Saturday, 28 July 2007

Back to Church Sunday: participating churches in Chelmsford

I have discovered on the Diocesan website a full list of churches in Chelmsford which are participating in Back to Church Sunday. You can read the list here and you can add your church's name if it is not listed.

Posts being advertised at Wycliffe Hall

Anyone interested in a job at Wycliffe Hall? Mostly in admin. Two of the posts are newly created. See here.

From The Times: "I’m single, I’m sexy, and I’m only 13"

[...] Log on to social networking websites such as MySpace or Facebook, view the videos on YouTube and you’ll find explicit photos of girls, as young as 14, posing in their underwear or flashing for the camera. It’s not only socially and morally worrying, but new research indicates that such practices may cause long-term damage to young women’s mental and physical health.

Grace, 15, attends a girls’ school in North London. She has a MySpace and Facebook page and her photo galleries are littered with pictures of her gangly frame dressed in bra-tops, tight shorts and miniskirts. She sees it as keeping up with fashion, just like having her tawny hair highlighted. “Mum doesn’t like my clothes, she says I look too old, but I’m just wearing what everyone else is. There’s nothing wrong with it. I think Mum would freak if she saw my MySpace though; it has everything on it. She does say that I’m growing up too fast, but I think that’s good.” Read more

Saddest quote of the year?

Interviewer to Gene Robinson: And you must have been helpful to [your wife] through her second divorce as well?

Gene Robinson: 'That’s right. Absolutely. Our love for each other continued right through that time and I think she still considers me a confidante and companion on the way. In that sense I think marriage is for a lifetime, even if you get divorced. It is a lifetime relationship.' Read more

Report on June meeting of Chelmsford Diocesan Synod

This report is submitted by Trevor Ireland, who has also added his own estimate of the value of each item.

Report on Diocesan Synod AD 16th June 2007

We met in a marquee at Bishopscourt and were welcomed personally by the Bishop and his wife. In our hymn we asked God that we might know what it is in Christ we share, for God to help us to seek true discernment sustained by Christ and in an age of change and doubt, to keep us faithful to the Gospel. In our Psalm we asked God to defend our cause against an ungodly people, to be delivered from the deceitful and the wicked. In our Responsory we asked God to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In our prayers we asked to follow Christ more nearly. Very encouraging.


Synod was directed to a motion from Havering Deanery. The motion calls upon Diocesan Synod, "in view of widespread ignorance of the Bible in society......," to reaffirm its confidence in Articles of Religion 6,7,19,20 and 21, to express its appreciation for the work of The Bible Society, to look for the gift of the Bible to remain central in ordination and coronation services, to encourage clergy and readers to give teaching the Bible a high priority in the nurture of God's people, and to request Church of England Synods to adopt a symbol of this confidence such as The Year of the Bible recently celebrated in France. The motion suggests 2011, the 400th anniversary of the Authorised Version as a suitable occasion. Those who know how I have worked for Bible study to be central to all church meetings (currently dropped by both Deanery and Diocesan Synods, though part of both for many of my years of involvement) will expect my support for this motion. I have signed and will support the motion. If you advise your views to me I will endeavour to present them in debate.

2008 Budget

Synod received a presentation of the 2008 draft Budget paper DS(07)9. This has been submitted as a consultation document to the parishes. Deadline for responses, 31st August 2007.


The Bishop's Council Report DS(07)4 and Finance Committee report DS(07)5 were presented and received. Reports available if required.

Good News Story

Peter Hillman told us of Legacy XS, a "Fresh Expression of church" which was, for me, "mind blowing". Creating a community is key to the ethos of the organisation and the heart of Legacy is the worshipping community. This community meets at the XS Centre where "church" is an indoor skatepark. As part of their "services" young people use the sports they love (mainly BMX and skateboarding) to express themselves in worship. Consider these comments from their publicity : (Legacy) is a church plant and mission organisation rolled into one.....for without mission the church can degenerate into a special interest group or social is always Him that brings people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.......our task is to help people along the way by sharing our lives with them, telling our own story and more importantly His.....the truth is this is all very experimental.

Whilst I would not want a skateboard ramp in my church, I also do not want liturgy turned into a concert (however beautiful the voices or the music), however the key to the use of both is mission and this experiment is doing it!! See

Annual Reports to Synod

This document was received and should be available to every parish. In 28 pages it reports on the work of the Diocese. Obtainable from the Diocesan Office.


These included: What percentage of clergy who have completed enhanced CRB checks? - just under 50%. Why is Diocesan correspondence still wrongly address? - being addressed!!! How many churches are admitting children to Communion and when will this be Diocesan policy? - numbers being obtained and currently a parish can choose to do this.

Ministerial Review

The Archdeacon of Southend presented paper DS(07)6. Clergy will obviously watch points, but it was emphasised that training and review go together. In response to the suggestion that candidates for ordination should be examined in their ability to proclaim the Gospel, for therein lay the "freshness", the Archdeacon confirmed that "proclaiming afresh" was not scope for a rewrite. Praise the Lord.

Deanery Visions

Paper DS(07)7 was noted and although the timing is slipping, Steven Webb is committed to painstaking review of Deanery submissions. Bishop John linked the Diocesan work with that of General Synod, where a Diocese will have to reflect what has been put up in Deanery Visions to allow greater local freedom, so start planning your use of GREATER LOCAL FREEDOM now.

We were joined by those who were to receive the DAC Design Awards 2007.

Quite possibly the most stupid piece of journalism yet about Gene Robinson

Ed: This is even worse than is usually managed by The Independent. Kudos, if that is the right word, to The Scotsman.

FORTY years after the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, American The Rt Rev V Gene Robinson, the world's first openly gay bishop, explains to ANDREW COLLIER in an exclusive interview what it's like to be many Christians' number one enemy.

THE Devil has arranged to meet me in the lobby of a London tourist hotel. It's an odd choice of venue: Westminster Cathedral, the great temple of Roman Catholicism in England, is close by; and a glimpse of the fire and colour of Hell would have been more interesting.
USwitch Loan Ad

Nor does he look like Satan. No horns, no tail, no pitchfork, no smoke and sulphur. He's of medium height, thinning hair, wearing a smart shirt and tie. He's immediately warm, friendly, open and assured. I like him.

Yet millions of Christians the world over are convinced - absolutely assured - that this man is the Antichrist. They believe he is the Devil, sent to destroy the church from within. Read more

Guardian apology over 'Nazi' jibe

Ed: the Guardian has printed the following apology regarding an article by Jonathan Aitken in their 'Comment if Free' column:

In a Comment article, This isn't the Anglican split, page 28, July 5, it was stated that Dr Elaine Storkey, in a meeting of staff and students, compared the principal of Wycliffe Hall, Dr Richard Turnbull, to "one of the Nazi defendants at Nuremberg". This was incorrect. She did not compare Dr Turnbull to the Nazi defendants or use the words quoted. We apologise for this error.

On the Fulcrum and Thinking Anglicans websites this has produced interesting reactions for such a limited statement. The phrase 'spitting chips' comes to mind.

Archbishop of York: exclusive interview

[...] "As long as someone does not deny the very basic doctrines of the Church - the creation, the death, the resurrection of Christ and human beings being made in the image of God - then the rest really helps but they are not the core message.

"And I haven’t found that in Ecusa or in Canada, where I was recently, they have any doubts in their understanding of God which is very different from anybody. What they have quarrelled about is the nature of sexual ethics."

He nevertheless emphasised that Dr Williams does expect those who attend Lambeth to abide by the decision-making processes of the Anglican Communion. Read more

Ninety-nine names of Allah sung in church

[...] Tavener, a religious pluralist wanting to create unity across religious boundaries, seems to have reached the perfect equilibrium in bringing together different religions.
This piece was commissioned by the Prince of Wales, the future head of the Anglican Church of England, performed at the chief Catholic Church in the country, was about the Qur`anically inspired Names of Allah, and its structure had its basis in Hindu philosophy. “This is the most important work that I have ever written,” Tavener said. “It is a kind of ‘summation’ of all that I have tried to do over the past 60 years. If the work contributes towards healing a shattered world, then this is of great importance.”
However, the audience of the première consisted almost solely of the ‘typical’ crowd, with very few Muslims or Hindus making the effort to attend. The general reaction amongst the Muslim community, however, was very positive, with Leicester-based Shaykh Imam Ibrahim Mogra, for example, welcoming this work on the ninety-nine Names of Allah being “put to music because they are so wonderfully emotive. When you hear the words sung, it creates a sense of ecstasy, a buzz” according to The Independent.
There was not unanimous approval of Tavener’s work with a handful of protestors gathered outside the Cathedral. They were unhappy that this performance, based on an Islamic understanding of God, was allowed in a Christian place of worship and had thus lobbied strongly to get the concert cancelled. However, the organisers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra stood strong in the face of this protest, and the performance was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Read more

Survey Reveals Global Day of Prayer London ‘Uplifting & Inspiring’

The London Global Day of Prayer event, which gathered about 18,000 worshippers at West Ham United stadium on Pentecost Sunday was officially a great success according to a new survey.

The recent survey, carried out by Premier Christian Radio on behalf of the GDOP London, revealed an extremely high level of “satisfaction” among those that attended the event, with 95 per cent of people saying they would be excited by the prospect of a similar event taking place in 2008.

It was also found that 97 per cent of tickets were largely purchased in advance, and encouragingly 81 per cent of those surveyed claimed that their main motivation for attending was prayer. Read more

English Bishops Divided over Episcopal Church's Lambeth Participation

If The Episcopal Church does not respond affirmatively to the primates’ February communiqué by the Sept. 30 deadline, as many as 60 percent of the Church of England's 114 bishops would share a sense of solidarity if bishops from the Global South declined to attend, according to the Rt. Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester.

In an interview with The Church of Ireland Gazette, Bishop Scott-Joynt said convictions among the British House of Bishops are strongly held on both sides of the issue. If all bishops from The Episcopal Church are not given the chance to participate, he estimated the other 40 percent of the Church of England bishops would consider staying away in solidarity with The Episcopal Church. Read more

U.S., African Anglican Bishops Meet to Forge Stronger Relations

U.S. Episcopal bishops and Anglican leaders from Africa concluded a six-day conference Thursday that was arranged to strengthen relationships and build new ones.

Bishops representing 22 dioceses in the United States and 29 dioceses in Africa convened in Madrid, Spain, for the July 21-26 consultation titled "Walking to Emmaus, Discovering New Mission Perspectives in Changing Times." Convened by Trinity Church Wall Street and hosted by the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, the meeting was closed to the media and the names of the participants were not disclosed. Read more

Without gay priests Church would be lost claims Bishop Gene

The openly gay bishop whose ordination sparked the crisis in the Anglican Communion has claimed the Church of England would be close to shutting down if it was forced to manage without its gay clergy.

The Bishop of New Hampshire in the US, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, who is divorced and lives openly in partnership with a gay man, said he found it "mystifying" that the mother church of the Anglican Communion was unable to be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks.

He said many of the English church's clergy lived openly in their rectories with gay partners, with the full knowledge of their bishops. But he criticised the stance of bishops who threaten the clergy with emnity should their relationships become public. Read more

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

This is the way the Church will end ...

A Grade II listed church in Cornwall, established more than 100 years ago, is to be closed down after receiving a quote for repairs totalling more than £500,000.

St Paul's Church in Truro, which was built in 1889, required urgent work on decaying stonework in its tower and east end after insurers said the church had to upgrade the building or else lose its policy.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) – who oversees the church – said it felt it would be “immoral, irresponsible and inappropriate” to spend that amount on repairs for the building. Read more

Review of Biography of Richard Harries

[...] Those who opposed Bishop Richard over his appointment of Jeffrey John are accused of being “ecclesiastical barbarians”, of “uncharitable wickedness”, ( p.217) of “warped malignancy ( p 221), “biblical fundamentalists” (p 189) This is particularly unfair because such charges were never part of Richard Harries’ debate with those who strongly disagreed with him on this matter. Indeed a mark of his fairness is the revelation in the book that he initiated discussions as to how alternative episcopal oversight could be arranged for congregations and clergy who would be “unable and unwilling to accept (Jeffrey) John’s ministrations”.

This is also unfair to Bishop Harries because he never accused those who opposed him publicly on this matter of having less than an Anglican ecclesiology. So why has Mr Peart-Binns let these judgements intrude? Bishop Harries is never quoted as holding these views himself. If this is or was Bishop Harries’ view, then it would be important for Bishop Richard to say so clearly.

The book notes, but does not give adequate weight to, the failure to take into account the proper interest of the Anglican Communion in the consecration of one who would be part of its college of bishops. This is the concern not of ecclesiastical barbarians. Not only evangelicals, but also anglo-catholics were opposed to Jeffrey John’s nomination and they would hardly relish being called ecclesiastical barbarians. Read more

It is wise in the face of natural disaster, to pray ‘Lord have mercy’. Bishop of Carlisle

The Bishop of Carlisle has released a statement clarifying his interview on the floods in England

In view of how my views on recent natural disasters have been misreported I would like to clarify my position.

I did not say that pro-gay legislation had provoked God to send the storms that caused the Yorkshire floods. I did not say that God had sent the floods at all. This is an elucidation of what I was trying to say: Read more

Drunken yobs making town centres into no-go areas

Drunken thugs are turning town centres into no-go areas after dark, MPs warn.

They act like "an occupying army loose in the streets" and the mayhem they cause costs the country £3.4billion every year.

Now the Public Accounts Committee is demanding drastic action against the yobs who regard Asbos as "part and parcel of everyday life". Read more

See also on the BBC website.

TEC's small steps down a slippery slope

How did TEC (The Episcopal Church) get where it is today? Answer, by small steps, documentation of which can be found at this link.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Archbishop of Armagh: division a greater sin than heresy

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Rev Alan Harper, has spoken out on the “sin” of division plaguing what he calls the “tortured” Anglican Communion.

Speaking in his address on the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene, he said he had come to believe that “division is a greater sin even than heresy”.

He appealed to fellow Anglicans to remember Paul’s call for patient forbearance in his letter to the Ephesians, warning that disunity and “open rupture” were a “sign that the full stature of Christ remains absent from the Body”. Read more

World 'losing fight against Aids'

US President George W Bush's top adviser on HIV/Aids has said the world is losing the battle against the virus.

Dr Anthony Fauci told a conference in Sydney that progress had been made, but more people were being infected with HIV than were being treated.

"For every one person that you put in therapy, six new people get infected. So we're losing that game, the numbers game," he said. Read more

Let’s make money by regurgitating stuff about the poor

[...]The poor, that huge, passive reservoir of research fodder, society’s lab mice, cannot escape them. Can only gaze with indifferent eyes at the toiling ants, at their dumb questions, their patronising warmth and their endless boxes to be ticked. All in order to be told what people in their circumstances have known for time immemorial: that they don’t do so well in life as the rich, nor live so long.

Huge numbers of people now work in the field of poverty. There are approximately 100,000 social workers in England, Scotland and Wales. The national UK voluntary sector has a paid workforce of 608,000. God knows how many the NHS, universities and local authorities cumulatively employ in various soft jobs in the same area, but enough for us safely to conclude that the equivalent of a small country’s GDP is spent monitoring and analysing the nation’s deprived.

One of the ironies of much current academic research of poverty is not just its intellectual flabbiness but also its elitism. Last February there was a big UK conference called Transcending Poverties, an event notable for its distinguished speakers. For six serious hours they rehearsed the same dilemmas, agonised over the same inevitabilities. Yet not one single new idea or insight was forthcoming from the day in Glasgow; nor was even one speaker drawn from the ranks of those spoken about: proof, in a sense, that we have stopped listening to the poor because there are now so many articulate advocates paid to speak for them. Read more

Attacks on Muslims increase in Strathclyde after airport attack

Racist crime has increased by almost a third in parts of Scotland since the alleged terrorist attack on Glasgow airport, with incidents including a suspected fire bombing of a mosque and verbal assaults on Asians.

Community and political leaders in Scotland called for calm in the aftermath of the attack on 30 June, in which a blazing Jeep Cherokee packed with gas canisters was driven into the passenger terminal by two men.

Detectives went out of their way to say that the suspects arrested at the scene were not from Scotland's Muslim community.

But statistics released this weekend show that the country's Asian community has faced a backlash. Read more

An end to Anglican nationalism

[...] The Achilles’ heel of the Anglican Communion is that it is more likely to go with the grain of the culture and the politically powerful than against them. Its origin in the concerns of Henry VIII to have all state institutions in the nation subject to him is one factor here.

But it is no longer possible to subject all state institutions in one geographical area to one jurisdiction. International companies, the internet, international networks such as the European Union are an expression of the globalisation that has rendered boundaries that were set by how far people could conveniently travel obsolete.

Geography is no longer the sole consideration when thinking about the space that we occupy. We live in global and universal space which is occupied by networks of people with values and commitments. In the church, we are now experiencing the church as envisaged in Acts 15, where Gentile and Jew ( different races and classes) are engaged closely together. Read more

Church of England Privileges Unfair, Say Britons

Almost two-thirds of people in Britain agree that Church of England leaders hold unfair political advantages in the country, according to a poll by Communicate Research released by the BBC. 65 per cent of respondents think that if Church of England bishops are allowed to sit in the House of Lords then other religious leaders should enjoy the same right.

The Church of England is the officially established Christian denomination in the country, and is formally headed by the British monarch, under the title of Defender of the Faith. It is also the main branch of the Anglican Church worldwide. 43 per cent of respondents think the British government should introduce reforms in order to fully separate Church and State. Read more

Archbishop of York warns Anglican Conservatives

The Archbishop of York has warned conservative Anglican leaders that they will effectively expel themselves from the worldwide Church if they boycott next year's Lambeth Conference.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, warns Anglican conservatives
Dr John Sentamu said the conservatives risked severing themselves from the Anglican Communion

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr John Sentamu pleaded with them to attend the conference despite their war with liberals over homosexuality.

But he told them that if they "voted with their feet" they risked severing their links with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with historic Anglicanism, a breach that could take centuries to heal.

"Anglicanism has its roots through Canterbury," he said. "If you sever that link you are severing yourself from the Communion. There is no doubt about it."

The archbishop's outspoken comments will dismay conservatives, who blame the liberals for bringing the Church to the brink of schism by consecrating Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop in 2003. Read more

Sunday, 22 July 2007

The truth about gymslip mothers

[...] A baby-faced tomboy in a tracksuit, Sarah was sexually active at 12 and pregnant with Cody at 13. Was that right, I ask? ”I don't care!” she shoots back. ”I don't care what people say or think.” Did anyone criticise her?

”A couple of people. No-one in authority.” Why is it such a big deal, she asks, when young girls get pregnant? Because society needs you to work and contribute, I say. People pay for her income support and nursery places with their taxes. ”But I'll pay it back by working later and paying my taxes,” Carly chips in, stung by this rare rebuke.

Later I ask Gill Frances, chair of the Advisory Group of Teenage Pregnancy, if we are now beyond telling girls it is wrong to have sex at 12. She hesitates slightly. ”’Wrong' is maybe not the best way to say it. It's not good for their bodies, or their babies.” Indeed, the babies of young mothers are 60% more likely to die at birth. Read more