Friday, 25 September 2009

Vogelenzang case on BBC’s Question Time

The case of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang – the Christian couple charged with a crime for criticising Islam – was mentioned on the BBC’s flagship debate show last night. Read more

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Your choice for the next Bishop of Chelmsford

If you would like to make a suggestion as to who should be the next Bishop of Chelmsford (and why), follow this link here.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Statement from the Bishop of Bradwell on the consultation process for the new Bishop of Chelmsford

Ed: The following e-mail has been sent today (23 September 2009) by e-mail to those clergy and laity who were on the original circulation list when this concern was raised by Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream. It has not, to my knowledge, gone to other clergy and laity in the diocese. 

Dear Colleagues

We are really sorry that some people feel they have not had sufficient and time and warning to offer their submissions in the Vacancy in Sea process within our Diocese.   This has come as something of a surprise because the whole process was described and dates given out publicly at both Bishop’s Council and Diocesan Synod and the timetable was included within those discussions and minuted.

Furthermore, newspaper advertisements were published in local papers so that even non-church people would know how to submit comments and the dates were also given.

In addition to all this, the Appointments Secretaries to the Archbishop and Prime Minister met on 8th, 9th and 10th September with nearly 150 people from a vast range of perspectives, walks of life and opinions. They certainly felt that they did hear from the different constituencies of the Diocese although, of course, not every individual could meet them. The Diocesan Office made appointments from this very wide range and were contacting additional interviewees even very close to the date in order to squeeze people into every available slot.

Our own Diocesan-elected Vacancy in See Committee met on three occasions in accordance with normal procedures to discuss the Statement of Needs of this Diocese and a smaller Drafting Group met in between those meetings in order to address the drafting for the main Committee. That Statement of Needs was finalised in accordance with the normal procedure and has been delivered to the Appointments Secretaries. It is shortly to be published on the website.

As has been stated, there was also the opportunity to send written representations directly to the Appointments Secretaries and the details of that were published in the media and also on the Diocesan website.

I understand that some people are unhappy that they may have missed the dead-line of 21 September 2009 and I have spoken to Caroline Boddington who has agreed that this dead-line can now be extended until 30 September 2009 so that anyone within your grouping or within the wider Church can avail themselves of the opportunity.

The composition of the Vacancy in See Committee was from a wide variety of people within the Diocese and the Appointments Secretaries have seen a wide cross section of our clergy and laity. However, it is highly undesirable that anyone should feel that they have not had the opportunity to make their representations which is why Caroline Boddington and I have agreed to the extension of time. Furthermore, the Vacancy in See Committee has elected six members to go forward to the Crown Nominations Committee in December 2009 and January 2010 and they will be meeting in October and probably in November as well. Do let them know your hopes for a new Bishop if they have not already been added to the on-line statement.   The names of those six people are :

Gordon Simmonds
Bishop Laurie
Susan Atkin
Revd John Dunnett
Graham Cook
Robert Hammond

I hope that this information will assist you and others to make such representations as you feel necessary about the needs of the Diocese and the type of Bishop that you would like to see appointed.

I am sorry for any disquiet that has been felt as a result of the process.

Bishop Laurie

From the office of Dr Laurie Green

The Bishop of Bradwell
Tel 01375 673806
Fax 01375 674222
Secretary: Mrs Amanda Robinson

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Deadline extended for consultations over the next Bishop of Chelmsford

In response to concerns which have been raised about the consultation process regarding the next Bishop of Chelmsford, the deadline for communicating with the Prime Minister's and Archbishops' Appointment Secretaries has been extended.

At a meeting of rural deans, deanery lay chairs, bishops and archdeacons on the 22nd September, Bishop Laurie Green announced that contact had been made with Lambeth Palace, and it had been agreed that further submissions would be read and included, but that they needed to be made "within the next couple of days".

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the 'public consultation' scheduled for the 9th September at the Chapter House in Chelmsford was attended by just one person.

As yet, clergy in the diocese have received no e-mail or postal communication about the consultation or the extension of the deadline.

Revd John Richardson

Nominate your choice for the next Bishop of Chelmsford on the Ugley Vicar blog.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Growing concern over appointment of Bishop of Chelmsford

Concern is being expressed in a number of quarters over the process for the appointment of the next Bishop of Chelmsford, and especially over the lack of consultation with the clergy.
Bishop John Gladwin’s time in office was dogged by a number of controversies, caused by his stance on homosexuality and his patronage of the pressure group Changing Attitude. At one point, several clergy in the diocese expressed themselves as being ‘out of sacramental fellowship’ with the Bishop. In 2006, a diocesan trip to Kenya was threatened when news of the Bishop’s views was picked up by the Kenyan press. And in 2007 a candidate’s ordination was delayed because he felt that he could not receive communion with the Bishop.
Perhaps for these reasons, Chelmsford is also notable for being one of the few dioceses with its own Anglican Mainstream group.
In the last few months, however, there has been a sense of easing of the tensions as Bishop Gladwin’s retirement approached and thoughts turned to his successor. The Anglican Mainstream group, in particular, were looking forward to making their views known regarding the importance of having someone who would restore their confidence in the diocesan leadership.
It is with considerable dismay, therefore, that many amongst both the clergy and laity are discovering that the public consultation and the deadline for writing to the Appointments Secretaries have been and gone, and that the ‘profile’ of the new Bishop is already well-advanced.
It now seems that the timetable for the appointment process was brought forward, although it is not clear why this was the case. Certainly until recently the official position was that Chelmsford was in a long ‘queue’ for the attention of the Crown Nominations Commission.
Some notice of the public consultation, which actually took place on the 9th September, was put out in advance. The Diocesan website carried a news item about it, dated 5th September, and a local paper, the Chelmsford Weekly News, carried a similar item on the 7th September —just two days ahead of the meeting. Despite some claims to the contrary, however, there was nothing in the Church of England Newspaper throughout August or early September to advertise this consultation, which perhaps means that only Church Times readers had this opportunity to be informed. Nor is there any direct mention of it in the diocesan E-Bulletins for July, August or September. Yet in early July diocesan clergy received an ad clerum via e-mail about the dangers of Swine ’flu, demonstrating that a simple mechanism to inform them about this and other issues is in place.
Some clergy were called in to meet with the Appointments Secretaries, but this seems to have arranged in some haste. One correspondent reports receiving a phone call at just four hours notice, whilst another reports that the clergy chair of his Deanery Synod was similarly contacted at the last minute. By contrast, the Rt Revd John Ball, an honorary bishop in the diocese, was not consulted for his views at all! Similar ignorance and lack of opportunity seems to prevail amongst the laity.
To make matters worse, a clergyman who knows a member of the Vacancy in See Committee reports from them that the profile of the person they want has been drawn up already, and that the express purpose of inviting correspondence with the Appointments Secretaries is “to see whether the profile corresponds to what folks are saying”.
Urgent efforts are currently being made both to express disquiet at what has happened and to voice the desire for a Bishop who will rectify the problems the diocese has experienced over the past few years. As things stand, however, this must be seen as a real test of the appointments process. The time for meeting in ‘holy smoke’-filled rooms is surely past. People have come to expect transparency and for their views to be heard. At the same time, they naturally resent the impression that vital decision which will deeply affect them are being made by a select few.
Any parish which has gone through the process of finding a new minister will know just how thorough consultation needs to be, and how much it must be ‘owned’ by those who will be affected. Why should this not, then, apply to the selection of a new bishop, whose clergy are expected to regard him as their ‘chief pastor’? Not least, this is important for the next Bishop himself. It will hardly give him the best start in his ministry if he meets a situation where there is resentment about how he was appointed, even if there is gratitude that he seems to be the right man for the job.
Since before the production of the Perry report, there has been a clear sense of a need for change in the process of appointing bishops. Sadly, the current experience in Chelmsford seems to underline that need.
Revd John P Richardson
22 September 2009

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Monday, 21 September 2009

HSBC bids farewell to dollar supremacy

Ed: Something of which Christians need to be aware as we face the next phase of the 'credit crunch'.

The sun is setting on the US dollar as the ultra-loose monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve forces China and the vibrant economies of the emerging world to forge a new global currency order, according to a new report by HSBC.

"The dollar looks awfully like sterling after the First World War," said David Bloom, the bank's currency chief.

"The whole picture of risk-reward for emerging market currencies has changed. It is not so much that they have risen to our standards, it is that we have fallen to theirs. It used to be that sovereign risk was mainly an emerging market issue but the events of the last year have shown that this is no longer the case. Look at the UK – debt is racing up to 100pc of GDP," he said.

Crucially, China and rising Asia have reached the point where they can no longer keep holding down their currencies to boost exports because this is causing mayhem to their own economies, stoking asset bubbles. Asia's "mercantilist mindset" of recent decades is about to be broken by the spectre of an inflation spiral. Read more
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Sunday, 20 September 2009

Swine flu 'could kill millions unless rich nations give £900m'

The swine flu pandemic could kill millions and cause anarchy in the world's poorest nations unless £900m can be raised from rich countries to pay for vaccines and antiviral medicines, says a UN report leaked to the Observer.

The disclosure will provoke concerns that health officials will not be able to stem the growth of the worldwide H1N1 pandemic in developing countries. If the virus takes hold in the poorest nations, millions could die and the economies of fragile countries could be destroyed.

Health ministers around the globe were sent the warning on Thursday in a report on the costs of averting a humanitarian disaster in the next few months. It comes as officials inside the World Health Organisation, the UN's public health body, said they feared they would not be able to raise half that amount because of the global downturn. Read more
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Campaigners win the fight to legalise assisted suicide

HELPING terminally ill and incurably disabled patients to commit suicide is set to be decriminalised in Britain under guidance to be issued this week.

Those who assist a friend or relative to end their lives on compassionate grounds will not be prosecuted, under guidelines to be announced by Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions.

However, it will still be a crime to act as “ringleader” or “organiser” of the death of a person who has been “vulnerable to manipulation”.

The guidelines are expected to make clear the difference between someone “assisting” and someone “encouraging” a suicide. Read more
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