January

FUEL POVERTY ACTION CALL

Everyone has a right to the energy needed for heating, cooking, and light

by Diane Skidmore

Energy bills have risen dramatically in the last year – and the price cap is now to increase by 54% in April. This rise will leave millions of people like me struggling with cold homes. Many of us are facing damp, ill health, darkness, hunger and misery. Before the pandemic and the price increase around 10,000 people died each winter in the UK’s cold homes. Now even more will die.

I’m a pensioner living on a council estate in south London, and even before the recent price increases it was a struggle for me and my neighbours to keep warm. I am asthmatic, and many of us have health problems, as well as problems with our housing conditions. My grandchildren don’t even visit me because my house is too cold. I’ve been working with Fuel Poverty Action for more than ten years now. There are too many people who cannot afford or struggle to keep warm.

To end this outrage, Fuel Poverty Action is calling for #EnergyForAll.

Continue Reading on change.org »

CALL FOR A FULL BAN ON ‘CONVERSION THERAPY

OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FROM CHRISTIAN LEADERS TO ENSURE A FULL BAN ON ‘CONVERSION THERAPY’

In just 24 hours after publishing, over 1,500 signatures from Christian leaders had been added to a letter in support of a full ban on ‘conversion therapy’.

So far 2,557have signed the letter and the number continues to grow. This letter was written by Christian groups who believe that the only meaningful ban on ‘conversion therapy’ is one which comprehensively prohibits the practice in all its forms. It was a direct counter to the harm caused by the ‘Ministers Consultation Response.’ These Christian groups sought to care for those who were negatively impacted by the original letter, and to offer a loving, inclusive Christian alternative.

Representing a breadth of traditions and denominations, the signatories range from Anglican parish priests and Baptist church senior ministers to household names including Revd Kate Bottley and Revd Richard Coles.

The Independent Learning Lessons Case Review – Graham Gregory. Some comments

The expression ‘lessons learned’ in a review of some poorly managed safeguarding episode, always fills the reader with a sense of déjà vu. We ask ourselves the disrespectful question, how many more lessons learned reviews do we need before the Church gets the central point of how and why things can go so disastrously wrong in safeguarding events?

Continue Reading on survivingchurch.org »

The Christ Church Papers: Exoneration of Dean revealed

Pieter Garicano, Charlie Hancock, and Estelle Atkinson report.

Cherwell has obtained a copy of the decision on the allegation of sexual misconduct against the Very Rev Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church. Dame Sarah Asplin, judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, concluded: “it is entirely disproportionate that this matter should be referred to a tribunal.” The decision – which was never made publicly available – cleared the Dean on the 28th of May last year.

The Dean had been accused of sexual misconduct, after an incident which occured at approximately midday on the 4th of October, 2020. It was alleged that the Dean briefly stroked and commented on the hair of an unidentified woman, an allegation Percy denies.

Initially, the incident was examined by an internal college investigator, until Canon Graham Ward, Professor of Divinity at Christ Church College, reported the allegation on the 5th of November 2020 – over a month later. The complaint was made under the Clergy Discipline Measure – a separate system of adjudication unique to the Church of England. An investigation was triggered, leading to this decision, which examines whether or not the case was worthy of consideration by a full disciplinary tribunal.

The judge in this case, Dame Sarah Asplin, has served on the Court of Appeal since 2017. Appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2013, she also serves as the Chair of the Church of England’s Clergy Discipline Commission and President of its Tribunal. It is in the latter capacities that she prepared this decision.

Continue Reading on cherwell.org »

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?

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

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

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

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
Chair
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 »

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.

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.

Open Table Network of LGBTQIA+

News & events from the Open Table Network of LGBTQIA+

Keep in touch with the Open Table Network!

Our communities — Open Table Network

For details of all the current active Open Table communities, visit the Open Table website - if you are in a community and the details are not up to date, please email Kieran: network@opentable.lgbt.

We are also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, where we aim to help promote each local group and share articles, events and resources of interest on faith, gender and sexuality. We're here to help you raise the profile of what you do locally - we're better together and it's good to share what works well for you so others might learn from your experience.

Keep in touch by email: network@opentable.lgbt or call the Open Table mobile: 07501 753 618 - leave a message and I'll call you back.

If there's anything you'd like to see in these e-newsletters e.g. blog posts, book reviews, related events or reflections please do drop me a line, I'd be delighted to share them!

Deadline: End of the month for inclusion in next month's newsletter. Thank you for your support!

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