Thinking Anglicans


Updated again Thursday evening

Various Anglican leaders have commented on the current situation in Gaza.

Presiding Bishop joins call for end to Gaza attacks

MIDDLE EAST: Jerusalem bishop issues statement on Gaza

MIDDLE EAST: Patriarchs, heads of Jerusalem churches issue ecumenical statement on Gaza

Statements from around the Communion on the Situation in Gaza.

Archbishop’s statement on Gaza (Archbishop of Canterbury)

New Year’s Day News from Gaza


Literalism and Subversion

L’Homme Armé

The man, the man, the armed man,
The armed man
The armed man should be feared, should be feared.
Everywhere it has been proclaimed
That each man shall arm himself
With a coat of iron mail.
(attr. the court of Charles the Bold, 1433-77).

The warmongering Charles the Bold of Burgundy, in between skirmishes and battles, presided over a remarkably musical court, one of whose members penned the song ‘L’homme armé’. The tune caught on, appearing in dozens of mediæval mass settings, but so far as I know, no-one had the brass face to use the words in a religious context.

Until recently.

I admit to being underwhelmed when I first heard Karl Jenkins’ ‘The armed man — a mass for peace’, probably because it was being hyped to death by Classic FM (note for colonials — a radio station specialising in lifestyle music for the moneyed middle classes) in ‘lollipop’ snatches designed to calm gridlocked commuters. But I came to realise he’d done something rather clever: by creative use of text and intertextuality — including the Ordinary of the mass — he’d managed to take the uncompromisingly military ‘L’homme armé doibt on doubter’, ‘The armed man should be feared’ and so subvert it that by the end of the work it became an impassioned plea for peace, doubtless leaving Charles the Bold (who, it should be noted, died in one of his own battles) gently spinning in his grave. Subversion, a leading up the proverbial garden path, is perhaps a more fruitful way of bringing about change than reaction.

For Christians, this can hardly be a surprise. The ‘crux gemmata’, the ‘jewelled cross’ demonstrates one way in which we have subverted the Cross, transforming its original power as an instrument of Roman oppression into a symbol of honour and glory, and some recent studies place the stone crosses of the Anglo-Saxon period (e.g., at Ruthwell) in the same ‘crux gemmata’ tradition. The art of the early mediæval period, with its ‘Christus Rex’ symbolism points us in a similar direction, as do the various forms of the Rood poem and Venantius Fortunatus’ ‘Vexilla Regis’.

It is suggested that the devotion to a tortured Christ begins only in the writings of the ninth-century Candidus of Fulda, which devotion opened the way to a literalistic, rather than a subversive, reading of the Cross (and which, we might argue, facilitated the penal understanding of atonement, not to mention Mel Gibson’s profoundly unbiblical gorefest). The tortured Christ invites pity and shame; Christ subversive on the Cross takes us somewhere else, ‘leading captivity captive’.

St. Mary’s Barton backs on to an artesian well, the sort of ‘holy well’ which historically (and currently, at places like Walsingham, Lourdes and Madron) has been associated with healing and the like. Of the mediæval chapels within our building, the oldest dedication is that of St Thomas of Canterbury, victim of twelfth-century power politics, whose feast we celebrated a couple of days ago. This juxtaposition of a martyr’s altar and a site with connotations of healing echoes the cult of Thomas evidenced in the Canterbury Tales — where a story of the violent is subverted into one of healing and hope and wholeness.

Christianity as revolution has been a theological platitude since the 1960s (‘Sing we a song of high revolt,’ gets the blood fizzing, to be sure, but most western Christians are still wealthy and white, which rather gives the game away). But there is good reason to think that our current context, our common societal mental matrix, is no longer centred on revolution but subversion, the undermining of the powerful by means of their own tools. Entering a new year intent on subverting the world for God might be a Christian vocation with much deeper roots than that knee-jerk counter-culturalism so often offered us as the Good News.



Women Bishops – press reports

Updated Wednesday morning

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Bishops put forward as solution to Church of England row over women clergy

Ruth Gledhill in The Times Historic Church of England deal paves way for first women bishops
and Women reach for bishops’ chairs in Church of England as last barriers fall

Riazat Butt in The Guardian Church tries to quell dissent over female bishops with new role

Robert Verkaik in The Independent Opt-out for parishioners opposed to women bishops

WATCH (Women and the Church) has issued a press release today commenting on the draft.

WATCH is pleased that provision in the draft legislation endorses the authority of diocesan bishops, and that they retain the authority to delegate certain functions to another bishop if requested to do so. This means that episcopal authority resides in and is retained by the diocesan bishop and is not transferred automatically to another bishop.

The full press release is below the fold.

Wednesday updates

George Pitcher at the Telegraph has Women bishops demonstrate the Anglican tradition of compromise.

Andrew Brown at Comment is free has Will complementary bishops fly?



Christmas-tide Opinion

Paul Handley, the editor of the Church Times, has a major article in the Comment is free section of The Guardian today.
The Anglican Communion will finally split in 2009 – This will be the year of unavoidable schism in the church.

Also in The Guardian are these two items by Andrew Brown.
The New Atheism, a definition and a quiz – What makes a New Atheist different from an old one? Here are the five doctrines which distinguish them.
So the pope is a Catholic – You may disagree with him. But – properly read – his views on homosexuality are not egregious bigotry.

Jane Williams in The Guardian
Acts of the Apostles, part 3: An ideal church? – Acts implies that the Holy Spirit’s work always leads to the formation of community.

Jonathan Romain in The Guardian
How to survive a sermon – Many of us will be listening to sermons this week. They can be tests of endurance, but they can sometimes be life-changing.

Roderick Strange writes in the Credo section of The Times Commitment and fidelity are demanding qualities – A time to remember and appreciate what our families give us.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about English kings and St John the Evangelist.


February General Synod

The Church of England General Synod meets from 9 to 13 February in London and an outline agenda has been published, and is copied below.

One major item of business is the first consideration of the Women Bishops legislation. See our separate item on this and make your comments there please.

February Group of Sessions 2009

Sitting hours: 9.30 am to 1 pm and 2.30 pm to 7 pm, except where otherwise stated

Monday 9 February
3.00 pm Prayers, introductions, welcomes; progress of legislation etc
Business Committee report and dates for Synod in 2011 and 2012
Appointment of Chair of Appointments Committee
Address by Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission report on Church as Communion

Tuesday 10 February
9.30 am Prayers
Review of Constitutions: presentation, followed by questions
Legislative Business:
Amending Canon No 28: Final Approval
Miscellaneous Provisions Measure – Final Drafting & Final Approval
Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure – First Consideration
(if time allows, legislative business scheduled for Thursday will be taken)

2.30 pm Presidential Address
Private Members’ Motion: Vasantha Gnanadoss: Membership of Organisations which Contradict the Duty to Promote Race Equality
The International Financial Crisis and Recession: presentation
Diocesan Synod Motion: Diocese of Chester: Voice of the Church in Public Life

Wednesday 11 February
9.30 am Holy Communion
Women Bishops legislation: First Consideration

2.30 pm Private Members’ Motion: Martin Dales: Church Water Bills
Private Members’ Motion: Paul Eddy: The Uniqueness of Christ in Multi-Faith Britain
Standing Orders Committee report
Diocesan Synod Motion: Dioceses of Newcastle and Winchester: Human Trafficking (presentation followed by debate)

Thursday 12 February
9.30 am Prayers
Anglican Covenant
Legislative Business:
Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure: Revision Stage
Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure
Funded Pension Scheme Rules changes

2.30 pm The International Financial Crisis and Recession: debate
Inter faith/Presence and Engagement
Diocesan Synod Motion: Dioceses of Leicester and Peterborough: Future of Church of England Retreat Houses

Friday 13 February
9.30 am Prayers
Diocesan Synod Motion: Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham: Justice and Asylum Seekers
Diocesan Synod Motion: Diocese of Worcester: Climate Change and the Church’s Property Transactions
1.00pm Prorogation

Contingency business:
Diocesan Synod Motion: Diocese of Peterborough: Eucharistic Worship for Young People


Women Bishops in the Church of England

The Women in the Episcopate draft Measure has been published.

In the official press release the chair of the legislative drafting group, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, is quoted as saying:

The General Synod mandated us to draft a Measure including special arrangements, within existing structures, for those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops and to do that in a national code of practice. We believe we have achieved that by providing for male complementary bishops, as we suggested in our earlier report, and now hand our work to the Synod to discuss the drafts in detail.

The draft measure and associated papers are available for download.

GS 1707 – Women in the Episcopate – Further Report from the Legislative Drafting Group
GS 1708 – Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1709 – Amending Canon Number 30
GS 1710 – Illustrative Code of Practice
GS 1708-10X – Explanatory Memorandum


Christmas sermons

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at Canterbury Cathedral.

It is … a new creation … [that] can be brought into being only in ‘flesh’: not by material force, not by brilliant negotiation but by making real in human affairs the depth of divine life and love; by showing ‘glory’ — the intensity and radiance of unqualified joy, eternal self-giving. Only in the heart of the ordinary vulnerability of human life can this be shown in such a way, so that we are saved from the terrible temptation of confusing it with earthly power and success.

Read the full sermon here.

The Archbishop of York referred to the economic situation in his sermon.

If I enrich myself at my poor neighbour’s expense, when they are in financial straits, I certainly have the wrong attitude on the matter. True charity repudiates the idea of personal gain as a result of lending money to make ruthless gain- usury – bringing about permanent disappropriation and enslavement. Clearly the way to come closer to God is to be generous and honest towards our fellow human beings.

Extracts from his sermon can be read here

1 Comment

Look for the holy in the right place

Each year in our town we seem to find more and more Christmas Concerts on the social calendar. One of their consistent themes is to try and answer the need to return to a sense of Christmas being a special feeling and, inevitably descends into sentimentality and schmaltz. This derives from the sagging momentum of the German-style Christmas imported by the Victorians and, behind that, an awe-and-wonder reading of the sacred texts of Christmas.

To rescue Christmas from this increasingly wearying regression, we need to look again at the sacred texts in a way that invites us to be partners rather than spectators. Spectators see stars and magi, prophecies from long ago, squadrons of angels in the heavens and at the centre, a birth which is miraculous because it did not require the conventional preliminaries. All we can do, in the face of stories like this, is to exclaim that God is clever. Faced with our own inability to recreate such signs of wonder, our faces are pressed against the window of supernatural pyrotechnics and we come away empty-handed.

The stories of the supernatural birth of Jesus take on a different light when we consider them as part of a literary genre of the ancient world. There were many and various such stories, none more famous than the story of Augustus Caesar, born to his mother Atia and the god Apollo. Typically such birth stories came at the conclusion of the telling of the great deeds of an individual which must have been conceived in no less than the heavens. Augustus had brought the end of civil war and the longest period of peace that could be remembered. Although the Pax Romana was only felt if you were Romana, leaving the peasant classes impoverished, nonetheless it did not stop him being entitled Prince of Peace, while the coins of the empire styled him Son of God. When his biographer, Suetonius, concluded the story of his life he appended the story of Apollo coming to Atia in the temple and impregnating her. Ten months later, Atia’s husband dreamt he saw the sun rise from her womb and indeed the new Caesar would be born of Atia and the God of Light and be proclaimed Light of the World.

At the end of Augustus’s reign, there began the life of another man whose followers felt his life was patterned after the way of the heavens, Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew. Not the heavens of the brute force of Rome, but the heaven of a God who had made a good earth and had promised a land to a nation in which all should enjoy its fruits. This man met violence with peace, met poverty by organising people to share food, and met sickness with healing. This, said his followers, must surely be what a god does. On the day this man rode into Jerusalem, to the acclaim of crowds, the Roman authorities took one look at him, decided he was trouble and executed him, in the manner where they put dissidents on public display to warn others what happens when you cross Rome’s rule.

But his followers continued to experience his presence and the movement spread. In time his story was written and, quite late on in the process, stories of his divine conception were told. His destiny was described in terms of heroes of the past, Matthew used the stories of Moses, Luke the story of Samuel, and the titles Lord, Son of God, Prince of Peace. In other words, these birth stories were treason; if you said Jesus was Lord, you were saying that Caesar wasn’t.

We need this view of divinity now, as never before. The majority of our world is malnourished, and since 1945 we have come to the end of being able to use violence as a solution; we need this view of the sacred which is non-violent before we go up in a nuclear flash.

Christmas is not about trying to explain wondrous events, as if they literally happened, in the vain hope they can be repeated in our own day. They are narrative aids, both to subvert the birth stories of the leaders of empire, and point to a much more important truth that the life of this man is the pattern for how humanity might shape itself to become like the realm in the heavens, the Kingdom of God on earth.


Image of God

an imaginative meditation for Christmas Day

I wept the day I gave birth. In the middle of all the joy, I looked and I wept. What I had called into being, I had also called into pain. The nearest, dearest, first, who opened his eyes wide and flung out his arms, he would carry the worst of the suffering. I had longed so for joy and companionship, but looking, I could see I had made pain. I had made struggle, and growth. I had begotten a child in my own image. I had created pain, for without pain, no one could be my companion.

I rejoiced the day I gave birth. I looked and my heart was filled with pride and joy. Those tiny sparks, reflected flickering lights, were crammed with courage and joy despite the darkness which surrounded them. I saw them struggle to live and to love, and, miraculously, even to give birth and to create. I saw love reflected in a thousand ways, in a myriad of broken miniature mirrors, and to me each of the tiny reflections seemed more beautiful than the original, lived as it was in partial darkness and unknowing.

And as I looked I saw the first in all his glory. My heart stopped at the beauty and the courage of him, at the love which filled him to the core, such love that it pulsed out of him, and all the flickering lights grew stronger, and the reflection grew and dazzled until the darkness began to roll back.

His eyes sought mine, and he called out to me: ‘Father, glorify your name.’

I caught his meaning, and my heart broke and reformed and joy filled me, oozing up to cover the pain, bright and overmastering. I looked at true beauty in wonder, and the wonder was that all of this was my own image. ‘I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again.’ I answered.


No Depression

My favourite Radio 3 programme is Late Junction. Last Thursday, on the last programme of the year, they played the Carter family singing “No Depression in heaven”. This song from 1936 is suddenly relevant again in our current economic gloom, and depicts the great depression as a sign of the end times and heaven as an alternative to hunger and want. The chorus goes:

I’m going where there’s no depression
To a lovely land that’s free from care.
I’ll leave this world of toil and trouble.
My home’s in heaven. I’m going there.

You can hear it in a number of places, including here.

Heaven, God’s space, is imagined as a glorious place where there is no recession, no investment scandals, no crisis in banking, no defaulting on loans, no large-scale redundancies. Heaven is shown as quite separate from all of this.

Though it is — in some way — a theological reflection on economic crisis, I suspect it is not the reality check that the Archbishop of Canterbury was looking for.

There is an otherness of heaven, but it doesn’t stay “out there”. The message of Christmas is that heaven comes here and enters in to our space. Heaven doesn’t remain apart from the toil and trouble. Rather God breaks in to all the mess and is born as a vulnerable baby in the middle of it all.

Heaven is what happens when we let God in. It’s not that God is going to wave a magic pantomime wand and sort out the problems, but God will stand with us in the misery, inspire us to help those who are in depression because of the Depression, and give us the tools for making the moral and economic choices for remaking our world.

We need to start again, with the baby in the manger.


human ecology

The Pope, speaking on issues of sexuality, argues from the position of an organisation which has a vested interested in preserving a traditional totally male hierarchy. It reflects a view, now not universally accepted, that women have no voice and no vote, where husbands take over the property and the rights of wives, and in which the woman is ceremonially handed over from her father to her husband at her wedding.

Women’s emancipation in society has been one of the chief causes of a serious rift between Church and State in many countries where the ministry of Churches has remained restricted to men. Even formerly Catholic countries now describe themselves as having a secular constitution, and signs of the rift are most noticeable in areas relating to human sexuality:

  • Female emancipation
  • Legalisation of contraception
  • Legalisation of abortion
  • Liberalisation of divorce laws
  • Decriminalisation of homosexual acts
  • Equal rights for women
  • An end to oppression of gay and lesbian people
  • Legal frameworks for gay partnerships

It would be difficult to cite any other area in which Church and State have been more out of step with each other.

This unfortunately gives the impression that the only morality of interest to the Church is sexual morality. Indeed, it would now appear that the last time the Church could ever claim to lead a moral crusade to promote human equality it was over the ending of slavery, some two centuries ago. Since then it has been the State which has been in the forefront of promoting the dignity and equality of all people, whilst the Church has maintained its traditional inequalities by arguing for an opt-out from national legislation.

Clearly Church and State perceive society very differently. The State sees all people as having an equal and valid contribution to make, whereas the Church, in preserving a traditional male hierarchy, has a structure which appears more primitive and tribal.

Homo sapiens evolved the capability of operating in larger units than any other large mammal. As this happened the pattern of a clan under the headship of a dominant male required some adjustment.

With children taking many years to come to maturity, grandparents became important in helping them acquire the skills they would need for survival. And it was no longer only the breeding couples of this largely monogamous species which held the fabric of society together. A significant contribution has always been made by those who did not marry. Those who did not have the constant responsibility of feeding and rearing their own children had time to develop skills and enrich the community in other ways which would make them valuable to the whole group.

Such people were not perceived as a threat to married couples. The man who did not covet his neighbour’s wife has always been less of a danger to society than the heterosexual man who might want to tempt her away. The reason for having strict marriage laws is not because of what gay people might do, but in order to protect couples from heterosexual predators. It would therefore appear that once again the Pope has shown that the Church is out of step with society in its understanding of human sexuality. There is no danger to the species from gay people whilst 90% of people are attracted to the opposite sex. Gay people have never posed any threat to those who wish to live as heterosexual couples. They simply accept this as a valid lifestyle for those who wish to enjoy it.

Society in Britain, North America, and much of Europe is happy with this situation and has framed legislation to protect the rights of all people. By contrast the Pope is the personification of a wrong human ecology; one which fails to give rights to all people. And people wonder, seeing the Church of England’s hesitation over the ordination of women to the episcopate, whether having an Established Church which retains such an outmoded view of women has anything to commend it.


A pregnant pause

As Mary makes her weary way to Bethlehem the Christ within her is about to face one of the most dangerous moments of his existence. For both mother and child the journey from womb to outside world in first century Palestine comes with a high mortality risk; their fates entwined together, either might kill the other.

St Luke gives few insights into the unborn Christ, telling us briefly of how John the Baptist, himself yet unborn, leaps in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary visits. But that account, taken with the story of Gabriel’s visit, is enough to establish that the Son of God did not take on human form at any point later than conception. It’s not a point I’ve heard dwelt on by preachers and theologians, and liturgically it all gets lost in the joy of Christmas when we gaze in awe at the infant in the manger, yet the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy matter.

The Early Fathers had a knock down argument for the necessity of the incarnation; “What has not been assumed (by God) has not been saved”, they stated. The salvation of humanity could only be accomplished, and was fully accomplished, by true God becoming truly human. Christ became first a single vital cell, then a rapidly dividing clump of cells, then embryo and foetus. Just as the creed affirms that at Easter Christ descends to hell to save the dead, so, in these nine hidden months God works the salvation of the many that will never see the light of day: the miscarried; the aborted; the stillborn.

At the same time he himself is being fashioned both by God and Mary. A recent academic study found that human metabolism is fixed before birth, so that, inter alia, mothers who diet during pregnancy are more likely to have children with a lifelong tendency to obesity. How Mary has lived during these nine vital months will affect, indeed quite literally shape, her son for the whole of his life. She is no passive incubator of the divine child but fully part of his formation. He shares not just her genes but the consequences of her actions. We, who share her flesh, are both active in the drama of salvation and shapers of the living Christ that is revealed to the world.

In little over a couple of days the full joy of Christmas will be upon us; for today the task is to pause, and be with Mary in her pregnancy, and all that it means for us.


ABC writes in the Telegraph

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a comment article in today’s Daily Telegraph. The article is then the subject of the front-page lead story, which puts a rather different slant on it. Read the Archbishop’s article first. Here’s a taster:

Christmas is supremely the story of a God who is not interested in telling us about principles. First comes the action — God beginning to live a human life. Then comes the appeal: do you love and trust what you see in this human life, the life of Jesus? Then the implication: everyone is capable of saying yes to this appeal, so no one is dispensable. You don’t and can’t know where the boundary will lie between people who belong and people who don’t belong.

The front page lead, on the other hand, is headlined ‘Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany’:

Dr Rowan Williams risks causing a new controversy by inviting a comparison between Gordon Brown’s response to the economic downturn and the Third Reich.

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he claims Germany in the 1930s pursued a “principle” that worked consistently but only on the basis that “quite a lot of people that you might have thought mattered as human beings actually didn’t”.


sacked for insulting the Bishop of Rochester

Updated late Sunday night

The BBC reports that

A member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff has been sacked for insulting the Bishop of Rochester in an official document.

The worker wrote the obscenity next to the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali’s comments on a vicar’s job inquiry.

More details in the story Sacking over senior bishop insult.


The Independent has a more detailed article: What did the aide say about the Bishop …?


opinions before Christmas

Both Guardian and The Times have columns about Hanukah, one from Howard Cooper, the other from Jonathan Sacks.

The Telegraph has Christopher Howse on The words that train the ear.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times has Celebrating where God gets real.

Comment is free asked What letter would you write to God? with answers so far from Julian Baggini, Mark Vernon, Francis Davis.

And for light relief, there is Andrew Brown saying that Science proves Anglicans smartest.


Virginia property dispute: further rulings

The Fairfax County Circuit Court today issued its last rulings in the long-running property dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and the eleven congregations that seek to depart from The Episcopal Church but retain their parochial property. The Diocese of Virginia intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The actual court ruling (PDF)

Press release from Anglican District of Virginia NB This is very poorly formatted, an easier to read copy can be found here instead.

Press release from CANA

Statement by Bishop Martyn Minns

Press release from Diocese of Virginia

Press statement from Canon Charles Robertson, Canon to the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop

ENS has VIRGINIA: Court ruling clears way for property-litigation appeal by Mary Frances Schjonberg

The archive of documents can be read here. Or alternatively over here.


Seasonal Greetings

Over the past week, I spent a few days in the United States of America. In America, they know how to do Christmas in style. Yes, I know, it’s not Christmastide and all that, but of course all the Christmas decorations are up, and every PA loudspeaker you encounter is belting out either Christmas carols (more likely than not as interpreted by Bing Crosby), or else 1950s Christmas-and-snowflakes-themed songs. And I don’t care whether that’s cool or not, but I like it, even a lot.

While in California I went to a local crafts market, and enjoyed the products on offer, and bought a few of them. But there was something that caught my eye in particular: a small business selling what I might call unusual greeting cards. The first one I saw had the following happy exclamation on the cover: “Here’s your f***ing Christmas card!” And the second continued with the theme: “Happy F***ing Holidays.”

Maybe I should have been scandalised, but in fact I burst out laughing and bought a few of both, already forming a plan as to who would be worthy recipients. At least one of them was a member of the clergy, by the way.

Of course I am not suggesting that we should move over to a rather coarser, or for that matter more cynical, view of the season of the Incarnation. But equally, the Incarnation is not some kind of celestial bubble wrap that protects us from the shocks and prods of “real life”. When God became man, God did not come into a world of sweet fairy tales, but into humanity as we know it with all its edginess.

Of course, we are now in Advent, a season in which to prepare and reflect. So whether your kind of Advent is the experience of quiet and penitential reflection, or the in-your-face call to repentance of John the Baptist, or joyful anticipation, it may be good to remember that the season that follows may have its harder edge for some people, and that our preparations should also anticipate that. I haven’t sent the cards after all, but as I write I am looking at one of them, and I find that it’s a useful aid to my spiritual life at this time of year. Just for once, at least.


ABC interviewed on BBC radio

This morning, on the Today radio programme, John Humphrys interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury. You can listen to the whole event, here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has issued his Christmas message. In a wide-ranging interview, he gives his views on the economic downturn, the invasion of Iraq and the possibility of disestablishment of the Church of England.

This interview has also provoked a considerable volume of comment, including from the Prime Minister. Here’s some of the reporting:

BBC Economic crisis a ‘reality check’ by Robert Piggot

Brown’s spending plans like ‘addict returning to the drug’, says archbishop and
Spin, Brown style: or how to bash the Tories with a bishop

Martin Beckford Archbishop of Canterbury: Gordon Brown’s recovery plan like ‘addict returning to drug’
James Kirkup and Martin Beckford Gordon Brown hits back over Rowan Williams’ economic attack

The Times
Philippe Naughton Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes credit crunch ‘reality check’ and
Brown slaps down Archbishop of Canterbury in credit crunch row

The Archbishop’s Christmas Message can be found here.


ABC interviewed in NS

The New Statesman has an interview, or rather a report on a series of interviews, with Rowan Williams in its latest issue.

See Interview: Rowan Williams by James Macintyre.

This interview has provoked quite a lot of comment in the Telegraph , The Times and the Guardian.

Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury: Disestablishment would not be ‘end of the world’ by Martin Beckford.

The Times Archbishop: disestablishment of Church of England not ‘the end of the world by Ruth Gledhill and Archbishop of Canterbury: Not ‘end of world’ if Church disestablished on Ruth’s blog.

Guardian Riazat Butt Church and state could separate in UK, says Archbishop of Canterbury online yesterday afternoon, and Archbishop backs disestablishment (and the Muppets) in this morning’s newspaper. But today’s newspaper also has How Williams changed views on splitting church from state by Stephen Bates and Comment is free has Reading between Rowan’s lines by Giles Fraser.


Parish Resources

At TA we have just become aware of a new Church of England website Parish Resources “supporting stewardship in the local church”. To quote the site itself

We are stewards. Both individually and corporately, all that we have and all that we are comes from God – our time, our money, our skills and the environment. Christian stewardship relates to how we respond to God’s amazing generosity to us.

This site offers a wide range of resources to support all aspects of stewardship in the local church. There are pages for those who preach and teach about stewardship, for encouraging giving in the local church, for parish treasurers, Gift Aid secretaries and for those involved in seeking funding for major projects. Guidance on SORP2005 can be found here, as well as some statistics on giving and church finance.

Additional resources are provided for PCC members in their role as charity trustees, guidance on registering larger PCCs with the Charity Commission, a stewardship toolkit for rural churches, a good practice guide for managing parish reserves, and a number of activities for use in teaching stewardship topics to young people. We also have a sister site with resources on encouraging people to consider leaving a gift to the church in their wills.

All the resources are free.

Although some of the site is specific to Church of England parishes much of the information will be of wider interest.