Saturday, 28 November 2009

London Gay Men's Chorus Mayor's choice for Carols at Southwark Cathedral

Ed: The photo says it all

"The London Gay Men's Chorus is delighted to have been invited to perform once again at The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall. Come and join in the merriment as they sing both Christmas favourites and extracts from their show Singderella. The gentlemen of the Chorus have been extraordinarily busy this year with a concert in Helsinki, being a host choir for the Various Voices festival, their sold out Edinburgh Fringe show Oklahomo, a summer concert at the Shaw Theatre, their Christmas Show at Cadogan Hall, and performing as the chosen choir for the Mayor of London's Christmas Carol Concert at Southwark Cathedral." See here

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The crisis in Anglicanism threatens its position in national life

[...] The congregation is falling away almost as quickly as the money. Thirty years ago 11 per cent of the UK population went to church and the average age of the flock was 37. Today, only 6 per cent are regular observers and the average age is 51. With the Anglican Church in a state of decline, troubles are piling up in battalions. The divisive issues of the ordination of women as bishops and the rights of homosexual clergy are making Anglo-Catholics susceptible to the inveigling of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church’s apostolic constitution has set out the terms whereby Anglo-Catholics would be permitted to become Roman Catholics without giving up their liturgies.

Now that 8.5 per cent of Anglican clergy jobs are expected to disappear over the next five years, the very question of the Church of England’s role in the nation’s affairs is at issue. There is still a case for the Church to be the spiritual witness to moments of temporal national communion but the privilege of establishment becomes much harder to defend when the congregation is thinning out and the Church cannot pay the bills. The Anglican Church faces a dilemma analogous to that of the BBC. It needs a wide scope to justify its position of national privilege and yet its future as an organisation may lie as the provider of a smaller, niche product. Read more
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Cutbacks contribute to impression of ‘dying and divided church’

The lopsided church of St Vincent has stood in the village of Littlebourne since the 13th century, in the diocese of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Its 87 regular worshippers, mostly retired or nearing retirement, managed to raise £50,000 last year through coffee mornings and cake sales. Of that, more than £34,000 went to the diocese to help to pay for clergy and clergy pensions.

The ten worshippers in the neighbouring church of Stodmarsh, also under the cure of the Rev John Allan, raised nearly £5,000, of which a quarter went to the diocese. The other two parishes in the benefice, Ickham and Wickhambreaux, with only 35 worshippers between them, raised £25,000 and contributed £11,000 in quota.

It costs about £40,000 a year to “run” a stipendiary parish priest in the Church of England. As the combined quota of the four parishes came to more than £50,000, worshippers assumed that when Mr Allan announced that he had to retire next January because of ill health, they would be given a replacement. But instead, they claim that they have been advised that even if they raised £1 million, they would not get another full-time priest.

They are to be given instead a “house-for-duty” priest, an unpaid part-timer. In return for free accommodation in the vicarage, he will work three days a week. Read more
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Church of England set to lose a tenth of its clergy in five years

The Church of England is facing the loss of as many as one in ten paid clergy in the next five years and internal documents seen by The Times admit that the traditional model of a vicar in every parish is over.

The credit crunch and a pension funding crisis have left dioceses facing massive restructuring programmes. Church statistics show that between 2000 and 2013 stipendiary or paid clergy numbers will have fallen by nearly a quarter.

According to figures on the Church of England website, there will be an 8.3 per cent decrease in paid clergy in the next four years, from 8,400 this year to 7,700 in to 2013. This represents a 22.5 per cent decrease since 2000. If this trend continues in just over 50 years there will be no full-time paid clergy left in Britain’s 13,000 parishes serving 16,000 churches.

Jobs will instead be filled by unpaid part-timers, giving rise to fears about the quality of parish ministry. Combined with a big reduction in churchgoing, the figures will add weight to the campaign for disestablishment. Read more
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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Teenage boys to learn how to respect women in drive to tackle violence

A generation of youths who do not know how to treat women are to be targeted in a drive to tackle violence and abuse in teenage relationships, the Government announced today.

The campaign could also involve children as young as 5 being taught about “gender equality” as part of personal, social and health education that, from 2011, is to be a compulsory part of the national curriculum. Rules are also to be produced for how teachers should tackle “sexist, sexual and transphobic” bullying.

A strategy to tackle violence against women and girls published yesterday highlights the need for “attitudinal” change among teenagers in relationships. The move follows growing concern that some teenage boys are mistreating girls with verbal abuse, physical attacks and attempts to coerce them into having sex.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Reaching teenagers who are embarking on early relationships to challenge their perceptions of what constitutes a healthy relationship is vital to preventing violence against women and girls.” Read more
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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Russian faith leaders call for calm as murdered priest is buried

A murdered Russian Orthodox priest was laid to rest in Moscow yesterday, amid fears of rising religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country. Father Daniil Sysoyev was shot dead inside his own church last week, in a killing that many suspect was by Islamic radicals.

Father Sysoyev was a controversial figure, even within the Orthodox Church. He was an active missionary, attempting to convert Muslims to Orthodoxy, and authored a number of books, including one warning Russian women against marrying Muslim men. He also posted a series of online sermons on YouTube dissecting the Islamic faith and making several incendiary claims about the religion.

Late last Thursday night, after the evening service, an intruder burst into Father Sysoyev's small church, located in a drab Moscow suburb. The killer was wearing a surgical mask, brandishing a pistol, and demanded to know where Sysoyev was. When the priest emerged, he was shot twice, in the head and neck, and later died in hospital. Read more
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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Martin Amis: the sexual revolution killed my sister Sally

The author's younger sister died in 2000, aged 46, after suffering for years from alcoholism and depression.

Amis said she had been crushed by the pressures he felt women had been subjected to ever since the idea of sex before marriage became the norm.

Society was still dealing with the fallout, he said, but women usually fared worse than men.

He said: "It's astonishingly difficult to find a decent deal between men and women and we haven't found it yet."

While women enjoyed more freedom than they did before 1970, he said, they were also more liable to suffer from the pressures the revolution exerted on them.

Sally could not cope with the sexual liberation it granted her, said Amis, 60.

"She was pathologically promiscuous," he told the Richmond Book Now Festival.

"She really had the mental age of 12 or 13 and I think she was terrified. I think what she was doing was seeking protection from men, but it went the other way, she was often beaten up, abused and she simply used herself up."

In the 1980s she married a wine merchant twice her age but the union lasted only six months. She had a baby daughter from another relationship Catherine, whom she gave up for adoption. In 1994 she suffered a stroke and the following year their father Kingsley Amis died, from which she never recovered.

She died of an unspecified infection in November 2000 after five days in intensive care. Read more
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