Sunday, 25 December 2011

When Islam met the diversity industry…

[...] Islam has a long history of accommodating itself to its host culture without watering down its tenets. In 21st-century Britain, that means pressing the Islamophobia button, and pressing it hard.

Would conservative Christians be allowed to extol the beauty of the Gospel in secular primary schools and hospitals? Don’t be silly. The public sector knows which stereotypes it’s happy to challenge and those it would rather leave undisturbed.

The IDC is a “non-judgmental place”, according to its advertisements. No doubt that’s true – so long as you don’t count the stuff on its website about the unrighteous burning forever in “the fire of hell”. But somehow I doubt that the subject crops up in diversity workshops. Read more

Friday, 23 December 2011

Bishop of Chelmsford's 'sharp sense of humour'

THE Bishop of Chelmsford's sharp sense of humour was apparent when he said enjoying Christmas without going to church is like gate-crashing a wedding and simply indulging in an orgy of eating and drinking.

His mischievous, forthright outlook is important as the church attempts to modernise and appeal to future generations.

The statement raised a few chuckles, but also raised an intriguing argument.

We wanted to find out if our readers agree with the Bishop, so we took to the streets and asked a cross-section of Essex residents what Christmas means to them.

Many of the people we asked agreed with him, claiming that Christmas has become too commercial and should be stripped back to the religious event that spawned it. Read more

Why the Scots want independence from the English

[...] The truth is, however, that differences between Scotland and England are fewer than they used to be. The strongest institution in 19th- and early 20th-century Scotland was the Presbyterian Kirk. It set the tone of the nation. Its values – thrift, self-restraint, self-help, hard work – were thought to characterise the Scottish people. The Kirk was very different from the Church of England, its morality narrower and more demanding. Now it is a pale shadow of what it used to be. Religion plays no greater a part in Scottish than in English life. Both countries have been secularised. For years, too, the Church and Nation Committee of the Kirk produced reports on socio-economic matters that were little different from Labour Party handouts. When Margaret Thatcher was invited to address the general assembly of the Kirk, she infuriated her audience by speaking, from her Methodist background, much as ministers of the Kirk might have done a couple of generations previously.

Assimilation is evident in other visible ways. Shopping centres in Scotland are just like shopping centres in England; the same may be said of what is left of our high streets. We mostly watch the same television programmes, see the same movies, and respond to the same popular music. Football is Scotland’s national game, but Scottish newspapers give far more coverage to English football than they used to, and if a boy is not wearing a Rangers or Celtic replica shirt, he is more likely to wear a Manchester United one than that of another Scottish club. Our postman was early one Saturday. When I asked why, he said he had arranged his shift to get to Old Trafford.

The more life in Scotland is like life in England, the more the need is felt to assert our distinct identity. There is another factor not perhaps given sufficient weight. This is the gravitational pull exerted by London – and increasingly resented. Read more

How can we remain silent while Christians are being persecuted?

Father Immanuel Dabaghian, one of Baghdad’s last surviving priests, is expecting a quiet Christmas. To join him in the Church of the Virgin Mary means two hours of security checks and a body search at the door, and even then there’s no guarantee of survival. Islamist gunmen massacred 58 people in a nearby church last year, and fresh graffiti warns remaining worshippers that they could be next.

The Americans have gone now, and Iraq’s Christian communities – some of the world’s oldest – are undergoing an exodus on a biblical scale.

Of the country’s 1.4 million Christians, about two thirds have now fled. Although the British Government is reluctant to recognise it, a new evil is sweeping the Middle East: religious cleansing. The attacks, which peak at Christmas, have already spread to Egypt, where Coptic Christians have seen their churches firebombed by Islamic fundamentalists. In Tunisia, priests are being murdered. Maronite Christians in Lebanon have, for the first time, become targets of bombing campaigns. Christians in Syria, who have suffered as much as anyone from the Assad regime, now pray for its survival. If it falls, and the Islamists triumph, persecution may begin in earnest. Read more

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Nativity scene tradition in Santa Monica threatened by atheists

Every Christmas season the sprawling, life-size displays are put up by local Christian congregations on a bluff at Palisades Park, overlooking Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific.

But the pratice has come under attack from non-believers who this year applied to use the land to deliver their own message.

Santa Monica, which is well known for its liberal politics, decided to institute a lottery to ensure everyone's constitutional rights to frees speech under the First Amendment were protected.

A flood of entries to the lotyter from atheist groups led to them winning 18 of the 21 display spots. Instead of scenes depicting the manger in Bethlehem the area is now staked with signs referring to Christianity as "fables and mythology." One poster depicts God and says "37 million Americans know myths when they see them." Read more

Friday, 16 December 2011

The childless generation: How one in five women aged 45 are now childless as they choose not to go down the aisle

One in five women aged 45 has no children, new figures show, putting childlessness for women born in 1965 at a 45-year-high.

A fifth of women born in the mid 1960s remain childless by the end of their childbearing years, considered to be 45-years-old, compared with one in nine women born in 1938.

Reasons for this drop include falling numbers of women choosing to walk down the aisle, changes in the perceived cost and benefits of bringing up children, and greater social acceptability of a child-free lifestyle.

Some women also leave decisions about starting a family too late, the Office of National Statistics said.

Read more:

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Call of booty: Channel 4 computer game featuring condom-wearing soldiers shooting sperm wins Bafta

(Ed: If you check the actual video, linked from the article, it is marked 14+ and includes references to oral and anal sex.)

A cheeky Channel 4 computer game which features soldiers wearing condom hats, barking out references to genitalia and firing lasers at sperm has won a Bafta despite being banned by Xbox.

The cartoon-style game called Privates, which is designed to teach teenagers about sexually transmitted diseases, won the children's award in the secondary school education category.

Developer Dan Marshall, of Size Five Games in Norbiton, who was commissioned by Channel 4 to build the game said: 'I was completely and utterly gobsmacked.

Read more:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Death of the traditional family

Only one in six people in Britain think they live as part of a traditional family, according to claims by a new think-tank yesterday.

Apparently, only a small minority come from ‘traditional nuclear families’ with married parents and two or more children, the Centre for the Modern Family said.

Its report said the traditional family is out of date and that the Government should consider ways to support alternative family forms that are adopted by the majority.

But the group’s research and findings were criticised by analysts who said that according to official statistics, six out of ten of all families with children are led by two married parents.

Chelmsford Bishop's love of writing

WITH the second largest diocese in the country to look after and a hectic schedule to go with it, the Bishop of Chelmsford needs to escape the daily pressures of life and unwind.

But you may be surprised to hear that, rather than putting his feet up in front of the TV, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell spends a lot of his spare time penning stories in his kitchen and writing poetry.

He describes the hobby as a “compulsive joy” and writes most days, inspired by his day-to-day experiences, as well as by other authors and poets.

A number of his works have been published, including a book of children’s stories and books specifically for non-churchgoers.

His latest offering, the Nail, is out now.

The story is a reflective account of the crucifixion of Jesus. It features perspectives from seven characters, including Pontius Pilate and Judas Iscariot. Each justifies the part they played and blame is passed between them to a degree, but the reader is invited to ask themselves if they would have behaved any differently. Read more

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Why We Don't Need "Women's" Ministry

Dear Women's Ministry:

The world can give me cute cupcake designs and decorating tips, scrapbooking parties, casserole recipes, and other ways to pass the time. But truly, with my respect and love, may I be honest? If I wanted to learn how to decorate cupcakes, I would take a class in it. If I wanted to be educated on strategies for decorating my home inexpensively from Winners, I would just, you know, go to Winners. Or Pinterest.

But I'm here with you now because I want what the world cannot give me. We're choking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics, and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up. We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, not churchified life hacks from lady magazines. Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of real community. We're trying really hard--after all, we keep showing up to your lady events, and we leave feeling just a bit empty. It's just more of the same every time. Read more

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Confessions of an online porn junkie

[...] I’m part of the first generation of men to grow up with internet pornography as part and parcel of everyday life. I’ve never had to pay for pornography; I’ve never faced the embarrassment of asking for it and, when I tire of one image, there’s always another . . . and another . . . and another.

Type the words ‘free porn’ into an internet search engine and you’ll get more than 25 million hits, with most sites containing hundreds, if not thousands, of pornographic images.

Internet porn was part of my life throughout my late teens and into early adulthood. But now, at 23, I’m increasingly aware that I have a problem. I’m not yet ready to describe myself as an addict, but there’s no denying that internet porn has become a deeply ingrained daily habit. Indeed, I struggle to get through a day without at least one visit to one of my favourite sites.

Now, I’m sure many of you will be mouthing a quiet ‘Yuk’ as you read this and I entirely understand your reaction. But what you need to know is that I’m certainly not alone — I’m convinced that virtually every man of my age will access internet porn sites on a reasonably regular basis, as will many men twice or even three times my age.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Shrinking Jesus and Betraying the Faith

The following article was submitted by the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, XII Bishop of South Carolina, Retired

What caused the crisis now being faced not only by the Diocese of South Carolina but by the entire western Christian Church? It’s more than an issue of sexuality. It’s one of pandering to the secular culture, of shrinking Jesus and betraying the faith.

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan are two remarkably popular theologians who teach a version of Christianity that reduces the Christian faith to contemporary secular assumptions. For Crossan, Jesus was an illiterate Jewish cynic. No Incarnation no Resurrection. The Easter story is “fictional mythology” (p. 161, Jesus a Revolutionary Biography). Borg claims that Jesus was only divine in the sense that Martin Luther King and Gandhi were divine.  Borg dismisses the creeds (p.10, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time) Jesus was a “spirit person,” “a mediator of the sacred,” “a shaman,” one of those persons like Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, et al. (p. 32)

Recently Borg and Crossan have collaborated on a book, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Final Days in Jerusalem.  Their Jesus is a semi-revolutionary leader of peasants and outcasts against the priestly elite and those who accommodate to the dominant system of Roman coercive authority. It was not our sinful condition that demanded his crucifixion but this elite.  Borg and Crossan’s Jesus does not come from God to take away sin but arose from among the innocent to teach us how not to be a part of the dominant systems. They fail to understand the depth of sin in all of us at all times, including peasants, as well as the elite. More importantly they lose the assurance of ultimate mercy and forgiveness. Read more

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bishop of Chelmsford sets out 15-year transformation plan

The Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford has set out his strategy for how the Essex diocese should look by 2025.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell unveiled his 'Transforming Presence' paper at a meeting of the diocesan synod.

He said the church had to face the prospect of fewer paid clergy, and parishioners needed be more evangelical and more open about their faith.

The church, he stated, would "simply carry on managing our decline" if it did not change over the next 15 years.

Bishop Cottrell said: "What we've done is set the compass. We need to work out what is the best route. "This consultation will bring 1,000 people from right across the diocese saying 'we know where we want to go to - how are we going to get there?'"

The Chelmsford Diocesan Synod passed a resolution supporting the paper on Saturday and will discuss it further in January. Read more

Church rift widens as aide attacks bishop over handling of St Paul's protest

A senior aide to the Archbishop of Canterbury has ridiculed the Bishop of London over his handling of the St Paul's protest.

An email sent from an official close to Rowan Williams expressed dismay over Dr Richard Chartres's role in the crisis and accused him of presiding over a public relations disaster.

The message, seen by the Evening Standard, is further evidence of a growing rift at the top of the Church of England over the Occupy London protest camp on St Paul's doorstep.

Initially, the Bishop of London called for the anti-capitalist "tent city" to leave and encouraged the cathedral to take legal action against the protesters.

However, St Paul's, led by Dr Chartres, performed a U-turn last Tuesday and dropped plans to seek a High Court injunction against the 250-tent camp. It is understood the decision followed a phone call last Monday between the Bishop and Dr Williams, who is said to have been deeply unhappy at the cathedral's initial decision. Later that day the Archbishop released a statement backing the protesters and said he sympathised with the "urgent larger issues" they raised.

The row emerged today as St Paul's published a report that argued the development of technology had caused the City to lose its morals. Read more

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cautionary thoughts on AMiE from the 'Churchman' editorial

[...] That the supporters of AMiE are enthusiastic and well-meaning we have no doubt. That their fears about the general drift of the Church are real must also be recognised. Nobody should criticise this new initiative without taking these things into consideration and committing themselves to the same goals as AMiE – Gospel-based evangelism for the conversion of our nation. Those who cannot join with AMiE for other reasons must not lose sight of what ought to be the aims of every committed member of the Church of England. It is understandable that bishops do not want to be cornered by clergy demanding that they adhere to resolutions of past Lambeth Conferences as if they were the sole test of whether one should be in communion with them.

At the same time, the Church should not appoint men to senior positions if there is reason to doubt their loyalty to its official teaching and should not tolerate bishops who try to discipline their clergy for nothing more than their determination to defend orthodoxy. Church leaders who castigate the antics of conservative clergy but do nothing to remedy the defects that have caused their protests must realise that they are the ones who have done more than anyone else to bring AMiE into being. Just as the Archbishop of Canterbury is the true founder of GAFCON by virtue of his own prevarications, so these leaders of the establishment have created a market for the likes of AMiE.

Having said that, England is not the USA and there are serious difficulties about adopting a tactic that has been developed and employed in a very different ecclesiastical context. For a start, it appears that AMiE has ignored the legal status of the Church of England, something that puts it in a very different position from that of TEC. There are legal constraints in England that make it much more difficult to operate the kind of parallel system that the supporters of AMiE seem to want. Those ordained outside the official framework of the Church cannot minister in it without a licence, which can be hard to obtain if the circumstances of the ordination are irregular. This may not matter to the enthusiasts, but it is bound to be a consideration for many
who lack the support base that some of the larger churches can command. Could an AMiE church function outside the suburbs of our big cities? It is a safe bet that hardly any rural parishes or clergy will be attracted to it, nor will those engaged in non-parochial ministries find it attractive. The grassroots of the Church of England are averse to disrupting the system and those who try to do so are liable to be left high and dry.

Another factor we must consider is the growing weight of conservative voices inside the existing Church establishment. The recent General Synod elections have shown this, and there are signs that more orthodox men will be appointed to senior positions in the future. Perfection is unlikely to be achieved, but it
may well be possible to vote down unwelcome liberal initiatives in Synod and make it clear where the limits of tolerance for episcopal eccentricities lie. Read more (*.pdf download)

Does Britain really hate its children?

Anne Marie Carrie, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, unveiled a survey last week that seemed to indicate that Britons, as a whole, don’t like children very much, or at least the general concept of children. Almost half of respondents believed that they are becoming “feral” and “like animals”, and view them as violent, angry and abusive. A rather worrying 38 per cent don’t believe that children who get into trouble need to be helped. “What hope is there for childhood in the UK today if this is how adults think?” she said.

Broadly speaking, she is right. Of course, the majority of parents in Britain are inclined to think the best of their own children. But even then, there is often the stubborn notion that their encroachment on our time must be strictly regulated, and hours spent with them dutifully ticked off in a mental box.

In spectacularly dysfunctional families, of the kind that came to light during the heartbreaking case of Shannon Matthews, the children’s needs scarcely figure at all. Shannon and her siblings scrabbled in the margins of the parents’ existence for crumbs of attention and hit-and-miss meals.
At the other end of the spectrum, children are togged out in the cutest gear, their little lives progressing from the Gina Ford regime to a hectic whirl of “improving” activities. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as they enjoy it – but sometimes it feels as if the manic middle-class schedule is powered not by the child’s own desires, but the parental terror of “downtime”, the icy fear of what dark chaos might unfurl if you all just loafed around, bickering, chatting or examining the anatomical construction of snails in the back yard. Read more

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fallen dictators and notions of hell

[...] Preachers in most churches today have long since stopped preaching about hell, but it doesn’t seem to stop people resurrecting the idea for those who are the target of all the Western world’s venom, hatred and desire for revenge. What the church has become embarrassed to even refer to does still resonate in many non-Christian minds as a just recompense for the high ranked perpetrators of global evil and wickedness. I guess it’s just generally thought that it’s only people who are deemed to be in that category who go there. The possibility of ordinary mortals – society’s “Joe Average” – ending up there is not generally contemplated! Read more

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Cameron threat to dock some UK aid to anti-gay nations

David Cameron has threatened to withhold UK aid from governments that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.

The UK prime minister said he raised the issue with some of the states involved at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia.

Human rights reform in the Commonwealth was one issue that leaders failed to reach agreement on at the summit.

Mr Cameron says those receiving UK aid should "adhere to proper human rights".

Ending the bans on homosexuality was one of the recommendations of an internal report into the future relevance of the Commonwealth. Read more

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Is Halloween evil?

So, is Halloween today ‘evil’? Sure it is, if it involves the glorification (or, worse, the trivialization) of things satanic, and playing nasty pranks on neighbours who simply forgot to pick up a bag of sweets earlier in the day.

Beyond that, a community dress-up involving opening our doors to each other and giving sweets to kids in fancy dress is a lovely idea. It might even build friendships in a society hungry for community.

For my part, I am sad that Halloween no longer has much to do with honouring the faithful departed and learning from their example. But that shouldn’t stop believers from making it so. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1662 has the perfect Halloween prayer: “And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom.”

One last thing. I’m not sure that Christmas in the wider Australian context is any more pleasing to the Almighty? If there are grades of sins, I reckon the Aussie worship at the shopping mall in the build up to Christmas and the consequent neglect of the poor until we’ve paid off the credit card are much more ‘satanic’ than allowing our kids to dress up as goblins. And what is a goblin, anyway? Read more

Government officials the new witchfinders in hate crime-obsessed Britain: legal expert

British government officials and employees have become the new witchfinders general, “obsessively” searching for the slightest deviation from the doctrines of political correctness, a legal expert has told

“The obsession with hate crime and hate speech has created a new generation of publicly paid heresy-hunters,” said Neil Addison, an expert in religious discrimination law.

This week the British press is buzzing over a case that Addison called the “most extreme so far” of publicly paid employees enforcing the doctrines of political correctness and stifling civil liberties, especially of believing Christians.

Adrian Smith, a 54 year-old Christian property manager, was demoted and took a 40 percent pay cut, when he wrote on a private Facebook page that he disagreed with a proposed law to allow same-sex union ceremonies to be conducted in churches. Read more

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Giles Fraser steps down at St Paul's

The canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral has resigned from his post.

Dr Giles Fraser has been sympathetic to the Occupy anti-capitalist protest camp outside, which has led to the cathedral's closure.

Dr Fraser said on Twitter: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul's Cathedral."

The Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said he was "sorry to see him go".
St Paul's, which closed last week, could reopen to the public on Friday. A decision will be made later. Read more

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Discontented Anglicans confident of global backing

The worldwide split in Anglicanism over gay issues has become linked to the concerns of some Church of England members concerned at the prospect of women bishops.

The Anglican Mission in England (AMIE), which was set up this year, shares some global Anglican leaders' concerns over the gay question, but is also keen to help Anglicans who cannot accept women bishops. And if it cannot reach agreement with the C of E, AMIE says members will look to the worldwide Anglican movement Gafcon for leadership.

Set up in 2008, Gafcon says promoting "a variety of sexual preferences" and blessing same-sex unions are part of a "false gospel". Its leaders, mostly from Africa but including senior Anglicans from other parts of the world, hold their own meetings separate from the long-established Lambeth conference, and say they represent most of the world's active Anglican churchgoers.

AMIE insists that it is determined to remain Anglican. But it has its own panel of bishops, ready to provide alternative episcopal supervision to parishes which disagree with their diocesan bishop.

One, Michael Nazir-Ali, former bishop of Rochester, has said: "Only a few will need such oversight at the moment. "There may be others if bishops... teach that same-sex relations are equivalent to marriage or are in same-sex civil partnerships themselves, and if no provision is made for those who in conscience cannot accept women bishops." Read more

Anger as 'anti-gay' bishop leads carol service for MPs

Dozens of government ministers and thousands of civil servants will attend the Whitehall Carol Service at Westminster Abbey this Christmas.

As well as readings from Cabinet members, they will also hear from the Right Reverend Sandy Millar, who is leading the service, a man who has previously referred to a "speciously sophisticated manifestation of evil" that threatens the church, widely interpreted as the acceptance of homosexual ministers.

Bishop Millar, a now retired Anglican bishop, is best known for his time as Vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton, where the Alpha Course, a 10-week introduction to Christianity, began. It is now taught all over the world.

The gay Labour MP Chris Bryant criticised the decision to let him lead the service. "It's a shame that someone with such narrow views should be leading the carol service this year," he said. "I respect him, he's entitled to have his own views but it's an odd choice. This sort of event is to bring people together not create divisions. It's depressing that so much of the church of England is obsessed with homosexuality. Jesus, that we aware of, never said a word about the matter." Read more

Friday, 21 October 2011

African-Caribbean boys 'would rather hustle than learn'

Black schoolboys can choose to perform poorly to avoid undermining their masculinity, the head of the Jamaican Teachers' Association has said.

Adolph Cameron said that in Jamaica, where homophobia was a big issue, school success was often seen as feminine or "gay".

He was concerned the same cultural attitude was affecting African-Caribbean male students in the UK.
They are one of England's worst-performing ethnic groups in schools.

Only traveller children do worse at GCSEs. Although improvements have been made, last year just 40% of African-Caribbean boys achieved five good GCSEs including English and maths compared with the national average of 58.5%. Read more and then read here.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Gay marriage is not as simple as David Cameron believes

For the entire history of civilisation, marriage has been defined as being between a man and a woman. Throughout that history, almost all civilisations have regarded marriage as central to their survival.
So if you say that marriage should, in fact, be differently defined, you are saying something very big and bold.

The onus of proof should surely not be on those who justify the status quo, but on you. You must show that you are right and that everyone else, for thousands of years, has been wrong.
One hopes that the Coalition can make a go of government in these difficult times. One understands why each partner needs to find issues that it can concede to the other. One also understands why David Cameron wishes to “rebrand” his Conservative Party. But can one feel completely easy when, driven by his political civil partnership with Nick Clegg, he tries to change the nature of marriage for ever? Read more

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Childrens' Work Vacancies in the Diocese of Chelmsford

Children and Family Worker - Southend
Children and Family Worker required at Saint Stephen’s Church, Prittlewell to become
part of the team to make a difference in the local community:

We are: growing, enthusiastic, mission focused emerging Anglican church serving a specific community near the airport retail park, in the northern part of Southend.
We work: closely with the local primary School and Children’s Centre, and others,
developing a multi-agency approach within the community.
We have: a big vision - this task initially includes taking lead responsibility for Totz (Carer and Toddler programme) and Kids Café (after-school club) together with a leading role in Sunday morning children’s worship. With additional funding there will be a much larger role.
We offer: a contract for three year duration, starting in October 2011, initially for 10 hours per week with-a-view to additional hours, possibly full-time, when funding becomes available (application is underway now for spring 2012).

Salary will be £2800 pa together with a team of enthusiastic volunteers and helpers and a nurturing, uplifting environment in which you can develop your gifts.
The successful candidate should: have a passion to work with children and families;
have some experience with working with children;
have good communication skills;
have a great sense of fun
enjoy taking initiative and think out-of-the-box!
There is a genuine occupational requirement that the post holder is a follower of Jesus, and is willing to develop their discipleship and take an active part in the life of Saint Stephen’s.

An enhanced CRB check will be carried out.

References will be carried out.

For further information call or text Colin on 07789511910/01702 305953 or email

Please send cv to Saint Stephen’s, 90 Alton Gardens Prittlewell, Southend-on-sea SS2 6QZ
or by email to the above address.

Closing date: Friday 7th October 2011

Interviews planned for 13/14th October 2011

See us at
Christian Youth Worker, Tiptree, Essex
TYPO, the Tiptree Youth Project Outreach, has recently been formed by the four Christian churches in Tiptree.  We are looking to develop Christian youth work in the village, the local schools and surrounding areas, providing the young people in the community with interesting, absorbing and entertaining activities to learn about life, citizenship and explore the Christian faith.
We are looking for an experienced worker to build and develop TYPO from scratch into a successful and worthwhile organisation.  (NYA points 12+) with a salary in the region of £22,000 - £24,000.  For a complete job specification see apply to the Chairman, Nick Crick, at .
Closing date for applications October 1st.  Interviews in October.
The Bethany Children’s Trust
Job opportunity - Training and Project Development Coordinator

Location:Teddington, Middlesex, UK

If you have a passion to see the lives of children at risk restored and transformed, then this role could be for you.

The Bethany Children’s Trust (BCT) is a small, visionary charity that strengthens the capacity of churches locally and globally to lead their communities in caring for vulnerable children.  We achieve this through the provision of relevant support, such as training, resourcing and finance.  BCT networks with other organisations to bring about protection, improved quality of life and a hopeful future for children through collaborative action and advocacy.

The role:
BCT’s Training and Project Development Coordinator (TPDC)provides training, guidance and ongoing support to BCT’s overseas project partners, to help them to achieve their vision, develop according to good practice, and to grow in effectiveness, coverage and impact. The TPDC creates and facilitates training workshops and seminars to mobilise and equip overseas and UK churches and Christian projects to respond to the needs of children at risk locally and globally, through relevant, holistic action.

This post requires proven experience in:working cross-culturally and with children at risk; project management and development; facilitating training workshops and seminars using participatory approaches to learning; resource mobilisation and networking.

BCT currently works in several Francophone nations. Therefore an ability to write & speak good French is a requirement of this post. Applicants must be committed to BCT’s Christian beliefs. The post involves contact with children. Therefore, the recruitment process will include checks related to child protection issues. The successful applicant will be required to undertake regular overseas visits.

Status: Fulltime
To commence: As soon as possible
Closing Date: 7th October 2011

To find out more or to receive an application form, please contact Brenda Hunt, Office Manager: T: +44 (0)208 977 7571 E:

Saturday, 24 September 2011

UK Muslims Cheer for Global Peace

[...] Dr Qadri’s speech was the keynote address at the peace for humanity conference organised by MQI.
The conference heard a series of lengthy and impassioned speeches, some in Arabic, from Islamic scholars denouncing terrorism and extremism.
There were also prayers for peace from a range of representatives from different religions including the Bishop of Barking, the Rt Rev David Hawkins, Jewish rabbis and representatives from the Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh faiths.
The declaration of peace includes a call for democracy and good governance in the Muslim world, respect for human rights, and alleviation of poverty throughout the world.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Government to consult on same-sex civil marriage

CONSERVATIVE Christian groups accused the Government of attempting to “redefine” marriage this week, after it said that it would consult on introducing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Gay-rights campaigners said that the proposals did not go far enough, and should include same-sex religious marriages and civil partnerships between heterosexuals.

The Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, said in a speech to the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Birmingham last Saturday that, in March, the Government would begin “a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same-sex couples”. She said that this would allow it “to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament”, in 2015. Ms Feather­stone said that civil partnerships, which were first registered in 2005, were “a welcome first step . . . [but] I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to an­other is not only discrimination, but is not fair.”

Peter Tatchell, the gay-rights campaigner, said that it was “perplexing” that the “terms of reference” of the consultation “explicitly exclude same-sex religious marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships”. He said that to deny heterosexual couples the option of a civil partnership was “profoundly unjust”, and that it was “an infringement of religious freedom to dictate to faith organisations that they cannot carry out weddings for same-sex partners”. Read more

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bishop invites shoppers at Lakeside for a chat

OFFERING church services throughout the week are just some of the ways the Bishop of Chelmsford wants to reconnect residents with the Christian faith.
The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell’s vision for adapting the church to fit in with the ongoing changes in society is to address the constant challenge of reconnecting people to the church.
After eight months in his new position Bishop Stephen is determined to raise people’s awareness of what the church does as well as to close the expanding gap between society and the church.
Putting a fresh-face on a 2,000 year old set of principles and beliefs Bishop Stephen, 52, has been inviting residents and shoppers to join him for a chat on a sofa in Lakeside shopping centre.
Bishop Stephen said taking responsibility for the second largest diocese in the country was daunting but highly honourable.
He said: “I love the diversity of Essex, especially the fantastic stretch of coast line and it is good to be back, especially to south Essex because I have family who live here.
“I find people are interested and fascinated by what the church has to say and what we represent but have had little or no contact with the church before.
“The step between the church and people’s lives is getting bigger but we are doing lots of things both large and small to bridge the step.” Read more

Thursday, 15 September 2011

New priest will serve four villages

A new priest will be licensed to four parishes which have been without leadership for more than a year.

Margaret Davis will be licensed by the Bishop of Colchester at Clavering Church on Sunday, which will be the first event of its kind in the village for more than 25 years.

Mrs Davis, who moved into the Clavering vicarage last month, will serve the parishes of Clavering, Langley, Arkesden and Wicken Bonhunt. Read more

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

We must stop this roll-call of murders on our streets

[...] Every time someone dies where I live I feel conflicting emotions. Panic when I hear the news and frantically call my mum to check that all of my brothers are accounted for; relief that all three of them are safe; guilt that I'm relieved; grief when I realise it is someone that I knew; weariness even when I didn't know them personally; concern when I lay flowers and see children doing the same, wondering who will help them adjust to their loss; sombre resolution that this is how things are, have been, and will continue to be, unless it is tackled at the root.

I love my neighbourhood and my family and friends who live here. My bond to where I live, however, doesn't make me blind to its problems. Whether it was travelling to school on buses that were rushed by groups looking to attack rivals, or being chased in instances of race-hate crime, my brothers and I navigated violence in many forms. Read more

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Petition against cash sales of scrap metal

Not just of interest to churches!


Please find attached a link to a Home Office petition which I would encourage you to look at.

As you will be aware, metal theft is a significant and increasing problem in the UK. Historically the scrap metal trade has been a cash in hand industry; which creates difficulties as there is no audit trail, making identification of individuals who may be trading stolen metal or who may be committing tax or benefits fraud, a difficult proposition. An amendment to the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964 to prohibit cash transactions would make payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory and would be a significant component in reducing metal theft.

Please forward this petition to anyone who you think might be interested.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

New body 'liquefaction' unit unveiled in Florida funeral home

A Glasgow-based company has installed its first commercial "alkaline hydrolysis" unit at a Florida funeral home.

The unit by Resomation Ltd is billed as a green alternative to cremation and works by dissolving the body in heated alkaline water.

The facility has been installed at the Anderson-McQueen funeral home in St Petersburg, and will be used for the first time in the coming weeks. It is hoped other units will follow in the US, Canada and Europe.

The makers claim the process produces a third less greenhouse gas than cremation, uses a seventh of the energy, and allows for the complete separation of dental amalgam for safe disposal. Read more

Sunday, 28 August 2011

After the Taliban: Swat women on changing life

The situation in Swat was normal until the Taliban appeared and destroyed the peace of Swat.

They started their inhuman activities, they slaughtered people in the squares of Mingora and they killed so many innocent people. Their first target was schools, especially girls schools. They blasted so many girls schools - more than 400 schools and more than 50,000 students suffered under the Taliban.

We were afraid the Taliban might throw acid on our faces or might kidnap us. They were barbarians, they could do anything. So at that time some of us would go to school in plain clothes, not in school uniform, just to pretend we are not students, and we hid our books under our shawls.

After the army operation the situation has become normal and the army is trying to rebuild good quality schools, but we want the schools to be rebuilt quickly because students are facing problems. It's very hot and they can't study in tents. Now everyone is free to come to school and the girls are now not afraid of the Taliban or anything that will ruin the peace of Swat. Read more

Tough love stops binge drinking

Poor parenting significantly increases the likelihood that children will grow up to be binge drinkers, according to the findings of a controversial study.

The thinktank Demos, which tracked the lives of 30,000 people across four decades, found that high levels of parental warmth and attachment until the age of 10, combined with strict discipline by the time they are 16, play a powerful role in reducing the likelihood that a child would go on to be a binge drinker.

The findings will chime with claims from the right that many of society's problems are attributable to inadequate parenting. But it is unusual for a left-of-centre thinktank with historically close links to the Labour party to identify dysfunctional parenting as one of modern society's most high-profile problems. Read more

Monday, 22 August 2011

Religion in Camp Bastion: 'What people are asked to do here can lead to big questions'

[...] Padre Alice of Joint Fires Group says: "People who come find their faith challenged - whatever their faith - when you test it. Witnessing inhumanity and indecency is very challenging. What people are asked to do here can lead to big questions. I'm not suggesting everyone will become an evangelical Christian but people start to ask questions and that's a start. What all of us would prefer is a thought-through faith. This is a place where people do that for the first time.

"Religion doesn't have the cool factor. It's the culture they were brought up in, their age. But people can go from nothing to believe they have found the absolute answer. There's no support for them back home on this because society does not encourage people to explore their faith in a meaningful way.

"Obviously any minister will tell you that they would love to have more people come to church. A lot of people brought up now know nothing about church other than marriages, funeral or the TV. But it would be foolish to expect our guys to come to church." Read more

Sunday, 21 August 2011

America's serious crime rate is plunging, but why?

[...] Twenty years ago, the murder rate for the whole US was 9.8 per 100,000 people. It has fallen by nearly half, although it is still twice the rate in France.

It's not just murder. Robberies were down nearly 10% last year and 8% the year before.

There are a score of explanations offered by sociologists for collapsing crime figures, from theories that it is tied to legalisation of abortion or reduction of lead in fuel to the closing of mental institutions.

One theory has it that better and swifter medical treatment has reduced the number of murders by saving the lives of assault victims who would otherwise have died. But that doesn't explain why overall violent crime is also down.

Anti-gun activists note that the cities with two of the sharpest falls in murder rates, New York and Washington, have enacted strict gun control laws by US standards. Yet Houston in Texas, where some regard it as criminal not to own a gun, has also seen a sharp drop in homicides.

One of the most widely accepted explanations is also one of the most politically and socially sensitive – that the imposition of sharply stiffer prison sentences since the early 1980s, which has resulted in the US having the highest rate of incarceration in the developed world, has kept large numbers of criminals off the streets. Read more

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Villagers try to oust vicar from historic Essex church

To the outside world the Rev Lorna Smith, priest-in-charge of St Nicholas, Trillingham, has an idyllic existence.

Her part-time appointment is to a parish whose 12th century church stands at the centre of an historic village of just over 1,000 souls in rural Essex.

But she has found herself at the centre of a row which could be taken straight from the Vicar of Dibley, and which has divided a community where the only comparable drama was the filming of a Doctor Who episode nearby in 1972.

In one camp are the more than 300 locals who have signed a petition to have her removed over a string of grievances, from claims that she refuses to carry out house calls to an allegation she shut the church when the weather was too cold.

And on the other side are her supporters in the congregation - not to mention the local bishop, who last week turned down the petitioners flat and said Mrs Smith was staying put. Read more

Friday, 12 August 2011

The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom

[...] The Prime Minister showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday’s Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well.

The tragic truth is that Mr Cameron is himself guilty of failing this test. It is scarcely six weeks since he jauntily turned up at the News International summer party, even though the media group was at the time subject to not one but two police investigations. Even more notoriously, he awarded a senior Downing Street job to the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, even though he knew at the time that Coulson had resigned after criminal acts were committed under his editorship. The Prime Minister excused his wretched judgment by proclaiming that “everybody deserves a second chance”. It was very telling yesterday that he did not talk of second chances as he pledged exemplary punishment for the rioters and looters.

These double standards from Downing Street are symptomatic of widespread double standards at the very top of our society. It should be stressed that most people (including, I know, Telegraph readers) continue to believe in honesty, decency, hard work, and putting back into society at least as much as they take out.

But there are those who do not. Certainly, the so-called feral youth seem oblivious to decency and morality. But so are the venal rich and powerful – too many of our bankers, footballers, wealthy businessmen and politicians. Read more

Thursday, 11 August 2011

London Looting: news from the 'Front Line' at St Mark's Battersea Rise

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your message of support and concern for the looting of St.Mark’s parish from side to side and end to end.

It has been a rather surreal three days, but with much to thank God for – no harm to any of our church family or their property, despite some needing to be rescued and escorted to their homes; no damage to the church buildings, despite the fact that the whole church curtilege looked like a car-boot help-yourself (rather than sale) for several hours; only limited fire damage; no violence since Monday night; a heart-warming evening of united prayer among local Christians and church leaders who joined us on Tuesday evening; the ‘broom army’ of hundreds, including many of our own congregation, cleaning the streets; and a renewed conviction that our present vision to expand local community ministries, especially among the young, is utterly necessary and, in whatever way we can make some difference, right on track.

I witnessed grave failure in the leadership and coordination of the police effort over many hours of Monday night, but had many conversations with the most admirable, mainly young, responsible and professional police men and women – it was the apparent complete lack of leadership strategy not the dedication of officers which needs examining. Talking to many of the looters over several hours, trying to persuade them to go home, it was evident they were in carnival than belligerent mood.

The government and authorities in the coming months will be inundated with endless individuals and groups complaining and criticising, offering problems rather than solutions. There may be only muted reference now to the ‘Big Society’. But this is our kairos moment. ‘For such a time as this’ the church should be seen to be the church in action, God’s people, ‘repairing the broken walls’, and in our small way we not only know what the big society is, but are doing it. Yesterday we took steps to appoint new members of staff – a full-time youth pastor, an associate member of staff for students and another among all-age groups, and the possibility of a prison re-settlement chaplain based at St.Mark’s. We will advance the planning application to re-develop the old school building for community ministry among young people.

Meanwhile, thank you again for your prayers and messages of loving support. I have been reminded that in prospect of the sacking and looting of Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus reassured his followers: ‘When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, don’t be alarmed’. So for us it’s business as usual and ministry continues without hesitation. Our Night Pastors, newly trained by police members of our church, will go into the heart of the troubled Clapham Junction area on Friday and Saturday nights next month, and it has been heartening to see the ‘God loves Battersea’ T-shirts worn by our St.Peter’s church members in their recent community mission in the Winstanley Estate, where the mob gathered the other night.

With love as ever, Paul

Paul Perkin


Oak Hill's Principal on the Looting

[...] A Christian explanation could begin with one of the more sensible secular comments. These are "consumer society riots", says Dr Paul Bagguley, who is a sociologist at Leeds. This is very perceptive. It points clearly to the consumerist, acquisitive nature of the looting, and it hints that these are the kind of riots that a consumer society (and let's not forget, that's all of us) has. It hints that this is the kind of riot you expect from members of a consumer society, not from those who refuse to be part of it. That does not allow me to say the looters are totally alien or other, or even "enemies of society" in a straightforward way. The looters are committed to the consumer society. They're "us", not simply "them".

After all, the unspoken but powerful message of a consumer society is "the one with the most toys wins", and possessing stuff is what someone is measured on rather than the way they acquire it. Further, the public face of acquiring wealth doesn't stress that wealth should be acquired in socially responsible ways: think of the bonuses and pay-offs for bankers. They don't look as though they're sharing the pain of recession. As for honouring positions of trust, think of the MPs' expenses scandal. The smartphones and trainers that a looter snatches aren't in the same league financially as some of the MPs.

A Christian response to that needs to touch on four themes.Read more

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

UK riots: 'Being liberal is fine, but we need to be given the right to parent'

"Parents are fearful about how they chastise their children," Clasford Stirling, a veteran youth worker, who runs the football club at Broadwater Farm community centre in Tottenham, said. "There's been an erosion of authority for a long time. Parents move very gingerly not to upset their own kids – that's the reality."

Broadwater Farm estate is again at the centre of the unrest in London. Mark Duggan, whose death last week sparked London's riots, was brought up here, and sent one of his sons to Stirling's football classes. On Wednesday, Stirling was making arrangements for his wake.

Struggling to make sense of the violence that has turned buildings on Tottenham High Road into smouldering piles of rubble, Stirling wondered whether weakened parental authority might have something to do with it. Read more

No shame, no limits: Has the behaviour of the mob destroyed the idea of British civility for ever?

[...] This combination of a peaceful national character and an accepted moral outlook on how we ought to behave produced (especially after the Second World War, when people had got used to being told what to do) a society of social cohesion and stability: the low point for crime in British history was 1953. This is the society into which, as a baby boomer, I was born. And it was one of the many dazzling advantages we enjoyed, along with plenty to eat, free health, free education, freedom of speech and ever-rising expectations.

As the Fifties became the Sixties, society became liberated and far less docile and there were rumbles, there was industrial unrest: Mods and Rockers fought on the beach at Brighton; students demonstrated against the Vietnam war. But somehow, although it provoked indignation from retired colonels, none of this really stepped outside the bounds of the culture.

I can remember when I first saw the cultural norms transgressed; it was on a Sunday evening in August 1976, at the end of the Notting Hill Carnival, which I had been covering as a young reporter for the Daily Mirror. The event ended in rioting. I had covered riots before, in Northern Ireland, but that evening I saw something new. It wasn't just people throwing rocks at the police. There were groups of young men on the street, openly brandishing knives and openly looking to rob. It was chilling. It took me some time to work out why it was different, but eventually I realised that it was the openness of their behaviour which was so startling. To anyone of my generation, it was unthinkable that you would behave so shamelessly, that you might strut about in the street with a knife. And it was clear that those people rioting had been socialised in a different way, so that the informal constraints on behaviour which had been such a key part of our culture had no effect on them whatsoever. Read more

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

'Christian terrorist'? Norway case strikes debate

When the "enemy" is different, an outsider, it's easier to draw quick conclusions, to develop stereotypes. It's simply human nature: There is "us," and there is "them." But what happens when the enemy looks like us — from the same tradition and belief system?

That is the conundrum in the case of Norway and Anders Behring Brevik, who is being called a "Christian extremist" or "Christian terrorist."

As westerners wrestle with such characterizations of the Oslo mass murder suspect, the question arises: Nearly a decade after 9/11 created a widespread suspicion of Muslims based on the actions of a fanatical few, is this what it's like to walk a mile in the shoes of stereotype?

"Absolutely," said Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. "It clearly puts us in a position where we can't simply say that extreme and violent behavior associated with a religious belief is somehow restricted to Muslim extremists."

"It speaks to cultural assumptions, how we are able to understand something when it (comes from) us," Tyler said. "When one of us does something terrible, we know that's not how we all think, yet we can't see that with other people." Read more

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Genesis of Anglicanorum Coetibus

[...] All this said, the remainder of my presentation shall tell “three stories:” the story of the Traditional Anglican Communion’s approaches to Rome; the story of England’s Forward-in-Faith organization and its dealings, or the dealings of some of its member bishops and clergy, with Rome; and, finally, and perhaps most significantly, the almost completely unpublicized story of the secret discussions between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome and some English Anglican bishops in 2008 and 2009. Read more

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Mills and Boon 'cause marital breakdown'

[...] "When it comes to romantic fiction, the clue's in the name; the genre is fiction not fact, and while romance may be the wonderful foundation for a novel, it's not in itself a sufficiently strong foundation for running a lifelong relationship. But I do wonder how many of our clients truly realise that."

Women who read romance novels can "suspend rationality" in favour of romanticism, Miss Quilliam said, including "not using protection with a new man because she wants to be swept up by the moment as a heroine would" or being persuaded to give up contraception a few months into a relationship.

"It might mean terminating a pregnancy (or continuing with one) against all her moral codes because that same man asks her to... or judging that if romance has died then so has love, and that rather than working at her relationship she should be hitching her star to a new romance."

Living the life of a romantic heroine can also have serious sexual health implications, Miss Quilliam said. "To be blunt, we [sexual health professionals] like condoms - for protection and for contraception - and they don't."

Even though modern Mills & Boon heroines have jobs and the heroes can be sensitive, the books still contain "a deep strand of escapism, perfectionism and idealisation... clearly these messages run totally counter to those we try to promote".

Miss Quilliam's article was published by the BMJ on behalf of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Read more

Friday, 1 July 2011

Recession makes educated women in rich countries postpone having babies

Highly educated young women in many rich countries have delayed having children because of the global recession, and may on average wait for a further five-to-eight years if governments slash public spending, say leading demographers.

A study for the European Union by the Vienna Institute of Demography shows a steep decline in fertility rates in the US and Spain in 2009-10, and stagnation in Ireland and most European countries.

However the report coincides with UK government figures that show Britain's population rose by 470,000 in 2010, the highest annual growth rate for nearly 50 years. It rose 0.8% on the previous year and stands at 62.2m – a rise caused by natural change rather than immigration for the third consecutive year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

"If this is the case, then Britain joins the very few countries who are increasing their fertility rate despite the recession," said Tomáš Sobotka, one of the Austrian report's authors. "It is possible this is because the educated women are choosing to delay having while the less educated are having more."

According to the report: "Highly educated women react to employment uncertainty by adopting a 'postponement strategy', especially if they are childless. In contrast, less-educated women often maintain or increase their fertility under economic uncertainty."

But it adds that the patterns differ for men. "Those with low education and low skills face increasing difficulty in finding a partner or in supporting their family, and often show the largest decline in first child birth rates." Read more

Church Times Poll - Should AMiE clergy be given permission to officiate in C of E parishes?

See here.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Anglican Mission in England – Seeing the Church of England Again for the First time

Yesterday afternoon I was privileged to be present at the inaugural event the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) at St Peter’s Cornhill. Today the AMiE was introduced to a wider audience at the Evangelical Ministry Assembly meeting in St Helen’s Bishopsgate with fulsome support from The Revd Rod Thomas, Chairman of Reform. In these two churches, at the heart of the City of London, English church leaders launched a mission society unlike any others the Church of England has seen in its long history.

The AMiE is not only committed to adventurous church planting and the re-conversion of England, but is also prepared to provide alternative episcopal oversight in cases where it is clear that diocesan bishops are failing in their canonical duty to uphold sound teaching. The key institutional innovation is a panel of bishops formed by Bishops Michael Nazir Ali, John Ball, Colin Bazley, Wallace Benn and John Ellison which enjoys the support and encouragement of the GAFCON Primates’ Council.

There should really be nothing surprising about this development. In his groundbreaking study ‘The Next Christendom’ Philip Jenkins demonstrates that Christianity must now be seen as a global faith, rather than the primarily Western phenomenon many, at least in the West, have assumed it to be. He concludes that ‘considering Christianity as a global reality can make us see the whole religion in a radically new perspective, which is both startling and, often, uncomfortable.…it is as if we are seeing Christianity again for the first time’ (p255). That global reality is now taking shape in England. With the inauguration of the AMiE, we have a movement which embodies a new vision for English Anglicans. We can now work as if seeing the Church of England again for the first time. Read more

Thursday, 23 June 2011

In fleeing Afghanistan, the West relinquishes its grip on the world

... The rest of the familiar post-war architecture has gone. America is no longer capable of being the policeman of the world, and may retreat to its historic isolation. Across the Channel, the debt crisis is wrecking the European dream. History is moving faster than ever, and taking us into a new and formless world. Read more


The Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) held its inaugural event on Wednesday June 22 during an evangelical ministers’ conference in central London.

AMIE has been established as a society within the Church of England dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting. There is a steering committee and a panel of bishops. The bishops aim to provide effective oversight in collaboration with senior clergy.

The AMIE has been encouraged in this development by the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) who said in a communiqué from Nairobi in May 2011: “We remain convinced that from within the Provinces which we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family.”

The AMIE is determined to remain within the Church of England. The desire of those who identify with the society is to have an effective structure which enables them to remain in the Church of England and work as closely as possible with its institutions. Churches or individuals may join or affiliate themselves with the AMIE for a variety of reasons. Some may be churches in impaired communion with their diocesan bishop who require oversight. Others may be in good relations with their bishop but wish to identify with and support others.

At the London conference three English clergy who have been ordained in Kenya for “ministry in the wider Anglican Communion” with the support of the GAFCON Prımates’ Councıl were welcomed and prayed with by bishops and church leaders in support of their ministry.

The launch of AMIE follows four and a half years of discussions with senior Anglican leaders in England about ways in which those who are genuinely in need of effective orthodox oversight in the Church of England can receive it.

The AMIE will continue to encourage church planting and all forms of Christian witness in accord with the Jerusalem Statement of the GAFCON Conference in June 2008.

For further information please contact

Rev Paul Perkin (Chairman of the AMIE steering committee) 0207 326 9412

Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Secretary) 01865 883388

Background: For the Jerusalem Declaration see

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Christians are more militant than Muslims, says Government's equalities boss

Muslims are integrating into British society better than many Christians, according to the head of the Government's equality watchdog.

Trevor Phillips warned
that "an old time religion incompatible with modern society" is driving the revival in the Anglican and Catholic Churches and clashing with mainstream views, especially on homosexuality.

He accused Christians, particularly evangelicals, of being more militant than Muslims in complaining about discrimination, arguing that many of the claims are motivated by a desire for greater political influence.

However the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission expressed concern that people of faith are "under siege" from atheists whom he accused of attempting to "drive religion underground". Read more

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

BBC1 boss: EastEnders' Dot is an example of an ordinary Christian on TV

The controller of BBC1 has hailed chain-smoking EastEnders stalwart Dot Branning as an example of a Christian living out her faith in a "day to day way".

Danny Cohen made the remarks after being challenged to provide instances of ordinary believers on television who were not "freaks, geeks or antiques".

Branning, played by June Brown and better known as Dot Cotton before she remarried, is one of the longest-serving characters on the BBC1 soap having joined shortly after its launch in 1985, although the actor took a break from the show in the 1990s. The character is in her 70s and known for her devout Christian faith, chain-smoking, gossiping and hypochondria.

Cohen told delegates attending this year's Church and Media conference on Tuesday: "She is a single example of someone who lives out her faith on television in a charitable way." Read more

Monday, 13 June 2011

Syria Gay Girl in Damascus blog a hoax by US man

A blog purportedly written by a gay woman in Syria, which described life in Damascas amid the current political unrest, has been revealed to be a hoax.

A Girl Gay in Damascus gained a worldwide readership and was closely followed by news organisations.

But the true author has now come forward - Tom MacMaster, an American man studying in Scotland.

Many Syrian activists have reacted angrily, accusing him of trivialising or even harming their cause.

"One day if I'm kidnapped by my government, many readers won't care because I could turn out to be another Amina," wrote one Lebanese blogger. Read more

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Police 'covered up' violent campaign to turn London area 'Islamic'

Victims say that officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets have ignored or downplayed outbreaks of hate crime, and suppressed evidence implicating Muslims in them, because they fear being accused of racism.

The claims come as four Tower Hamlets Muslims were jailed for at least 19 years for attacking a local white teacher who gave religious studies lessons to Muslim girls.

The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered more than a dozen other cases in Tower Hamlets where both Muslims and non-Muslims have been threatened or beaten for behaviour deemed to breach fundamentalist “Islamic norms.”

One victim, Mohammed Monzur Rahman, said he was left partially blind and with a dislocated shoulder after being attacked by a mob in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, for smoking during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year. Read more

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Christian sacked after abortion leaflet row

Margaret Forrester discussed the booklet with family planning staff at the health centre where she worked because she felt that the NHS was failing to give patients information about the risks and other options to terminating a pregnancy.

But after a six-month disciplinary process, during which Ms Forrester had to fight her own case and became ill, she was found guilty of “gross professional misconduct” and fired.

She has spoken out over the “scandal” of the pro-abortion culture in the medical profession and claimed that Christians were “an easy target” for “politically correct” bureaucrats in the NHS. Read more

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Islamic radicals are in schools, government report says

Its new counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, warned that some people who are supportive of terrorist groups and ideologies have “sought and sometimes gained positions in schools or in groups which work closely with young people.”

It said that new standards to be enforced by Ofsted should enable schools to take action against staff who demonstrate unacceptable views.

The Education Bill will also include a stronger focus on pupils’ “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.”

The Prevent strategy quotes the example of Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7 bombers, who was a learning mentor at Hillside Primary School in Leeds.

Another example, not quoted, is that of Zahoor Iqbal, who was found guilty of helping a man planning to kidnap and execute a British soldier in Birmingham, and worked as an “achievement mentor” at Saltley School in the city. Read more

Monday, 6 June 2011

Colleges 'complacent on extremism' - Theresa May

Home Secretary Theresa May has criticised universities for their "complacency" in tackling Islamist extremism.

It comes ahead of the publication of the government's revised Prevent counter-terrorism strategy on Tuesday.

Mrs May told the Daily Telegraph she thought there was more universities could do on the issue.

She also said the government would cut funding to any Islamic group that espoused extremist views. Read more

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thoughts from the new Bishop of Durham

The next Bishop of Durham is to be the present Dean of Liverpool, the Very Reverend Justin Portal Welby.

Unlike the previous incumbent, it is proving quite hard to work out where he's coming from, viz:

A short broadcast here.

A former Grove Booklet, "Can Companies Sin?" (out of print).

Sermon on YouTube: Part 1. Don't bother unless you're very patient as the recording is clearly set for the organ, not the preacher!

Article: Is reconciliation with Islam possible?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

RE teacher Gary Smith's Muslim attackers jailed

Four Muslim men who assaulted a religious education teacher because they did not approve of him teaching Muslim girls, have been jailed.

Gary Smith, 38, was beaten as he walked to Central Foundation Girls' School in Bow, east London, last July.

The gang left him unconscious after attacking him with a metal rod and a brick, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

The four all pleaded guilty to GBH with intent and given an indeterminate jail sentence with a minimum of five years. Read more

Monday, 23 May 2011

Chelmsford South Deanery Vision

Chelmsford South Deanery 
Chelmsford South Deanery stretches from Boreham and the southern half of the town of Chelmsford, all the way to South Woodham Ferrers and Ramsden Bellhouse. It encompasses 21 churches in 18 parishes. We have been involved for several years in creating a vision document, with the experience of Exeter Diocese being influential and with every PCC having been consulted at least twice; the four points below are the fruit of this consultation.

1. A Vision for Every Member
*We believe that every member needs to be equipped to live in his or her neighbourhood, family, social groups and workplace as a full-time Christian, serving his or her communities and telling of God’s love.

To equip every member to do these things, God gives his church gifted people. Our eyes and hearts have particularly been drawn to Ephesians 4; we believe that God will provide the ministry gifts of 
- Visionary Leaders,
- Prophets to speak truth to power,
- Evangelists to spread the good news,
- Pastors to care and include all, and
- Teachers to make sure young and old alike develop into the likeness of Christ.

Our synod in spring 2010 showed what a range of gifted individuals we already value within the deanery, including clergy, readers, pastoral assistants and evangelists, but also those recognised by our local churches and commissioned to minister under supervision. As part of this team of gifted people, there will be some ordained ministers; and of these, some will receive a stipend. Generally speaking, we believe that in 2016 every group of 180-200 active Christians will need the services of a full-time priest - not to do the work of mission and ministry for them, but to equip them to do that work of serving their locality and telling of God’s love. We are suggesting that we will need 10.5 stipendiary ministers in 2016 (down from 13.5 in 2009), and a smaller number thereafter. Our “deanery roadshow” is rolling out across the deanery with the aim of encouraging “whole-life discipleship” and vocation in the broadest sense possible; our deanery synods also have this focus.

*We believe that every member needs to be part of an intimate Christian group, whether a formal group or a set of friends. Smaller parish churches already constitute this intimate group.

2. A Vision for Pastoral Communities
*We believe that every member also needs to be part of a larger group in which the fullness of the ministry gifts listed above is put into practice. We call this larger group a pastoral community, though terms such as “cluster” or “collaborative unit” would work just as well. A pastoral community is a dynamic grouping of smaller communities; it is served by a collaborative team of ministers, paid and voluntary, clergy and lay, licensed and unlicensed. A large parish church (no doubt made up of a network of teams, friendships and small groups, formal and informal) might be a pastoral community in its own right; a small parish church would need to join together with other churches to enjoy the fullness of the ministry gifts God gives in a pastoral community.

Pastoral units will be of different sizes, but contain at least 180 regular members and be able to provide
  • leadership and envisioning with all five of the “ministry gifts” of Ephesians 4 in evidence
  • regular public worship
  • collaborative ministry
  • teaching, preaching, training, nurture, growth, and lifelong learning for Jesus’ adult disciples
  • teaching, training, nurture and growth for children and young people who are disciples of Jesus
  • evangelism in the community as a clear priority
  • involvement in and service to the local community, with a particular care expressed for the poor, after the example of Jesus Christ
  • effective pastoral care available to all in the community who need it
  • being partners in mission with other groups / churches inside & outside the Diocese
  • the provision of appropriate and realistically sustainable buildings
  • the necessary administration to support this work
In a pastoral community, no one church and no one incumbent, be they stipendiary or self-supporting, is preeminent (though a chairperson for pastoral community meetings will be appointed). In spring 2011, the parishes of Chelmsford South Deanery chose to group themselves into four pastoral communities:
  • The Chelmer Crouch Group (7 parishes from Boreham to South Woodham Ferrers)
  • The Great Baddow Team Ministry (one parish comprising three churches)
  • The Reservoir Pastoral Community (5 parishes around the Hanningfield reservoir)
  • Moulsham and Galleywood (3 parishes)
(One parish is still deciding which pastoral community to join). In June, the Standing Committee will be able to recommend numbers of ministers for each of these pastoral communities into the future.

3. A Vision for Sovereign Parishes
*We believe that parishes should retain as much control as possible over the shape of mission and ministry in their locality. Pastoral communities are not a replacement for parishes, they are simply a tool to help parishes help each other, and we are not looking for legal reorganisation for their creation. No clergyperson can be compelled to follow this scheme – nor would we wish it to be entered into reluctantly. We would ask that deanery clergy freely choose to include responsibilities to the pastoral community in their role descriptions. Where possible, we would hope that Readers and other accredited ministers would work in a flexible way to meet needs, and they are included in the new deanery vision.

4. A Vision for the Deanery Itself
Leadership in the deanery is offered by Andy Griffiths (the Rural Dean), Christine Horton (the Lay Chair), Carol Smith (Assistant Rural Dean), Canon Harry Marsh (the Treasurer), Lee Batson (the Chapter Clerk), Richard Cecil (the Secretary) and a team of others; we try to model the kind of collaboration of people with different gifts that we are urging throughout the deanery. In the context of God’s desire to shower us with blessing; in the context of full-time Christians, pastoral communities and sovereign parishes; and in the context of God’s love for the world, we are clear about the function of the deanery itself. We express it in twenty words:

We look to God for power
to equip every member
to serve South Chelmsford
and to tell of God’s love.”

Debate: Is a secular society a more tolerant society?

The next live debate at Gunnersbury Baptist Church, with two high profile speakers:

Terry Sanderson
Author, journalist and President of the National Secular Society

Rev. David Robertson
Director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity. Minister of St Peter's, Dundee

Saturday 11th June
at Gunnersbury Baptist Church, Wellesley Road, W4 4BE

Doors open 7pm, Debate starts 7:30pm
Admission: FREE

For further information, visit or call the church office on 020 8987 2965