church of england

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.

“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.”

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.

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).

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.

Vishal Arora 10-03-2013

Rev. Eggoni Pushpalalitha was appointed a bishop of the Church of South India. Photo courtesy RNS/Rev. Eggoni Pushpalalitha

A Christian nun who became the first woman bishop of South Asia’s Anglican community said that so far her appointment has silenced critics who believe only men can play leadership roles in the church.

Speaking on the phone from the Nandyal diocese in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the Rev. Eggoni Pushpalalitha, who was appointed a bishop of the Church of South India on Monday, said she faced bias against women in leadership roles “but only until my consecration.”

“Those who used to talk about it are now touching my feet,” said the 57-year-old bishop, who holds degrees in economics and divinity, referring to an Indian custom of showing respect.

Canterbury Cathedral. Photo by RNS/Trevor Grundy

The decision by the Church in Wales to consecrate women bishops means the Church of England — the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion — will be the last in Britain to admit women as bishops.

Cheers erupted in a hall at Lampeter, Ceredigion in Wales, when the 144-member governing body of the Welsh church announced the result of the vote on Thursday. A similar bill failed narrowly in 2008.

Photo courtesy RNS/Total Politics.

The cover of Total Politics. Photo courtesy RNS/Total Politics.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was embarrassed and irritated following revelations that the Church of England has invested millions of pounds in a company that financially backs England’s leading payday lending company, Wonga.

Welby told the BBC: “We must find out why this happened and then make sure that it never happens again.”

The Financial Times broke the news that the Church of England invested several million pounds in Accel Partners, the U.S. venture capital company that led to the launch of Wonga, which dominates the 2 billion pound payday lending market in England. Wonga charges annual percentage rates of more than 5,000 percent.

Photo courtesy RNS.

Queen Elizabeth II on May 8, 2007. Photo courtesy RNS.

England and Wales became the 16th and 17th countries in the world to recognize gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave “royal assent” to a same-sex marriage bill.

Under the new law, gay men and women will be able to join together in civil ceremonies or in church services — although no religious denomination will be forced to carry out such services.

Cheers, laughter, and clapping broke out in the House of Commons when Speaker John Bercow announced the bill had been approved.

Photo courtesy Piotr Krzeslak/Shutterstock.com

British flag grunge on old vintage paper. Photo courtesy Piotr Krzeslak/Shutterstock.com

Leading secularists are calling on nonreligious parents to fight a government effort that would allow the Church of England to run thousands of state schools.

The schools, or academies, would be privately funded, quasi-independent and accountable to the church for their curricula, organization, admission policies, and teachers’ pay and conditions.

As of July, there were 3,049 such academies operating in England, many financed by businessmen, finance companies, supermarkets, football clubs, and a growing number of faith-based organizations including the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church and the largest of all — the Church of England.

Bishops in the Church of England, who had strenuously opposed a bid to allow same-sex marriage, signaled that they won’t try to derail the bill after an overwhelming vote of support in the House of Lords.

Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins said that in the same way the church will eventually allow women bishops, England will eventually allow same-sex marriage.

“It doesn’t mean the Church of England is happy, but that’s where our government is going,” Jenkins said. “Now it’s about safeguarding people’s right to hold religious beliefs.”

RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral

The Right Rev. Justin Welby was named the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. RNS photo courtesy Durham Cathedral

LONDON — Justin Welby was confirmed Monday as the new archbishop of Canterbury at a centuries-old service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, six weeks before his formal enthronement inside Canterbury Cathedral on March 21.

Welby, 57, was a banker and oil executive before his ordination as a priest in 1992, and has served as a bishop for less than a year.

He takes over from Rowan Williams, 62, who returned to academic life at Cambridge University after a decade of turmoil throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion over questions of human sexuality and inside the Church of England over the role of women bishops.

The new archbishop had been the bishop of Durham in northern England for eight months when he was ordered by a still unnamed person in the Church of England to apply for the church’s top job.

Monika Wisniewska / Shutterstock

Praying priest with rosary in his hands. Monika Wisniewska / Shutterstock

CANTERBURY, England — The Church of England on Jan. 4 confirmed that it has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops — but only if they agree to remain celibate.

Speaking on behalf of the Church’s House of Bishops, Bishop of Norwich Graham Jones said in a statement: “The House of Bishops has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate. There had been a moratorium on such candidates for the past year and a half while the working party completed its task.”

Jones added that the bishops agreed it would be “unjust” to exclude gay men from becoming bishops if they were otherwise “seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline.”

Photo: Lasse Kristensen / Shutterstock

Gay Marriage Illustration. Photo: Lasse Kristensen / Shutterstock

CANTERBURY, England — The British government unveiled a proposal on Tuesday that excludes the Church of England and the Church in Wales from planned legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in churches.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller told Parliament the new plan would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in some churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques, but definitely not in the established church, where both the outgoing and incoming archbishops of Canterbury insist that marriage remain between a man and a woman.

"We will write on the face of the bill a declaration that no religious organization, or individual minister, can be forced to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises," Miller told the House of Commons.

Religious groups, including Quakers, Unitarians, and some liberal Jewish groups, welcomed the news because they favor same-sex marriage. The Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Roman Catholic Church, most Muslims, and Orthodox Jews oppose the move.

Nagib / Shutterstock

Photo: Nagib / Shutterstock

CANTERBURY, England — The Church of England plans to rush through legislation to consecrate women bishops after last week’s surprising defeat at the church's General Synod in London.


The church's Archbishops’ Council ended two days of closed-door meetings on Wednesday (Nov. 28), and said a plan to allow women bishops needs to be "restarted" when General Synod reconvenes in July. Church leaders originally said the issue could not be reopened until 2015.

The 19-member council acts as the standing committee of the three-tier General Synod made up of bishops, clergy and laity.

News Corporation in New York City. Photo by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

News Corporation in New York City. Photo by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

The Church of England has sold its $3 million worth of shares in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. due to concerns about the company's ethics.

Eight News Corp. journalists have been charged by British authorities in connection with a phone-hacking scandal. They are accused of hacking telephone lines belonging to celebrities, politicians, law enforcement officials and crime victims; bribing police officers and paying private investigators for illegally obtained information.

"The Church of England was not satisfied that News Corporation had shown, or is likely in the immediate future to show, a commitment to implement necessary corporate governance reform," the church said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug. 7).

The church also said it was concerned that Murdoch is both chairman and chief executive of News Corp.

QR Blog Editor 7-16-2012

In a column Sunday in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, Giles Fraser, the former canon chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral, set a discussion about the Church of England and its stance toward gay marriage within the context of the Eucharist, saying, "The parish church opens up the jollof rice and communal wafers to all comers, shouldn't we do the same with the marriage feast?"

Fraser continued,

The problem with the CofE on the gay issue is not that it doesn't practise what it preaches but that it doesn't preach what it practises. And orthopraxy (what you do) is more properly basic than orthodoxy (what you think). In practice, the CofE has a reasonably good track record of opening up the jollof rice and the communion wafer to all comers – and certainly better than its official pronouncements would lead onlookers to believe. So why is there such a huge gap between the CofE at parish level and the CofE as expressed by official pronouncements? During General Synod this week, the archbishops came under heavy fire from parish clergy for submitting a shockingly negative response to the government's same-sex marriage proposals in the name of the CofE, as if they constituted the CofE's views. They don't. The parish church is typically a more inclusive place than the church's leadership understand. Here there is neither rich nor poor, black nor white, gay nor straight. The archbishops are out of touch. The parish is the centre of gravity of the church.

Read the column in its entirety HERE.

Image: Stained glass window depicting the Last Supper by Antonio V. Oquias/Shutterstock.

Al Webb 4-04-2012
Bride and groom, MNStudio/Shutterstock.com

Bride and groom, MNStudio/Shutterstock.com

 

A Church of England vicar has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for conducting hundreds of bogus weddings and illegally pocketing more than 30,000 pounds ($48,000) in fees.

The Rev. Brian Shipsides was convicted and sentenced Tuesday (April 3) for carrying out a "meticulously planned and orchestrated" immigration fraud over a 2 1/2 period at All Saints Church in east London.

Authorities said the vicar conducted the fake marriages of non-Europeans, mostly Nigerians, to European partners to try to obtain immigration rights to stay in Britain.

Kevin Eckstrom, Al Webb 3-27-2012
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams attends the Vespers Prayer Service. Franco Origlia/Getty Images

A proposed "Covenant" aimed at ensuring unity across the worldwide Anglican Communion appears to have failed, leaving the world's third-largest Christian body facing an uncertain and likely fragmented future.

The covenant, born of an idea in 2004 to try to set boundaries in belief and practice for the Communion's 40 members churches, appears dead after a majority of dioceses within the Church of England voted to reject it.

With results still being counted, supporters of the Covenant effectively lost their battle within the Church of England when the Diocese of Lincoln cast the 23rd vote against it last week.

"The covenant is either buried or disabled," said Simon Barrow, co-director of the independent British think tank Ekklesia, in the aftermath of the decision.

Tom Ehrich 3-20-2012
Archbishop of Canterbury, 1948 by William Sumits/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Archbishop of Canterburg Geoffrey Fisher outside Lambeth Palace in 1948. By William Sumits/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

"What do think will happen" a longtime Episcopalian asked me in Charlotte, N.C., "now that Archbishop ... er ... "

"Rowan Williams," I said.

" ... yes, Rowan Williams, has decided to retire?"

The question took me aback. I rarely hear Episcopalians talking about the Archbishop of Canterbury, the London-based head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church as its U.S. branch.

Many Episcopalians pray for the 61-year-old prelate every Sunday, but as Canterbury has gotten more conservative and more solicitous of arch-conservative Anglican bishops from the Third World, Anglicans in developed nations choose to walk their own progressive path.

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