Displaying items by tag: Religion

The Church of England’s General Synod has endorsed a plan to allow standalone services for blessing same-sex couples, advancing LGBTQ+ inclusion while accommodating conservative theological views. This decision, part of the Living in Love and Faith initiative, follows years of debate. Although same-sex marriages remain prohibited in Anglican churches, blessings called Prayers of Love and Faith were authorised in February 2023, with the first blessings integrated into regular services starting in December. The new plan permits standalone services for these blessings. Details are still being worked out, and clergy will not be compelled to participate. Additionally, the church will develop 'delegated episcopal ministry' for bishops with differing theological views. The Archbishop of York described the decision as a compromise, emphasising that it provides a way forward for the church. Calls to lift the prohibition on same-sex civil marriages for clergy were acknowledged but not yet addressed. Reactions were mixed: LGBTQ+ inclusion group Together for the Church of England praised the decision, while conservative Anglicans, represented by John Dunnett, criticised it as insufficient. See

Published in British Isles

A group of church leaders is taking a stand and threatening to split the Church of England over a vote on blessings for same-sex couples. Bishops have proposed trial standalone church services for gay and lesbian couples, pending a formal vote on making the change permanent. Over 25 church leaders have written to the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, warning that such a change could be 'unlawful' and claiming that the proposal departs from the Church’s doctrine. While priests can offer blessings within services, standalone services for same-sex blessings are not yet permitted, as some argue it equates to same-sex marriages. The General Synod will debate the issue next week. The Alliance, a conservative group supported by 2,000 clergy members, prepared the letter. It warns that further departure from the Church’s doctrine will force them to establish a new 'parallel province'.

Published in British Isles

The future of the established Church of England was the focus of a recent conference in Oxford. Scholars, clergy, and laypeople gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Church in modern society. Topics included declining attendance, the Church’s role in public life, and the need for renewal and reform. Keynote speaker Professor Sarah Foot emphasised the importance of the Church adapting to contemporary cultural shifts while maintaining its theological foundations. Discussions highlighted the tension between tradition and innovation, with many calling for a renewed focus on community engagement and social justice. The conference underscored the urgency for the Church to find new ways to connect with a diverse and often secular population, while preserving its core mission and values. Participants left with a sense of both the challenges ahead and a commitment to work towards a vibrant future for the CofE.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 23 May 2024 22:18

CofE church attendance up!

Average weekly attendance at Church of England services rose nearly 5% in 2023, marking the third consecutive year of growth. Children's attendance increased by almost 6%. Although total attendance remains below 2019 levels, the gap has significantly narrowed. Justin Welby praised the efforts of clergy and congregations, highlighting the rise in children's participation as particularly encouraging. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, emphasised the positive impact of focusing on outreach, new Christian communities, and revitalising parishes. The full Statistics for Mission report will be released in the autumn.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 15 February 2024 22:19

India: two mosques demolished

The recent demolition of two mosques has accentuated religious divisions as India prepares for elections in April / May, expected to secure prime minister Narendra Modi a third term. The demolitions, in Uttarakhand and Delhi, come weeks after the inauguration of the contentious Ram Mandir temple on the site of a historic mosque torn down by Hindu fundamentalists in the 1990s. That ceremony, marking a huge shift away from modern India’s secular founding principles, was hailed by Hindu nationalists as a crowning moment in their decades-long campaign to reshape the nation. Both demolitions were supposedly because of ‘illegal encroachment’. In Uttarakhand, violent confrontations followed, claiming six lives and prompting curfews. Many scared Muslims have said they just want to leave. Analysts fear escalating religious tensions as Modi's BJP advances its populist, divisive policies ahead of the elections. Despite Modi's aspiration to portray India as a vibrant modern superpower, many Muslims feel marginalised in the world’s largest democracy.

Published in Worldwide

Evangelist Nick Hall, founder of Pulse, a global evangelistic organisation, has embarked on a transformative mission to saturate North Dakota with biblical truth. In 2023, Hall witnessed a spiritual revival sweeping across America, with remarkable moments like the Asbury outpouring and mass baptisms. Hall perceives this as a reformation, where societal hopes have faltered, drawing people closer to God. He marvels at the unprecedented openness and hunger for the Gospel, particularly among the youth. Amid a cultural embrace of self-centred ideologies, Hall finds cause for celebration in the growing light of faith. He trains young evangelists nationwide through Pulse and recently concluded The Reason Tour in North Dakota. Hall's North Dakota roots drive his desire to reach every corner of the state, touching lives in recovery centres, nursing homes, and juvenile centres. The tour has already ignited positive transformations. His vision includes fostering unity, prayer, and a shift in the cultural narrative in North Dakota, reminding Christians of their ultimate hope in Christ amidst societal challenges.

Published in Praise Reports

Evangelist Franklin Graham has criticised the UK Methodist Church for its new Inclusive Language Guide, which advises avoiding gendered terms like 'husband' and 'wife’. Graham, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, expressed his disapproval on social media, emphasising the biblical significance of these terms and the importance of adhering to scriptural teachings rather than conforming to cultural shifts. The guide, updated every six months, aims to promote inclusivity, especially for LGBT+ people, by recommending terms like 'parent’, 'partner’, 'child', and 'carer' as alternatives. It also suggests using language and pronouns preferred by individuals. The Methodist Church defended the guide, stating it facilitates respectful conversations without making assumptions or unintentionally causing offence. This initiative aligns with the church's efforts to include LGBT+ individuals, as indicated by references to organisations like GLAAD and Stonewall in the guide. However, the denomination's Book of Discipline still prohibits LGBT-identified clergy from ordination and bans same-sex marriages. A significant legislative gathering in spring 2024 is expected to address these contentious issues further.

Published in British Isles

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on global faith leaders to take action against the effects of climate change. Speaking at the Global Leaders Faith Summit in Abu Dhabi, Justin Welby emphasised the challenges millions of Christians worldwide face due to the climate crisis. He stressed the importance of caring for the climate and neighbours, especially the poor and vulnerable, and urged faith leaders to lead by example in protecting the planet. The Archbishop's audience included UN secretary-general António Guterres and a Vatican representative. He highlighted that faith leaders represent the majority of people globally and can demonstrate the desire for change and support bold decisions at COP28. The Church of England has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, divesting from fossil fuels. Archbishop Welby's message precedes COP28  in Dubai, which Pope Francis plans to attend - the first time a pope will participate in the UN environmental meeting since its inception in 1995.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 09 November 2023 21:56

Russia sentences another Jehovah’s Witness

A court in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) follower to seven years in prison on charges of ‘extremism’. Yevgeny Bushev had been under house arrest for over a year on allegations of continuing ‘the illegal activities of a banned religious organisation’. In 2017 the Supreme Court declared the JW movement to be extremist, banning its estimated 400 branches across the country. Bushev is the 15th JW follower from the region to be prosecuted. The prosecution’s witness was an employee of the National Guard (Rosgvardia) who had ‘shown interest in the Bible’: a linguistic examination concluded that Bushev had ‘tempted’ him to accept the JW faith when responding to questions about religion. International human rights NGOs have condemned Russia’s crackdown on JW followers in the years since the ban, and in June 2022 the European Court of Human Rights said that Russia had violated over 1,400 followers' right to religious freedom.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 07 September 2023 21:02

Finland: Christian MP on trial for Bible tweet

In April 2022, Finnish MP and former government minister Päivi Räsänen was declared innocent of all charges over her beliefs on sexuality, but the prosecutors appealed the verdict. The latest trial involves expressions of her Christian faith in a tweet, in a church pamphlet twenty years ago, and in a 2019 radio interview. She is accused under the ‘War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity’ for ‘agitation against a minority group’. She says it is a very important verdict for freedom of speech and religion in Finland, which has consequences across Europe. Räsänen’s tweet challenged her church leadership for sponsoring a Pride event, and included a picture of a Bible verse from Romans. The prosecutor said she wasn’t putting God in the dock, but rather those who interpret what the Bible says: ‘You can cite the Bible, but it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about Bible verses that are criminal.’ The court will deliver a verdict by 30 November.

Published in Europe
Page 1 of 103