.

He said the church only managed to pay its bills last year by using up a surplus from previous years. Now that surplus had gone. Read more

Liberal Allies Wonder Why Schori Signed Ultimatum on Gays

Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, is used to hostility from the right wing of her denomination. Now, she faces a rebellion among her longtime allies on the left.

With more puzzlement than rancor, liberal Episcopalians are questioning why Jefferts Schori signed an international statement last month that, in their view, demands a halt to 30 years of growing acceptance of gay men and lesbians. Read more

Akinola 'must speak out to save gays'

According to Rick Warren writing in Time, Dr Peter Akinola is one of the world's 100 most influential people. Rick says that like Mandela, he is 'man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.' Yet even conservative Christians such as Ephraim Radner are beginning to ask why he has yet to speak out against a draconian new bill currently before Nigeria's parliament that Human Rights Watch today said threatens human rights and the country's democratic process. Read more

Scottish RC bishop declares anti-Labour vote

One of Scotland's most senior Catholics has declared he will not vote Labour in May's Holyrood elections.

The Bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Devine, said he now feels many Labour policies, such as civil partnerships, fly in the face of Christian tradition. Read more

Churches to be used as rural Post Offices

For hundreds of village post offices threatened with closure, it could be an answer to their prayers.

The Church of England is to issue guidelines to parishes, recommending that churches across the country are used as post offices. Officials will meet with the Post Office's rural division this week to discuss plans in which stamps could be issued from vestries and pensions out of bell towers. Read more

Williams wants TEC action by 16th March

[...] He also sets out the immediate steps needed to implement decisions made in Tanzania. Against the background of the 30 September deadline imposed on the Episcopal Church in the United States, these would include the swift setting up of a pastoral council to work with the Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori. This will appoint a Primatial Vicar to oversee dissenting congregations.

The proposals should be taken with “all seriousness and dispatch”, the Archbishop says. “Once a sufficiently strong scheme is in place within the Episcopal Church, then this should be sufficient for all dissenting congregations and dioceses to find their home within it.” Dr Williams says that nominations for two Primates to serve on the Council should reach him by 16 March. They will, he suggests, need skills in canon law, administration, and mediation, as well as pastoral insight and availability. Read more

’Fresh Expressions’ Blowing Through the Church in Great Britain

All over the United Kingdom something new is happening in the country’s churches.

Christians are stepping out in faith and starting new initiatives for people who are right outside the church as it is currently. Known as Fresh Expressions, the new outreach is a Church of England and Methodist Church initiative. Read more

An RC view: The end of the Anglican Communion

There's an Anglican church, St. Luke's, a few blocks up Old Georgetown Road from my parish in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. St. Luke's recently posted a large sign on the church lawn: "No matter who you are, no matter what you believe, you are welcome at our table."

Which is, in one sense, a noble sentiment: if it's meant to convey that, look, we're all sinners, and no matter how awful you may think you are, you're welcome in the communion of Christ's Church if you're truly repentant. Judging from recent events in the Anglican Communion, however, St. Luke's sign isn't a synopsis of the parable of the prodigal son and his merciful father; it's a succinct, if unwitting, statement of why the Anglican Communion is coming apart at the seams. Read more