January
A Time of Waiting

A Time of Waiting

This season of Advent offers the chance in whatever small ways are possible, to be still, learn, reflect, take stock

For every person and every family the coronavirus pandemic has brought different challenges, heartaches, sorrows, frustrations and worries. So many people have lost loved ones or suffered long term health problems. Millions will soon be unemployed and the gross inequalities in our society have been more exposed than ever.

How long must this go on for? When will it all end? We wait anxiously for the vaccines to be rolled out. We will wait for some signs of economic recovery in the years ahead. We wait for better times. We look back to life as it was back in February, when we shopped, went out with friends, enjoyed a holiday, felt secure in our job. ‘By the waters of Babylon, we wept when we remembered Zion’, cried the people of Israel in exile.

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White Christians' voting patterns are an indictment of churches - John Gehring

White Christians' voting patterns are an indictment of churches - John Gehring

the more frequently you attend church, the more likely you were to support a president who energizes white supremacists and hate groups

The fact that the more frequently you attend church, the more likely you were to support a president who energizes white supremacists and hate groups.

The dividing line of race is old as our democracy, and as enduring as evidence from the presidential election. After four years of watching President Donald Trump demonize Muslims, enact cruel policies that target migrants, refuse to clearly condemn white supremacists, and disparage the Black Lives Matter movement, white Christians stuck with Trump in large numbers.

Race and ethnicity continue to eclipse religion as a driver of voting patterns. According to preliminary data from AP Votecast, more than half of white Catholics (57%) voted for Trump, compared to 67% of Latino Catholics who supported Biden.

There is some positive emerging news. Trump's national support among white Catholics declined from the 60% who supported him in 2016. Biden's ability to cut into Trump's appeal with white Catholics in key states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin played an important role in flipping those battlegrounds back to blue after Hillary Clinton lost all three states in 2016.

And there is data that points to white Catholics grappling with systemic racism more than in the past. While seven in 10 white evangelicals say that the police killing of African American men are isolated incidents rather than part of a pattern, the proportion of white Catholics who agree with that dropped 13 percentage points — from 71% in 2015 to 56% in 2020, according to Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI.

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PCN Britain Chair reflects on ‘Living in Love and Faith’

PCN Britain Chair reflects on ‘Living in Love and Faith’

So what do we make of this latest resource and the reactions to it?

hree years ago, the General Synod of the Church of England set up yet another process of consultation and debate about sex and relationships under the title of ‘Living in Love and Faith’, with the stated intention ‘that the resources make connections with the questions, faith stories, views and experiences of people who span a range of ages, ethnicities, theological convictions, sexualities and genders’. Now the report, which is actually a book running to 468 pages, plus digital resources and a course book, has been published and commended to the parishes of the Church of England for study, reflection and a way forward. So what do we make of this latest resource and the reactions to it?

‘Living in Love and Faith’ should be seen as the Church of England addressing its own people – churchgoers across the parishes of England. The book chronicles the many Church reports on sex, marriage and relationships over the years and the archbishops once again see their vision as keeping the church in graceful union despite and cutting through the disagreements. Those of us who hold a more progressive faith can at least be heartened by the way in which Living in Love and Faith tries openly and honestly to outline in some detail the contexts of societal, scientific and cultural influences. Part Two asks us to pay attention to ‘what is going on’. For churchgoers seeking to make sense of these matters in the context of faith, Part Four seeks to look at different ways in which we handle biblical texts and how we assess the Bible’s authority. Similarly how do we evaluate the church, the surrounding culture, our experiences and conscience?

Living in Love and Faith asks 585 questions, more than one a page. In the sections entitled ‘Encounters’, true life stories are told without comment. Different perspectives on all these sensitive issues are handled with clarity and respect. There are many pages of useful factual information , gleaned from secular sources such as British Attitude Surveys, government departments, alongside numerous church reports and commissions. All in all, the book is clear about the disagreements over matters of sex and relationships, both from a very conservative viewpoint right through to progressive folk like myself and many PCN members. The book inevitably reflects the broadness of the Church of England and its range of views over these matters.

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Conservative Evangelicals threaten split  and suggest to turn to ‘alternative solutions’ if changes to doctrine on sexuality are made reports  ED THORNTON20 - Church Times -NOVEMBER 2020

Conservative Evangelicals threaten split and suggest to turn to ‘alternative solutions’ if changes to doctrine on sexuality are made reports ED THORNTON20 - Church Times -NOVEMBER 2020

Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, who is the CEEC’s President, says: “I’m not sure there are many of us in the Church of England who want to leave

SOME Evangelicals in the Church of England are contemplating “alternative solutions”, including new provincial arrangements, if the outcome of the Living in Love and Faith process (News, 13 November) leads to changes in doctrine or practice on sexuality.

In a video, The Beautiful Story, produced by the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and posted on Sunday, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, who is the CEEC’s President, says: “I’m not sure there are many of us in the Church of England who want to leave the Church of England. Staying in is, I’m sure, the hope and the aspiration of most of us. But, as and when the Church gets to the point where it changes its teaching and its liturgy and its practice in these areas, is going to be a moment for people to have to reconsider their allegiance to the Church.

“At the moment, I want to be in the Church of England, I want to fight for the traditional teaching of the Church on these matters. But the time may come when it’s going to be essential for those who hold to scriptural teaching on marriage and same-sex relationships to say ‘We cannot operate under this particular system and support this kind of doctrine and practice within the life of our Church.’ And that may then lead to having to look for alternative solutions.”

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An open letter to the Catholic Church, from victims and survivors of clerical abuse

An open letter to the Catholic Church, from victims and survivors of clerical abuse

following the publication of IICSA’s report into the Catholic Church on 10 November 2020

We want to thank IICSA for its report on the Catholic Church. We welcome its findings, highlighting the Church’s gross failings to protect children and others from abuse.

We are grateful that the Inquiry has exposed the Church’s treatment of victims and survivors when it comes to reparation and care, showing how the Church perpetuates an adversarial culture in their dealings with us.

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Church of England – Please Mind the Gap! by Anne Foreman, Member of General Synod

Church of England – Please Mind the Gap! by Anne Foreman, Member of General Synod

it’s a bit of an uphill task to enthuse people about stuff that does not appear relevant to the day to day concerns of their own parish life

“If elected I will serve with the interested of parishes always in mind….” So said my election address for the Church of England’s General Synod in 1999. Now, as I approach my final few months on General Synod, having served on it for two very different Dioceses I have come to the conclusion that the gap between Synodical Structures and Pastoral Parishes is wider still. The central structures have come up with a plethora of initiatives, such as Renewal and Reform, Simplification, Mission Shaped Church, Strategic funding for Resourcing and Planting new church communities, Estates Ministry, Everyday Faith. However, questions need to be asked about how these fine sounding initiatives actually connect with existing neighbourhood schemes of care, advocacy and support? What is more, it often seems to be forgotten that parishes run on shoestring budgets, unlike the eye watering budgets behind these national projects! The relevance of such initiatives to parishes is questionable and so the gap remains. A gap brought sharply into focus by the response of the Institutional Church to Covid-19.

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Resignations, Dysfunctionality and the House of Bishops by Jayne Ozanne

Resignations, Dysfunctionality and the House of Bishops by Jayne Ozanne

it’s time the House of Bishops had an OFSTED inspection

I resigned from my Bishop’s Council this week.

The decision has been a long time coming – I’ve felt I’ve been hitting my head against a brick wall over our failure to prioritise the poor and disadvantaged, especially given we are such a rich diocese, for years. In fact, I’ve been banging the drum since I got onto Council five years ago. Interestingly, even though we constantly rated serving the poor in our diocese as a “the top priority” during our discussions, it rarely seemed to make the cut into any paperwork . In virtually every meeting I can remember I have had to remind those in authority of the commitments we had agreed as a Council.

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Archbishop of Canterbury: Fund schools properly, now

Archbishop of Canterbury: Fund schools properly, now

Teachers are doing their best for the disadvantaged – but they need funding, say the Archbishop and the Bishop of Durham

For many of us, this time of year brings that back-to-school feeling, no matter how old we are.

While this year has been difficult for children, teachers and parents, we have seen many heroes come together to look after our young people: from Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign to Norwich Diocese’s “Filling the Gap” project, which provided 128 families with a staggering 26,082 meals over six weeks.

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Stop this trade deal with the US - Nick Dearden writing in The Church Times 11 SEPTEMBER 2020

Stop this trade deal with the US - Nick Dearden writing in The Church Times 11 SEPTEMBER 2020

It would slash standards and reshape Britain in damaging ways, argues Nick Dearden

A part of Britain’s Establishment has always looked to the United States for leadership. They view the US as a model economy in which the market rules, big business can behave as it sees fit, and rich individuals are free from irritating “burdens” such as redistributive taxes. We have more than a few such figures in our Government, including the Trade Secretary, Liz Truss. That is appropriate because an important vehicle for pulling our economy closer to the US is the controversial trade deal currently being negotiated. This deal is not so much about importing more American products as it is about importing the American economic model. Trade deals today go well beyond tariffs. They interfere with how we regulate food- production, provide public services, and constrain big business. For once, President Trump was right when he said, “Look, I think everything with a trade deal is on the table. When you’re dealing in trade everything is on the table. So NHS or anything else, a lot more than that.”

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The Trussell Trust network will give out 61% more food parcels than last year.

The Trussell Trust network will give out 61% more food parcels than last year.

Findings of Trussell Trust new research with Heriot Watt University

Trussell Trust new research with Heriot Watt University estimates that food banks in the Trussell Trust network will give out six emergency food parcels every minute this winter, a 61% increase on last year. The report, Lockdown, lifelines and the long haul ahead: The impact of Covid-19 on food banks in the Trussell Trust network, also shows that families have been hardest hit, and during the start of the pandemic there was a significant increase in the number of people receiving support from a food bank for the first time.

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Fifty-two Sundays to rescue creation - byMADDY FRY 05 SEPTEMBER 2020 in The Church Times

Fifty-two Sundays to rescue creation - byMADDY FRY 05 SEPTEMBER 2020 in The Church Times

Climate Sunday initiative, launched this weekend, .. a “brilliant resource”

THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, has described the Climate Sunday initiative, launched this weekend, as a “brilliant resource” to help parishes reach the target of zero emissions by 2030 and campaign for more government action. The Climate Sunday initiative was announced in June (News, 12 June) by a coalition of Churches and charities calling for more action on global warming. This Sunday, 6 September, is the first in a year in which individual churches are encouraged to choose their own Creation Sunday.

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The uncertain future faced by Palestinians in the West Bank cannot be underestimated. - article in  Quake

The uncertain future faced by Palestinians in the West Bank cannot be underestimated. - article in Quake

“In Palestine normal life is complicated, we don’t have the space to allow kids to discover their worth. Now Coronavirus is another obstacle to young people.” Omar, a social worker in Bethlehem

As children, parents and teachers around the world adapt to home-schooling and half-empty playgrounds, the worry of how external forces will impact their children’s education and opportunities is not a new experience for parents and teachers in the West Bank. Daily barriers can include military presence on school routes, military checkpoints and intimidation from settlers, Israeli citizens living in communities built on occupied land in the West Bank. The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) estimates that more than 8,000 children and 400 teachers in the West Bank need some form of accompaniment in order to safely get to school. This usually comes from nonviolent international monitors whose visibility can act to deter soldiers from more aggressive behaviour. For some schools in the West Bank, children are required to walk past Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers every day on their way to and from school making these monitors important in helping children to access education. Currently the lockdown situation has made the presence of international monitors in the West Bank more difficult.

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Why compassion needs to be at the heart of our response to Channel crossings -

Why compassion needs to be at the heart of our response to Channel crossings -

Bridget Walker in Quake outlines why safe routes and a culture of belief need to be central to the UK's response to Channel crossings.

People take dangerous routes because safe ones are not available. Over the past months hundreds of fragile, overloaded boats have made the perilous crossing over the English Channel in search of refuge. For many of the men, women and children on board this is the last stage of a dangerous journey that may have taken them months or even years. They have been fleeing from war torn countries such as Syria, Sudan, Libya and Iraq, from repressive states such as Eritrea, and from countries like Mali where climate change and political unrest put lives at risk.

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McAleese Once Again Calls Out Church Teaching on Homosexuality In No Uncertain Terms

McAleese Once Again Calls Out Church Teaching on Homosexuality In No Uncertain Terms

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese recently denounced the Church’s teaching on homosexuality

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese recently denounced the Church’s teaching on homosexuality saying the doctrine “empowers the homophobic bully,” and that it is the church teaching, not homosexuality, which is “intrinsically evil.” Novena News reported that McAleese, who served as president from 1997 to 2011, made the remarks on a podcast entitled Dive Into Pride during Dublin’s Pride celebrations. McAleese holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. She currently serves as chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin.

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Covid 19 and financial challenges facing the Anglican and RC Churches

Covid 19 and financial challenges facing the Anglican and RC Churches

“working together in the coming months to collectively re-shape our use of resources and ministry structures”

Collections in churches are badly hit by the pandemic writes Catherine Pepinster in The Tablet with the RC Church experiencing a catastrophic drop in income after churches closed in March. The experience so far, Catherine Pepinster said, is that priests who rely on church collections for their livelihoods have endured a catastrophic drop in income after churches closed in March because of the coronavirus lockdown. Even as lockdown eases given the limited numbers of people who have returned to Mass, the financial situation still remains precarious. In some Southwark parishes income dropped by up to 70 per cent. In the CofE the Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, told the Yorkshire Post that the finances of the diocese would take a “big hit” as rental income halted, donation plate giving stopped and other income streams, such as tourism and that gained through weddings and baptisms, dried up. “It won’t be until the end of the year when we know what the true impact will be.”

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How HR is strangling the Church of England - Giles Fraser writing in UnHerd

How HR is strangling the Church of England - Giles Fraser writing in UnHerd

Financial pressure stimulates panicky missionary initiatives with inviting sounding names

Giles fears that what is dangerous to the overall mission and credibility of the church is the fearful reaction that often accompanies reductions of clergy and closures. Financial pressure, he states, stimulates panicky missionary initiatives with inviting sounding names dreamt up in the religious PR department. Bishop Cedd managed with the Bible, faith in the living God and a good pair of shoes.

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