Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Holy Communion in the Church in Wales to be open to all the baptised
I linked earlier to the Pastoral Letter from the bishops of the Church in Wales opening Holy Communion to all the baptised. At that time the letter was only available on the website of the diocese of St Davids. It has now been published on the provincial website, along with this press release:
Anyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion in church, regardless of whether they have also been confirmed, under new guidance coming into effect in November.
The Church in Wales is re-adopting the practice of the early church on admission to Communion – the sharing of bread and wine – in an effort to strengthen ministry to children and young people in particular.
In recent times, people wishing to receive Communion have usually had to have been confirmed first – confirming promises made on their behalf at their baptism as infants. However, from the First Sunday in Advent – November 27 – everyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion. The policy will be rolled out across the parishes and ministry areas over the next year…
As well as the pastoral letter itself, there are three other related documents available for download.
These links are to pdfs of the English versions. Welsh versions, and Word documents are also available.
Sunday, 25 September 2016
Bishops' Reflection Group: Church Times leader
The Church Times has a leader this week which discusses the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality. This is titled An unenviable task.
Do please read it in full.
The two concluding paragraphs:
…It is always dangerous to underestimate the ability of the C of E to avoid resolving an issue, but it does seem clear that many of the Bishops, and possibly both of the Archbishops, are determined to halt the Church’s endless wrangling about sexuality, on the obvious grounds that it undermines mission, brings the Church into disrepute, and causes real harm to many individuals. The direction of travel is towards liberalisation. The sticking-point is how to accomplish this without compromising the consciences of conservatives or triggering an exodus — or, at least, too much of one. The lesson learnt by most during the Shared Conversations was that it is possible to respect the opinions of another without relinquishing one’s own views. But the growth of what has been, in essence, a greater sense of perspective exposed the few who cannot see sexuality as anything other than a communion-breaking matter.
The remarks from GAFCON after the revelation that the Bishop of Grantham was in a celibate same-sex relationship marked a new low: “We remain opposed to the guidelines for clergy and bishops, permitting them to be in same-sex relationships as long as they publicly declare that the relationship is not sexual. This creates confusion in terms of the Church’s teaching on the nature of sex and marriage, and it is not modelling a helpful way to live.” This has rarely been said so boldly, and conservatives of this stripe cannot expect the bishops to come up with any measures that satisfy them. The C of E is a broad Church with able bishops, but it is beyond their ability to accommodate a view that rejects even the existing compromise.
Update on AMiE and GAFCON plans for England
Ruth Gledhill reports in Christian Today Anglican ‘Church’ For Conservative Christians Launches Mission In England
An Anglican mission to rival the Church of England has set out plans to evangelise the UK.
The mission is already reaching out to evangelical Christians in dioceses that are “closed to conservative evangelicals”.
The plan is to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.
The influential Archbishop and Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, is backing the plan…
It involves new Anglican churches being independent from the country’s “official” established church.
The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) sets out its goal of to planting 25 new churches by 2025 and 250 by 2050 in a new video.
The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh is backing a plan to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.
Archbishop Okoh, who leads the conservative Anglican fellowship Gafcon, says: “We are so thrilled that the Anglican Mission in England exists and we are delighted that it is keen to start many new churches in the years to come. AMiE has the full support of the GAFCON movement.”
The video which announces this plan is available here.
The website of Anglican Mission in England explains here:
The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) is a mission society that seeks to promote gospel growth in areas covered by the Church of England (principally in England, but also in other parts of Europe) by supporting Anglican churches and individuals both within and outside present Church of England structures.
AMiE came into being as a result of GAFCON and is one of a number of agencies that relates to GAFCON through the FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) UK and Ireland. You can read more about the history of AMiE by clicking here.
A variety of Anglican churches are part of AMiE. Some churches are outside the structures of the Church of England. Others remain within the denomination but are experiencing tensions, whilst others have joined to support them…
There is a list of participating churches on this page.
Saturday, 24 September 2016
Opinion - 24 September 2016
Bosco Peters My Submission on Same-Sex Couples
Andrew Goddard Fulcrum What does “full inclusion” mean?
Revd Nick Bundock shares his church’s journey to being an Inclusive Church, born out of tragic circumstances: Diocese of Manchester Inclusive Church.
Friday, 23 September 2016
Cathedral statistics 2015 released
Cathedral statistics 2015 show continued growth
23 September 2016
Attendance at cathedral worship continues to increase with mid-week attendance rising and Sunday attendance stable in 2015, according to the latest Cathedral Statistics, published today. The figures confirm the trend of gradual growth in cathedral attendance noted in the report From Anecdote to Evidence published in 2014.
On average, 36,700 people (adults and children) attended services each week at the 42 cathedrals in England during 2015. This is an increase of 18% from 31,200 in 2005. Midweek attendance increased from 12,700 to 18,900, contributing most of the increase. Attendance at Sunday services has remained generally stable, at around 17,900 in 2015. Numbers on community rolls increased by 5% from 15,100 in 2014 to 15,900 in 2015.
Other regular services, such as fresh expressions and schools services conducted at least once a month and not part of the weekly pattern of services, attracted 471,300. More than 1.1 million people attended 5,310 public/civic events held in cathedrals.
“These figures are extremely encouraging,” said the Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool. “They show that, up and down the country, cathedrals are sustaining the growth that has been reported for a number of years. Clearly, something about cathedral worship is meeting a need and contributing significantly to the spiritual life of the nation.”
Easter and Christmas
Easter 2015, services saw 54,000 attending worship, 2% more than in 2014. There were 28,200 Easter communicants, the highest figure since 2009. Attendance during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, was 92,500.
Christmas attendance was 125,200 in 2015, the highest figure since 2011. There were 33,100 communicants at Christmas in 2015. Services during Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, attracted an attendance of 824,300 in 2015, the highest figure for the past decade. All events and services from the beginning of Advent to 23 December are captured in the Advent total.
Baptisms, Marriages and Thanksgivings
In 2015, 760 baptisms and 12 thanksgivings were conducted in cathedrals, a number almost unchanged since 2010. Since 2011, the number of infant baptisms in cathedrals has been falling steadily, while the number of baptisms of people over a year of age has steadily increased since 2005.
In the year, 270 marriages and 30 blessings were conducted in cathedrals. The number of funerals has remained stable over the last ten years at 370 with a further 120 memorial services conducted by cathedral clergy; 70 funerals were conducted at crematoria on behalf of cathedrals.
Children and Young People
The number of children and young people attending organised educational events in cathedrals increased by 14% from 280,900 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2015; a further 13,100 children visited Westminster Abbey. More than half of these visits were by children under 11 years old. Cathedral schools or schools formally associated with cathedrals had 12,440 children on their rolls in 2015. Attendance at graduation ceremonies was 264,700 and at other public events such as concerts was 842,400 in 2015.
Cathedral choirs included 1,490 child choristers and 550 lay clerks and choral scholars in 2015. A further 600 children and 1,410 adults were involved in voluntary choirs. The cathedrals have, between them, 40 male, 30 female and 80 mixed cathedral choirs: 790 visiting choirs sang in one service or a week of services and more than 1,140 regular and 620 occasional musicians were involved in services in 2015.
The number of people volunteering at cathedrals rose by 13% from 13,300 in 2005 to 15,000 in 2015. There were 9.4 million visitors to cathedrals in 2015; a further 1 million people visited Westminster Abbey.
Cathedral Statistics 2015 can be read in full here.
The report From Anecdote to Evidence can be read here.
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Reactions to the Bishops' Reflection Group on Human Sexuality
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have issued a joint statement:
Statement from Changing Attitude and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement on the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality.
Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group under the leadership of Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. Whilst expressing disappointment that a group tasked with reflecting on issues of human sexuality does not appear to include any openly gay people, we recognise that this simply reflects the reality within the church’s leadership - that LGBT people are invisible, our voices often silenced, and our experiences unheard. We welcome the opportunities which have arisen as part of the Shared Conversations to included the lived experience, deep conviction and prophetic witness of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and we recognise the enormously costly nature of the contribution many people have made to that process.
The Reflection Group must now consider the Church’s steps into the future. In doing so, they will be called to listen carefully to all they have heard during the Shared Conversations. We call upon them to lead the House of Bishops towards a future that celebrates the gifts of all God’s people including the LGBTI members of the Church of England and embodies the radical equality to which we are called in Christ.
Our prayer is that, strengthened by the Spirit, the members of the group will be enabled to listen, reflect and discern, and that as they undertake their work they will be granted moral courage and prophetic vision. For we are all alike called to be not only hearers of the Word, but doers too; our actions must match our words in seeking God’s justice, compassion and truth.
We continue to look forward to a future where LGBT people are no longer seen as a problem to be solved, but as gifted members of the Body of Christ, equal partners in prayer, service and mission. Anything less than that falls short of the Good News that God’s abundant love is for all humankind and that although LGBT people may struggle to find their place inside the church at the moment, God will travel with them when they choose the path of life, wherever that takes them.
GAFCON UK has issued this statement:
GAFCON UK Statement following the appointment of a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality
18th September 2016
GAFCON UK is puzzled as to why the Church of England needs a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality. Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is clear, and the Bible is universally clear. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, and faithfully living according to God’s revealed plan for human flourishing. As pastors, teachers, friends, and neighbours we can have no other response. The Church of England needs to have the courage of its foundational convictions, return to them, and move on to its mission of calling the nation to turn to Christ as the only Saviour and Lord.
Comments from various people have been reported in the media:
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
"Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable"
Updated to add press reports
The Church of England has released two related reports on clergy numbers today, one looking back at the actual numbers from 1949 to 2014, and one looking at projections of numbers up to 2035. There is this cover note to the two reports:
Cover note: Ordained Vocations Statistics report and Ministry Statistics in focus: Stipendiary clergy projections
and a press release.
Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable, report shows
Dioceses have responded to the call to work towards a 50% increase in candidates for ordination with new posts and new procedures. A review of numbers in ordained ministry over the last 67 years shows that the 50% increase in candidates for ministry by 2020 agreed by the General Synod in February, 2015, is needed to stabilise and increase the numbers ministering in parishes, chaplaincies and new forms of church.
The Church of England is seeking to increase by half the numbers training for ordained ministry and to sustain those numbers for a decade: an increase from about 500 to 750 by 2020. At the same time, the Church is also seeking greater diversity among those training for ministry. This will better reflect the communities where the Church is working, in terms of age, gender and ethnic and social background. The 50% increase is an aspiration and not a limit if more candidates come forward and dioceses require more new clergy…
The full press release is copied below the fold.
The cover note includes links to the two reports, but for convenience here they are.
The cover note also includes links to a report for each of the 42 dioceses. In each case it comprises the Ordained Vocations Statistics report with diocesan data at the end.
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England seeks more black and minority ethnic clergy
Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Church of England needs 50 per cent increase in ordinands
Hannah Tooley Premier Church pledges to increase numbers of vicar training places by half
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today CofE desperate for more young women and ethnic minorities to hear the call of God
John Bingham The Telegraph Race to save a much-loved British endangered species (the local vicar)Continue reading ""Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable""
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Holy Communion in the Church in Wales to be open to all the baptised
The Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales has announced that, with effect from Advent Sunday, everyone who has been baptised can participate fully in Holy Communion, regardless of their age or whether they have been confirmed.
The website of the diocese of St Davids states that “The news came in a Pastoral Letter handed out to members of the Governing Body at their meeting in Lampeter [15 September 2016] and was warmly and widely welcomed. Copies of the letter, together with guidance notes and practical advice for clergy and congregations, are being sent to all parishes.”
David Pocklington writes about this here for Law & Religion UK The comments there look at the potential implications for the Church of England whose Canon B15A states that:
Continue reading "Holy Communion in the Church in Wales to be open to all the baptised"
1. There shall be admitted to the Holy Communion:
(b) baptized persons who are communicant members of other Churches which subscribe to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and who are in good standing in their own Church.
Opinion - 17 September 2016
Lawrence Moore Windermere Centre What Does Your Church Coffee Say About Your Hospitality?
Theo Hobson The Spectator Why CofE schools must resist becoming more religious
Andrew Lightbown Goodwill: R&R’s most important asset?
Richard Beck Experimental Theology Memento Mori
Friday, 16 September 2016
Bishops' Reflection Group on Sexuality
The following press release has been issued:
Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality
Following the statement from the College of Bishops issued on 15 September 2016, the Church of England has published the terms of reference of the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality and the membership of the group.
Terms of Reference
To assist the Bishops of the Church of England in their reflection on issues relating to human sexuality, in the light of theological, biblical, ecumenical, Anglican Communion, pastoral, missiological, historical and societal considerations bearing on these issues, and following experiences of the shared conversations held around the Church between 2014 and 2016.
To assist the House of Bishops in identifying questions in relation to human sexuality, with particular reference to same sex relationships. It will also develop possible answers to those questions for the House to consider, as a contribution to the leadership which the House provides to the Church on such issues.
To provide material to assist the House of Bishops in its reflections in November 2016, and subsequently as requested, and to assist the House in its development of any statements on these matters which it may provide to the wider Church.
To consider any matter which the Archbishops request that the group should have on its agenda.
Membership of Group:
Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Chair)
Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden (Vice-Chair)
Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford
Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Rt Revd Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport
Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton
Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Rt Revd Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone
Rt Revd Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking
Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director Mission & Public Affairs Division
Jonathan Neil-Smith, Central Secretariat (Secretary)
William Nye LVO, Secretary General
Canon David Porter, Chief of Staff and Strategy to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen, Theological Secretary and Secretary to the Council for Christian Unity
Thursday, 15 September 2016
Statement from the English College of Bishops
Statement from the College of Bishops
15 September 2016
The College of Bishops of the Church of England met in Oxford from 12-15 September 2016.
As is the usual pattern of meetings of the College every third year the College of Bishops are joined for part of their meeting by bishops from the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church of Ireland and Church in Wales. Representatives from each of the sister churches made presentations to the college and engaged fully in discussions during the first days of the meeting.
A wide ranging agenda included presentations and discussions on Safeguarding, the Renewal and Reform programme, the post-Brexit political landscape, clergywomen in leadership, clergy wellbeing and issues of sexuality.
Discussions on issues of sexuality took place as part of a new process of episcopal discernment which will continue during the meetings of the House of Bishops in November and December of this year and in January next year at the next meeting of the College of Bishops. These discussions were undertaken by the College of Bishops alone.
Whilst the process of episcopal discernment is in the public domain the Bishops agreed that the contents of their discussion should not be shared in public during the process so as to enable those discussions to be conducted freely and in a spirit of full collegiality. Consequently the contents of the conversations will remain private and participants have agreed not to comment on the contents of the discussions beyond their own views.
Following the conclusion of the shared conversations process the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited some bishops to take forward work on sexuality to assist the episcopal discernment process. The Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality will be chaired by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich. The full membership of the group and its terms of reference will be published in due course.
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Archbishop of Wales speaks on Homosexuality
Archbishop Barry Morgan addressed the Governing Body of the Church in Wales today.
Press Release from the Church in Wales:
Studying the Bible in its full context can lead to a very different view of same-sex relationships than that traditionally held by the Church, the Archbishop of Wales said today (SEPT 14).
In his final address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, responded to claims that he and his fellow bishops had been “swayed by the liberal culture of our age” and “ignored Holy Scripture” in issuing prayers earlier this year that could be said with same-sex couples following their civil partnership or marriage.
He showed how the Bible had more than one view on homosexuality, as well as other important issues, as the authors of its books developed and changed their opinions. To understand God’s will, he suggested, meant seeing the different views in the context of the Bible as a whole, and, in particular, the ministry of Jesus.
Dr Morgan, who will retire in January, said, “It absolutely will not do to quote texts from parts of the Bible in a simplistic way without reference to their contexts. One has to treat the Bible as a whole and discern, often through stories, the direction in which it is leading. Holy Scripture, in other words, contains not just ethical injunctions but stories, and stories convey truth about peoples’ understanding of God. After all, Jesus spent most of His life telling stories to get people to understand the nature and character of God.”
He compared biblical interpretations of same-sex relationships with those of slavery – a practice once defended by the Church. As opinions on that changed, he suggested, so may the Church’s view on same-sex relationships.
“In spite of all the passages in favour of slavery, when you examine the Scriptures as a whole and the ministry of Jesus in particular, you realise it is about freedom from all that diminishes and dehumanises people. No Christian I hope would today argue that slavery is good, but for nineteen centuries the Church accepted it and defended it. God through His Holy Spirit has led us into the truth of seeing things in a totally different way today and we are rightly horrified when we read about people who have been kept as slaves by others.
“What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned. Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers….
“So taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the Church…..
“Given that each of the passages purported to be about homosexuality can be interpreted in more than one way, we come to the fundamental question as to whether taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery.
“We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by His society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of His day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality. Taking Holy Scripture seriously means paying attention to Jesus’ ministry of inclusivity.”
The Archbishop concluded his address by quoting from a book edited by Andrew Davison, called Amazing Love:
“We are most truly ourselves when we live for others and we gain life not by clutching to it but by giving it away. Living for others underlines the truest meaning of sexuality. Christians have discovered that most people flourish best when this living for others finds its focus in a commitment to one other person: when a couple make a lifelong commitment within which sex properly belongs.”
He said, “Those of us who were or are married have found that to be the case. Why would we want to deny such a possibility for those who are attracted to their own gender?”
The full text of the address is available here.
Saturday, 10 September 2016
Opinion - 10 September 2016
Andrew Brown The Guardian David Jenkins: the bishop who didn’t believe in the Bible
Archdruid Eileen How to Shorten a Church Meeting
David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, ViaMedia.News Welcoming Signs
Justin Welby Church Times Prayer changes everything
Claire Jones Dear… the next LGBT St Anselmer
Friday, 9 September 2016
Australian Primate writes about same-sex marriage
Australian Associated Press reports Anglicans ‘can accept gay marriage vote’
Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier has written to the country’s Anglican bishops insisting the church can preserve its view on “holy matrimony” while accepting the will of the people.
“Should the vote be in favour of same-sex marriage, as suggested by opinion polls, the church must accept that this is now part of the landscape,” the Australian primate states.
Dr Freier’s letter notes that the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer - that marriage is between a man and a woman “under God” - would remain unchanged.
“I do not believe the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage,” he writes.
“But … the church also understands the desire of two people to express their commitment of love and self-sacrifice and Christians have not always shown the respect or perspective they should.”
The head of the Anglican church in Australia has said it “must accept” a change in the civil definition of marriage if the plebiscite approves marriage equality, but it is unlikely the church’s doctrine will change.
In a letter to the nation’s Anglican bishops, the Melbourne archbishop Philip Freier also threw his weight behind a plebiscite, saying the government had a mandate for the policy and it would make the social reform easier to accept.
On Friday, Freier wrote that he personally “welcomes the plebiscite, though with strong reservations that we must guard the tenor of the debate, and keep it positive”.
The full text of the letter written by Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne to his fellow Australian bishops is published here: Conscience rules on marriage.
Thursday, 8 September 2016
CofE 2014 Parish Finance statistics released
Parish finances show record level of giving
The generosity of churchgoers from across the country is highlighted in the latest parish finance statistics. The figures – covering the year 2014 – demonstrate a record level of giving with total planned giving up £6 million at £329 million and total direct giving up £71 million at £481 million.
The figures also show that Church of England parishes donated £46 million to supporting other charities working around the world, from foodbanks and local children’s charities to international aid appeals.
Parishes raised these important funds from a combination of regular and one-off donations as well as investments and legacies. Total parish income from giving, investments and other income sources was £989 million – an increase of £36 million on the previous year. Expenditure levels also rose by £28 million to £948 million in 2014, leaving the 12,000 parishes a surplus of £41 million over expenditure.
Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser, said:
“These financial statistics reveal an underlying financial health in the church which is encouraging. As a result of the commitment and generosity of hundreds of thousands of churchgoers, we have seen record levels of giving - with the average weekly gift from all planned givers exceeding £11 for the first time, and the average gift from those able to give through Gift Aid exceeding £15 including the tax recovered. Parishes were able to claim record levels of Gift Aid, with a significant part of this increase arising from use of the Gift Aid Small Donations scheme. It is also pleasing to note that legacy giving was the highest yet.”
Average weekly giving per tax-efficient givers has continued to rise year on year with members giving on average £12.01 in 2014. Average weekly giving per electoral roll member rose to £8.85 in 2014, an increase of £1.60 a week and the highest level recorded. Total planned giving rose by slightly less than inflation, while total income grew by more than inflation.
Time Wyatt reports for Church Times that Parishioners give more — but not enough to cancel out costs.