Displaying items by tag: Church of England
The Church of England will hold an unprecedented ‘act of repentance’ service for the medieval expulsion of Jews in 1290 and other anti-Semitic acts. The move comes as the 800th anniversary approaches of the 1222 Oxford Synod, which introduced notorious anti-Semitic laws, including forcing Jews to wear clothing to distinguish them from Christians. Despite the CofE not existing in the 13th century (Henry VIII created it much later), Justin Welby’s office said it is exploring the idea of such a service, in conjunction with the Council of Christians and Jews, as well as the potential for a liturgical resource that might be offered to local churches to model an appropriate symbolic repentance. David Rich of Community Security Trust labelled the apology a case of ‘better late than never. The historic trauma of medieval English antisemitism can never be erased, and its legacy survives today with rising anti-Semitism’.
Financial data released by the Church of England shows that each bishop costs almost £120,000 a year, in addition to receiving £46,000 per year as a stipend. ‘As a member of General Synod for over a decade I have questioned the cost of bishops’ lavish lifestyles and opulence at the top while parishes up and down the country struggle to meet their bills, and even close their door,’ said Sam Margrave, a lay member of General Synod and a former local councilor, in a written statement submitted before last weekend’s synod meeting. The CofE spends, on average, £70,800 on the ongoing maintenance of each bishop’s house; 26 bishops live in houses that have more than six bedrooms.
The CofE has abandoned a proposal to appoint 42 ‘racial justice officers’ across the country, one of the recommendations from its report on tackling racism in the institution. In April 47 proposals were made to address institutional racism and improve diversity in an attempt to end a ‘rut of inaction’ spanning several decades, with the Archbishop of Canterbury conceding that people of colour had been ‘bullied, overlooked, undermined and excluded’ within the Church. With the taskforce warning a failure to act against racism would convince people the Church was ‘not serious about racial sin’, one suggestion was for paid, full-time racial justice officers to be employed in every diocese for a five-year term. However, the idea was scrapped. The Archbishop of York said, ‘The Archbishops' Council has concluded that it cannot support this recommendation in this formulation at this time, given the need to reduce costs in diocesan and national administration.’
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
As Church of England cathedrals and parishes prepare to mark the first anniversary of lockdown with a National Day of Reflection on 23 March, they released findings from a survey of over 2,000. Seven in ten wanted to attend a funeral but were unable to do so. 89% had not been able to say goodbye properly while 84% said they had not been able to fulfil the funeral wishes of the person who died. The majority of those surveyed said they believed the CofE should provide both outdoor and indoor spaces for quiet reflection and prayer for those coping with death, dying and grief. The chair of the Churches Funeral Group said, ‘The Day of Reflection will prompt us to remember and reflect on so much that’s happened in the past year. Nothing will be more poignant and heartfelt than our treasured memories of those who have died during the year.’
The Church of England says it is admirable that many churches want to be vaccination centres, but they need to think about the practical implications, such as potentially leaving the church unable to hold services for up to a year. With the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine being rolled out already and the prospect of two more vaccines on the way, venues across the country will need to be temporarily converted into vaccination centres in order to inoculate the population. The Royal College of Nursing has said, ‘Buildings with the capacity for large-scale vaccination options such as sports and leisure centres, community centres and religious venues may offer the potential to facilitate a mass throughput of people.’ Vaccination centres are also decided by local NHS trusts with local authorities, GPs, and pharmacies. The Church of England has published guidance about what they need to consider before offering: see
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, called on the Church of England to ‘learn afresh how to share the gospel in the world’. He said the Church’s voice remains over-dominated by people who are usually white, male, with a certain education, and over 60. He is engaging in wide-ranging discussion with people from across the church, and intends to draw in and listen to the voices of younger Christians and those whose voices are not usually so easily heard in Church. He said we are going to have to learn again how to love one another, love the world, and love God so that we can be the place where God is revealed, adding, ‘We have allowed ourselves to become tribal and divided, with secondary things obscuring our belonging to each other. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ in us; and through us may we learn afresh how to share the gospel in the world.’
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.
500+ clergy and lay people signed a letter to the Times calling for a rethink to current guidance on church shutdown. They said that closed churches are stifling their prophetic witness and defence of the poor. They agreed that temporary closure of churches for public worship is necessary in the current crisis. However, the broadcast of services from a closed church is explicitly permitted by government guidelines and almost all other churches are doing this, but ‘the Church of England has gone beyond this advice’. Since the publication of this letter, the CofE has responded by issuing revised guidelines outlining the precautions which must be taken if a church building is being used for private prayer or streaming worship: see
In light of Government guidance around non-essential contact, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said that public worship is suspended until further notice. Churches should be open wherever possible, but no public worship services should take place. Prayers can be said on behalf of everyone, and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community. There are digital resources available. Funerals are significant events with family and friends gathering to express grief, give thanks for the life lived, and commend the person into God’s keeping. Christian funerals will continue but with some adaptations - limiting the numbers of those attending to immediate family, and using technology to capture the event for those who are unable to be there in person. Also, social distancing measures should be observed. Churches remain committed to offering pastoral and spiritual support, sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ. For special prayers and liturgy go here