While this story recaps the global situation:
Primates’ response to report will be key
So far, 16 provinces have issued statements on the Windsor Report, either through their primates, house of bishops, or synods: England, Ireland, Canada, United States, Nigeria, Central Africa, South Africa, Burundi, Tanzania, Southern Cone, West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, Uganda, Wales, and Scotland.
Six – Congo, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and West Africa – joined Nigeria, Central Africa and Uganda in releasing a statement criticizing the report, at the recent African Anglican Bishops Conference.
Sixteen have reserved comment: Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Hong Kong, Japan, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Korea, Melanesia, Mexico, Myanmar, North India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Southeast Asia, and South India.
Statements that have been issued highlight flashpoints that foreshadow a potentially rocky primates’ meeting. With the exception of South Africa, Burundi and Tanzania, nine other African primates, plus the primate of the Southern Cone (of South America), are upset that the report did not recommend discipline of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) and the diocese of New Westminster and does not call for repentance from them. They are also riled at the suggestion that they “express regret” for having offered episcopal oversight to those opposed to homosexual bishops and same-sex blessings.
Mark Dyer and his critics are not the only Americans who have been speaking about the Windsor Report.
Here are two further transcripts of recent talks by ECUSA seminary faculty members who, while broadly supportive of the report, have also made significant criticisms of it. Both articles are worth a careful reading in full.
Wondra believes that when WR uses the word consultation it means “reaching an agreement” and she believes this is how it is used in the Church of England.
For over a century and a half, the churches of the Anglican Communion have claimed that it is necessary to “consult” on matters that affect the whole communion. But we have yet to reach agreement on what “consultation” means. There are, indeed, two definitions of consultation. One is the notion of talking seriously with other folks as part of making decisions; that tends to be what the Episcopal Church and some other provinces mean by “consulting.” But in the CoE, “consultation” means reaching an agreement. So, on the CoE reading, the Episcopal Church did not consult prior to the consecration of Bp. Robinson; whereas on our reading, we did, though certainly not as widely as we ought to have done. So one big question is how we agree and determine that adequate consultation has taken place. The Windsor Report goes with the CoE view: consultation has happened when people agree. This has enormous implications, as we will see.
She also believes the WR account of the history of women’s ordination is flawed:
Frankly: This reading is a caricature, and it omits many salient points. There is nothing of the intensity and vitriol of a very public controversy both within the various provinces and at the level of the Communion itself. There is nothing of the dire threats of schism and the breaking apart of the Communion, or of the schisms that did take place, or of the extra-canonical actions of various bishops. The “measure of impairment” to which the Report refers to is the prohibitions put on women deacons, priests and bishops, many of which still exist today — notably in the Church of England, where there continues to be a ban on women bishops from functioning as bishops in that province. Nor is it mentioned that the controversy over the ordination of women prompted the Lambeth Conference to direct the Archbishop of Canterbury to set up a special commission to study how the communion might maintain “the highest possible degree of communion” among “the Provinces which differ.”
Nevertheless on the WR as a whole, she says:
The Windsor Report recognizes that dispersal of authority to local provinces, dioceses, lay people, and so on has for many years and most of the time served the Anglican Communion pretty well. It has allowed us to engage in “local adaptation” of all kinds of things, from the BCP to questions pertaining to gender, sexuality, moral life, the interpretation of Scripture, the designation of guiding traditions, and the like. It has made it possible for us to be a global communion in which there is great diversity but still considerable unity, based on a common faith and what has been called “bonds of affection.” Certainly there are times when these “bonds of affection” have been strained. Indeed, the very first Lambeth Conference was convened in response to such strain. And both the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council had to deal with such issues at their very first meetings.
But, in the judgment of many, perhaps most, Anglicans and our major ecumenical partners, this dispersed authority is not now serving us well and is indeed contributing to difficulties that may, perhaps not long from now, spell the end of the Anglican Communion. I think this judgment is correct, on the basis of the plain evidence. The familiar marks of communion – dioceses and provinces being in communion with other, bishops respecting each other’s territorial jurisdiction, respectful discourse, patience in disagreement, and so on—have been violated numbers of times. While these violations have occurred in the context of controversies about sexuality and gender, they are more profoundly connected to matters of authority. Indeed, the gravest sign of crisis in the Anglican Communion may very well be the crossing of diocesan and provincial boundaries by bishops — something prohibited in the earliest canons of the worldwide church, those of the 4th century Council of Nicaea.
The BBC Radio 4 morning programme Today is this week having various “guest editors”. Today it was Bono. One of the special features he requested was for the Thought for the Day slot to be given to Njongonkulu Ndungane Archbishop of Cape Town.
You can hear what he said with Real Audio here.
Stories related to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon are here.
The Telegraph reports that churchgoers live longer. The secret of long life… go to church.
The Sunday Times says that David Stancliffe says that Prince Charles should consider a Register Office wedding (middle part of the page).
There was further positive news for him this weekend as a senior figure in the Church of England raised the possibility of a resolution to his marital status by proposing a register office wedding.
David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury, said: “If the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles expressed a wish to marry, the proper pastoral approach should be to advise them to seek a civil ceremony which may be followed by prayers of dedication in church.”
This suggestion, which he said was supported by the majority of the episcopate, marks a significant development from the position taken a year ago by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Williams indicated that the couple might not meet the criteria for a remarriage in church.
According to Stancliffe, the church’s expert on liturgy, the dedication ceremony would be appropriate for a future supreme governor of the Church of England. “That can be a solemn and splendid affirmation of their new marriage.”
An act of parliament would be required because at present there is no provision for the royal family to marry in a register office.
And the BBC today reports on one of its own programmes:
Gay cleric attacks bullying. You can read the entire sermon here and judge for yourself whether this is a balanced report of the sermon as a whole.
I’ve been surveying the usual suspects, web sites that comment on the present unhappy controversies in the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion. Although I respect and sympathize with Archbishop Rowan Williams, I have the sinking feeling that his hopeful outlook may not be as well-founded as he seems to think.
This was a reference to RW’s Advent Pastoral Letter. AKMA continued:
I wish I thought we Anglicans could keep together. I will be overjoyed to find that I’m wrong, and I will grieve deeply if “churches will go their different ways, even to the point of competing with one another.” What causes me unease lies in the tone of the observations I find on the various contending sites, and especially on the unwavering confidence the various speakers reflect. I’m especially uneasy when I ask myself, “How would we (or ‘they,’ however ‘we’ and ‘they’ get constructed) know if we (or ‘they’) were wrong?”
For it seems, on the face of things, that of two people saying mutually-contradictory things, one or the other will probably have erred. And if I’m right, if there’s no evident way one or the other party discerning that they might be wrong, how would either recognize their error and seek correction? The disapprobation of the preponderance of Anglican provinces won’t demonstrate that the (majority of the) U.S. church is wrong about sexuality, any more than it demonstrated that the (majority of the) U.S. church was wrong about ordaining women. Since the Windsor Report seems to treat the process leading to the ordination of women (which has become at least a tolerable difference) as exemplary, the U.S. church has some reason to think that its course leading to the consecration of Gene Robinson may mark a parallel path.
But if the (majority of the) U.S. church has gone fatally astray, how are they to know it? One can’t simply repeat that the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals is non-biblical; plenty of what has become common practice was once deemed unbiblical. One can’t invoke the Vincentian canon quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (“that which is believed everywhere, at all times, by all”), not unless one wants to roll back the ordination of women and the possibility of remarriage after divorce (to name but two prominent non-universal points). And even the Windsor Report allows the possibility that the Spirit might effect radical change in the church’s course. That concession obviously doesn’t require that anyone think sexuality constitute such an instance of Spirit-led radical change; at the same time, it evidently holds open the possibility, the mere possibility that the (majority of the) U.S. church’s understanding of sexuality does represent such a surprising change. That being the case, what would count as a reason for the (majority of the) U.S. church to reverse course?
Very recently, the Anglican Communion Institute has recently published a new lecture by Philip Turner, former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. This was delivered to a meeting in the Diocese of West Texas.
“THE WINDSOR REPORT: A “SELF” DEFINING MOMENT FOR ECUSA And The Anglican Communion”
(published 23 December)
(Dr Turner is also the author of Shall We Walk Together or Walk Apart? (published 10 November), a talk which has considerable overlap of content with the later version.)
Although Dr Turner holds views which are unequivocally on the conservative side, he is a strong supporter of the Windsor Report:
As my colleague, Oliver O’Donovan, said recently, when placed along side most Anglican Documents, the Windsor Report is decidedly “up market.” In contradistinction to a number of contrary judgments, I agree; and the burden of my remarks will be designed to show that, despite certain omissions and errors (some serious) the report provides a credible way forward both for ECUSA and the Anglican Communion as a whole.
And he has some strong criticisms to make of extremists on the right as well as of those on the left, which bear repeating here in full:
It has become painfully clear to me in the past months that there are those on both the left and the right who, though they would probably deny it, have made a choice to walk apart. The prophets on the left claim the backing of divine providence that has placed them ahead of the pack. They are content to go it alone and simply wait for others to catch up. The prophets on the right claim to be the champions of orthodoxy—charged with maintaining a faithful church in the midst of “apostasy.” They are content to go it alone and await the vindication of God. WR maps a more arduous and painful way forward – one that seeks to create a space in time within which very serious divisions within this portion of the body of Christ can be confronted and overcome.
My starting point is that of WR. I want to map a way forward that keeps Anglicans together as a communion. I want to show what it might mean for ECUSA to make a choice for communion rather than denominationalism and federation. I am consequently saddened by the reaction of those on the left – one that expresses regret but makes it clear that they will motor on despite the wreckage they may cause. I am saddened also by reaction of those on the right who seem to exert more energy thinking about a way forward after ECUSA rejects WR than it does seeking to bring ECUSA to a considered and charitable response to what I believe to be an extraordinarily fine ecclesiological statement.
And again, when discussing the WR’s account of the Anglican “communion ecclesiology” that has shaped recent Anglican ecumenical dialogue, he says:
From my perspective, one can only hail this starting point if for no other reason than the authors of WR feel bound to the ecumenical commitments of the Anglican Communion; and in so doing do not (as is now so common) act as autonomous agents utterly unencumbered by either history of social ties. Nevertheless, it must be noted that many on both the left and the right do not begin their ecclesiological discussions here. Many on the left begin with the church as a prophetic vanguard commissioned to fight within various political systems for the rights of those who are disadvantaged by those systems. Many on the right view the church primarily as the guardian of certain saving truths contained in Holy Scripture and in various creedal or confessional statements. These perspectives, different though they are, lead those who hold them to similar visions of themselves; namely, as advocates and/or guardians who must, before all else, hold to principle.
Where, I wonder, are the leaders, on both the “left” and the “right” in ECUSA, who are able and willing to listen seriously to each other and find a way forward?17 Comments
The BBC radio programme Sunday comes this week from York Minster and is entirely about York. All the items are worthwhile but the following is the most interesting.
David Hope is interviewed at length: this is in two parts. Part 1 is here (3 minutes). Part 2 is “hidden” inside this part which starts with a discussion of the history of Christianity in York. The interview begins about 6 minutes 50 seconds into the feed, and lasts for 10 minutes, and this contains his comments on several current issues.
Strongly recommended (Real Audio required).
The BBC programme Sunday Worship came this morning from the Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban.
Further Update So has Kendall Harmon: see here.
News reports of this event are here.0 Comments
Rowan Williams preached this morning in Canterbury Cathedral.
Press Association Archbishop Attacks Rich Nations’ ‘Indifference’
BBC Archbishop asks rich to help poor
Reuters Archbishop challenges West on poverty
ABC News Online Anglican head claims nations ignoring global poverty
Update: Sunday papers
Sunday Times Church leaders use sermons to attack government over war
Observer Fight poverty not wars, says Williams
Independent Churches condemn terror spend
The reference in the sermon to ‘fire in the equations’ is to this book: The Fire in the Equations: Science, religion and the search for God by Kitty Ferguson0 Comments
The Spectator magazine has this feature article about Rowan Williams, written by AN Wilson:
In spite of what some Christians today believe, the future of Christianity does not depend upon what a few bigots on the one hand, and a few homosexual enthusiasts and their friends on the other, believe about same-sex unions. It really does not.
The loudest critics come from some little enclave within the Church — whether ‘high’ or ‘low’ — where they are so busy with their church hobby and so smugly certain of their own rectitude that they have managed to overlook a rather obvious fact. Their churches, such as Holy Trinity Brompton or St Helen’s Bishopsgate might be full to the rafters on Sunday mornings, but the numbers who enjoy their particular form of holy club are a tiny minority of the population of this planet. Rowan Williams is sufficiently intelligent and normal to be aware that in the West, being religious these days is, outside America, very distinctly odd, and trying to defend Christianity against the whole ethos of materialism and scientific rationalism which most intelligent people take for granted is a more than intellectual task. We might very well be living in Christianity’s last days. Many of us who go to church do so a little wistfully, knowing that, unlike Rowan Williams, we do not believe in the ways which our ancestors did. ‘Our prayers so languid and our faith so dim’ is one of the few lines of a hymn which we could sing with gusto. ‘Fightings within and fears without’ might be another.
Tom Wright has written in a local newspaper the Northern Echo about Cracking the Christmas code
Giles Fraser has written in the Guardian that Empires prefer a baby and the cross to the adult Jesus
and Stephen Bates ( with a little help from Jim Rosenthal) has profiled Saint Nicholas
Bishop, legend, saint, fairy story, retail therapist, and film star … How did a pile of bones in an Italian basilica become the soft drink-swigging patron saint of brides, and our last remaining link with the original meaning of Christmas?
John Bell writes in the Independent
At Christmas we can dream and imagine how the future should be
But this year, I sense a new affection displacing seasonal cynicism. I don’t believe that the fascination with Christmas is simply a reminiscence project, a season dip into sentimentality or (depending on the carol concert) banality. Rather, I suspect that in the retelling and rehearing of the Christmas narratives, there is some latent yet profound hope stirred within us. Increasingly the skies above us are associated with dread as much as beauty. This is the result of being exposed to almost weekly conjectures about the state of the ozone layer or the discharging of carbon dioxide. Might it not be that deep in our hearts we want to believe that the air above us is a place for angel-song and celestial harmony, and that somehow ecology has to do with cosmic praise as well as freedom from pollution?
The Telegraph leader column is titled The disarming paradox of the child Emmanuel
In The Times Geza Vermes asks When you strip away all the pious fiction, what is left of the real Jesus? He says in part:
The ingredients of Jesus’s religion were enthusiasm, urgency, compassion and love. He cherished children, the sick and the despised. In his eyes, the return of a stray lamb to the sheepfold, the repentance of a tax collector or a harlot, caused more joy in heaven than the prosaic virtue of 99 just men.
Because of His healings, many saw in Jesus the Messiah, triumphant over Rome and establisher of everlasting peace. Yet he had no political ambition. Rumours that He might be the Christ were nevertheless spreading and contributed to His downfall. His tragic end was precipitated by an unpremeditated act in the Temple. The noisy business transacted by the merchants of sacrificial animals and the moneychangers so outraged the rural holy man that He overturned their tables and violently expelled them. He thus created a fracas in the sanctuary of the overcrowded city before Passover and alerted the priests.
So the Temple authorities, the official guardians of peace, saw in Jesus a potential threat to order. They had to intervene promptly. Nevertheless even in those circumstances, the Jewish leadership preferred to pass the ultimate responsibility to the cruel Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who condemned Jesus to death. He was crucified before Passover probably in AD30 because in the eyes of officialdom, Roman and Jewish, He had done the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Just as the New Testament had prefaced the biography of Jesus by the joyful prologue of the Nativity, it also appended an epilogue to the tragedy of the Cross, the glorious hymn of the Resurrection. Indeed, Jesus had made such a profound impact on His apostles that they attributed to the power of His name the continued success of their charismatic activity. So Jesus rose from the dead in the hearts of His disciples and He lives on as long as the Christian Church endures.
Today, perhaps, faith comes less easily to most than it once did. There is more competition for attention and, in the West, we seem to have more power to choose and a greater range of choices. What does it say about human nature that so many choices impoverish the spirit?
The case for appreciating what a religious dimension can bring has, of course, been made more difficult in a world scarred by fundamentalist violence and blinkered zealotry. But it was just such a world into which Jesus was born. And His message has endured, while the fanatics of His time have become history’s footnotes. It is paradoxical indeed that a message of love, which survived centuries of hate, is now in danger of being lost through mere indifference and self-absorption. Our culture would lose so much if what we owe to faith became forgotten. That is why we are glad to say to all our readers, whatever their beliefs, that we firmly hope the spirit of Christmas is with them.
The Church of England Newspaper reported the Rosemont story this way: American traditionalist takes rival consecration
The report includes the following comments from others:
“Fr Moyer’s deposition by the Bishop of Pennsylvania accused him of ‘abandoning the communion of this church’,” Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, a leading Forward in Faith bishop, told The Church of England Newspaper. “He had not done that; but now, if he is consecrated, he will have removed himself from the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop Iker, who also asked Dr Moyer to resign as president of FiF (North America).
Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh counselled Dr Moyer not to accept the post and later released a statement distancing the Anglican Communion Network from the announcement. “I regret that his decision raises difficulties in his relationship to the broader Anglican Communion,” he stated on Dec 20, noting that Dr Moyer had resigned as FiF’s representative to the Network.
Lambeth Palace spokesman, the Rev Jonathan Jennings, released a statement confirming that Dr Moyer had discussed the matter with Dr. Williams but that “the Archbishop was not asked for his blessing on the proposal; he expressed himself in terms of pastoral support to Fr Moyer during what will be a transitional phase from one form of ministry to another.”
“Dr Williams was clear with him, however, that this development would pose serious canonical obstacles to the prospect of Fr Moyer exercising a priestly ministry within the Anglican Communion and advised Fr Moyer to discuss the matter fully with his Ordinary as part of the process of discernment,” wrote Mr Jennings.
The Church Times in its News columns this week (not on the web yet) carries only a short notice of the bare facts, but does remind its readers of what happened in 2002: Carey and Williams back leader unfrocked by US bishop is how the Church Times reported it then.
Meanwhile, although Dr Moyer is no longer the Dean of the FiFNA Convocation within the NACDAP, he remains the President of FiFNA, and as such issued this Message from the FiF North America President.
update a further comment on 20 December from Fr Cantrell.1 Comment
The next meeting of General Synod will be from 5pm on Monday 14 to 7pm on Thursday 17 February. The Convocations and the House of Laity will meet on the Monday afternoon.
Synod members have been sent an outline agenda today; I’ve put it online here.0 Comments
The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes has issued a press release. It is not yet on their own website, so the full text is below.
It announces the resignation of David Moyer as dean of the FiF Convocation within the Network.
Update 11.45 pm GMT
This release is now available on the Network website:
The Anglican Communion Network Announces Resignation of Moyer as Dean
Forward in Faith has now posted two items relating to this:
A statement from FiFNA: Fr David Moyer is Elected as a bishop in the Anglican Church in America (the official copy of what was first published at titusonenine). This includes the following:
The date of Fr. Moyer’s consecration, February 16th, was chosen to coincide with a previously-scheduled international meeting which will bring the bishops who will consecrate him into the Philadelphia area. Some concern has been expressed that it will come just before the meeting in Ireland at which the Primates of the Anglican Communion will respond to the Windsor Report. Fr. Moyer has assured FIF/NA that this timing is simply a matter of coincidence: it is not meant to sent any message to the Primates, and FIF/NA hopes that Fr. Moyer’s election and consecration will have no impact on their deliberations.
While his consecration in the ACA will not affect his constitutional standing within FIF/NA, the Council and Fr. Moyer are considering whether or not he will continue as its President.
A statement from Fr Geoffrey Kirk of FiF UK: FiF UK reacts to Fr Moyer’s Election . This reads:
Forward in Faith UK has learned with interest of the proposed consecration of Fr David Moyer, currently President of Forward in Faith North America, as a bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion. We trust that Fr Moyer will be able to use his new role in the Anglican Church of America to assist those in the Episcopal Church who have been disenfranchised by the ordination of women as priests and bishops. We regret however that those responsible did not see fit to consult the bishops of Forward in Faith around the world before reaching their decision.
Meanwhile the Philadelphia Enquirer had this report for its readers this morning: Embattled Episcopal rector joins Anglican denomination. This headline reflects the confusion!
Update And the Associated Press via the Centre Daily Times reported it as Defrocked Episcopal minister moves to Anglican church post
which is equally likely to upset all concerned.
The verbatim Report of Proceedings for the July 2004 meeting of General Synod is now available. You can download it, either in full (a 1.2 MB pdf file) or in daily sections, from here.0 Comments
Several newspapers are reporting this story:
Cathedral city prays while the rest of Britain plays
Residents of Hereford are Britain’s most devoted churchgoers
Manchester comes top of the godless league
Christmas cancelled due to lack of interest
Cities ‘shun church at Christmas’
but only the BBC links to the data on which the reports are based.
Los Angeles is not the only diocese of ECUSA that has experienced the intervention of African bishops. In 2002, there was an intervention in the Diocese of Pennsylvania at The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont (whose parish website appears to be inactive). A full archive of documents relating to that intervention can be found at Forward in Faith. The upshot of it all was that David Moyer was:
Nevertheless, Dr Moyer, who is president of Forward in Faith North America has remained in office as Rector of the ECUSA parish for two years without further legal action by the diocese being taken against him or the vestry of that parish.
This seems unlikely to continue. This weekend, it was announced that:
The Rev. David Moyer, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pa., has been elected a bishop in the Anglican Church in America (ACA), a breakaway Episcopal group including 8,000 U.S. members and 500,000 members worldwide.
Mr. Moyer will be consecrated Feb. 16 at Good Shepherd by three bishops of the ACA. He said he will continue pastoring the church as well as overseeing ACA military chaplaincies.
The priest is currently serving under the auspices of the Anglican Province of Central Africa. Archbishop Louis Falk, head of the ACA, said Mr. Moyer has the permission of Central African Archbishop Bernard Malango to remain at Good Shepherd. The actual election, he said, occurred in late November, but the result was only announced yesterday.
The official news release about this is here:
The Rev. Dr. David L. Moyer Elected Bishop by the Anglican Church in America and a detailed news report is here:
MOYER TO BE CONSECRATED BISHOP Timing Gets Mixed Reactions Among Conservative Leaders
titusonenine has published A Statement from the Executive Committee of Forward in Faith, North America regarding the election of Fr. David Moyer as a bishop in the Anglican Church in America although at this writing nothing has appeared on the FiF website itself [FiF site now updated] although other comments from FiF members appear here and here and here.
This development is bound to be of concern to other American conservatives outside FiFNA, because FiFNA is a major constituent member of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.
The Anglican Church in America is itself a constituent part of The Traditional Anglican Communion. This body is active in various parts of the world but in particular with FiF in Australia, where as mentioned in the Christian Challenge story linked above, reports suggest that another consecration by the TAC archbishop John Hepworth, of an Australian FiF leader, David Chislett, is likely soon.
Despite these close links with FiF, ACA was not a party to the agreement announced last July between NACDAP and other groups.15 Comments
There are some hard facts about this from the 2001 Census, published by the Office of National Statistics here:
Census 2001 – Ethnicity and religion in England and Wales
This week two surveys were published which also shed light on how well informed about religion some of us are. One was conducted by YouGov for Sky Box Office in advance of their TV premiere of The Passion of Christ:
Birthplace of Jesus A Mystery to Many Press Association
O Little Town of … where? Guardian
Jesus born in Bethlehem is news for many Telegraph
The second survey was conducted by GfK for the Wall Street Journal Europe and was reported by Ekklesia under the headline People believe more in God than religion suggests survey . For a more detailed report read this GfK page.0 Comments
Richard Harries writes in the Observer that We should not fear religion
Religion is now a major player on the world stage in a way that was scarcely conceivable 30 years ago. In both the Islamic world and the Bush White House religion is impinging on public policy. In the 1960s sociologists believed that the world was in the grip of an irreversible process of secularisation – though they could not account for the United States, at once the most modern and one of the most religious countries in the world.
Now sociologists are drawn to the opposite conclusion: the more modern the world gets the more religious it becomes. It has been well said that whereas the major conflicts of the twentieth century were ideological, those of the twenty-first century will be to do with identity in which religion is a key element. Globalisation draws people out of their village communities, where they had an assured place and identity, into sprawling urban areas making goods for the Western market. There, gravitating to the mosque or church, they find their identity in relation to their religion…
Today Saturday, David Hope writes in the Guardian about Christmas celebrated in styles
One of the first things I did, having been enthroned in early December as Archbishop of York in York Minster, was to attend the nativity play in the primary school of my home village, Bishopthorpe. The contrast could not have been greater…
…In contrast to the grandeur of the Minster I have usually sought to visit a parish church in the diocese for midnight mass – sometimes a church without a vicar or indeed a church that would not in the normal course of events expect the Archbishop.
Next year it will be a parish church – St Margaret’s Ilkley and that will be very different again. But then, while it has been an enormous privilege to have been able to experience the sheer beauty and wonder of Christmas celebrated in the way I have described, the place and manner of the celebration of Christ’s birth is in the end of little relevance.
For the one single fact which underlies and which is fundamental to any Christian celebration, however grand or humble the setting, is the stupendous fact of God coming to us and among us in Jesus Christ.
For in the stable we witness what the poet Christopher Smart described as the “magnitude of meekness”, the hospitality of the God who welcomes any and all who seek – the God who is constantly inviting us to work with him in His loving purposes for the establishing of His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven – a kingdom of righteousness, justice and peace for the peoples of the entire world.
In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes about The meaning at the very heart of Christmas. An extract:
For Christians every Sunday is a feast of the Resurrection, and every Christian festival is always an Easter festival — and that includes Christmas. The Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary, the village girl of Nazareth, that she is to become the bearer of the Son of God, is a moment of new creation. So too is the birth at Bethlehem, and that is all fulfilled in the new life which bursts from the grave at Easter, a life in which through his life-giving Spirit we share. So the Christmas collect speaks both of the birth at Bethlehem, and of our new birth — of our being made God’s children by adoption and grace by the same life-giving Spirit which overshadowed the Blessed Virgin at the Incarnation. Christ went, as Bishop Lancelot Andrewes liked to say, “to the very ground-sill of our nature”. The God who comes among us is a God who empties Himself, pours himself out in love, comes down to the lowest part of our need, framed, formed, and fashioned as an unborn child, and then weak, helpless and dependent in the muck and mire of the manger, whose pricking straw is seen by St Bernard as foreshadowing the piercing nails of the Cross.
Christmas celebrates and challenges. At its heart is the overwhelming mystery of a God who stoops to us in the most amazing humility, revealing and disclosing Himself in the most human language, that of a human life. St John speaks of “the Word made flesh”, the Logos, or Divine Reason by which all things were ordered being made in our likeness. In that we behold the glory of God, and see and know what God is like, what is the source and origin of all that is, and the end and goal of our human life. That love “so amazing, so divine” is the truth we celebrate at Christmas.
The Church Times has this article
Archbishops’ Council distanced from ‘self-destruct’ prophecy
and also a link to Jayne Ozanne’s own website:
where the full text of the article is also available, together with a brief biography.
The Church Times article says in part:
A CHURCH OF ENGLAND spokesman has distanced the Archbishops’ Council from the views of a retiring member who has predicted that the Church of England will “continue to implode and self-destruct”…
…The paper was circulated at an Archbishops’ Council meeting this month, but not discussed.
The C of E spokesman said that one of the Council’s strengths was “the wide range of perspectives offered by its members. Jayne Ozanne is setting out her personal view, as she is clearly free to express it. The Church of England encourages a lively exchange of views at every level.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Ozanne said that it was not a case of her against the Council. She said she had received positive responses. “I really care about what is happening. There are some deep-rooted issues that we do not like to talk about while we focus on the presenting issues.”
Ms Ozanne said that her document was “not exactly” good news for the Church of England, but was good news for the Church in England. Although she would be happy to discuss it with the Archbishops, there had not been an opportunity to do this so far, she said.
The CEN this week has published Is this the end of the Church of England as we know it? which sets out Jayne Ozanne’s views in full. This puts her previously quoted remarks into context.
The CEN also has a news report which refers to the earlier stories about her document:
Church leaders ponder the future