Thursday, 27 October 2016
Statistics for Mission 2015
The Church of England has issued its Statistics for Mission 2015 today. There is no accompanying press release, but the document includes this executive summary.
2015 Church of England participation summary
- On average, 961,000 people (85% adults, 15% children under 16) attended Church of England services and acts of worship each week in October 2015. A further 165,000 people attended services for schools in Church of England churches each week.
- Usual Sunday attendance at Church of England churches in 2015 was 752,000 people (86% adults, 14% children under 16).
- The worshipping community of Church of England churches in 2015 was 1.1 million people, of whom 20% were aged under 18, 50% were aged 18-69, and 30% were aged 70 or over.
- 1.3 million people attended Church of England churches at Easter 2015 (of whom 71% received communion).
- 2.5 million people attended Church of England churches at Christmas 2015 (of whom 35% received communion). During Advent, 2.3 million people attended special services for the congregation and local community, and 2.7 million people attended special services for civic organisations and schools.
- There were 124,000 Church of England baptisms and services of thanksgiving for the gift of a child during 2015.
- There were 47,000 Church of England marriages and services of prayer and dedication after civil marriages during 2015.
- There were 84,000 funerals in Church of England churches, and a further 65,000 funerals at crematoria/cemeteries during 2015.
Trends in participation
- Over recent decades, attendance at Church of England church services has gradually fallen. These trends continued in 2015. Most key measures of attendance have fallen by between 10% and 15% over the past 10 years.
- Although the overall pattern is one of gradual decline, this masks the differences in experience in individual parishes over the past 10 years. In 53% of parishes there has been no statistically significant change in attendance. In 10% of parishes attendance has increased. In 37% of parishes attendance has decreased.
Are Churches Welcoming Towards LGBT People?
Harry Farley of Christian Today reports on a New Poll: Are Churches Welcoming Towards LGBT People?
The question whether gay people are accepted in church has dogged Christian leaders for decades.
But a new poll out on Thursday reveals the same proportion of people think gay people are welcome in UK churches as those who think they are unwelcome. A YouGov poll highlighted that 30 per cent of Brits believe churches are welcoming towards gay people with 33 per cent saying they are not welcoming.
Younger people were more likely to think LGBT people are unwelcome in church, with 38 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds saying churches were not hospitable to gay people and 36 per cent of 25 to 49-year-olds agreeing. Those over 60 were almost twice as likely to think the LGBT community was welcome in church than unwelcome…
The Church of England Newspaper has also looked at the poll: Public don’t believe the Church offers a welcome to all in society.
The poll was commissioned by Jayne Ozanne, who has issued this press release:
Status of established church queried as poll reveals few believe Church of England serves whole nation.
Less than half of British adults believe that the Church of England is there for everyone, with only a third of adults believing UK Christian churches are welcoming towards the LGBTI community.
A recent YOUGOV poll has shown that only 47% of British adults agree that the Church of England is there for everyone who wants to go to Church. Of equal concern is the fact that less than a third (30%) believe that Christian Churches are welcoming towards the gay, lesbian and bisexual community…
The full text of the press release is copied below the fold.
The full results of the poll can be viewed here.Continue reading "Are Churches Welcoming Towards LGBT People?"
Sunday, 23 October 2016
Bishop of Ripon to retire
The Diocese of Leeds has announced today that the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd James Bell, is to retire on 30 April 2017.
The full text of the diocesan announcement is below the fold.Continue reading "Bishop of Ripon to retire"
Saturday, 22 October 2016
Opinion - 22 October 2016
Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, ViaMedia.News “Calm Down Dear…” – Love and Anger
This article has attracted the attention of The Telegraph (‘Calm down, dear’: how bishops talk down to gay people – by leading bishop) and Christian Today (You Have The Right To Be Angry! Bishop Of Liverpool Advice To LGBT Christians).
Ryan Cook blogs in response.
Andrew Brown The Guardian Scepticism gets you only so far. Even nonbelievers need to have faith
Liz Clutterbuck Church Times Wanted: young women priests
Madeleine Davies Church Times Funding decision sharpens debate about the vision
Tuesday, 18 October 2016
Trouble at York Minster
*** Updated Friday 21 October
There have been a lot of reports of the decision taken by the authorities at York Minster with respect to the Minster bellringers. The BBC’s coverage begins here with the headline “York Minster bells silenced after bell-ringers axed for ‘new team’”. In a letter shown on the BBC page, the Precentor of York, Canon Peter Moger writes to the ringers:
Chapter will recruit a Head Bell Ringer, who will then oversee the recruitment and activity of a new team of volunteer bell ringers. In order to begin this process, all current bell ringing activity will cease at the Minster, from today, Tuesday 11th October.
The York Minster Society of Change Ringers responded with this statement in which the Ringing Master, Peter Sanderson, commented:
I was appointed to the position of Ringing Master by Chapter in 2006 and have remained fully accountable to them ever since, always implementing Chapter’s policies as requested and being willing to work co-operatively with Chapter to resolve any issues as they have arisen. … You have also referred in the media to the review of the operation of the bell tower which raised health and safety concerns. That review was commissioned by Chapter, undertaken and completed without the knowledge of the bellringers and with no opportunity for them to provide input. Nor have the results ever been shared with us. I’m afraid that this is typical of the secrecy with which the Minster operates under the current leadership team under your direction. … When you arrived as Dean in 2012 the ringers invited you on several occasions to visit the bell-tower and meet the team. You declined all of those invitations and have never to my knowledge ascended the tower. As significant grievances between the ringers and Chapter have arisen over the past 18 months I have made numerous offers to meet with you and to work together to resolve them. You have rejected every one of those offers.
On Monday in a further brief statement, the Minster said that the issue was about safeguarding:
Earlier this summer, it was necessary for the Chapter to take action regarding a member of the bell ringing community on safeguarding grounds. … Some members of the York Minster Society of Change Ringers have consistently challenged the Chapter’s authority on this and other important matters. … This is why the Chapter took the decision to disband the bell ringing team last week.
This statement was read by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu (as Visitor) and has been released on video here. It is followed by questions and answers.
In their response, here, the ringers have again appealed to the Dean and Archbishop to talk to them:
We are deeply disappointed that Dean Faull and Archbishop Sentamu have decided to release their statement this afternoon without any prior communication or consultation with YMSCR. Now, more than ever, we feel the need to sit down and talk in private with the Dean and Chapter of York Minster to discuss these issues. We make a direct appeal to Dean Vivienne Faull and Archbishop John Sentamu to make contact and to arrange this meeting.
*** Update (Friday 21 October)
There has been a lot of press coverage of this story. The Church Times summarizes how the story unfolded in an article headlined Safeguarding issue silences bells of York Minster, and the Guardian does similarly under the headline How York Minster bellringers’ sacking blew the lid off bitter dispute.
Because of the nature of this story we ask all commenters to be especially careful in what they write. Comments containing ad hominem remarks will not be published.
Saturday, 15 October 2016
Opinion - 15 October 2016
Church Times is running a series of articles on Renewal & Reform.
Ethnicity falls behind gender in vocations project Hattie Williams looks into the C of E’s bid to increase ordinations.
High flyers’ training proves popular but can’t escape flak Tim Wyatt discovers perceived gain and loss from the Green report’s outcome. [This one is behind the paywall.]
Shake-up in lay ministry aims to elevate the laity’s calling Hattie Williams talks to the people behind a forthcoming C of E report on leadership.
From the Church of England Communications blog
Sarah Thorpe, Dementia Support Worker for the Diocese of Lichfield, How and why to embrace those living with dementia in your church
Revd Peter Wells, Lead Chaplain at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, ‘None of us is the perfect image of God. We meet each other knowing that no one is perfect.’ How chaplains and the Mothers’ Union support dementia patients in hospital
Simon Jenkins The Guardian There is one sure way to save our ailing churches – give them away
And these letters in reply from Richard Harries, the former bishop of Oxford, and others.
Andrew Lightbown Management, Leadership, Renewal & Reform
Thursday, 13 October 2016
Simplification – the story so far
The Simplification Task Group of the Church of England’s Renewal & Reform programme has issued this account of where they got to: Simplification – the story so far, Update from the Bishop of Willesden, Chair of the Simplification Task Group.
This paper, which has been approved by the Archbishops’ Council updates the Church with a summary of where we have got to on the Simplification Task Group work stream under the Renewal Reform initiative. It outlines the issues we have tackled, those areas we have declined to consider, the pieces of work that are outstanding, and the choices for a possible Phase 3. The purpose is to share what has happened as widely as possible, both because it is perfectly possible to miss changes in church legislation and therefore not be aware of the possibilities for doing things more simply, and because the Simplification Group wishes to give an account of its stewardship of the time and resources that it has consumed…
Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Andrew Goddard writes about Pastoral Accommodation
The indefatigable Andrew Goddard has just published at Fulcrum a long paper explaining why it is not possible to engage in pastoral accommodation over blessing same-sex unions: Blessing Same-Sex Unions – A Legitimate Pastoral Accommodation?
In addition to the main article, he has also published a large number of supplementary papers which are linked to it, either in the text, or in footnotes.
What is the church’s current official teaching and discipline?
What is the current ecclesial reality in relation to this teaching and discipline?
How did we get here and where might we go next?
Can we both uphold current teaching and offer greater “pastoral accommodation”?
Divorce and Remarriage
Prayer after abortion
Saturday, 8 October 2016
Communiqué from Iarccum Summit
ACNS has published New steps on an ancient pilgrimage: Together from Canterbury to Rome
30 September – 7 October 2016
IARCCUM 2016 has been an extraordinary, historic summit, rich in symbolism and significance for the Anglican Communion and Catholic Church.
It brought together 36 bishops from around the world for a week in Canterbury and Rome to celebrate the deepening relationship between the two traditions over the past 50 years – and to find practical ways to work together to demonstrate that unity to the world and address its social and pastoral issues.
The highlight was the mandating of the bishops by Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at a service they jointly led at the chapel of San Gregorio al Celio. The service also saw the Pope and Archbishop exchange gifts as a sign of friendship – echoing the moment in 1966 when Pope Paul VI presented his papal ring to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey – a moment that ushered in a new era of dialogue.
The days in Rome also saw the formal presentation of a document detailing 20 years of work on reconciling the two traditions by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. And the bishops attended a symposium on current relations between the churches and the possibilities of future co-operation and dialogue.
The time in Canterbury was also rich in symbolism. The Suffragan Bishop in Europe, David Hamid, gave the homily at a Catholic Vigil Mass in the undercroft of the Cathedral. The following day, the Archbishop-elect of Regna, Donald Bolen, preached the sermon at the Sung Eucharist.
Bishop David – who co-chairs IARCCUM with Archbishop Don – said the summit had been an historic time in the history of our official dialogue, and deeply valuable.
“This has been an immensely rich occasion, full of significance for our two traditions. It has been a source of deep joy to all the bishops gathered from all over the world, who have shared their experiences, their challenges and their wisdom. It was a profound time of collegiality and communion, and they are inspired now to go out into the world and work together for unity and common mission.”
Archbishop Don said it had been an incredible time and he was excited about the future.
“The bishops engaged in everything in a way that was beautiful to see. Strong friendships have formed. In our discussions, we did not shy away from the difficulties we sometimes face. But the possibilities for our two traditions working together in a needy world are abundant and promising.”
One of the bishops, Archbishop Paul Nabil El Sayah from Beirut said the summit had been a joyful occasion that would yield practical results.
“The atmosphere has been very positive,” he said. “You can feel there is deep, sincere fellowship and a willingness to bring new things forward. I am completely sold on practical ecumenism. I see lots of potential. This is not about looking inwards but about coming to the outside world together. The more we come together, the more our message has credibility.”
Bishop Alwin Samuel, from Sialkot in Pakistan, has been working alongside Archbishop Sebastian Shaw from Lahore during the summit. Bishop Alwin said he was looking forward to collaborating more with the Catholics at home.
“We have been looking at how we can take concrete steps towards unity. One example is where we have existing projects of our own. We looked at how we could begin to work together on them. For example, in areas such as health, especially women’s health, where one church might provide the resources and the other would deliver them.”
Global South Conference: detailed reports
There are links to many of the presentations and reports, and also to photographs, available on this page.
The official Global South Anglican website also has materials.
Global South and GAFCON express views on same-sex unions
A lengthy communiqué been published from the 6th Global South Conference:
which includes this statement:
We received with thanks the joint statement by the Global South Primates and GAFCON Primates Council on same-sex union/marriage (6th October 2016) that was presented to the Conference.
The full text of the latter is copied below the fold.
The former document includes this:
30. We are deeply saddened that the Provinces of Scotland, Canada and Wales have recently made moves to change their Canon, teaching and practice in relation to same-sex union. These have been done against the Primates Gathering Communiqué of 16th January 2016 (Addendum A, paragraph 2).
31. The Church of England (COE) has a unique role in the life of the Communion, which means that decisions it makes on fundamental matters impact the Communion more deeply than those made elsewhere. This is because both of its historical role and the particular role of Archbishop of Canterbury as first among equal amongst the Primates. We are deeply concerned that there appears to be a potential move towards the acceptance of blessing of same-sex union by COE. This would have serious implications for us should it occur.
32. The present and potentially escalating crisis poses challenges to the Global South in the shepherding of her people. We recognise the need for our enhanced ecclesial responsibility. We need to strengthen our doctrinal teaching, our ecclesiastical ordering of our collective life as a global fellowship and the flourishing of our gifts in the one another-ness of our mission.
33. The Global South Primates will therefore form a task force to recommend how these needs can be effectively addressed.
According to this report, several Church of England bishops were present at this meeting.Continue reading "Global South and GAFCON express views on same-sex unions"
Opinion - 8 October 2016
Michael Sadgrove Woolgathering in North East England Evensong
James Harper Ian Paul and moral arguments against homosexuality
Jemima Thackray Church Times Following the Quanglican way
Deacon Gill No Mention of the Diaconate
Friday, 7 October 2016
Theological review of work of Crown Nominations Commission
Press release from the Church of England
Theological review of work of Crown Nominations Commission
07 October 2016
As General Synod were advised in July 2016, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have commissioned a theological review of the work of the Crown Nominations Commission.
The group will be chaired by Professor Oliver O’Donovan FBA and the other members are:
Professor Sarah Coakley - Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge
Professor Tom Greggs - Marischal Professor of Divinity, University of Aberdeen
The Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon - Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
Professor Morwenna Ludlow - Professor of Christian History and Theology, University of Exeter
Father Thomas Seville CR - Faith and Order Commission
The Revd Dr Jennifer Strawbridge - Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Oxford
The Revd Canon Dr James Walters - Chaplain and Senior Lecturer, London School of Economics
The Commission has been very active over the last few years and as it is anticipated that there will be fewer vacant sees in the near future, it is timely to review the way in which it works. The focus of the group will be to explore and provide the theological framework for the Commission as it discharges its responsibilities and to make any recommendations on process in the light of this. The group will be inviting a number of people to meet with it as well as receiving written submissions. It is very conscious of its responsibility to ensure that the full richness and diversity of Church voices are represented and starts its work this week.
It is anticipated that the group will make a report to the Archbishops who have commissioned the work. They have committed to sharing it with General Synod in 2018.
Dean of Peterborough bids farewell
The Church Times reports: Dean delivers harsh rebuke to C of E’s ‘blandness’ in final sermon
THE Dean of Peterborough, the Very Revd Charles Taylor, has bowed out of office with a stinging attack on envious people at the centre of the Church of England who resent “uppity” cathedrals and who wish to impose a “monochrome blandness” on the Church.
In late July, it was revealed that a cashflow crisis at Peterborough Cathedral meant that staff were in danger of not being paid. A loan was secured from the Church Commissioners. At the same time, it was announced that Dean Taylor was planning to retire.
In his farewell sermon on Saturday, Dean Taylor, who is 63, dropped a strong hint that the decision to leave had been forced upon him. Despite hundreds of letters of support, he said, he had not made any public remark about “the circumstances surrounding my ‘retirement’ — although some have alleged that the manner in which it was effected was legally dubious, morally reprehensible, and pastorally disgraceful. Well, they might care to think that. I could not possibly comment.”
And the article continues:
He detected a wider agenda: “Such an inclusive theology of mission as motivates this and other cathedrals . . . is not always welcome to those who resent the independence of cathedrals, who envy their freedom — indeed, their obligation — to take the risks that accompany that independence, and perceived that they’re getting a bit uppity.
“It certainly does not conform to the ecclesiology, if one can call it that, of those who would like to see power concentrated at the centre, in order to impose a bland, uniform theology, if one can call it that, which runs counter to the very essence of Anglican diversity.”
The recent death of Bishop David Jenkins had led him to wonder where, today, were the Anglican leaders who excite the public imagination? “Where among the leaders of today are the colourful clerics and turbulent priests, the prickly prophets, the rebels and reformers?” All he saw was “monochrome blandness”.
”It is surely of salutary significance that newly appointed deans and bishops these days are sent on an induction course — not as you might think, to hone their skills in theology, or liturgy, community outreach, or pastoral care, but to take a mini-MBA.
“The pattern of the Good Shepherd has been hijacked by the model of the Chief Executive Officer.”
This was fair enough to some extent, Dean Taylor said. “Sustaining the increasingly diverse and complex operations of an active cathedral or diocese is a costly exercise, which does need to be managed carefully and corporately. . .
“But I suggest it’s also true, that the cathedral, or the church, or the parish which sits comfortably without financial risk or worry, probably is not following the vocation of disciples to spend and be spent in the service of the gospel and for the love of God.
“Besides, if the ultimate purpose and success of mission is to be measured by the bottom line, by prosperous posteriors on pews and money in the bank, with every member and minster toeing the party line, then one can’t help wondering how the earthly mission and ministry of Jesus would be judged, dying as he did alone and in disgrace — no congregation, no cash in the bank, but betrayed, forsaken and denied, even by his chosen disciples.”
The cathedral website has this: Tributes paid to Dean at farewell service.
There is a complete audio recording of the sermon available here. Alas no transcript is provided but it is well worth the time to listen to in full.
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
News reports from Rome
Updated again Thursday evening
For text of today’s common declaration see previous article.
The ordination of women and “more recent questions regarding human sexuality” are serious obstacles in the path to unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics; but they “cannot prevent us from recognising one another as brothers and sisters in Christ”, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a Common Declaration.
Speaking of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting of a Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – and their Common Declaration, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby said that their predecessors had “recognised the ‘serious obstacles’ that stood in the way of a restoration of complete faith and sacramental life between us. Nevertheless, they set out undeterred, not knowing what steps could be taken along the way, but in fidelity to the Lord’s prayer that his disciples be one…”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have commissioned 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from across the world to take part in united mission in their local areas. The bishops, selected by the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (Iarccum) were “sent out” for mission together by the Pope and Archbishop from the same church were Pope Gregory sent Saint Augustine to evangelise the English in the sixth Century.
“Fourteen centuries ago Pope Gregory sent the servant of God, Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, and his companions, from this holy place, to preach the joyful message of the Word of God,” Pope Francis told the bishops. “Today we send you, dear brothers, servants of God, with this same joyful message of his everlasting kingdom.”
Archbishop Justin Welby told them: “Our Saviour commissioned his disciples saying, ‘Peace be with you’. We too, send you out with his peace, a peace only he can give.
“May his peace bring freedom to those who are captive and oppressed, and may his peace bind into greater unity the people he has chosen as his own.”
The commissioning and sending out came in the setting of a Vespers service, led jointly by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby, at the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome…
Pulpit swaps, shared retreats, joint action on social issues and regular meetings between clergy are just some of the ideas for local expressions of unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics taking shape during an ecumenical summit in Canterbury and Rome. This afternoon, during a service in the monastery church of San Gregorio al Cielo, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will commission 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops to implement local expressions of unity in their dioceses around the world…
The Living Church
Ecumenism that Transforms
Episcopal News Service has a number of videos of the events in Rome:
Video: Pope Francis preaches at ecumenical vespers in Rome
Video: Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at Roman vespers
Video: Archbishop, Pope exchange gifts as a symbol of partnership
Video: Presiding Bishop speaks from Rome
Pope Francis has this morning (Thursday) held a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican Primates and bishops at the Vatican. The Pope told them that ecumenism was “never an impoverishment, but a richness” and he said that during the past 50-years of closer relationship between Anglicans and Catholics, “the certainty has deepened that what the Spirit has sown in the other yields a common harvest.”
Full text of remarks is below the fold.Continue reading "News reports from Rome"