Thursday, 30 July 2009

New welcome strategy aims to increase attendance

Friendliness advice is now on offer for parishes, as a new resource pack is released to help churches encourage visitors to become regular worshippers.
New welcome strategy aims to increase attendance

The Everybody Welcome package includes a leader’s manual, booklets for members, and a DVD of interviews and footage demonstrating the effects of a good welcome. The course gives tips such as: train a dedicated ‘Welcome Team’ to look out for newcomers, analyse whether the service is sufficiently engaging, and check the quality of post-service refreshments.

The course has been designed by the Archdeacon of Walsall, the Ven Bob Jackson, and Lichfield’s director of Parish Mission, George Fisher. Archdeacon Jackson said: “The first hurdle for visitors is are we going to find friendliness when we turn up? And I think in most churches, and certainly the better ones, they do. The big problem is how to get in. Anyone can attend a service, but how do you start belonging to a church community?”

The course gives advice on how to make a variety of people feel comfortable, including the bald, overweight and alcoholic. It also offers education on basic social skills, such as the importance of making eye contact, smiling and finding out people’s names. Read more
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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Vatican Backs Archbishop Williams’ Response to Convention Actions

The Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said it shares the concerns of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that the Anglican Communion’s unity be maintained through common faith and practice based on scripture and tradition.
The July 29 statement from the Vatican office came two days after Archbishop Williams issued his reflection on actions taken at this month’s General Convention. The statement said the Vatican “supports the archbishop in his desire to strengthen these bonds of communion, and to articulate more fully the relationship between the local and the universal within the church.

“It is our prayer that the Anglican Communion, even in this difficult situation, may find a way to maintain its unity and its witness to Christ as a worldwide communion,” the statement concluded. Read more
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Why men are to blame for the crunch

But then who was the first person to explain the Credit Crunch to me and say why it was all going to go wrong? Yup, a man (and a financier to boot). And what is the Women and Work commission's motivation for getting women into 'top jobs'? Yep, so they can get paid as much as men.

I routinely characterise the credit crunch as "men behaving badly" - because it's almost impossible to find a woman to blame.

The reckless chief executives of banks who went on a borrowing and lending binge: all men.

SuitedThe financial engineers who packaged up poisonous subprime debt and mis-sold it as AAA solid gold: they were long of Y chromosomes.

The central bankers and regulators who slept while the dangerous financial party was in full swing: blokes.

The finance ministers who didn't want to recognise that the surge in house prices was perilous, for fear of alienating voters: yup, it's my gender again. Read more
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Why FCAUK will not be ‘Good News’ in Southwark Diocese

On Monday 6th July The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans United Kingdom (FCAUK) was launched in Westminster Central Hall. The addresses given during the morning focused upon the specifics of what has been happening in the Episcopal Church in America together with more general warnings of a similar ‘drift’ towards liberalism here in the United Kingdom and what might be needed in response to this.

It was the latter theme that dominated the afternoon with a series of films and interviews providing examples of UK dioceses ‘cooperating’ with ‘orthodox’ churches alongside examples where the opposite was seen to be the case. Whilst the film clips largely concentrated on the more positive examples, the interviews then conducted by William Taylor (Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate) and Christine Perkin (wife of the Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise and a member of its leadership team) focused on examples where conservative evangelicals felt oppressed and mistreated by their diocesan structures. The overall message of the afternoon, therefore, was that enough was enough: through the formation of FCAUK and action in regard to clergy selection and appointment, authorising church plants and the withholding of finance, those responsible for misgovernment, heresy and oppression in the Church of England would no longer be able to get away with it.

As one present at the conference to witness all this, what particularly alarmed me was the entirely uncritical nature of the ‘interviews’ conducted by Mr Taylor and Mrs Perkin. Candidates for ordination required to gain experience of the wider church shared their angst at this without the slightest searching question being put to them and a similar approach was then taken to frustrated church planters.

Included within the latter and most alarming to me personally was the last of these interviews, seemingly designed to form the climax of the afternoon, with the Reverend Richard Coekin, leader of the Co-Mission network of churches in South West London. During his interview Mr Coekin explained he was now looking to FCA to supply him with Episcopal oversight to replace that of his ‘liberal bishop’ Tom Butler. Read more
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Monday, 27 July 2009

Credit card crisis to grip Britain, IMF warns

Britain’s credit card debt crisis will get significantly worse in the coming months with a wave of consumer payment defaults, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

The organisation expects £1.5bn of consumer debt across Europe will not be repaid, much of it in Britain which has the highest number of credit card borrowers on the continent.

Analysts say failure to pay credit card bills is likely to increase as unemployment rises and the number of personal insolvencies, which reached 29,774 in the first quarter of the year, continues to rise.

The IMF said the crisis would echo the problems already felt in the United States, where it expects 14 per cent of the country’s £1.16bn credit card debt to go unpaid this year, the Financial Times reported. Read more
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How the forces finally learnt to take pride

In the genteel atmosphere of the Coldstream Guards' officers' mess, Lieutenant Mark Wakeling was known as "thug". Amongst his fellow guardsmen, he prided himself on being the toughest, the fittest and the most aggressive.

He not only laughed at homophobic jokes – he was the "straightest of the straight" amongst the young officers. When one of his platoon admitted to being gay, he immediately started the discharge process.

Nobody realised that behind the excessively macho behaviour was a young man who lived in fear that his own homosexuality would be discovered. Eventually, the pressure became too much and he cut short his military career and resigned his commission. "I scurried away like a frightened rat," he explained yesterday, bitter regret still evident in his expression more than a decade later.

This month, for the first time in its history, the cover of the British Army's official publication Soldier magazine shows Trooper James Wharton – openly gay – clad in his dress uniform, complete with Iraq medal, next to the headline "Pride". It is the most obvious sign that almost a decade after the military lifted the ban on homosexuality it is finally comfortable with its new clothes.

British servicemen and women now march at Gay Pride in uniform, all three services have become Stonewall diversity champions and a few months ago the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt made history when he became the first army chief to address a Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender conference. "Respect for others is not an optional extra," he said. Read more
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Sunday, 26 July 2009

Minister: flu panic is danger to NHS

Ed: Told you so (and here).

Ministers moved to quell swine flu hysteria last night, as concerns grew that the National Health Service might be overwhelmed by hordes of "unnecessarily anxious" people who could make a full recovery at home.

Amid rising government worry about how NHS staff will cope as the virus spreads, health secretary Andy Burnham warned that panic itself could push services to breaking point. Health Department officials said there was a danger of a "panic pandemic" that could hinder the treatment of more serious cases.

Calling for calm, Burnham said that although swine flu presented a huge challenge for the country, it was not a life-threatening condition for the vast majority of people.

He told the Observer that it was vital not to over-react and claimed the government had the situation under control. "It is very important for everybody to keep a sense of perspective," he said. "It has been a mild virus in the vast majority of cases, with relatively mild symptoms from which people recover fully fairly quickly. Read more
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US shock jock Savage targeted 'to balance least wanted list'

Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has suffered a major setback in her legal battle with American 'shock jock' Michael Savage after her officials were accused of banning him from the country on racial grounds.

Emails written by Home Office officials privately acknowledged the ban on Mr Savage would provide 'balance' to a list dominated by Muslims - and linked the decision to Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

The officials admitted their action could look 'duplicitous' and cited his 'homophobia' as a reason the move would receive public support.

Read more
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