Thinking Anglicans

Muslim prayer in church building generates controversy

The original report was in the Telegraph: Muslim prayers in Church of England parish.

The Church Times later reported: Canon Goddard apologises for Muslim prayers in his church.

So also did Christianity Today No more Muslim prayer services in churches, says bishop.

The official statements:

Diocese of Southwark 1: A statement concerning recent events at St John’s Waterloo

St John’s Waterloo: Statement from Canon Giles Goddard

Diocese of Southwark 2: A statement from the Bishop of Southwark concerning St John’s, Waterloo

Kelvin Holdsworth has written about this: Welcoming Muslims into church.

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Ian Paul
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Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

I think it might be very helpful if you could post the Guidelines that the Bishop of Southwark is referring to, Simon.

Any chance?

DBD
Guest

What utter tosh! If this admirable initiative the Vicar of Waterloo supported is ‘against guidelines’, then the guidelines ought to be changed.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

The official Southwark statement refers to “Church of England framework of legislation and guidance”.
Does anyone know what this? Can we see a copy of this legislation and the guidance?

Tim
Guest

Instead of forcing Canon Goddard to apologise, perhaps it would be more to the point if the CoE pledged to fix whatever rules are getting between its buildings and the worship of God.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

If CofE canon law truly says that ONLY services that conform to CofE doctrine can be held in a CofE church, then that is one thing. Although, such a canon would appear to place a major barrier on ecumenical services. But, what this really looks like is 1) Another front in the ongoing dispute between liberals and conservatives in this particular diocese, and 2) A chance to raise alarms over “Run for your lives! England is in peril! The Muslims are comong! The Muslims are within our gates! Where are the Crusaders when we need them!” I realize different countries… Read more »

Matthew Duckett
Guest
Matthew Duckett

I wonder if the people denouncing this could please reference the Canon that has been broken? The Canons regulating services with or of other Christian churches are labyrinthine, but there seems to be nothing about other faiths. The nearest is F15, “The churchwardens and their assistants shall not suffer the church or chapel to be profaned by any meeting therein for temporal objects inconsistent with the sanctity of the place” and F16 ” When any church or chapel is to be used for a play, concert, or exhibition of films or pictures, the minister shall take care that the words,… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

So what if any threats were made against GilesGoddard to produce this statement and who wrote it? The whole business has been got up by a small clique of conservative evangelicals who are looking for any reason to bash the Inclusive and liberal Catholics in the diocese and cathedral and have fixed on this issue to vent their ire and cause as much trouble as possible. Following their threats against the diocese because it won’t subscribe their homophobia this is yet another example of their semi detached ‘loyalty’ to the church to which they have given their allegiance. If the… Read more »

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

I wonder what HRH the Prince of Wales would make of this, who was present at the first performance of the late Sir John Tavener’s ‘The beautiful names of Allah’ in Westminster Cathedral. It caused a similar hoo-ha then with its Koranic references, but the Cardinal allowed it to be performed. If Deus, Yahweh and Jehovah are permitted in Church why not Allah? And people are cross that crosses and statues were covered out of respect? Traditionally many churches do the same during the season of Passiontide which starts on Sunday. Perhaps what most upsets people is the pushing of… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

I agree it would be helpful if somebody could identify a specific CofE canon which applies to this situation.

The only “guidance” I have found so far is this 2008 document, which does not contain any such reference.

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/1732218/guidance%20on%20multi-faith%20worship.pdf

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

For the past three years, Trinity Wall Street has allowed a local Jewish congregation, Tamid, to worship every week in St. Paul’s Chapel.

Tamid’s Ark remains at the front of the chapel throughout the week. When rolled into place for Tamid’s services, the Ark is seen just below the tetragrammaton in the chapel’s 18th-century Palladian window.

This ecumencial worshiping arrangement has been reported on favorably by the New York press, and even by the Wall Street Journal.

It’s a shame that the Telegraph was willing to stir up a controversy where there should be none.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Someone on kiwianglo protests against this hospitable initiative towards our Abrahamic co-religionists as antithetical to the Christian faith and, like Ian Paul, wonders whether Allah should be addressed in worship in a Christian church. What seems not to be understood is that, for an Arab Christian, one of the titles for the Triune God is the word ‘Allah’.

John
Guest
John

My own ‘mite’: our church (St Margaret’s of Antioch, Durham, an infinitely greater church than Durham Cathedral, pace Father David) regularly ‘guests’ Hannah, daughter of English mother (roughly C of E) and Turkish father (fairly devout Muslim). She loves Jesus, also attends the mosque, both here and in Turkey. Only a fool or a purblind bigot would object – and in fact, in this case, no one does.

Jean Mayland (Revd)
Guest
Jean Mayland (Revd)

Well done Giles.There IS only one God for whom we search and to whom we pray. I am sure God rejoiced at the co- operation.

henry dee
Guest
henry dee

As a matter of interest when is the return leg taking place in the mosque. Perhaps the one in in Finsbury could be an option. Interfaith is a two way street.

Giles Fraser
Guest
Giles Fraser

Really? Giles had to apologise for this? I just don’t get it at all.

RosalindR
Guest
RosalindR

The Diocese of Southwark produced guidelines several years ago for multi-faith events etc, which are generally helpful.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

My colleague Peter Owen has drawn my attention to this 1966 GS paper (GS 1185)

http://www.presenceandengagement.org.uk/sites/default/files/Synod%20Report%20on%20Use%20of%20Church%20Buildings.pdf

Section 8, and in particular 8.142 may be relevant.

And also to a Southwark diocesan document
http://www.presenceandengagement.org.uk/sites/default/files/Worship%20-%20Civic%20%26%20Other%20Services%20Guidelines.pdf
which however doesn’t seem to address the issue at hand.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Allah, preserve us from the insanity. In Jesus’ Name. }-/

Father David
Guest
Father David

John, I have the highest regard for St. Margaret of Antioch having once been Rector of a church sharing that great Virgin Martyr as the Patron Saint. In a wonderful prayer attributed to Margaret it is stated that whoever builds a church with the Virgin Martyr as its Patronal Dedication is guaranteed a place in the Kingdom of God. It is perhaps for that reason that churches dedicated to Margaret of Antioch are so abundant in East Anglia. As for your parish church being “infinitely greater” that the Mother Church of the diocese of Durham. Well, like beauty that must… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Another comment article, from Jonathan Clatworthy:
http://www.clatworthy.org/2015/03/muslim-worship-waterloo/

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I didn’t know that Christian hospitality is dependent on reciprocation. I must have missed that bit in the gospels.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

A number of CofE canons are cited in this article by Andrew Symes

http://anglicanmainstream.org/inclusive-mosque-meets-to-pray-in-waterloo-church/

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Reference the question. “As for the topic of the current thread, does anyone know of a situation where this invitation has been reciprocated and Christians have been invited to worship in an Islamic mosque?” I can’t speak for the UK situation, but I was once immensely moved by reading a William Dalrymple book, I think it was “From the Holy Mountain”, in which he describes how for centuries in the Middle East the members of various religions lived alongside each other in relative harmony, and that harmony created a porosity between the practices of the various faiths. Whilst doctrine might… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

@JCF: well done! 😉

Father David
Guest
Father David

May I reciprocate Richard’s comment by saying that I too have searched the Gospels in vain and have utterly failed to find any mention of Islam or Mohammed either!

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

It’s clear rules have been broken in this case. It’s either a service governed by Canons in parts A and B, or a temporal event governed by F16. The Southwark guidelines clearly forbid such an event (note especially para D26). And let’s remember that Kelvin Holdsworth is not in the CofE, so his rules may be rather different. As has been identified by several posters above, this is part of a wider conflict within the CofE, and Southwark Diocese in particular, but I think there are genuine concerns. Even if we all worship the same God (and God only knows… Read more »

Guy Elsmore
Guest
Guy Elsmore

At its best, the Church tolerates and even nurtures, what may look to some like bold experiments in mission, but which look to others like heresy. At its worst, the Church seeks out, shames and punishes such experimentation. We need to get so much better at understanding what it is to be an organisation in love with God and with humanity, if we are to escape the trap of being what so many already perceive us to be, a miniscule, inward-looking sect. We need to understand that Anglican diversity is a gift to celebrate, rather than a weakness to be… Read more »

Giles Goddard
Guest
Giles Goddard

Thanks for all the comments. I think it’s true that Canon Law does not directly address this situation. Usually what’s envisaged is a C of E led service with other faiths’ involvement. In this case we were offering hospitality to another faith tradition, who were unable to use one of their own spaces because the prayers were to be for women and men worshipping together and led by a woman – the highly respected Dr Amina Wadud, for International Women’s Day. But it appears that Canons F15 and F16 may be deemed to apply, and the undertaking that I have… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

For details on the Malaysian Government’s position see this article:
http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/news/malaysias-high-court-backs-a-ban-on-using-the-word-allah-in-bibles/

James A
Guest
James A

“Really? Giles had to apologise for this? I just don’t get it at all” @ Giles Fraser. I completely get it when Christopher Chessun is under siege (yet again) after appointing another openly gay priest to a senior post in recent months, with the conservative evangelical rump in Southwark spitting feathers and demanding that he sign on the dotted line of something resembling the Westminster Confession. When you have a noisy minority kicking-off, and (one can only imagine) pressure coming from another episcopal residence on the South bank of the Thames, you will not want to give the impression of… Read more »

Dcn. Anthony Keller
Guest
Dcn. Anthony Keller

I am prompted to ask a couple of questions to those who have a problem with monotheism. Don’t we recite the Nicene Creed on a regular basis? How does one define “We believe in one God.” If we can’t share worship space with those who believe in one God, we might as well remove the statement from the creed.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The only Muslims I fear are those who think and act as though non-one else can know God excepting the adherents of their own sectarian view of God. These are those who will kill others in the name of their God.

Alastair Newman
Guest

Perhaps only those who adhere 100% to CofE Canon Law should be allowed to throw stones in this…

Father David
Guest
Father David

The Nicene Creed does indeed begin with a monotheistic assertion but it doesn’t end there and goes on to define that One God in Trinitarian terms, something which Muslims simply cannot affirm. Hence the current difficulty in this present day Battle of Waterloo.

Philip
Guest
Philip

Article 18 of the 39 Articles: XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ. They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved. Canon A2 states that ‘The Thirty-nine Articles are agreeable to the Word of God and may be assented unto with a… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I entirely agree with you about the Dean of Durham , Father David. He, incidentally, is as committed to justice for Jeffrey John as you or I.

iain mclean
Guest
iain mclean

But if the objection is to sharing worship with non-Trinitarians, does that mean that Giles would have been forbidden to have Unitarian and Quaker representatives in his services? Just asking because, inter alia, I was the Quaker representative at a millennium service in Christ Church Cathedral here. (The organiser, the Lord Lieutenant’s office, had provided a prayer for the Quakers to say, which illustrated another problem, but that is for another thread).

Jenny Petersen
Guest
Jenny Petersen

The late great Bishop Stephen Sykes wrote a wise paper related to this topic a few years ago, called ‘Making Room for the Other: Hostility and Hospitality from a Christian Perspective.’ I read it originally in a very expensive book called ‘The Religious Other’, ed by Alon Goshen-Gottlieb but I think I’ve found an online link to it here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20150320122229/http://www.elijah-interfaith.org/uploads/media/Hostility_and_Hospitality_in_a_Christian_Perspective.pdf

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“goes on to define that One God in Trinitarian terms, something which Muslims simply cannot affirm” So what? Why would we ask Muslims or Jews to recite the Nicene Creed? Besides, should we really be reasoning from the premise that only those who can subscribe to every jot and tittle of the Nicene Creed may worship God in church? For on that point, I have some news about ordinary Anglicans. Many do not know, and probably do not care, about the finer points of doctrine to which the Creed speaks. “Of one being with the Father.” Really? Doesn’t this beg… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Regarding The Bishop of Southwark and Canon Goddard, Goddard clearly chose the better part. While it may be unclear whether or not Goddard’s initiative is a good example of Christian-Muslim interfaith dialogue, it does seem clear that it was a genuine prophetic act within the context of the Christian social tradition. The reaction of the Bishop, on the other hand, seems officious and provincial. The comments here, and elsewhere, suggest we have a long we to go in advancing genuine inter-faith dialogue among the religions of Abraham. One of the first principles of inter-faith dialogue demands that we not define… Read more »

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest
Andrew F. Pierce

Is the best way to reach out to Muslims really to step into the middle of a very fractious Muslim debate? I think we can rightly conclude there is more going on here than whats on the label. Dr Wadud has been systematically working to reinterpret sacred Muslim writings to support her views. The Telegraph was right to point out that St. John is at the centre of a similarly fractious debate within the CoE. Islam and Christianity are irreconcilably exclusive religions. This was obviously intended to be provocative and it has succeeded in that. Finally, the Telegraph reports, “At… Read more »

Tom Marshall
Guest
Tom Marshall

Let’s just suppose this happened over the River in the Diocese of London. You would never had heard a thing about it. I remember Richard Chartres had a whole host of Buddhists and Baha’is in St Paul’s Cathedral chanting their chants and sprinkling their water and doing other non-CofE liturgical things about a decade ago (I had arrived early for Evensong, as it happens). The Lord Prelate of London was presiding over this jamboree with great aplomb. He can get away with this sort of thing because (a) he is never fazed by complaints like this (he just doesn’t respond… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

Aside from feeling that any good church which doesn’t break a few rules now and again isn’t doing a very Christian job, my reaction is to think what utter, week-kneed rubbish this action is!

We have had Hebrew prayers at our church, uttered on one case by a real, live rabbi. No one fell over dead, objected, or abandoned Christianity, and most thought it a very good thing.

Isn’t this really just knee-jerk reaction to Anything Islamic, or equally weak reaction to the inescapable, timid, or probably racist few who simply *had* to object?

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Andrew Pierce: is there any difference between Arabic ‘Allah’ and Hebrew ‘El’, meaning God? Pace the Malaysian courts, these are the same word.

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

“I wonder if any Hebrew people (Jews) would give their God that same name?”

There are Arabic-speaking Jews (and Christians), yes.

JCF
Guest
JCF

One does wonder how much this is specifically a *Muslim* thing, as opposed to just a Non-Christian thing. As someone sometimes involved in Native American/First Nations ministries, would these liturgies have set off the fracas too? Or are the faith of indigenous peoples seen as non-threatening and “safe” in a way Islam is not?

Michael Chancellor
Guest
Michael Chancellor

Grateful thanks to Jenny Petersen for the link to the Sykes article. This demonstrates, precisely, why a lack of theological weight in the current House of Bishops is turning the C of E into a toxic brand as far as thoughtful ‘secular’ society is concerned. If the Bishop of Southwark had a colleague of the calibre of, say, Sykes, Stevenson, Selby, Habgood or Rowell to consult when feeling the heat from Lambeth Palace, he would not only be able to counter the mindless knee-jerking: he would also have the confidence to tell someone with no jurisdiction in Southwark to keep… Read more »

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

I have attended two funerals in Salisbury Cathedral over the past decade when Ka’dish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) has been sung at the Commendation at the end of a Requiem Eucharist. To my knowledge neither of the deceased had any Jewish roots or connections. If this happened in Southwark, would it now be proscribed?

Father David
Guest
Father David

That’s a fair point with regard to the Jewish Prayers for the departed being included in the Salisbury cathedral funeral services. I wonder also how many Brides and Grooms have included the Native American Apache Blessing as part of their Christian wedding ceremony? Also, in my opinion Henry Scott Holland’s “Death is nothing at all” nonsense should be banned from funeral services in church along with Old Blue Eyes – “My Way” which totally contradicts the values we uphold as Christians. As far as I can see the rot really set in with Princess Diana’s Funeral when Mr. Elton John… Read more »