Saturday, 7 July 2007

Bishops 'misquoted' on floods

THERE was widespread indignation in some flooded areas after reported comments made by the Bishops of Carlisle and Liverpool in a phone interview with a journalist last weekend.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd Graham Dow, is quoted in The Sunday Telegraph as saying: “We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused.” It was his apparent linking of moral degradation with homosexuality that drew the most condemnation.

Bishop Dow’s spokesman, Canon Dr Richard Pratt, sought to clarify what the Bishop had said, in a statement issued on Sunday. “The Bishop of Carlisle did not say that God ‘sent’ the floods. He and the Bishop of Liverpool did point out what environmental campaigners have been saying for years: that the floods are a consequence of global warming, which is a lack of restraint and lack of care for our planet.” Read more

Ordinations: where have all the young men (and women) gone?

Ed: In terms of age, these pictures of ordinands from across the dioceses look the same age as incumbents did when I was ordained in 1976. Where have all the young people gone? (Pictures courtesy of the Church Times)

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The Bishop of Worcester (left) and Dudley, with priests and deacons

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The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, with deacons

The Bishop of St Asaph  © not advert
In Wales: the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd John Davies, with priests and deacons

New deacons rehearse Sheffield Cathedral  © not advert
New deacons rehearse in the pulpit at Sheffield Cathedral

The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham with deacons  © not advert
The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham with deacons

The Bishop of Truro with deacons   © not advert
The Bishop of Truro with deacons at his final ordination as diocesan
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On retreat with the Bishop of Chelmsford (left)

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Deacons at Peteborough

The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds with deacons  © not advert
The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds with deacons

The Bishops of Rochester and Tonbridge, with priests  © not advert
The Bishops of Rochester and Tonbridge, with priests

The Bishop of Coventry with ordinands  © not advert
The Bishop of Coventry with ordinands

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Leicester deacons on retreat with Launde Abbey

Canadian Anglican priests set to defy same-sex blessing ban

Ed: Gosh! I never would have thought that would happen in the Anglican Communion!

Two weeks after the Anglican Church of Canada voted to maintain its ban on same-sex blessings, a pair of renegade parishes are publicly vowing to bless and even marry gay and lesbian couples, saying there are dozens of other Anglican parishes across the country defying the rules of the national church.

Clergy at Holy Trinity Church in downtown Toronto, and at St. Saviour’s Church in Victoria, have each declared their intention to push ahead with blessing ceremonies despite a decision by their church’s national governing body forbidding such acts. Read more

Friday, 6 July 2007

Times interviews Archbishop Akinola

[...] Nigeria’s bishops will not meet to decide about Lambeth until September. Dr Akinola says he does not know how they will decide. But at this point, attendance by Nigeria looks extremely unlikely. And if they stay away, this will mark the start of true schism. The Lambeth Conference is one of the communion’s four instruments of unity. For the Nigerians to attend, the Archbishop of Canterbury would have to invite Bishop Minns, which he will not.

And the Episcopal Church in the US would have to backpedal on its liberal agenda, which would be a betrayal of everything it has struggled for in the past two decades.

Dr Akinola does not deny that homosexuals exist in Africa. “All we are saying is, do not celebrate what the Bible says is wrong. If the Bible says it is an aberration, it is an aberration. Do not do it.” He sees no point in his church attending the Lambeth Conference if the bishops cannot share together in Holy Communion. He begins to get passionate, becoming eloquent in his anger. “The missionaries brought the word of God here and showed us the way of life. We have seen the way of life and we rejoice in it. Now you are telling me this way of life is not right. I have to do something else. Keep it for yourself. I do not want it.”

No Nigerian bishop needs to go to Canterbury to learn how to be a bishop, he says. “No Nigerian Anglican needs to go to Lambeth Palace to learn how to become a Christian. It is all available here. We rejoice in our fellowship, we rejoice in our heritage as Anglicans. We celebrate it. But our unity will never be at the expense of truth, of the historic faith.” Read more

Nigeria may boycott Lambeth 2008

Nigeria's Anglican bishops may boycott a conference of Anglican leaders next year if the US Episcopal church refuses to stop its liberal agenda, the country's most senior Anglican said in an interview published in an early edition of The Times' Thursday paper.

Dr Peter Akinola said he did not think the Episcopal church, the American branch of the Anglican communion, would listen to conservative Anglican leaders from Africa and Asia who were opposed to its appointment of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003.

"All we are saying is do not celebrate what the Bible says is wrong," Akinola told the daily. Read more

Jonathan Aitken: Wycliffe row a personality clash

[...] To understand the disputes' origins it is necessary to appreciate the impact of a confidential Church of England report on Wycliffe following a visit by inspectors in 2004. They recommended an overhaul of the management in order to make "ministerial formation central rather than peripheral to both the ethos and the managerial structure of the college"; a business plan; an improvement in chapel services; and the direct accountability of certain tutors, particularly the director of ministry, to the principal. The hall council decided a new broom was needed to make the changes, so they appointed Richard Turnbull, a former Hampshire vicar, church historian and chairman of the business committee of the General Synod.

Turnbull swept vigorously. Only time will tell whether his new staff appointments, which look good on paper, will succeed in practice. But those who opposed his right to change staff were surely fighting on the wrong battlefield. This is where personal grievances, sometimes bitterly expressed, entered the equation. Read more

American Anglican Council praises new Kenyan bishop

The American Anglican Council has applauded the “sound decision” by Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of the Anglican Province of Kenya to appoint a suffragan bishop to oversee the province’s US-based congregations.

The announcement that the Rev Bill Murdoch will be consecrated on 30 August “serves as one more important step toward the long-anticipated realignment of North American Anglicanism”, the AAC said.

Rev Murdoch will join Rev Canon Dr Bill Atwood as a Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi, and serve international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya including taking responsibility for care for the congregations and clergy in the USA under Kenyan jurisdiction. Read more

Rwanda 'to boycott Lambeth 2008'

Another group of Anglican leaders is planning to boycott the fellowship's once-a-decade assembly as divisions over the Bible and homosexuality threaten to split the world Anglican Communion.

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda said June 19 that its members won't attend the Lambeth Conference next year in England because some Rwandan bishops weren't invited.

A few Rwandan bishops oversee the Anglican Mission in America, a breakaway group of theologically conservative parishes that are not recognized by the Anglican Communion.

The communion's spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has said that he did not invite bishops connected to the Rwanda-led mission or to other breakaway groups because he believed it would disrupt efforts at the conference to keep Anglicans together. Read more

Church of England coalition to tackle liberals

Senior Church of England conservatives are plotting a new coalition to mount their biggest offensive yet against their liberal opponents over issues such as gay priests.

According to insiders, they are planning talks at this week's General Synod aimed at uniting a broad spectrum of evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics to act together during crucial debates.

Supporters of the new movement believe that it could gain the backing of up to half of the Synod, the Church''s "parliament", frustrating the efforts of liberals to promote their agenda. Its leaders are expected to include prominent clergy and lay people within the Synod and the Archbishops' Council, the Church's managing body. Read more

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Chelmsford 'Gay Day'

Chelmsford Gay Day - 2nd September 2007Based in three venues in Chelmsford, Essex - Chicago Rock Cafe / Smiths2 / Q-Ball Read more

"No King, no Bishop": How Gordon Brown has deconstructed the Church of England

[...] As Canon A 6 says, ‘The government of the Church of England under the Queen’s majesty by archbishops, bishops, deans, provosts, archdeacons and the rest of the clergy and of the laity that bear office in the same is not repugnant to the Word of God’. Deny the role of the Queen, however, and you pull the plug on the rest. Read more

See also No King but Caesar? The Headship of the Church in Anglican Theology (pdf file)

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Brown gives up PM's rights on appointing bishops

Ed: And now the Church must do the serious work advocated here.

AFTER WEEKS of speculation Prime Minister Gordon Brown this afternoon unveiled a range of constitutional changes that will see a change to the way that bishops in the Church of England are appointed. Read more

'Islamist' is the word for these terrorists

[...] Six weeks ago, David Cameron wrote an article in the Observer criticising those who used the word "Islamist" to describe the ideological roots of the terrorist threat. Yet "Islamist" is an accurate description of a global ideology that has been slowly incubating for decades. It took 69 years between the writing of the Communist Manifesto and the imposition of Bolshevik terror on Russia after 1917. Hitler's hatred of Jews was derived from writings and ideologues active before he was born. The Islamist equivalent of Marx's revolutionary appeal can be found in the writing of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, with a growing presence in Egypt, as well as off-shoots such as Hamas and a European network, including prominent members of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Writing in the 1930s, Hasan al-Banna declared: "The Koran is our Constitution. Jihad is Our Way. Martyrdom is Our Desire." At a stroke, the history of modernity that is based on separation of faith and democracy, church and state, politicians and priests was overturned. Today, it is al-Qa'eda and the myriad Islamist outfits from Indonesia to Britain who are inspired by Islamist ideology to carry out evil acts. Read more

The man who 'refuses to lead a dying church'

[...] Nixon believes many of the United Methodist churches are "beyond the winds of opportunity for institutional renewal."

"We will close thousands upon thousands of churches in the next 30 years," he says.

Giving clues to what thriving congregational ministry may look like in United Methodism in the years ahead, Nixon calls United Methodist church planters to "believe in the Great Commission more than institutional survival [and] to love God and lost people more than it loves preserving its cosy fellowship and church traditions."

Nixon also suggests churches, especially in urban areas, share space and ministry. While some United Methodist churches may not currently be equipped to reach a specific population group in the local community, sharing space with another church that may be well suited for reaching a younger population or particular ethnic group can be effective. Read more

Preaching the gospel at Speakers' Corner

[...] Last year I explained the gospel in Arabic for 10 minutes to Abdallah, a man of about 60 from Kuwait. He was ill and was in London for treatment. What amazed me is that he did not stop me once with any of the usual Muslim objections; this was most unusual. He gratefully accepted a gospel portion in Arabic and we said a warm goodbye. Perhaps he was a dying man seeking for the truth. This year there was Muhammad, a 44 year-old Algerian who looked seriously ill. He came up with the usual Muslim objections to the gospel, but then listened carefully as a friend and I explained how our sins can be forgiven through faith in Christ.

The crowd goes away, but the seed has been sown in many hearts. Perhaps this side of eternity we will never know who has turned to the Lord as a result of a young girl's testimony or the faithful preaching of a veteran open-air warrior. Think of British people who have been told of a good church in their hometown, or of Arabs going back to the Middle East or North Africa with a copy of God's Word in Arabic. Or think of those Chinese tourists taking the New Testaments back with them to a communist land.

Here and there one hears how someone who is now in Christian service became a Christian through being given a tract at an open-air meeting. Pray that those contacted this year at Speakers' Corner will turn to Christ as a result of what they heard there. Why not consider coming along yourself next year to lend a hand - you will never be the same again! Read more

Schoolgirl Banned from Wearing Anti-Abortion T-Shirt

A 16-year-old mother has been banned by her secondary school for wearing a T-shirt protesting against abortions in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Sarah Scott, who gave birth just four months ago, was told that she must not wear her black T-shirt with the words "Abortion is Murder” printed on it. The school said the T-shirt was offensive.

The young mother was also issued with the warning that her daughter may be excluded from school if she wears the T-shirt again, reports the BBC.

However, Scott, who wore the T-shirt on a non-uniform day, has hit back at the staff of Banff Academy by saying that she is being unfairly targeted and that her freedom of speech is being violated. Read more

Sunday, 1 July 2007

The growing impact of 'torture porn' in mainstream cinema

[...] Something has, however, changed profoundly with the advent of 'torture porn' as a mainstream genre and the proliferation of real-life terrorist beheadings on the internet. The will and reach of the censor is slipping: increasingly, we will have to take responsibility for ourselves.

We might begin by questioning if we ever have the moral right to watch terrorist victims such as Daniel Pearl or Nick Berg being beheaded. I do not think we have, because the argument that has always prohibited the watching of child pornography - that the helpless victim was unable to give or withhold consent to the act or the filming - applies equally to al-Qa'eda's home-made snuff films.

The cinematic child of voyeurism and terror, 'torture porn' is a genre that gorges on the world's horrors and regurgitates them, but learns nothing from them.

The more of it audiences consume, the less they understand. In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four the panicked hero, Winston Smith, describes a nightmarish night at the flicks, as the audience relishes the sight of a boatload of enemy refugees being bombed, and roars with laughter at a mother's hapless struggles to protect her small boy from death.

We are not so very far away from that now. There must come a point at which audiences ask a different question from what will the torturer do next to his victims on screen? We must ask what watching him is doing to us. Read more