Displaying items by tag: Religion
The prime minister's plan to spend £5 billion on rebuilding the economy after the coronavirus crisis has been met with scepticism by Rt Rev Martin Gorick, Bishop of Dudley. In a keynote speech in Dudley, Boris Johnson announced a new ‘opportunity guarantee’ to help the economy cope with the ‘aftershock’ of the coronavirus crisis. Bishop Martin said, ‘We need to pray not just for warm and expansive words, but we need to pray for cool calm thinking, planning and the real determination to deliver for the poorest communities, and especially for some of our young people.’ The Prime Minister acknowledged that it might seem premature to make a speech now about Britain after Covid, given events in Leicester, but said, ‘We cannot continue simply to be prisoners of this crisis. The country needs to be ready for what may be coming’.
The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book, yet the history of Bible translations is contentious and bloody. Many translators were burned at the stake. Today Islam is spreading, and in some countries Bibles are a rare commodity. Please pray for people groups without a Bible in their mother tongue. Pray for organisations like the Bible Society, Wycliffe, and many others translating and distributing God's Word. May the translators have Holy Spirit discernment to accurately depict the original text into the various cultures and dialects. Pray for those publishing scriptures in print, audio, visual, braille, technical devices and various advanced layouts. May the distribution avenues they use be unobstructed. Pray also for God's protection for Christians being persecuted for living by God’s word in hostile dangerous environments. May all believers have safe spaces in which to study, grow in their faith, and share God's teaching.
During the last 25 years thousands of new followers of Christ have been born among peoples who were historically starved of the gospel. These mass turnings to Christ are happening among Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist peoples through natural networks of family, household, and friendship. The gospel is introduced through a person with an abundance of natural links in the community, often called a ‘person of peace’. Discipleship is learnt in groups meeting to discuss the scriptures and seeking to obey Christ. Each person is taught to reproduce the discipleship process in their own networks. Living out the Kingdom by serving others is seen as important in glorifying God and in reducing hostility to the message. Praise God that many thousands of people are meeting Christ in Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities. Pray for church-planting initiatives around the world to be channels of grace.
Two bishops have asked the Government to help prevent the annexation of the West Bank. Israel is preparing to annex parts from 1 July, but the Catholic bishop of Clifton and the Anglican bishop of Southwark said the annexation plans were not supported by local communities and the situation is rapidly deteriorating. ‘Annexation would only bring more conflict, suffering and division’, they said. Their comments follow strong criticism of the plans from the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Vincent Nichols. They said in letters to the Israeli ambassador and prime minister that they unambiguously support the fundamental right of Israel's citizens to live in peace and safety and ‘pray for peace and flourishing for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Israel and Palestine and all living in the Holy Land.’
In May the CofE’s General Synod was cancelled, but now an informal Zoom Synod will convene for a virtual meeting on 11 July. The term of the current General Synod has been extended for a year. Synod officers continue to explore options to enable them to transact business remotely if it is not possible to meet in person. July's meeting will include a session to discuss the CoE's coronavirus policies.
The world’s smallest state, in the heart of Rome and the papal domain, is losing credibility through numerous scandals, aggressive papal doctrinal positions, and sustained decline in vocations (of priests, monks and nuns), which are bringing many changes to Catholicism. Pray for the impact of charismatic renewal on Catholics worldwide: a large proportion of the Catholic missionary force is charismatic. At the same time, the Church is expanding in theological conservatism, Marian devotion (prayers to Mary), and folk religious practices.
On 30 May, two days before ‘Global Coptic Day’, authorities demolished the only Coptic church in Koum al-Farag village, even though it served 3,000 Christians. The demolition was a punishment for the 'crime' of building rooms for Sunday school. When the extension work began, Muslims attacked the Christians by building a mosque next door (according to common law, churches are prevented from being formally recognised or displaying Christian symbols if a mosque is built next door). Police also imprisoned 14 Christians overnight. The nearest church is now ten miles away. Demolitions of churches are seldom reported in the West. Christians and priests are also randomly assaulted in Egypt’s streets - not by terrorists but by Muslim neighbours. See
‘If anything happens to my pastor, I will not fear. I will take charge of his work and serve the Lord!’ This brave declaration was made by Samaru Madkami, aged 14, from Odisha State. He had good reason to expect his pastor to die, as Christians in their area face hostility and violence from extremists in the Hindu majority. Samaru’s father, a church elder, had received death threats. But it was Samaru himself who was abducted and brutally murdered by the extremists, not long after he had made his courageous pledge. He went missing on 4 June and his body was found two days later. The gang who killed him also tried to seize a cousin of Samaru’s but, being older and stronger, he managed to get away. ‘Samaru was a passionate Christian’, said his pastor, recalling how the boy had energetically shared the Gospel with other young people and children in the village.
Community growing schemes are enabling churches to develop relationships with people who would never come to a Sunday service; because of that, opportunities arise for church members to pray with their neighbours in times of need or struggle. It is a new expression of what church is and can be when relating to the unchurched neighbourhood. Community gardening initiatives vary from gardens whose object is to provide social connection to sustainable food production, supplying foodbanks and other areas of need. Some churches are involved in both. The environmental adviser to the Archbishops’ Council sees the potential for community food-growing alongside therapeutic gardening in initiatives such as the Church Times Green Church Awards, churchyard initiatives, biodiversity projects, and the target to be carbon-neutral by 2030. There is a huge surge of interest from people wanting to grow something.
A priest in St Albans diocese is beating the ban on public worship inside churches while complying with lockdown restrictions. He will hold communion services in his church’s garden of remembrance. Canon Charles Royden has announced that he will be holding services under the ruling that allows an outdoor gathering of a maximum of six people. He is taking telephone bookings for five people to attend at half-hourly intervals in the church grounds on Sunday. He has already filled twelve services, from 9.30 am to 3 pm, and is taking reservations for the following weekend. Service duties will be shared with his colleague, Rev Dr Sam Cappleman. Canon Royden said the new rules say we can now share food and drink and enjoy outdoor picnics and barbeques. So the sharing of the holy sacrament is no longer prohibited. The possibility of catching Covid-19 from this practice is considered to be extremely low.