Displaying items by tag: Religion
New ways of engaging people with faith are being pioneered by the Church of Scotland in Ayrshire. It is sending teams of missioners out into the community to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to build new worshipping communities. Team leader Revd Maggie McTernan said the aim is to connect with people who do not want to worship in traditional ways. ‘There's a challenge of declining attendance at our traditional churches on Sunday mornings. But that doesn't necessarily match with a decline in interest in matters of faith. There are people who have an interest and a concern about faith, but for a whole host of reasons they won't go to church on a Sunday morning. Maybe it's not what they're used to or maybe they have other commitments.’ The vision is an intergenerational church sharing activities, experiences and worship in new ways: Messy Church, prayer walks, sports-based wellbeing projects, online, digital parish and a disability project so that the church is fully inclusive.
Christians and others are being encouraged to welcome a refugee or asylum-seeker into their homes as part of a new initiative. The Hospitality Pledge was launched this week and will work with international charities and the church to speak up for the displaced. It's being led by Dr Krish Kandiah with the aim of encouraging people to offer sanctuary to those who are persecuted or fleeing conflict as offering sanctuary is at the heart of the Gospel. ‘Christians are called to show mercy and compassion to those that are in need. Jesus once said, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. In welcoming, to the least of those in our society is a demonstration of the love and compassion of Jesus. Right now our nation has an interesting relationship with asylum and welcoming refugees.’ Dr Kandiah assured enquirers that there will be a lot of support available for anyone who decides to accommodate a refugee or asylum-seeker.
Members of the Early Rain Church in Chengdu continue to face harassment as authorities attempt to shut down their unregistered congregation. While Wang Yi, the head pastor, is serving a nine-year prison sentence, other members of the church have also encountered persecution. Since early June, church minister Wu Wuqing, his wife Xiong Meifang, and their children have been locked in their home by governing officials. The fire door, which gives access to the stairs and lift, has been chained, and guards remain posted outside the door. At first the guards would unlock the door if visitors came to see the family but on 8 June they turned a woman and her children away, stating that since visitors were prohibited from entering the residence, they would only be allowed to pass food through the fire door.
Although Christian persecution continues to rise in India, the only recent survey of this fact was in 2020 when a report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India listed 366 incidents where Christians were targeted, 40+ in the first two months. Most incidents feature physical violence, threats, harassment, and the disruption of church services by religious radicals or the police. Disruption of prayer meetings and Sunday worship is now a trend across many states. Many Christians are falsely accused and detained on charges of forced conversion. The US commission on international religious freedom has said, ‘Religious hate crimes in India are rising. Mob violence is carried out against Christians accused of forced or induced religious conversion.’ Christians make up a little over 2% of India’s population. Though they are often accused of following a ‘foreign’ religion, the gospel was introduced there in the first century through Jesus’ disciple Thomas.
We celebrate all that has been done in the past by God’s people across this nation: church planting, mission, transformation and social care. Many Christians believe that God is taking His people back to the very roots and foundations of His gospel, releasing and empowering a people who will move in the mandate of this season - to make disciples of all nations. Pray for apostles to arise in fresh levels of authority, building, empowering and equipping God’s people, so that the Kingdom will be released into all areas of society. Pray for teachers to be raised, to preach the word in all its fullness of truth, calling the Church back to its first love. Pray for evangelists to teach and equip the saints – so that the gospel is preached into all communities with signs and wonders following.
When Covid hit last year, our nation quickly turned to science - epidemiologists seeking to contain the virus and researchers creating vaccines. But how much did the church use the opportunity to point to our hope beyond death? On 30 June, a Church Unlocked livestream will feature Canon J.John and other evangelists talking about how the pandemic and lockdowns have changed evangelism. Has the widespread use of streaming technology transformed how the Church will reach out? What are the felt needs of those around us, post-Covid, and how can we help people see that Jesus is the answer to those needs?
The Light and Life Christian festival at Rutland showground attracts 1,500 members of the travelling community, but local residents contacted police over fights, theft and drag car racing in the streets. The Rutland police resourced staff from the wider force for this event. It is legal, but two arrests were made for attempted robbery and antisocial behaviour. Local shops closed early due to staff being abused and speeding cars through villages. A festival organiser said the issue had been blown out of proportion. ‘They may see some young lads who are being rowdy and think everyone is like that,’ he said. ‘Actually 99.9% are not. They are family people with small children.’ He said that the event was not to blame: it was being held to reach out to those who are not Christians. ‘This is a mission and is for those who aren't yet saved.’
Rev Richard Coles has called for an end to conversion therapy. Speaking during a BBC programme Morning Live, he said that the practice, which attempts to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity, causes ‘untold misery’. Last month, the Government announced in the Queen's Speech that measures would be brought forward to ban the therapy. ‘I'm a priest of the Church of England and I'm also gay and for me that's never been a problem’. he said. ’But some people do and indeed find that so unendurable that they seek, some would say therapy, intervention, call it what you will, to pray the gay away.’ Coles said he always took his own homosexuality as ‘a given that I had no choice over at all’. The Church of England says conversion therapy has ‘no place in the modern world’. For an alternative perspective, see
The Uprising prayer movement is worldwide, organised by youth but with the whole Body of Christ invited to participate. They are seeking to usher in a move of the Holy Spirit to unleash them into their prophetic destiny: uniting the young and old generations in seeking God, and believing their united fellowship, worship and intercession will usher in a prophetic move of the Holy Spirit, releasing an anointing that will cause them to be sent out and be the Jeremiahs in the nation. Smith Wigglesworth prophetically proclaimed, ‘Australia, you have been chosen by God for a great move of the Holy Spirit. This move of God will be the greatest move of God ever known in mankind’s history and will start towards the end of the 20th century and move into the 21st century. This move of God will start a great revival in Australia, spread throughout the whole world and usher in the second coming of Jesus. This will be the final revival before the coming of the Lord.’
Speaking on a beach in Cornwall at the G7 summit, ITV's Robert Peston asked Boris Johnson whether he is now a practising Roman Catholic, having recently married in Westminster Cathedral. The Prime Minister replied, ‘I don't discuss these deep issues, certainly not with you’. Peston laughed and followed up by saying that Sir Keir Starmer has said he does not believe in God, and asked again if Mr Johnson did. The Prime Minister paused then referenced Psalm 14: ‘The foolish man has said in his heart there is no God’. Peston accepted his answer and finished the interview. The sentence also appears in Psalm 53. The rest of the verse describes those who deny God: ‘They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.’