Canadian researchers are revisiting a hotly debated sociological question: Why do some churches decline while others succeed?
Since the 1960s, overall membership in mainline Protestant Christian churches has been dropping in both the U.S. and Canada.
But some congregations have continued to grow, and a team of researchers believes it now knows why. It’s the conservative theological beliefs of their members and clergy, according to researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University and Redeemer University College in Ontario.
"‘Ubuntu’ is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks to the very essence of being human … it also means my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in theirs. We say, ‘A person is a person through other people.’"
The Anglican Communion’s worldwide leaders, finishing up four days of heated discussions, sought to project a sense of unity despite a move to exclude the Episcopal Church from key policy decisions over the American province’s acceptance of same-sex marriage. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, overall leader of the global body, stressed at a news conference on Jan. 15 that the church had chosen to remain together, albeit effectively as a house divided.
A meeting at Canterbury of the leaders, or primates, of the various churches that comprise the Anglican Communion have announced that they are imposing a three-year discipline on The Episcopal Church.
Various factions within the Anglican Communion are jockeying for position as bishops of the world’s third-largest Christian tradition gather in Canterbury for the start of a six-day meeting to discuss the future of their communion.
But averting a split may not be possible.
The bishops released the private letter they sent to Cameron last month after the Prime Minister’s office failed to reply.
In it they called on the prime minister to increase the number of refugees that Britain is prepared to take in over the next five years — the expected lifespan of the parliament.
Specifically, church leaders called on the prime minister to absorb an additional 30,000 refugees, far beyond the 20,000 Cameron had committed to, and to consider involving the church in a national effort to “mobilize the nation as in times past.”
David Walker, Bishop of Manchester told the BBC Oct. 18 that the figure of 50,000 was acceptable to his parishioners and was, he said, “sustainable” on a national basis.
I still recall that moment when I first heard the words of the liturgy:
“The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.”
I had never considered the Lord’s Supper as feeding on Christ. Growing up in a charismatic, non-denominational church and then embracing my faith as an adult at a Presbyterian church, I found this to be a foreign (and admittedly strange) concept that didn’t fully take root in me until after I began attending an Anglican church on Capitol Hill.
As I grappled with unemployment those first months in D.C., feeding on Christ in my heart by faith became more real to me: I didn’t have a seat at the proverbial table, but here was a table prepared for me, full of all the goodness and joy and love and peace and grace I could imagine, because it was Christ who was on offer.
Tens of thousands of people in Leicester — England’s most religiously diverse city — are getting ready to honor the memory of a long-despised English king with a ceremony that testifies to the already warm relationship between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.
The bones of King Richard III — who was slain in battle in 1485 and vilified in the writings of William Shakespeare, who described him as a “poisonous bunch-back’d toad” — will be interred at Leicester Cathedral on March 26 at a ceremony led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and attended by leading Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews, as well as members of England’s royal family.
Richard was the last king of England to die in battle while attempting to defend his throne from Henry VII. The latter went on to establish the Tudor dynasty, whose most memorable monarch was Henry VIII.
After the battle, Richard’s remains were hastily buried by Franciscan monks. In 2012, archaeologists digging in a parking lot found his remains and had the DNA checked with a known survivor of the king’s family.
Anglican priests should no longer be bound by the centuries-old principle of confidentiality in confessions when they are told of sexual crimes committed against children, the Church of England’s No. 2 official said.
Speaking at the end of an internal inquiry on whether senior church officials ignored abuse allegations involving children, Archbishop of York John Sentamu said that “what happened was shameful, terrible, bad, bad, bad.”
He said that the Church of England must break the confidentiality of confession in cases where people disclosed the abuse of children. “If someone tells you a child has been abused, the confession doesn’t seem to me a cloak for hiding that business. How can you hear a confession about somebody abusing a child and the matter must be sealed up and you mustn’t talk about it?”
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.”
The Christian cross has become little more than a piece of jewelry worn around the necks of celebrities, said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
In the foreword to a new book about Christianity, the head of the world’s 85 million Anglicans presents the symbol of Roman torture upon which Jesus died as “the moment of deepest encounter with radical change.”
And he regrets that after 2000 years, the cross has become trivialized.
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).
Prince George is now officially named and an Anglican.
The 3-month old royal baby was christened Wednesday, ritually welcomed into the Church of England as Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, in a private ceremony for close family and friends in the historic chapel of a London royal palace.
His parents, Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, grandparents, great-grandparents, and seven godparents looked on as the baby was baptized by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in an antique silver font in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace as a small scarlet-and-gold-clad choir sang hymns.
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.
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.
Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against apartheid in South Africa, continues to speak around the globe on justice and peace. Butler University and neighboring Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis announced Thursday that they would name a center for the 81-year-old icon.
Just before the announcement of the new center, Tutu spoke with Religion News Service about faith and justice, Israel and Palestine and Pope Francis’ recent selfie and lifestyle choices. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.
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.”
Today is Religious Freedom Day — a day to celebrate the adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom. Why celebrate it?
Celebrate because our government does not use our tax dollars to propagate religion, something Jefferson found “sinful and tyrannical.” This does not mean that you have a right to stop any government action that you happen to think violates your religious beliefs — a ridiculous claim repeated during last year’s battle over insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Bishop Jane Dixon, 75, died in her sleep on Christmas Day, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Dixon was the second woman consecrated as bishop in the Episcopal Church and the third in Anglican Communion.
A champion for justice and equality, Dixon was selected three times byWashingtonian magazine as one of the 100 most influential women in the Washington metropolitan area. In January 2002, she was named a Washingtonian of the Year.
From Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of Washington:
Called to serve at a time when some refused to accept the authority of a woman bishop, Jane led with courage and conviction, and sometimes at great personal cost. She demonstrated that same bravery and grace when she brought hope and healing to our country by officiating at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service at Washington National Cathedral following the tragedy on 9/11.
Jane was a fighter for equality and social justice and this led her to speak at the White House against hate crimes and to stand for inclusiveness within the Episcopal Church.
'Jane is a person who has the courage of her convictions but the grace and humility to know that none of us can equate our ways with God's ways, our thoughts with God's thoughts,' said the late Verna Dozier, Jane’s longtime mentor, in the sermon she preached at Jane’s consecration.
Dixon is survived by her husband of 52 years, David McFarland Dixon, Sr., her three children, and six grandchildren.
LONDON — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticized some Christians for feeling so "embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted" over homosexuality that they seem unwelcoming to outsiders and convey a lack of understanding.
Addressing a group of Christian teenagers at his Lambeth Palace residence in London, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion said Anglicans and other Christians are still in "quite a lot of tangles" about homosexuality. The confusion sometimes leaves the church "scratching its head and trying to work out," Williams said.
His comments came barely two weeks after he slammed the British government for its plans to legalize same-sex marriages — something that Williams said would be a mistake. The Anglican Communion itself has been deeply divided over homosexuality. The Episcopal Church, the communion's U.S. branch, allows gay bishops and sanctions same-sex commitment ceremonies, while more conservative leaders in Africa strongly denounce homosexuality.