News & events from the Open Table Network of LGBTQIA+ affirming Christian communities - 10th December 2021

News & events from the Open Table Network of LGBTQIA+ affirming Christian communities - 10th December 2021

With joyful hope to overcome - OTN Patron Bishop Paul Bayes

ON MONDAY 29th NOVEMBER, Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes returned to the first Open Table community in Liverpool for a celebration of ‘joyful hope’, echoing the theme of the first week of Advent, the beginning of the Church’s year. The service was an opportunity for the community to give thanks for his support before he retires in Spring 2022.

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Continue Reading on mailchi.mp »

Thirtyone:Eight and the Culture of the Titus Trust - Stephen Parsons

Thirtyone:Eight and the Culture of the Titus Trust - Stephen Parsons

This morning, Wednesday 8th, the safeguarding organisation, thirtyone:eight, published its review on the culture of the Titus Trust. It is a lengthy document and, given the fact that we have only had a few hours since it was published, I can be forgiven for not attempting to comment on the entire review. Rather, I focus on certain points within it. The word that came to me as I was reading the early sections, was the word claustrophobia. This might sum my overall feeling of what the report reveals of the past and present culture of Titus Trust and its previous incarnation as the Iwerne Trust. It is not a word that appears anywhere in the review, but it seems to describe well what many may have had to suffer through membership of this organisation. The overall theological and social culture of Titus is not one that is obviously attractive to the outsider.

Continue Reading on survivingchurch.org »

Embarrassed about God talk?

Embarrassed about God talk?

The Revd Stephen Hance is the Church of England’s National Lead on Evangelism and Discipleship and has recently written a book in the Grove Books series about how he thinks people perceive the Church of England. From his ‘research’ (PCN wasn’t consulted!) he concludes that ‘people’ think ‘we’ are embarrassed about God. He expands his thinking in an article in the Church Times of November 12th. Hance quotes a person in a round table discussion who wonders if the Church now prefers to talk about good works rather than ‘God’. He worries that people who wish to explore matters of spirituality do not see the C of E as a possible partner in that enterprise. As for bishops or theologians, (he seems to think you cannot be both!) when they speak into the public sphere their voice is no longer distinctive because of self -evident shared values which folk don’t realise come out of our Christian culture (!). Hance then goes on to say, unsurprisingly , that we all need to witness what God has done in our lives and link back all our visions for a better society to our faith tradition.

As I read this I became more and more despondent. The initial alert to the distinct lack of ‘God talk’ could have been such an exciting venture theologically in which to engage the Church Times readers but of course instead we had only the call to be better evangelists and no discussion whatsoever about what we mean by ‘God!’ So I sent the following letter to the Church Times and the response was very interesting.

Here is my letter to the Church Times

Israeli government attacks six Palestinian civil society groups

Israeli government attacks six Palestinian civil society groups

16 UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations protest

Israeli government's attacks on six Palestinian civil society groups must be resisted

The Israeli government has declared six Palestinian civil society groups as “terrorist organisations". In a statement released today sixteen UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations – including Quakers in Britain – have condemned the move.

Continue Reading on quaker.org.uk »

Faith leaders unite against Policing Bill

Faith leaders unite against Policing Bill

The letter was signed by 30 faith and belief leaders

The letter was signed by 30 faith and belief leaders and was printed in The Independent (online version).

The signatories warn of the chilling effect the Bill could have on millions who put their faith or belief into practice. They are equally concerned by the disproportionate impact the Bill will have on groups already marginalised by our society.

Signatories include the Bishop of Manchester (Church of England), Marie van der Zyl (Board of Deputies of British Jews), and Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE (Network of Sikh Organisations).

Continue Reading on quaker.org.uk »

John Shelby Spong, liberal Episcopal bishop, dies at age 90

John Shelby Spong, liberal Episcopal bishop, dies at age 90

Message on behalf of PCN Britain Trustees

We have received the sad news that Bishop Jack Spong has died peacefully at home. On behalf of PCN members, the trustees express their great sadness at Jack’s passing and send our love and condolences to Christine Spong and all the family. Bishop Spong has been an inspiration to millions of people across the world and we at PCN have been so fortunate to welcome him at our conferences and gatherings across the UK.

Fuller tributes and reminiscences will be shared in future editions of Progressive Voices and on this website and we invite members to send their particular memories and the influence of Jack’s writings and lectures on their own spiritual journeys.

Adrian Alker
PCN Britain

Reflection on the news of the death of Bishop John Shelby Spong in the Washington Post:

The bishop who said “a virgin birth is no big deal” when interviewed by Religion Dispatches in 2016, was known for such statements far removed from the mainstream of Christianity, and sometimes even the teachings of his own church.

“I do not believe that God is a Being sitting above the clouds pulling strings. … I do not believe that human beings are born evil and that only those who come to God through the ‘blood of Jesus’ will be saved,” he wrote in the diocesan newspaper in 2000.

Such sentiments are at variance with the Episcopal Church’s own catechism, which says of Jesus, “By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.”

His 2002 book, “A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born,” outlined a 12-point platform that said, among other points, that seeing Jesus as God was “nonsense”; that a Virgin Birth was an “impossibility”; and that Jesus was raised “into the consciousness of God” and not physically, as the Bible states.

In 2013, Bishop Spong told Religion News Service he did not consider any of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life reliable.

Continue Reading on washingtontimes.com »

Applications to be a human rights monitor close soon

Applications to be a human rights monitor close soon

EAPPI are seeking human rights monitors to serve in Palestine and Israel in 2022. Applications have been open for some time since they had to place the process on hold due to Covid-19, but they will soon be moving forward and have set a final closing date of 27 August 2021.

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is an international programme coordinated by the World Council of Churches. It brings people from around the world to the West Bank to serve for three months as human rights monitors. They are called Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs).

https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/eappi/get-involved »

Spong cairns

A Letter from Bishop John Shelby Spong

This is a letter circulated by ProgressiveChristianity.org following Bishop Spong's 90th birthday

My Dear Friends,

Please accept my sincere thanks for the cards and letters sent to me on the occasion of my 90th birthday. I experienced the joy of reliving moments of my life in reading them. They were more than 500 in number and came from every continent of this earth except for the Arctic and Antarctic regions! I read them with joy. I soon realized that I could never respond to them individually, so I hope you can accept this communication.

Spong cairns

Join Us In Celebrating Bishop John Shelby Spong On His 90th Birthday, Wednesday June 16th

Beloved and world-renowned, John Shelby Spong, whose books have sold more than a million copies, was bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001. His admirers acclaim him as a teaching bishop who makes contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary layperson — he’s considered the champion of an inclusive faith by many, both inside and outside the Christian church.

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