Displaying items by tag: Church of England
The Church of England has urged the Government to ensure age verification systems are put in place to protect under-18s from online pornography. The widespread availability of porn to children means they are growing up in a culture where violent, degrading and harmful sexual activity is being normalised. In 2017, porn checks were approved by Parliament under the Digital Economy Act but plans to implement them were abandoned in 2019 when the Government claimed they would be covered by future legislation. The abandoned Online Safety Bill stated, ‘pornographic websites could face large fines and risk being blocked if they do not have age verification systems in place to prevent children from accessing content.’ But now the Government announced, ‘further parliamentary consideration of the Bill is delayed until after the summer recess.’
For the jubilee celebrations, the Church of England has produced a range of liturgical resources for churches to use. The resources produced by HOPE Together include ‘Our Faithful Queen’, a gift book using rarely-seen prayers the Queen prayed as she prepared for the Coronation; a Happylands book ‘The Girl Who Grew Up To Be Queen’ for under-5s;' a YouTube video, from the team that brought together ‘The UK Blessing’ during lockdown, featuring choirs from around the Commonwealth singing the new anthem; and ‘70 Acts of Service’, an invitation to communities to celebrate by serving others.
The Church of England has released a Christmas single as part of a campaign to encourage more people to hear the real Christmas story through their local church. The single, a new carol version of In the Bleak Midwinter by one of the country’s top young composers, Rebecca Dale, will form the soundtrack to this year’s CofE Christmas campaign. It was released on all streaming platforms on Wednesday 1 December and can be downloaded online. All royalties from the digital streams and downloads of the track will be donated to charity, helping people experiencing homelessness in the UK. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that we often dress Christmas up with trimmings, but they are not the heart of Christmas. The only thing that makes Christmas perfect is Jesus, and the only thing we need to give him and each other is our hearts.
An ex-Muslim Christian working among Gazans in Jerusalem for medical treatment of war wounds said, ‘They’re tired of hatred and fighting so it’s easier to talk about love and reconciliation.’ Several became believers and one man was miraculously healed of cancer. If only more people would preach the Gospel, many more Muslims would come to Jesus! A great number of Jews have also come to discover their Messiah, and now contend that they are more Jewish than ever. Some had visions of Christ.’ Also, the Church of England will offer an act of repentance in 2022 for its anti-Semitism. The service will mark the passing of 800 years of humiliating anti-Jewish laws which eventually led to the expulsion of Jews from Britain. This monumental move follows their 2019 document ‘God’s Unfailing Word’, which acknowledged the Church’s role in fostering anti-Semitic feeling.
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