Saturday, 27 December 2008

Where was English Catholic Church when media lied about Pope?

An email from a friend yesterday: "I don't much like your Pope." A text message from a colleague: "I hear the Pope has been bashing gays." Real damage to Benedict XVI's reputation has been done by grossly unprofessional media reports of an "anti-gay" speech that didn't mention homosexuality once.

The BBC told us: "Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction." That is very close to an outright lie on the part of the BBC website. My question: why didn't the "communications office" of the Catholic Church in England and Wales mount an instant media blitz to fight this campaign of misinformation?

It's funny how spokesmen for the Bishops of England and Wales are rarely around when the Pope needs them. Read more
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Bp of Maidstone: we cannot afford church as it is

As we look to 2009 and beyond, Graham Cray, incoming leader of the Fresh Expressions team in the UK, gives his thoughts on the future of the church:

“I think the church over the next few years is going to hear the word of the Lord through the credit crunch. A former diocesan secretary in Canterbury used to say: ‘The Church of England as it is now structured cannot afford the Church of England as it is now structured.’ And my guess is, that is true for almost every historic building with plants and churches and manses and so on. Read more
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Monday, 22 December 2008

We must not let the weakness of our bishops destroy this nation's soul

[...] The monarch is the living embodiment of this country’s identity. And the radical change that disestablishment would bring about in the monarchy would be reflected also in the identity of the nation.

Certainly, much of the pressure for disestablishment arises from the perception that British society is already changing. With the country now accommodating so many different faiths — and none — and with so few going regularly to church, an established national Church is presented as an anachronism.

Moreover, in our ‘equal rights’ culture it is seen as discriminating against non-Protestants. That’s why the Government is considering repealing the 1701 Act of Settlement, which was passed to prevent Catholics from ever ascending the throne.
Prince Charles has said he would want to be a king who defends 'faith', not 'the faith'

Prince Charles has said he would want to be a king who defends 'faith', not 'the faith'

But the fact is that Protestantism is a core element of this country’s identity. The break with Rome lies at the very heart of Britain’s development as a modern nation. Protestantism infuses its institutions and values.

Without it, there would not have developed the robust individualism from which flowed democracy and a liberal society. For this reason, it is simply impossible to repeal the Act of Settlement without unravelling the complex and interrelated facets of Britain’s constitution.

The Government’s desire to do so is of a piece with the ‘year-zero’ style vandalism it has already wreaked upon the constitution in its desire to create a ‘multicultural’ society. Believing that this has already happened, Prince Charles himself famously declared that when he became King he wished to be not ‘defender of the faith’ but defender of ‘faith’.

But Christianity is not just any faith. It lies at the heart of British values and Western civilisation. Breaking the link would mean Christianity would be cast adrift, along with many of this country’s values. The Church might not be destroyed, but the country’s core identity would undoubtedly suffer. Read more
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What did the aide say about the Bishop?

His outspoken views on gay rights and the integration of Muslim communities have attracted vitriolic criticism and even earned him death threats from outside the Church of England.

Now the controversial Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, 59, has found himself the target of a scatological attack by an aide in the offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

A confidential document sent from Lambeth Palace to No 10 Downing Street and the Church of England's 43 diocesan bishops included the unclerical word "********" appended to the name of Dr Nazir-Ali, Britain's most senior Asian Anglican. Read more

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Sunday, 21 December 2008

Member of Archbishop's staff sacked over insult to Bishop of Rochester

A member of the Archbishop of Canterbury's staff has been sacked for insulting the Bishop of Rochester in an official document.

The worker wrote the obscenity next to the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali's comments on a vicar's job inquiry.

Forty three Church of England Bishops and Downing Street were sent the document earlier in the year.

The Church of England has confirmed that a member of staff had been dismissed over the issue. Read more

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Anglicans versus Episcopalians in America

You may think that, in the United States, Episcopalians are Anglicans and vice versa. Think again, says Jordan Hylden in this eye-opening article in First Things.

In America, "Episcopalian" is coming to mean the official, gay-friendly Church that not only ordained Gene Robinson as bishop but - increasingly - thinks he is a very good thing. Its liturgy is mostly groovy Catholic-lite, its theology achingly liberal, and if Rowan Williams hadn't ended up as Archbishop of Canterbury (a job he badly wanted) then I suspect he'd feel pretty much at home there. He is, after all, essentially a supporter of a form of gay marriage, though only when the microphones are turned off.

"Anglican", on the other hand, is coming to mean conservative evangelical or traditionalist High Church, sympathetic to GAFCON but not to homosexuals. Read more
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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Gay rights activists in uproar over [Rick] Warren's role in Obama inauguration

Gay civil rights advocates and liberal activists were in an uproar today over news that evangelical pastor Rick Warren is to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration next month.

Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, was an outspoken proponent of a ballot measure to rescind the right of California same-sex couples to wed, and has compared homosexuality to incest and paedophilia.

"It is a slap in the face of the gay community, who are such strong supporters of Barack Obama," said Robin Tyler, a Los Angeles lesbian activist. Tyler was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that earlier this year led the California supreme court to grant same-sex couples the right to marry. Voters rescinded that right on election day, through a ballot question that Warren backed publicly, known as proposition 8.

"If you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support proposition 8," Warren said in an advertisement urging support for it.

John Aravosis, the editor of AmericaBlog, a liberal website, wondered why Obama chose Warren out of all the preachers in the country.

"When a Democrat wins the presidency, I would think we could find at least one preacher who isn't a raving homophobe to give the invocation," Aravosis said. "The Obama people know the loss on that prop 8 was a huge issue for the gay community. It is an incredibly raw issue, and then you go and pick one of the top guys behind it?" Read more
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Sunday, 14 December 2008

Bishop of Chichester faces rebellion over women clergy

A senior bishop is facing a rebellion from his clergy over his attempt to create a haven for opponents of female priests.

On one side of the row is the Rt Rev John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, who has a black belt in judo and a staunch opponent of the ordination of women.

In the opposing corner is a growing group of clergy and worshippers in his diocese, who are dismayed by the bishop's intransigence.

Bishop Hind has told his diocesan synod that when he appoints a new junior bishop, they will not be permitted to ordain women.

He has been bombarded with letters of protest against his stance, and faces a growing revolt. Behind closed doors, influential figures in the diocese are holding clandestine meetings to consider what action to take. Several of his priests have also already written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, believing that the bishop's attitude discriminates against women. Read more
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The Dean of Perth: Salvation is not about who is in and who is out

[...] In the New Testament Jesus announces the coming of God’s kingdom by forgiving sins and healing the sick. This is the work of salvation, which the Church would continue, instituting a new Heaven and a new Earth.

At least three things stand out. The first is that this salvation is experienced corporately, not individually. The Old Testament writers speak in terms of a community in which the presence of God could be experienced within a fellowship bound together by devotion to God. For the writers of the New Testament, Jesus was never to be thought of as a personal saviour, as though He were our personal toothbrush.

We are not saved individually, as though by some private act of divine indulgence. It is within the community that we can find forgiveness for the past, and hope for a way of beginning again.

Second, there is no evidence to suggest that what is required for salvation is an intellectual assent, a signing-off, which would effect a once-for-all change in us, whereby salvation is instantaneous, and we are passive recipients of its benefits.

It would be wrong to imagine that salvation occurs in a single act of religious fervour. The most usually quoted example of such an apparently swift transformation is Paul’s conversion. Yet, according to the account in Acts (ix, 1-19), it was not suddenly on the Damascus road, but only after the laying-on of hands by Ananias in the context of the care of the house of Judas, and after the scales had fallen from his eyes, and his sight was restored, that Paul was baptised, and his strength returned.

Salvation cannot be confined to one cataclysmic event; it requires engagement with a process in the context of a community — the Church. The transformation of human life that salvation suggests takes time, and needs to embrace many aspects of Christian insight and understanding.

Third, salvation is not about who is in or who is out — who are sheep or who are goats.

Can we really imagine the God of all creation, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, being fussed by the status of everyone’s individual belief? Salvation is concerned with the transformation of life. All life. Barriers to the flourishing of all human beings are to be overcome, whatever stage people are at in the awareness of this life-giving dynamic. What matters is that we have all been freed to be all there is in us to be. Otherwise Christ has died in vain. Read more
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The meaning of life by the Reverend Nicky Gumbel

From The Independent

[...] The course he has developed is clever, in that it helps you to accept, at the very least, that those who choose to believe in God can do so rationally, even if you choose yourself not to trust the evidence that they trust. If I've learned one really important thing from doing Alpha, it's that you don't have to be mad to be a Christian, and that in fact, madness doesn't even help.

From my experience, the course leaders – we have four – are adept at fielding questions and bringing matters back to the values that are viewed by Christians as essentials. Like Gumbel himself, they steer discussion away from controversy and back to the healing power of love. Again and again, despite my intellectual objections, I find myself feeling like a stubborn stick-in-the-mud, unwilling to go with the spiritual flow because I'm too mean-spirited to open my heart to Jesus. I've been surprised by how much power the course exerts.

Sometimes a leader will say something – that, say, human strife is always, at root, caused when people choose to love themselves and not others – and it strikes you quite profoundly as a simple, ineffable truth. When you ask why people can't just adopt that credo, without necessarily going for the personal relationship with God bit – they'll just say that you can, of course, and that Jesus admired such people and described them as men and women of peace – but that it's a lot easier to live that way when you've tuned in to God's message. Christianity then starts to look like a radical lifestyle choice, something that you refuse to join in with because you're blandly conventional, hampered by a failure of imagination, and scared of looking like a wuss.

In truth, the course has made me feel a little envious of Christians. They live in the strangest and most alien of worlds – a world where everything makes sense. Oddly, the lure is not that they have all the answers. Instead it is that they have dispensed with the need for questions. Their moral universe is stable. For them, it all works. Unsurprisingly, since he has personally shaped the course, this interpretation chimes with Gumbel's own brief description of his conversion.

"Jesus said: 'I came so that you might have life, and have it in all its fullness.' And that was my experience. I came from a background where I didn't have a faith. I wasn't unhappy. I wasn't desperately going round saying: 'I need to find meaning and purpose in my life.' But I did find it. There was a spiritual hunger that was satisfied in this relationship with God through Jesus and through the experience of the Holy Spirit and the love of God.

"The Christian faith is very simple at its heart. God loves you and the experience of God's love is a very profound thing. It's a life-changing thing to be loved and accepted and to experience forgiveness and the result is a love for God that changes your priorities in life so that that relationship becomes the number-one priority. So I want to read the Bible. I want to hear what God is saying to me today. I want to pray. I want to develop that relationship.

"Jesus said: 'The first command is love God, and the second is love your neighbour.' So the priority of your life is to love, starting with your wife and your children, then spreading out to the world. To be a Christian is to want to make a difference to your family, to your neighbourhood, to the society around, and ultimately to the world." Read more

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Friday, 12 December 2008

Chelmsford diocese considers sanctions against parishes not paying quota

Ed: This document was apparently considered at the November Diocesan Synod. If anyone knows different, please e-mail me.


This paper is the result of consideration at the Finance Executive level and the deliberations of the Finance Committee and finally redrafting in the light of those considerations as approved by the Finance Executive on 15th October 2008.

It is right and appropriate that any discourse on Deanery or Parish Share acknowledges with grateful thanks that the majority of parishes pay their share in full. We should celebrate that fact. In our recent budget consultation exercise we saw a relatively frequent assumption that those parishes that do pay in full are in a minority. That is not the case at all. The majority pay in full.

We should also celebrate the fact that our trend of collection of parish share over recent years has been moving upwards and we know that this is not the case in every part of the country. We celebrate that as well.

However, against that we must acknowledge that our percentage of giving in relation to take home pay remains stubbornly around 3% as against the long standing General Synod target of 5% and that even if we got half way from 3% to 5% we would not suffer the deficits that have been ail too common.

The theology of giving is vitally important and many resources are available, not least the recently approved Christian Giving Strategy which all our parishes are urged to consider in the coming months. It is not the purpose of this document to address that topic further.

It will be noted that we are about to classify parishes according to their share payment record. One thing that this will do is highlight those parishes that have an excellent record in excess of 100%. It is our intention that those deaneries that achieve 100% or more should be celebrated and complimented on a more formal basis and starting with the figures for 2008 we intend to initiate an event to say a better "thank you" to them. With the approval and involvement of Bishop John we will hold an annual event to record our thanks and to celebrate this success across our diocese. Furthermore we will work towards a better scheme of thanks to all those that do well by improving the current Porch Card scheme. The creation of new Platinum and Gold classifications will help to identify and celebrate the parishes that do well. Furthermore the graded classifications will create an incentive for parishes to improve.

Everyone should be aware that our Deanery Share Scheme (DSS) operates on the basis of mutual support. Share calculations are performed on the basis that the more affluent deaneries within our diocese pay more than the less affluent Our statistical data enables us to be accurate in calculating affluence ratings and when applied to the DSS this constitutes a major element of our mutual support. This is backed up by the way that we allocate our Ministry Grants to those Deaneries at the lower end of the affluence scale.

Our system of mutual support operates in harmony with the national system of mutual support. We benefit from a significant allocation of funds from the national church that is based on principles of mutual support. Basically what we contribute to national church funds is far outweighed by what we receive from national church funds. In round terms this provides us with nearly £2,000,000 of income from better off dioceses around the country. As a diocese we appreciate this and are grateful for it as it means that we are significant net beneficiaries of support from other dioceses.

Mutual Support is therefore an important principle at local and national level. However it only works to its full potential if, and when, every deanery pays it proportion of the share in full. If a deanery does not pay its share in full then that shortfall has to be found from somewhere else. That means that in effect there is an extra unofficial level of mutual support because those who do pay in full are carrying an extra layer of responsibility. This can be viewed both by looking at the provision that is made for shortfall in the budget itself and in the way that diocesan assets need to be realised to bridge the shortfall gap.

We have lived with shortfall and deficit for a considerable period of time and it places undue strain on the resources of our diocese. Furthermore it limits our ability to be as active as we would like to be in the fields of the mission and ministry of our church.

As part of our efforts to reduce the DSS shortfall it is essential that we take a closer look at this issue and do something about it. This has been done by our Finance Committee in Bishop's Council and in the Finance Executive. Note has been taken of the strong mood that the majority of parishes that do pay in full should know that proper steps are being taken to address those parishes where share is not paid.

As a result we believe it is appropriate to put in place a distinction between those parishes that "Can't" Pay and those parishes that "Won't" Pay, together with some consequences that flow from being in the latter category.

One area where we have worked successfully over recent years is those parishes that cannot pay because of a lack of equity in the way that our deaneries allocate share among their parishes. We have been involved in many exercises where there was a perception of inequality or unfairness and through a detailed process of analysis, education and sometimes adjustment those inequalities have either been corrected or satisfactorily explained. This has lead to far greater understanding which in turn leads to a higher percentage being paid. That process continues and the fruits of past exercises will continue to be seen.

At the other end of the scale from the parishes that cannot pay are the ones who will not pay and in between are those who simply do not give payment of share a sufficiently high priority. The Bishop's Council believes that these situations are not acceptable or compatible with a system of mutual support and they represent an abuse of the generosity of others.

This is not always (or even often) understood and there remains a widely held misconception that it is the Diocese that takes the hit when people do not pay in full when in fact it is parishioners in other places that ultimately take the hit. To put it simply; that is not fair.

It is acknowledged that payment of Share is not a legal obligation but it is the bedrock on which all of our finances are based and that is arguably a better reason for paying in full. Non payment causes problems for everyone and those problems will only get worse in years to come. Therefore it is imperative that we continue to raise the level of collection and this paper is aimed at putting in place some new rules that will enable us to do that.

Historically we have focused on the positive side of this issue by providing incentives, assistance, analysis, education and encouragement. This will be continued and improved over coming years. Furthermore we will be looking to find ways to better celebrate the successes of the majority of parishes and to encourage others to share in that success.

However the financial need now is such that we must also focus on the other side of the issue. Those that won't pay should experience some sort of sanction or penalty. It is essential to bear in mind that this would never obviate the need for the constructive approach but that in the event that we experience resistance to improvement we should have some agreed mechanism for taking a firmer line.
By focusing efforts on helping those who feel that they can't pay we will put in place a system that seeks to encourage improvement rather than penalise failure whilst creating a backdrop of sanctions for those places that resolutely refuse to co-operate in an effort to improve.

We will create an environment where it will be very easy not to be classed as a parish that "won't" pay. That environment will involve seeking and accepting help.

Defining a "Won't Pay" parish as opposed to a "Can't Pay" parish is not simple. We need to take account of objective criteria in order to avoid subjective criticism.

Therefore we have set a minimum level of payment to be reached each year. That level is initially 96%. This minimum level is to be calculated on a three year rolling average starting with the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. By phasing the scheme in no parish can become a "Won't Pay" parish until the figures for 2010 are confirmed. We will however take past performance into account in relation to those parishes that can go into the Platinum and Gold categories straight away. Thus no parish can possibly go into the "Won't Pay" category straight away and everyone will have the chance to improve their payment record before any sanctions begin to come into force.

In order to avoid being classed as a "Won't Pay Parish", a parish should initially achieve at least 96% each year. All parishes are urged to continue to try to improve on their current situation no matter how good it is at the moment. We will create classifications for our parishes as follows :

1. Platinum
2. Gold.
3. Silver
4. Bronze
5. Won't Pay

These classifications will focus not simply on the parish payment record (although that remains the most important factor) but also on the effort that a parish is making to improve. They will help parishes to recognise their achievements and to identify where work needs to be done. They will also provide a way to measure improvement which can be reflected in the way we report to parishes.

A Platinum Parish will:
a) have paid 100% or more in each of the last three years working backwards from the last completed year. (i.e. to start with 2008, 2007 and 2006), AND
b) have made monthly payments throughout the year.

A Gold Parish will have a three year rolling average of 100% or better working backwards from the last completed year. (i.e. to start with 2008, 2007 and 2006)

A Silver Parish will have:
a) a three year rolling average of 96% or better starting with 2008, 2009 and 2010 AND all of the following:
b) undertaken a formal stewardship campaign in at least one of the last two years.
c) formally sought assistance from its deanery and acted in accordance with any recommendations, (a deanery synod minute will be required) in at least one of the last two years.
d) formally considered the Diocesan Christian Giving Strategy document at one of its PCC meetings in the last two years.

This classification can only be achieved at the end of 2010.

A Bronze Parish will not fulfil all the criteria to be in any of the above classifications. However it will have all of the following:
a) undertaken a formal stewardship campaign in at least one of the last two years.
b) formally sought assistance from its deanery and acted in accordance with any recommendations, (a deanery synod minute will be required) in at least one of the last two years.
c) sought formal assistance from the Diocesan Parish Finance Officer and acted in accordance with any recommendations in at least one of the last two years.
d) formally considered the Diocesan Christian Giving Strategy document at one of its PCC meetings in the last two years.

A "Won't Pay Parish" will not have fulfilled the criteria to be in one of the other 4 classifications by the end of 20 !0. If even the basic Bronze classification is not met by the end of 2010 the parish will then be classified as a "Won't Pay Parish" unless and until it satisfies the criteria to become a Silver Parish.

For the purposes of Silver and Bronze and Won't Pay classification the first year to be taken into account will be 2008. Therefore it will be impossible to be classified as either a Silver or Bronze or Won't Pay parish until the end of 2010.

Until the end of 2010 parishes that cannot be classified as Platinum or Gold will be identified as "Classification Pending".

A "Won't Pay Parish" would suffer certain consequences. Such a parish would :
1. be ineligible for any diocesan loans
2. be ineligible for any Mission Opportunity Funding
3. be ineligible for any London Over the Border Funding
4. not be eligible to receive a curate
5. not be considered for any improvements to a clergy house*
6. have the categorisation taken into account at the next vacancy and consideration would be given to the viability of the parish and potential pastoral reorganisation.
This does not include normal maintenance or repairs.

It is our intention that this scheme will change at the end of 2010 so that from the end of 2012 the Silver classification should be amended by changing the rolling average figure upwards from 96% to 98%. The adoption of lower percentages in the early stages coupled with these higher levels at a later stage is in order to make it even easier for parishes to stay out of the "Won't Pay" category in the early stages as everyone adapts to the new scheme.

For the avoidance of doubt it should be noted that any parish that has an existing loan outstanding is required to make the due repayment each year BEFORE any payment can be attributed to Parish Share. A parish should not and cannot default on a loan repayment to boost its parish share record.

It will be easy to avoid ever becoming a "Won't Pay" and therefore those that do will stand out more. This approach will focus minds on the priority needs for all to improve towards full payment and it will encourage those who think they "can't" to seek the appropriate help. The consequences are seen more as a deterrent but in order to be such they will be acted upon if the situation ever came to pass.

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Thursday, 11 December 2008

TEC Los Angeles Bishop authorizes blessings of lifelong covenantal relationships

Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles has authorized the use of a rite for the "Sacramental Blessing of a Life-long Covenant" for both same-gender and heterosexual couples.

The blessing "involves the exchange of vows between two people who make a public declaration of unconditional, covenantal love. This God-type love draws us all into the experience of God. It seems obvious that two men or two women are just as capable of making such a covenantal commitment of lifelong, God-like love as are a man and a woman," according to a policy statement prepared by the Bishop's Task Force on Marriage.

Delegates attending the 113th annual convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles, meeting at the Riverside Convention Center, received copies of the policy and a suggested order for the rite on December 5.

Bruno emphasized that the policy does not contradict California law, which currently prohibits gay marriage. He said it is also applicable in heterosexual relationships, and could also be used to bless the union of two senior citizens who are unwilling to risk losing Social Security or health care benefits by marrying.

"While the state will not allow us to officially marry same-sex couples, we believe the same blessing ceremony afforded to men and women should be afforded to same-sex couples," according to the policy, available on the diocese’s website. Read more
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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury accused of creating confusion in the church

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been accused by a senior American bishop of creating confusion and anxiety in the Anglican Communion

The Rt Rev John Chane, the Bishop of Washington, has criticised Dr Rowan Williams's handling of the crisis over gay clergy in the Church.

In a letter to his clergy, he claims that the archbishop has encouraged conservatives who are determined to destroy the Anglican Church by listening to their demands for a breakaway province.

Dr Williams last week met with the primates of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, who boycotted this summer's Lambeth Conference and instead held their own conference, called Gafcon, which proposed the creation of a rival global network of traditionalists.

They have supported moves to set up a new Church in America opposed to gay clergy and led by the deposed bishop of Pittsburgh, Bob Duncan.

"It would be folly for the Archbishop to even consider recognising a non-geographical province because it would unleash chaos in the Communion, with theological minorities in every jurisdiction seeking to affiliate with likeminded Anglicans in other provinces," said Bishop Chane.

"Unfortunately, the Archbishop has contributed to the confusion and anxiety the leaders of the proposed province have sought to foster by meeting on numerous occasions with [Bob] Duncan and his allies. Read more
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Monday, 8 December 2008

CEEC urges Archbishops, consider recognizing new Province

Ed: Though it doesn't say so on the CEEC website, this motion was proposed by the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent and seconded by the Rt Revd Wallace Benn

From the CEEC website:

The Council, having listened to all that was said on 15th November, has adopted the following Resolution:

  • “CEEC affirms and rejoices that the Church of England professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and its historic formularies (the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons) and set out in Canon A5 and the Declaration of Assent.
  • Further we affirm (1) the CEEC’s own Basis of Belief, (2) Resolution 3.5 of Lambeth 1998 (concerning the authority of Holy Scriptures), (3) Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 (concerning human sexuality), and (4) the Jerusalem Declaration, and as members of the Anglican Communion, we acknowledge our obligation to stand in prayerful solidarity with faithful Anglicans across the globe.
  • We recognize that evangelical Anglicans will pursue a variety of strategies for dealing with the current crisis in the Communion, and we support those who are seeking to work through the existing Anglican Communion structures, those who are working within the framework set out in the GAFCON Statement, and those supporting both.
  • We call on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to recognize the urgency of the situation as it affects parishes and clergy, particularly in the USA, Canada and Brazil, and to give immediate and serious consideration to granting recognition to the new Province in the USA."
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Chairman of CEEC stands down


´The Executive Officer of the Church of England Evangelical Council informed the meeting that Dr Richard Turnbull had tendered a letter of resignation as chairman. The letter was read to the meeting and was received with great surprise and regret. "Richard has contributed significantly to the life of CEEC, for thirteen years as a member and for the last three of those years as its chair. The Council is very grateful to him for all that he has done over those years; and records that it is not the Council´s wish that he should discontinue as its chairman." Having due regard to Richards priorities for home, for family and for his responsibilities as Principal of Wycliffe Hall, it was resolved that his resignation be accepted with great regret; and that Richard be invited to continue as a member of the Council.´

A statement from Bishop Wallace Benn, President of CEEC will be available shortly.

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California bishop allows blessing gay unions

The head of the Episcopal Church in Southern California has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions in the Los Angeles diocese.

The Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the diocese, announced the policy change Friday during the diocesan convention, the Los Angeles Times reported. Delegates to the convention Saturday approved a resolution in favor of lifting a moratorium on consecrating openly gay bishops.

Bruno's announcement is not expected to make much difference in practice, the Times said. Priests in the diocese are not compelled to bless same-sex unions, and many have been doing so for years.

The U.S. church and the worldwide Anglican Communion have been fractured by a debate on how Anglicans should deal with homosexuality. The issue was brought to a head in 2003 when Gene Robinson, a gay man in a committed relationship, became bishop of New Hampshire. Read more
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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Don't deny campus radicalisation

Ed: worth reading for the comments section as well.

On Wednesday, newspapers gave wide coverage to a report produced by researchers at Cambridge University which found that "British universities are not hotbeds of Islamic radicalism" and that "most young British Muslims are opposed to political Islam". The report, principally authored by Dr June Edmunds, was promptly – and deservedly – trashed by Professor Anthony Glees for its methodology (it was based on just 26 interviews at three universities, out of a total Muslim student population of 89,000).

I spent several years in Hizb ut-Tahrir and sat on its national leadership committee. During this time I regularly visited and spoke at least a dozen universities promoting Islamist thought. I can assure Edmunds that Islamist radicalism remains a problem at these and other universities – partly thanks to my recruitment activities. Let's look at the three universities where Edmunds conducted her research.

Take Bradford, where I often spoke about the need for Muslims to reject democracy. Until recently, Bradford University's Islamic Society (ISOC) was run by Hizb ut-Tahrir (it is now run by Deobandis instead). Thewebsite of Bradford's ISOC shows how these same members prepared themselves for Edmunds' October 31 2007 focus group, warning each other to "be careful what you say". No wonder her focus groups produced little of value or interest. In 2007 four Bradford university students were put on trial for terrorism offences. Although they were acquitted in 2008, their possession of vast libraries of pro-jihadist material was not disputed.

Or take the London School of Economics. A regular speaker at LSE's ISOC is Hizb ut-Tahrir's Reza Pankhurst, previously convicted in Egypt of seeking to overthrow the government. Other speakers favoured by the LSE ISOC include Kemal Helbawy, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who is not allowed to enter the US. Radicalised alumni include Omar Sheikh who brutally killed reporter Daniel Pearl in 2001. Read more

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Split in Episcopal Church hits new level

Hundreds of conservative Episcopal congregations in North America, rejecting liberal biblical views of others in the denomination, formed a breakaway church Wednesday that threatened to further divide a global Anglican body already torn by the ordination of an openly gay bishop.

Leaders of the new Anglican Church in North America said they took the extraordinary step to unify congregations and dioceses that had fled the American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over issues of Scripture.

The 700 renegade churches, mostly from the U.S., had already expressed their displeasure by placing themselves under the jurisdiction of Anglican leaders in vast, self-governing foreign provinces.

The festering disputes have prompted numerous lawsuits over church property, as well as spirited -- and prayerful -- debate over the role of gays and lesbians in church life.

Leaders of the churches and splinter groups, saying they represent 100,000 Christians, adopted a provisional constitution Wednesday to govern their new province. They acted at the behest of conservative global Anglican leaders who, during a gathering in Jerusalem last summer, called for the creation of a new independent North American province. Read more

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Alternative Anglican Province Formed in North America

A new Province of the Anglican Church in North America, a rival province to The Episcopal Church USA complete with a provisional constitution and nine canons, was birthed today with 700 churches and 100,000 church-going members. A formal ratification of the constitution and canons will take place in a provincial assembly in six months in Bedford, Texas, at St. Vincent's cathedral in the diocese of Ft. Worth.

It is historic and unprecedented, said Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan moderator of the Anglican Communion Network. "It is an extraordinary day for us. We have reversed 40 years of Anglican history and years of division among The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada. Today we bring together 11 jurisdictions in Canada and across the US. Today marks 5 years of labor and attempts to come together." Read more
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The future of the Anglican Church in North America

People are asking two questions about the Anglican Church in North America:

1. Does ACNA want recognition as part of the Anglican Communion?

2. What makes ACNA different from the alphabet soup of continuing bodies in North America?

To some extent the answer to both these questions is: GAFCON!

The GAFCON Final Statement not only makes clear that the participants, including all those who are in ACNA, wish to be part of the Anglican Communion but they consider themselves to BE part of the Communion. Would they like recognition by the “Instruments” of the Communion? Sure. Do they consider that such recognition is the only means of recognition? No, they do not. Are they willing to wait for full and final recognition in a reformed Communion? You bet.

Secondly, the Global Anglican Future Conference itself was a sign of something new in the Communion: a movement, not a moment, as we said. Pulling off the conference was something of a miracle and showed the high degree of commitment and creative energy behind this movement. It was the fruit of a global alliance that has been developing for more than a decade (see Miranda Hassett’s Anglican Communion in Crisis). This is not Naughton’s bevy of gay-bashers and “handful of likeminded leaders in Africa” (Jim, think Nigeria! think Uganda). I have personally been on the ground floor of much of this movement and tell you the relationships that were manifest at GAFCON are rich and deep. Read more
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Church of England must serve all the faiths, says Archbishop

The Church of England should be open for use by people of any religion or none, like a hospital, says Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York.

There is a strong case for regarding the Church as a public body that does not exist simply to serve believers, he argues. Whether or not most people attend regularly is irrelevant.

“At a time when a creeping social Darwinism is on the rise, where life is measured in terms of its quality or usefulness, the Church remains the last bastion of defence for those who would find themselves close to jettison by society,” the Archbishop says.

As the recession bites, the Established Church must rediscover its confidence and self-esteem. “The Church of England must once again be a beacon by which the people of England can orientate themselves in an unknown ocean.”

He cites the 23 million hours of community service carried out each year by Anglicans to make the case that the Church should remain established.

Dr Sentamu’s remarks will be published today by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Britain’s leading progressive think-tank, in a collection of essays by senior British faith leaders. Read more
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Friday, 5 December 2008

The new Bishop of Chelmsford - what happens next?

There is a very helpful article about the appointments process on Wikipedia, which seems to be basically accurate.

The process itself does seem to have become slightly more open and consultative than it used to be. There is much more of a tendency to invite suggestions, comments and names for consideration.

If anyone has any information about the Vacancy in See Committee (who is on it, when it may convene, and so on) would they post it as a comment below?

John Richardson

Almighty God, we beseech thee
to save and defend thy Servant ELIZABETH our Queen;
that under her we may be godly and quietly governed:
And grant unto her whole Council,
and to all that are put in authority under her,
that they may truly and indifferently minister justice,
to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue.
Give grace to all Bishops and Curates,
that they may both by their life and doctrine
set forth thy true and lively Word,
and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments:
And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace;
that, with meek heart and due reverence,
they may hear, and receive thy holy Word;
truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness
all the days of their life. Amen.

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Conservative Anglicans Create Rival Church

In a history-making gesture, conservative evangelical Anglicans, deeply alienated by the decline of the U.S. denomination, sounded a shofar to herald the creation of the Anglican Church of North America.

On a snowy Wednesday evening, about 1,000 worshipers, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, gathered in Wheaton, Illinois, for a worship service to celebrate the creation of the new entity, which comprises 656 congregations, 800 clergy, 30 bishops, and 100,000 people in regular worship. They represent the evangelical, charismatic, and Anglo-Catholic traditions within Anglicanism.

During a pre-service press conference, Bob Duncan, the former Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh and now archbishop-designate for the new church, told news media that he expects the Episcopal Church (TEC) to continue its decline and that in time, the new province will come to replace it.

He said, "The Lord is displacing the Episcopal Church."

This year, TEC leaders have seen the decades-long downward spiral continue in both attendance and finances. By some estimates, attendance and membership are declining by 1,000 people per week. Many dioceses are cutting budgets and staff, and drawing down endowment funds to maintain operations. The denomination has about two million members. It is spending millions of dollars on court actions to prevent individual churches and dioceses from pulling out. Read more
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Emergency summit in London to discuss US schism

Five senior Anglican Archbishops flew into London on Thursday for an emergency summit with the Archbishop of Canterbury tomorrow to discuss the unfolding schism in the American church.

The meeting between Dr Rowan Williams and the primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Southern Cone comes two days after conservatives in the US unveiled the constitution and canons of the new Anglican Church in North America.

With a membership of 100,000 drawn from The Episcopal Church of the US and from traditional Anglican churches that broke off in earlier disputes over women’s ordination, leaders of the new “province” claim they are not breaking away from the 75-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion.

A formal proposal arguing for recognition as the 39th province of the Anglican Communion will be put before the primates at their meeting in Alexandria, Egypt at the end of January.

However, a statement from Lambeth Palace last night made it clear that no request for recognition as a province had been made and seemed to indicate that this was unlikely.

Lambeth Palace said there are “clear guidelines” set out for the creation of new provinces.

“Once begun, any of these processes will take years to complete,” the Palace said, making it clear that in the case of the US conservatives no such process had begun.

The new church remains relatively small compared to the 2.2 million members of The Episcopal Church, which sparked the crisis in 2003 with the consecration of the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Rev Gene Robinson. Read more
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Animation of Nativity Story

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Thursday, 4 December 2008

Bishop of Chelmsford to retire in 2009

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, has announced his intention to retire in August 2009.

Despite their differences, Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream wish Bp John and his wife Lydia well in this new phase in their lives, and pray for him and his successor.

Read here.

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body
of the Church is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer
for all thy faithful people,
that in their vocation and
ministry each may serve thee in holiness
and truth to the glory of thy name;
through our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ,who liveth and reigneth with
thee,in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

First women priests ordained in Antsiranana diocese

The Diocese of Antsiranana made history November 30 when it ordained its first three women priests during a joyful ceremony at St. Joseph's Church in Nosy Be, Madagascar.

The Rev. Marie Jeanne Befeno, the Rev. Vitasolo Roline and the Rev. Nivondrazana were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza of the Diocese of Antsiranana, part of the Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean. Three other priests and eight deacons -- including three women deacons -- were also ordained during the service.

The three new women priests were ordained as deacons in June 2007 at the inauguration of the new Cathedral of St Matthew in Diego Suarez.

Led by Church of England Bishop Graham Cray of Maidstone, a delegation of women priests and other dignitaries from the Diocese of Canterbury attended the November 30 service. Read more
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Final draft of Anglican covenant could take five years to sign on

The Covenant Design Group has published a document “which sets out the responses of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference in their discussions of the St. Andrew’s Draft for an Anglican covenant,” an Oct. 22 news release from the Anglican Communion Office announced.

The 33-page Lambeth Commentary, compiled at the Covenant Design Group’s recent meeting in Singapore, was sent to all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion “to assist in their discernment and response to the St. Andrew’s Draft,” the news release said.

The provinces have until March 9, 2009 to respond to the St. Andrew’s Draft, which will also be sent to ecumenical partners of the Anglican Communion, inviting their reflections and responses

The Covenant Design Group says it hopes that the Lambeth Commentary “will stand alongside the St. Andrew’s Draft as a critique and as a stimulus for study and response..” Read more
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Should the Church advertise?

This week radio advertisements, devised by the Churches' Advertising Network (CAN), will start playing all over the UK on commercial radio stations, delivering the Christmas story in an unusual way.

Why? What does CAN hope to achieve from this?

The first question is simple. A Theos survey last year showed that only 12% of the population, and only 7% of young adults, had a reasonably comprehensive understanding of the Nativity.

There are undoubtedly many reasons for this but one is that there is increasing pressure, from a small if vocal quarter, to “secularize” the public square. Some businesses, for example, are increasingly nervous about sending Christmas cards and some schools about staging Nativity plays, for fear that it will supposedly cause offence to other faiths (or atheists).

The cumulative effect of this is an erosion of the knowledge of the basic tenets of Christianity, in what is supposed to be, at least notionally, a Christian country, a trend that is most pronounced among the increasing number of families with no direct contact with a church.

This campaign is an attempt to reach some of those young people outside the Church, to interest them in finding out more, using humour and an unexpected approach to engage their attention.

The bigger question is “will it work?” (and accordingly, “how will you know?”) Read more
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Churchgoers have a right to know about clergymen behaving badly

[...] No doubt many in the Church would wish these stories stayed under wraps, not just the commentators who do not wish to appear prurient and the theologians who want the authorities to provide pastoral care rather than punishment.

But I believe that despite the personal discomfiture of the priests who have made so many headlines, and that of their innocent families, the Church is right to publish the full findings of these hearings.

Not to punish them further through public humiliation, but because vicars are servants of the people as well as of God, and so their parishioners have a right to know when they have fallen short of the high ethical standards demanded of them.

Obviously there will be fears that naughty vicar stories bring the Church into disrepute. But how much more damaging would it be to churchgoers, and to the image of the Church as a whole, if dioceses tried to cover them up? Read more
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Canadian Dioceses consider next steps towards same-sex blessings

Bishops from four dioceses emerged from the house of bishops meeting in October struggling with how to proceed with plans to introduce same-sex blessings in their dioceses.

While the majority of bishops agreed to a moratorium on same-sex blessings, the bishops from the dioceses of Ottawa, Montreal, Niagara and Huron, and from the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior faced pressure at home to offer same-sex blessings.

Given the strong support for a moratorium and the fact that two significant meetings will be held early in 2009 — Anglican primates meet in February and the Anglican Consultative Council meets in May — few decisions are expected to be made before the spring.

Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster says that four more parishes in his diocese have indicated through votes of their vestry meetings that they would like to become places of same-sex blessings.

Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara said he did not support the moratorium and he mourned the fact that “an opportunity had been missed to find a creative and generous solution to one of the most momentous challenges our church has faced in many years.” Read more
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Protestant minister defiant over homosexuality adverts

A Protestant church minister in the North is vowing to defy a ruling that he must not publish adverts calling homosexuality an abomination.

The British Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that the Rev David McIlveen's church breached guidelines on causing offence by publishing the ad.

It said particular care should be taken in future and it will be monitoring the Rev McIlveen future ads.

However, he says this will not influence his choice of words. Read here
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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

How Hitler perverted the course of science

We all have an image in our minds of the role of scientists in Nazi Germany: sinister, lab-coated figures who spent half their time conducting gruesome – and largely pointless – experiments on concentration‑camp inmates to gratify their own cruel impulses, and the other half devising futuristic weapons of mass destruction for Hitler to hurl at the advancing Allies in a last attempt to stave off defeat.

Yet once you dig a little deeper, what is so disturbing is how prosaic the reality was, how similar in form, if not content, their work was to the research of today. As I discovered when researching a history of the Nazis at war, much of what scientists did under the Third Reich was regarded as "normal science", subject to standard protocols of peer review in conferences and journals. The infamous Dr Josef Mengele regarded himself as a normal scientist, held seminars to discuss his experiments, got research funds from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and reported regularly to his teacher, the eminent scientist Otmar von Verschuer, on his progress. [...]

How can we explain such obvious violations of basic medical ethics? How, indeed, did the doctors justify such work? The answer springs from the fact that medicine was both dominant in the world of science under the Third Reich, and closely allied to the Nazi project. [...]

What underpinned this behaviour was a widespread belief that some people were less than human, relegated to a lower plane of existence by their inherited degeneracy – or their race. For German doctors, a camp inmate was either a racially inferior subhuman, a vicious criminal, a traitor to the German cause, or more than one of the above. Such beings had no right to life or wellbeing – indeed, it was logical that they should be sacrificed in the interests of the survival and triumph of the German race, just as that race had to be strengthened by the elimination of the inferior, degenerate elements within it. After all, German medical science had uncovered the causes of several major diseases and contributed massively to improving the health of the population over the previous decades. Surely, therefore, it was justified in eliminating negative influences as well? Read more

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Archbishop of Wales would consecrate gay bishop

THE Archbishop of Wales has revealed how he would personally consecrate a gay bishop if the Church in Wales approves such a contentious choice.

The Most Rev Barry Morgan also spoke of his backing for a narrowly defeated bid to allow women bishops in Wales and the “vitriolic” letters of abuse he received from his fiercest opponents.

Dr Morgan said: “The Church has been here before, it used the Bible against women and it used the Bible against slavery and in the end the Church has seen sense and...has allowed women to be priests and in some places to become bishops.

“I long for the day when being gay or lesbian is no longer an issue for the Church.” Read more

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Saturday, 29 November 2008

Squabbling evangelicals need to find a united voice

A meeting of around 400 evangelicals at one of London's biggest churches went largely unnoticed last week.

Hardly surprising really, given that nothing was achieved and nothing agreed.

But actually, the fractious, ill-tempered gathering could be scene as a significant tipping point in years to come.

Talk of division and schism in the Anglican communion has been discussed for years, but is normally viewed as a battle between the liberals and evangelicals.

Now it's the evangelicals who are fighting amongst themselves.

In truth, the unity that was central to their success in forcing the gay cleric, Jeffrey John, to stand down as Bishop of Reading has long gone.

With hindsight this may be viewed as something of a pyrrhic victory as it led to a splintering in the evangelical movement: Anglican Mainstream and Fulcrum emerged from the 2003 row to represent the conservative and more 'open' factions.

The simmering tensions spilt over at the recent meeting, held at All Souls Langham Place - the church which was home to the evangelical doyen John Stott for 30 years. Read more
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Christina Baxter: Hopes we won't fracture, but believes ACC not competent to handle Covenant discipline

Christina Baxter has asked that these notes be removed.

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Thursday, 27 November 2008

Revelation 13:17

"No man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

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Christian police officer sacked for misconduct after offering officers 'cure for homosexuality'

A Christian policeman who objected to being 'bombarded' at work by emails and posters promoting gay rights and events has been sacked for misconduct.

PC Graham Cogman, 50, responded to the 'politically correct' campaign by sending emails to colleagues which quoted religious texts and suggested homosexual sex was sinful.

The regular churchgoer was hauled before a disciplinary committee where he was advised by lawyers to admit a breach of the police code of conduct to save his job.

But he was ordered before another hearing following further allegations, including breaching a ban on using internal communication system to circulate a link to an American Christian helpline, and has now been fired by Norfolk police. Read more
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Struggle to stay Christian

[...] Of the world's 2 billion Christians, 200 million are persecuted in some way. Many of them are in Islamic countries or in rabidly anti-religious regimes such as North Korea's. These countries ignore the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grants people freedom to choose their religion.

The persecution from Muslims is so intense, 70 percent of all Islamic converts to Christianity give up their adopted faith in two years, Mr. Meral said.

"Your society, your family, everyone is against you and you are completely left alone," he said.

Once their switch to another faith is made known, converts first lose their jobs. Angry parents will seek to have their children taken away from them. Others are told their marriages are no longer valid. In many countries, secular law is subservient to Islamic Shariah law, which proscribes death for converts.

Mr. Meral has a book, "No Place to Call Home: Experiences of Apostates From Islam and Failures of the International Community," published by Christian Solidarity Worldwide. It is about people like Jeje Nehamiah Baki, a nomad from Chad who converted to Christianity in 1995. His father-in-law took custody of Mr. Baki's wife and children and when the convert tried visiting his family in 2002, the father-in-law killed Mr. Baki's oldest son to teach the father a lesson.

Or Nissar Hussein, a British citizen living in a majority-Pakistani community in Britain who converted to Christianity in 1996 along with his wife, Qubra. When groups of Asian men began smashing the windows of their home, throwing garbage at their front door and driving a car into Mr. Hussein's parked automobile, the police refused to protect them. Local churches were of no help either. Read more

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Archbishop of York attacks immigration minister Phil Woolas

The Archbishop of York is to launch a blistering attack on Britain's beleaguered immigration minister, accusing him of making dangerous and inaccurate claims.

Dr John Sentamu will say Phil Woolas has made serious allegations about the conduct of lawyers which were not supported by the facts, and express concern over the minister's "unmerciful" attitude.

He says the minister has been immature in his handling of immigration at a time when the Government should be setting an example to brutal regimes in countries such as Zimbabwe.
Instead it has tried to make political capital out of the issue by "tough-talking" designed to win votes, says the archbishop.

In a wide-ranging critique of British society, Dr Sentamu argues that such cynical tactics have contributed to a breakdown in community and neighbourliness and are "a worrying development".

Consumerism and materialism have become rampant under Labour and have led to the current economic crisis, he says.

In a speech at the Royal Society to be delivered on Thursday evening, Dr Sentamu will urge the Government to find a vision for the country rather than just concentrating on short-term solutions to the recession. Read more

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Britain was at its best in the 1950s - and has been spoiled by bad parents

Britain was at its peak as peaceful society in the 1950s, and has been ruined by bad parents, according to Frank Field.

Violent crime has soared since then because of a "collapse in the art of good parenting", the Labour MP said.

Mr Field called for schools to offer classes to teach children who were "desperate" to be good fathers and mothers.

Adults should also be given a "social highway code to spell out what is proper behaviour", he said.

In a speech at the University of Leicester, Mr Field said Britain was at its best in Fifties, a decade made famous by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's remark in 1957 that "most of our people had never had it so good".

Mr Field said: "The 1950s were the peak years for Britain being a peaceful and self-governing kingdom. We only have to look at the levels of crime, particularly violent crime, to register just how dramatic a change has occurred."

There were now more violent crimes recorded by the police in the past 12 months than between 1900 and 1977, he said.

More people were beaten up or stabbed in his Birkenhead constituency than in the whole of the country a century ago.

The root cause of these ills was "the growing collapse in the art of good parenting", he said Read more
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Be Thankful Today For Religious Freedom

Religious freedom in the United States was never planned by the colonial settlers; it was something that just happened. Nonetheless, said Rev. Charles Weaver, assistant to the bishop of the United Methodist Church's Florida conference, religious freedom is something for which we should be grateful.

Weaver, a Sebring native and UMC minister who majored in history before he went to seminary at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was the guest speaker at the Daughters of the American Revolution, Annuttaliga Chapter, monthly meeting earlier this week at the Brooksville Country Club.

His presentation was titled "Religion in Colonial America."

"The First Amendment states Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion," he said. "We as Americans take this for granted because that's the way it's always been."

Weaver said freedom of religion was a revolutionary concept in colonial times as it is now.
"Other governments, unless influenced by the American concept, tend to support one religion or have an established church," he said.

Weaver wasn't referring to countries like Saudi Arabia, which has Islam as the state religion - he was talking about Europe.

"England has the Anglican church, Scotland the Presbyterian church and Sweden the Lutheran church as tax-supported churches," he said.

The plus side to a tax-supported church might be not having to hold a bake sale when the water heater needs to be replaced, but there is a tradeoff.

"Governments that give money to churches expect some degree of control," Weaver said. 

"Americans are more religious (than Europeans) - does that tell you something? We basically have a free-market approach." Read more
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Thanksgiving, Obama, and the Pilgrims

... This Congregationalist Church of New England essentially became the state church for much of New England. It produced imposing preachers like Cotton and Increase Mather, and fostered widespread literacy, thrift, spiritual devotion and industry. The Congregationalists founded the great colleges of their region, which were originally Calvinist seminaries, and which would dominate the intellectual life of early and later America. Jonathan Edwards, author of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," was arguably the last great Puritan preacher and theologian, helping to ignite The Great Awakening of the mid-1700s that spiritually congealed the American colonies.

By the late 1700s, much of Congregationalism was trending towards Unitarianism. But most retained the orthodox Calvinist doctrine, and the Congregationalists of New England were the American Revolution's main political and intellectual instigators. Their faith was ascetic, rationalist and focused on conforming the world to their view of God's will. The Congregationalists were both soul savers (to the extent that Predestination would allow it), and social reformers. In the 19th century they were among the earliest abolitionists and proponents of women's rights.

In the 20th century, the Congregationalists eventually merged with theologically similar religious bodies to become what is today the 1.2 million member United Church of Christ (UCC). It is one of America's most liberal and fastest declining denominations, having lost over 40 percent of its membership since the 1960s. Until recently its most famous member was Barack Obama, who very publicly resigned from the only church to which he ever belonged, thanks to the verbal intemperance of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the UCC's most famous preacher.

How did the Pilgrims evolve into Jeremiah Wright? Read more

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Wednesday, 26 November 2008

CDEA Meeting on Saturday morning


Canon Dr Christina Baxter

The Anglican Church - Where now?

At St.Michael’s Church, Galleywood
29th November 2008

10 am to 1:00 pm

Christina Baxter, the Principal of St.John’s College, Nottingham, is worth listening to at any time. She also happens to be one of the most qualified to help Evangelicals think through their place in the Anglican Communion following two key conferences that took place this summer.

There is ample parking at St.Michael’s Galleywood.

Please bring £5 to cover costs for the day.


Following the main meeting there will be a brief AGM to appoint a new committee to relaunch and lead the CDEA.

Membership is only £5. Join on the day!

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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

£35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

The British Humanist Association, which is running a campaign get rid of faith schools and wants to end the Church of England's position as the established religion, was given the grant by the Government's equality watchdog and is using it to stage a series of debates about the place of religion in public life.
The four events will include speakers from faith groups but one of the keynote addresses is being delivered by the prominent atheist Professor AC Grayling, who claims "religious belief shares the same intellectual respectability and rationality as belief in the existence of fairies".
Critics say it is wrong for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to give taxpayers' money to a controversial organisation whose stance would be found objectionable by many members of the public.
Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister who specialises in religious discrimination, said: "It's a bit like paying the Taliban to lecture on women's rights.
"There's nothing wrong with the British Humanist Association organising seminars, but it's the fact that they're getting public money.
"There is the question of whether this is what Government money should be going for, particularly in a time of recession.
"If we're having a debate on religion, should we be paying one side of the argument to hold it, especially with public money?" Read more
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Southern Cone faces "punishment" for helping US rebels

A conservative province in the Anglican church faces “punishment” this week for offering a safe haven to conservatives.

Senior bishops and laity meeting in London are to consider suspending the Anglican church in South America for taking rebel US dioceses under its wing.

The move will bring the Anglican Communion closer to a formal split. Early next month, rebel conservatives are expected to finalise plans for a new Anglican province in the US, to sit as a parallel jurisdiction alongside the existing Episcopal Church.

Unless this new province is recognised as part of the Anglican family by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and the other 38 primates, it will in effect become a new Anglican church.

In a further indication that the liberals are winning the Anglican wars, The Episcopal Church of the US, which was suspended at a previous meeting, is expected to be welcomed back into the fold after sticking by its pledge not to consecrate any more gay bishops.

The Latin American Province of the Southern Cone headed by English-born bishop, the Most Rev Gregory Venables, has aroused the fury of liberal primates after a fourth US diocese voted to leave The Episcopal Church and realign with it.

Fort Worth voted earlier this month to quit the liberal Episcopal Church. Within the last 12 months, San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and Quincy have all approved a similar change.

Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh has subsequently been deposed.

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, last Friday sent out a “letter of inhibition” against Fort Worth’s Bishop Jack Iker which is expected to lead also to his deposition. Read more
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