Saturday, 18 April 2015

opinion

Andrew Brown The Guardian Faith no more: how the British are losing their religion

Michael Sadgrove On Reaching a Certain Age

David Benady PR Week Spreading the word

Ian Duffield Signs of the Times The 2015 proposals to re-brand the Church of England

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 18 April 2015 at 11:00am BST
Add a comment | Read comments (4 comments)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Alister McGrath criticises Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Church Times has published an article by Alister McGrath which is headlined It’s the theology, stupid. The strapline is clearer about the content of the article: What do we want from our clergy.

His view is clear:

…TO BE asked to minister without an informing vision of God (which is what theology is really all about), however, is like being told to make bricks without straw. What keeps people going in ministry, and what, in my experience, congregations are longing for, is an exciting and empowering vision of God, articulated in a theology that is integrated with worship, prayer, and social action.

Ministry has both vertical and horizontal dimensions, standing at the intersection of God and the world. Both those dimensions need to be sustained. RME’s exclusively pragmatic approach to ministerial training risks the loss of its core motivation and inspiration for Christian ministry.

This hostility towards theological scholarship seems to reflect a lack of understanding of what theology is, and why it matters. The training that we offer our ministers must do far more than simply acquaint them with the institutional ethos of the Church of England. It must energise them through engagement with the realities of the Christian gospel…

Do read the whole article.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 18 April 2015 at 9:30am BST
Add a comment | Read comments (1 comment)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Friday, 17 April 2015

Church Times reports criticism of church growth document

This week’s Church Times carries a detailed report of the analysis by Mark Hart which was reported on here earlier this week. See Cleric says report on church growth belies the research which also includes a very helpful summary of his criticisms (scroll down to read the bold print part).

There is also a Church Times leader on the subject: Lost in translation but this is available only to subscribers.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 April 2015 at 11:00pm BST
Add a comment
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Monday, 13 April 2015

How religious is the United Kingdom?

The WIN/Gallup International market research association has published the results of a recent survey taken in 65 countries. This shows that the UK is one of the least religious countries as measured by what people say about themselves.

The full press release is available here. It starts out:

Losing our religion? Two thirds of people still claim to be religious

  • 63% of people polled say they are religious
  • China is the least religious country with twice the amount of convinced atheists than any
    other nation (61%) followed by Hong Kong (34%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and
    Spain (20%).
  • Thailand is the most religious country globally (94%), followed by Armenia (93%),
    Bangladesh (93%), Georgia (93%), and Morocco (93%)…

The wording of the question was this:

“Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not would you say you are: a. a religious Person, b. not a religious person, c. a convinced atheist, d. do not know/no response.”

Press coverage of this has been varied:

Guardian UK one of world’s least religious countries, survey finds

Telegraph Britain one of the ‘world’s least religious countries’, says poll and Mapped: These are the world’s most religious countries

Christian Today Two thirds of people worldwide are religious (but less than one third of Brits)

Daily Mail Brits among the least religious in the world: UK comes 59th in poll of 65 countries after only 30% of population say they have a faith

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 April 2015 at 10:15pm BST
Add a comment | Read comments (10 comments)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

From Anecdote to Evidence: An Evaluation

Updated

From Anecdote to Evidence is available here.

Mark Hart, Rector of Plemstall & Guilden Sutton, Diocese of Chester, has written an 18 page essay which evaluates this report. He has titled it From Delusion to Reality and you can read it in a PDF file located here.

His analysis makes use of a previously unpublished update dated September 2014 to a report by David Voas and Laura Watt, which was originally published in February 2014.

The updated version is now available here.

As the title of his analysis hints, his evaluation concludes that the evidence does not support the arguments now being made for the investment of substantial money by the Church Commissioners in order to stimulate church growth. His concluding paragraphs read:

The Church has recently embarked on a wide-ranging programme of ‘Reform and Renewal’, led with considerable energy and resolve, and this has quite understandably been a great source of encouragement to many. However, the Church Growth Research is cited as the evidence base for the success of these plans, and From Anecdote to Evidence represents the level of understanding of the research among the senior leadership.

It has been estimated that it will be necessary to borrow at least £100m from the future, using Church Commissioners’ funds, in order to implement the Task Group proposals. This paper therefore calls into question the basis for considering this an investment likely to pay back a return, in terms of either finance or church growth. It also calls into question the From Evidence to Action initiative which is designed to encourage parishes to implement the research findings as presented in From Anecdote to Evidence.

Despite appearances, this is not meant to be a negative analysis, even though it asks the Church’s leaders to accept that their research has provided no answer to the question of how to achieve sufficient numerical growth to offset the continuing decline.

The analysis here implies there is a need for much more radical thinking and planning, not less. The questions go wider than ‘How can we increase attendance figures?’ to include ‘What are the reasons for decline?’ and ‘What is an appropriate ecclesiology for a national Church in today’s social context?’ That requires attention to be given to all aspects of the Church’s role in society. And it requires the questions to be asked with a positive, outward look towards the people of the parishes rather than an inward, anxious focus on institutional strength.

The Church has officially moved from delusion to reality on attendance figures. It now needs to face the reality of what its own growth research is saying, and of why it was felt necessary to portray it in a way which would only create another delusion.

Read it all for yourself.

Update
I omitted previously to link to the blog article introducing this written by Mark Hart. He said:

…My paper shows that ‘From Anecdote to Evidence’ systematically misrepresents or misinterprets the underlying report by David Voas & Laura Watt, thereby exaggerating the usefulness of the findings for numerical growth.

This has implications for the ‘Reform & Renewal’ programme (involving many Task Groups) which plans to borrow an estimated £100m from the future, on the evidence of this research, to invest in church growth…

Continue reading "From Anecdote to Evidence: An Evaluation"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 April 2015 at 8:33pm BST
Add a comment | Read comments (20 comments)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Friday, 10 April 2015

GAFCON primates to meet in London

Updated Friday

In his Easter Pastoral Letter Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council notes that:

…The GAFCON Primates Council will soon meet in London, from the 13th to the 17th April, and we shall take counsel together so that our movement can grow strongly and be equipped to fulfil the vision of restoring the Anglican Communion’s commitment to biblical truth. It will also give us a special opportunity to meet with leaders of the British and Irish branch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the Anglican Mission in England. Please uphold us in prayer during this time…

George Conger reports in AMiE on the agenda for London GAFCON primates meeting that the ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach will be among those attending, and he writes:

Next week’s London meeting is expected to discuss the issue of whether to support a parallel Anglican jurisdiction akin to the Anglican Church in North America for England, and how such support should be shown.

In his 23 September 2014 pastoral letter to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), the group’s leader, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya wrote: “It is becoming clear that we must see the once missionary nations of the West as now themselves mission fields.” He further stated “the focus of the struggle for biblical faithfulness has shifted from North America to England.”

To achieve this end, the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) had been “authorised by the GAFCON Primates to work within and, where necessary, outside the structures of the Church of England as a missionary society”.

Details of the Anglican Mission in England were reported previously, here.

Update
A communiquè has been issued. The full text is available here. The portion relevant to England is reproduced below the fold.

Continue reading "GAFCON primates to meet in London"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 April 2015 at 6:39pm BST
Add a comment | Read comments (23 comments)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Josiah Idowu-Fearon's views on the Anglican Communion

Titusonenine has published a transcript of a lecture given by Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon in Toronto in 2013 titled The Instruments of Unity and the Way Forward.

The original audio recording can be found here, at the website of The Cranmer Institute.

The transcript can be read from this link.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 7:40am BST
Add a comment | Read comments (38 comments)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Jesus is risen

s15.gif

Mary Magdalene
“That Saturday was such a long day. From sunset after we had buried him, we could do nothing. We went home and locked ourselves in and cried. Oh, how we cried. His poor mother could not be comforted, and the rest of us were no better. We had loved him so much, and known his even greater love in return. He’d inspired us and taught us and given us hope. And then, so suddenly, he was dead. Still, we were determined to do what we could to give him a decent burial, so as soon as it was getting light on that Sunday morning, we were up and dressed. We rushed out with our oils and spices and off to the hillside. But when we got there we were in for a shock. The grave had been opened. We hadn’t expected that and we were very frightened. But we couldn’t have begun to imagine what had really happened. No one was going to believe us, a group of poor women from Galilee. Was it really possible that he was alive?”

Prayer
Lord Jesus, you were dead but now you are alive:
transform the torments of this world’s sin
that we may see your radiant glory.
You were raised from death to life:
may the power of your resurrection live in us,
that we may be channels of your true life beyond measure.
To you, Jesus, who have broken free from the bonds of death,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

illustration: from a wood-engraving by Eric Gill, 1917

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Sunday, 5 April 2015 at 6:30am BST
Add a comment | Read comments (2 comments)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: just thinking

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Jesus is placed in the tomb

s14.gif

Joseph of Arimathea
“I’m Joseph of Arimathea. Like Nicodemus, I was a member of the Jewish Council. I’d only recently had a new tomb cut from the rock, near to the place. It was to be for me and my family. But it was beginning to get dark, and we had to bury his body before sunset. So I suggested laying him out there, and then we could come back on Sunday morning to tidy things up and anoint his body and say our prayers. That’s what we did, and the Governor ordered the tomb to be sealed and guarded. Of course, on Sunday morning it was all very different …”

Prayer
Lord Jesus, Lord of life, you became as nothing for us:
be with those who feel worthless and as nothing in the world’s eyes.
You were laid in a cold, dark tomb and hidden from sight:
be with all who suffer and die in secret,
hidden from the eyes of the world.
To you, Jesus, your rigid body imprisoned in a tomb,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

illustration: from a wood-engraving by Eric Gill, 1917

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 4 April 2015 at 2:00pm BST
Add a comment
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: just thinking

More about the new Secretary General at the ACO

Today the Anglican Communion Office has published two further announcements:

Appointment of Anglican Communion Secretary General: Statement from ACC Chair

The full text of this is reproduced below the fold.

Response to misrepresentation of remarks: Statement from the Rt Rev Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon

Statement from the Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon responding to misleading stories concerning a sermon in 2014 and an interview in 2007:

In Benin on Sunday 23rd March, 2014 at St. Mathew’s Cathedral where Knights and their wives were being admitted, I encouraged them to continue to uphold family values in their homes bringing up their children as Christians in order to make a difference in their society. I then went on to challenge the National Assembly, comparing corruption with homosexuality that they had just criminalized. I wished the National Assembly had spent all that time and energy to criminalize corruption rather than homosexuality which is not damaging the Nigerian society as is corruption.

I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it. The Church is called to love and protect everyone without discrimination, ‘love the person but hate the sin” whatever the sin may be, corruption, sexual sins of all kinds, misuse of power or anything else.

In this I believe I am affirming the position of the Anglican Communion in Lambeth 1:10.

In a Dallas interview in 2007 the question was about the Bible and culture. I did say by way of explanation that the West brought the Christian Faith to us and our forefathers embraced the faith finding it corroborated our view on marriage. Today, the same West are telling us that the position has changed. To the African, that is confusing, hence the difficulty between the Western church and the African church.

Again, my position is clear. For the majority of African Christians, the Bible judges culture, including African culture. As African Christians we must accept other cultures and the way they also understand the Bible’s relationship with culture. I accept and promote a culture of respect for such differences.

The Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon

Continue reading "More about the new Secretary General at the ACO"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 April 2015 at 12:19pm BST
Add a comment | Read comments (22 comments)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Jesus is taken down from the cross

s13.gif

Nicodemus
“I’m Nicodemus. I had met him a few times and spoken to him. Now he was dead. We thought it was all over. All we could do now for him was to get him down from that cross and give him some dignity in death. My friend, Joseph, and I went to his mother to offer our help. I think Joseph went to see the Governor and got his permission. So we were able to get him down and cover him up. It was a terrible task, but it was the last thing we could do for him. It was awful to see his mother holding his limp body and kissing his bloodied face. And we just kept asking ourselves, Why; why did this happen?”

Prayer
Lord Jesus, your friends and family mourned at your death:
give strength and comfort to those who mourn.
To you, Jesus, your body cradled by your mother in death as in birth,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

illustration: from a wood-engraving by Eric Gill, 1917

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 4 April 2015 at 8:00am BST
Add a comment
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: just thinking

Friday, 3 April 2015

Jesus dies on the cross

s12.gif

the Centurion
“I was the Centurion. My job was to supervise the whole execution and see it through until the three men were dead, and keep the crowds under control too. As the occupying power in a troubled territory we were used to executing rebels. But I remember this one. Of course it was at Passover, and the crowds were large and worrying. The Governor had us put a sign over him — that he was king of the Jews, and this is how any king of the Jews would end up. And it went so dark that day, you’d think it was the middle of the night. But the way he died was different too. He didn’t curse, he didn’t incite his friends to rebellion, he seemed to be saying his prayers and talking to his mother and a few friends. Through all the pain, through all the indignity and humiliation, he seemed to know what he was doing. Everything about him proclaimed his innocence.”

Prayer
Lord Jesus, you died on the cross
and entered the bleakest of all circumstances:
give courage to those who die at the hands of others.
In death you entered into the darkest place of all:
illumine our darkness with your glorious presence.
To you, Jesus, your lifeless body hanging on the tree of shame,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

illustration: from a wood-engraving by Eric Gill, 1917

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Friday, 3 April 2015 at 3:00pm BST
Add a comment | Read comments (1 comment)
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: just thinking

Jesus is nailed to the cross

s11.gif

a soldier
“The next thing was to nail him to his cross. Sometimes prisoners were tied up, other times we used nails. This time it was nails. It always took a whole squad of us to do this. Some to hold the cross secure, some to hold him and restrain him, then someone to hold the nail, and someone to hold the hammer. You had to put a nail through each wrist, so he would be held up by the nail between the two forearm bones. Then a single nail through both ankles. To breathe, a man would have to push himself up on these nails through his wrists and ankles.”

Prayer
Lord Jesus, you bled in pain as the nails were driven into your flesh:
transform through the mystery of your love the pain of those who suffer.
To you, Jesus, our crucified Lord,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
Amen.

illustration: from a wood-engraving by Eric Gill, 1917

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Friday, 3 April 2015 at 9:00am BST
Add a comment
TrackBack (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: just thinking