church of england

Canterbury Cathedral to Host First-ever Girls’ Choir

The Winchester Cathedral girls choir. Photo:Jim Pascoe, courtesy Winchester Cathedral. Via RNS.

Canterbury Cathedral, mother church of the 85 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, will have its first girls’ choir perform since it was rebuilt nearly 1,000 years ago.

On Jan. 25, worshippers will hear the voices of 16 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 at a historic Evensong service, which will include the music of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Until now, only male voices have been heard at the cathedral’s services.

Twenty years ago, Salisbury Cathedral was the first English cathedral to allow girls to sing in choirs at services. That set the ball rolling. There are now 765 girls in cathedral choirs across England, compared with 1,008 boys.

Church of England's Alternative Baptism Liturgy Drops Reference to Devil

A priest prepares for a baptism. Photo courtesy of DainaFalk via Shutterstock

The Church of England has been accused of “dumbing down” the baptism service following the introduction of an alternative liturgy in which parents and godparents need not repent of their “sins” or reject “the devil.”

In the traditional version of the service, parents and godparents are asked: “Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?” and “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbor?”

In the alternative version, now being tested in 400 churches, parents are instead asked to “reject evil and all its many forms and all its empty promises.”

Church of England to Consider Optional Clerical Robes

Photo courtesy Anglican Communion News Service/The Press Association

Procession in Canterbury Cathedral Photo courtesy Anglican Communion News Service/The Press Association

A well-known Anglican bishop in charge of the archbishop of Canterbury’s campaign to attract young people to the church says he’s ready to put on blue jeans and a T-shirt.

 “There are people for whom vestments are profoundly helpful and those for whom they are a real obstacle,” said Bishop Graham Cray who heads the ”Fresh Expressions” campaign.

His statement follows reports that the General Synod, the Church of England’s governing body, is prepared to debate a controversial motion that would make clerical vestments optional.

In a letter to Synod members, the Rev. Christopher Hobbs, vicar of St Thomas in Oakwood, North London, wrote: “In all walks of life people are less formal. And sometimes informality is good even in a very traditional parish.”

‘None’ could be religion’s new normal in Britain, USA

Sally Morrow via RNS

Empty pews in a church in Kansas City, Missouri, show the trend in the West away from religious identity/Sally Morrow Via RNS

Merry what? Just in time for Christmas, new statistics show “no religion is the new religion” in Great Britain, according to a study released Monday.

The study, by Westminster Faith Debates, finds 38 percent adults in Great Britain, and 48 percent of those ages 18 to 29, checked no religion in online surveys conducted in January and June by YouGov.

These numbers fall midway between the findings of two other British studies that both show a trend away from the pews.

Francis Spufford's Christian Apology Aimed at 'Godless Europeans'

Cover of Francis Spufford’s “Unapologetic." Photo via RNS, courtesy HarperOne.

British novelist and essayist Francis Spufford’s spirited defense of the Christian religion is in some ways like eavesdropping on a missionary conversation with the pagans of antiquity.

Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense — is the latest attempt at an ancient literary form, the Christian apology, and it makes its appearance in the United States more than a year after it was published in England.

Spufford’s defense of Christianity is aimed primarily at what he calls “godless Europeans,” the post-Enlightenment elites who tend to regard religion with bemusement as a silly fairy tale, if not with open hostility as a dangerous superstition.

Meet Sally Lloyd-Jones, the Most Successful Christian Author You’ve Never Heard of

“The Jesus Storybook Bible” children’s Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Cover photo vai RNS/courtesy of Zondervan.

How do you get kids to read one of the world’s oldest books? Ask Sally Lloyd-Jones, whose The Jesus Storybook Bible recently passed the critical mark of one million copies sold.

The British ex-pat and now proud New Yorker has never married or had children of her own, yet aims to retell the Bible to something that comes alive for young people.

One of her editors told her once that there are two types of children’s books authors: the ones who are around children, and the ones who are children inside.

“It kind of freed me, because I think I know I’m that second one,” she said. “And I can still write from that place, because my childhood is so vivid.”

Church of England paves the way for women bishops

The Right Rev. Justin Welby. Photo: RNS courtesy Durham Cathedral

The Church of England’s governing body has approved new proposals that would allow women bishops to be ordained by this time next year.

Meeting in London on Wednesday, the church’s General Synod passed a motion by 378-8, with 25 abstentions, that paves the way for the endorsement of women bishops. Bishops also approved a declaration that sets out guidance for parishes that reject female consecrations.

The package would end nearly two decades of bitter and damaging conflict, and the vote is a victory of sorts for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was appointed last year just as the General Synod came within six votes of allowing women bishops.

Church of England 'One Generation from Extinction’ Says Former Archbishop

George Carey, former archbishop of Canterbury. Photo by James Rosenthal / Anglican Communion News Service

A former archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the Church of England faces extinction in less than 25 years unless it can attract more young people now.

Talking to 300 churchgoers in Shropshire, West England on the eve of a church agreement to start a campaign to evangelize England, Lord George Carey said: “We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We are one generation away from extinction and if we do not invest in young people there is going to be no one in the future.”

Carey was Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the world’s estimated 85 million Anglicans from 1991 until 2002 when he joined the House of Lords (Britain’s Upper Chamber of Parliament).

Archbishop Blasts British Energy Companies for Price Hikes

Right Rev. Justin Welby, bishop of Durham, was named the 105th archbishop of Canterbury. RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral

Less than three months after he promised to take on payday lenders and create alternative church credit unions, the archbishop of Canterbury condemned Britain’s energy companies for imposing huge price hikes that will hurt struggling families.

Justin Welby said over the weekend that the six most powerful energy supply companies have a “massive” moral duty beyond squeezing customers for maximum profits. The largest of them, British Gas, whose parent company is called Centrica, recorded a 2.7 billion pound ($4.37 billion) profit last year.

The archbishop — a former oil trader — challenged the company’s huge markup of around 9.2 percent.

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