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Bishop of Colombo concerned about removal of Prime Minister and dissolution of Parliament

Anglican Communion News Service - Sat, 17/11/2018 - 05:49

Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey has responded “with shock and great dismay” to the “arbitrary” removal of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister.

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Pioneers of Modern Spirituality: a review

Fulcrum - Sat, 17/11/2018 - 02:15

Pioneers of Modern Spirituality. The neglected Anglican innovators of a “spiritual but not religious” age by Jane Shaw: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2018. Further details.

What is the church’s past for? How far might it hold examples for today’s Christians, and how easily are those examples translated into our present context? This intriguing book, by the principal of Harris Manchester College, Oxford and a former cathedral dean, is one answer. Based on the Sarum Lectures for 2017, in its brief compass it demonstrates both the potential and the limitations of church history as a resource for the present church.

Jane Shaw’s aim is to show that in the early twentieth century there were Anglican figures whose life and work might be a resource now in reaching those who might think of themselves as spiritual but not religious. Before moving to Oxford earlier this year, Shaw ministered for several years in California, and she rightly notes a similarity in Anglican missional strategy on both sides of the Atlantic. Mission is too often concentrated on deepening the faith of those who are already in some way engaged with the church, she argues, to the neglect of those who are not. Are there resources within historic Anglicanism that might help engage those who might never otherwise consider crossing the threshold of a church? Among these seekers, she argues, the things that are sought are: an engagement with the beautiful as something that points beyond the self; ways of dealing with the hyperactivity and over-connectedness of daily life; a sense of community; agency in building a juster society, and a seriousness about fundamental questions of human life. All these the tradition can provide, if only these seekers can find pathways into it.

Shaw focusses on four Anglican figures of comparable ages, all active either or both before and after the First World War, some of whom are reasonably well known, others not at all. Rarely, if ever, have they been juxtaposed in this way. The book is pithy and engagingly written and has the cardinal virtue of sending the reader back to the texts themselves, to which end there is a useful guide to further reading.

It opens with Evelyn Underhill, perhaps the most important English writer on mysticism of her generation, whose most significant books were written during a very wide-ranging intellectual journey which only later ended in Christian conviction. As both author and as a leader of retreats at a time when few women did so, Underhill stressed that spiritual experience was not the preserve of elite practitioners but could be open to all. Crucially, her practice was to allow those under her direction to use prayer and meditation on the truths that they could understand and accept as a pathway towards those doctrines which seemed more difficult. Demanding but forgiving, practical and gentle, Underhill’s example offers much of value.

More exacting was the spiritual direction of Reginald Somerset Ward, who left parish ministry to work as a ‘freelance’ spiritual director for over forty years, counting bishops and archbishops among his several hundred directees. In Ward’s stress on the importance of a regular rule of life in which prayer is the first rather than the last priority - a discipline of time and attention – Shaw finds a possible means to manage the demands of modern life. That many will find their way into the full rigour of Ward’s practice is harder to imagine.

Third among Shaw’s subjects is Percy Dearmer, and his work in the renewal of Anglican worship. Through his writings, not least The Parson’s Handbook, and through the model of St Mary Primrose Hill in London, Dearmer promoted an art of public worship (the title of another of his books) that demanded the best in all its aspects: its music, its words and its movements, its architectural and decorative setting. Shaw focusses rightly on Dearmer’s theology of beauty as articulated in Art and Religion (1924), and notes contemporary experience in San Francisco and elsewhere of the response of seekers to the arts in church settings. This ‘high’ theology of beauty as sacrament was taken up by others, notably Walter Hussey, dean of Chichester, but not all parishes can hope that their building and their music may be beautiful (supposing for a moment that we could agree on what was beautiful in the first place). However, I would argue that Dearmer’s thought and practice also points towards a more achievable aspiration that is no less useful and likely to be as attractive in a different way: that the way in which public worship is conducted is a demonstration that it is important, that attention has been paid to it, that time and effort has been expended on it, as a means of pointing to the One to whom it is all directed.

The final chapter is on the novelist Rose Macaulay. After a conventional church upbringing, Macaulay spent nearly three decades out of contact with the church as a member, only returning to faith at the age of 69. However, she continued to draw on what she called ‘spiritual capital’, describing herself as an‘Anglo-agnostic’ who (had it come to it) might have been an ‘Anglo-atheist’. This identification was a matter of ‘taste and affection’ but also in her ‘blood and bones’. Art, music, architecture, liturgy, the company and conversation of Christian friends (many of them clergy); all these remained sources of delight and meaning throughout. It is the existence of this spiritual capital in the British upper and middle classes that allowed Underhill, Dearmer and Ward to operate, and arguably this chapter might have been better placed first in order to frame the argument. But it is telling that Macaulay features little in Shaw’s conclusion, since we surely now face a different situation, in which that spiritual capital is not there to be drawn upon, but must be invested afresh.

Specialist historians may well be left with questions that Shaw raises, but which (quite understandably in a book of this size) it is not her aim to pursue. Shaw is quite right to draw attention to a critique of ‘institutionalism’ voiced by Underhill and Dearmer, but there is work to do yet to establish how widespread this understanding was. As well as that, I would question how far this impatience with certain aspects of the way in which churches operate can be equated with the self-conscious identification as being of ‘no religion’ that characterises our current situation. The conditions are now quite different, and to project them back risks distorting our sense of the inter-war period.

Shaw also perhaps overplays how marginal some of her subjects were. Underhill and Macaulay clearly were, but Percy Dearmer, while not holding an appointment within the Church after leaving Primrose Hill (to his discomfort), was still a widely read author, an academic in a university setting in which ordinands were trained (King’s College, London) and eventually a canon of Westminster. Somerset Ward was certainly not well known in public, but the array of the great and the good who gathered for his memorial service surely demonstrates that he was far from marginal.

More generally, the book is marred by a great many small mistakes – personal, organisation and place names misspelled, titles of books given incorrectly – which could have easily been ironed out and are a distraction. This is a shame, as Jane Shaw has brought four neglected figures to our attention again in a fresh and fertile way. This book deserves to be widely read.

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Resumen semanal de noticias del Servicio de Noticias de la Comunión Anglicana a viernes 16 de noviembre de 2018

Anglican Communion News Service - Sat, 17/11/2018 - 00:02

Resumen semanal de noticias del Servicio de Noticias de la Comunión Anglicana a viernes 16 de noviembre de 2018 

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Résumé des nouvelles hebdomadaires de l’Agence d’information de la Communion anglicane, le vendredi 16 novembre 2018

Anglican Communion News Service - Fri, 16/11/2018 - 22:49

Résumé des nouvelles hebdomadaires de l’Agence d’information de la Communion anglicane, le vendredi 16 novembre 2018

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Anglican Church of Australia to research domestic violence in Anglican-affiliated families

Anglican Communion News Service - Thu, 15/11/2018 - 00:58

The Anglican Church of Australia begins domestic violence research as part of its role “in promoting healthy, respectful relationships”.

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Albany bishop says “no” to same-sex marriage rites despite General Convention resolution

Anglican Communion News Service - Thu, 15/11/2018 - 00:08

The US-based Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Albany rejects a General Convention resolution permitting same-sex marriage in churches.

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Anglican mission agency Mothers’ Union admitted to the Community of the Cross of Nails

Anglican Communion News Service - Wed, 14/11/2018 - 07:04

The work of the Mothers’ Union in reconciliation and peace-building has been recognised by the Community of the Cross of Nails.

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New Zealand Church leaders rejects Sydney proposal for overlapping Anglican jurisdiction

Anglican Communion News Service - Wed, 14/11/2018 - 05:44

Proposal by the Archbishop of Sydney for an overlapping Anglican diocese in New Zealand has been rejected by the Province’s archbishops.

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Fijian priest Fereimi Cama elected Archbishop of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Anglican Communion News Service - Tue, 13/11/2018 - 05:44

The Vicar of St Peter’s in Lautoka on the Fijian island of Viti Levu, Fereimi Cama, has been elected Bishop of Polynesia and Primate of ANZP.

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Fulcrum at 15

Fulcrum - Tue, 13/11/2018 - 04:03

The world looked rather different in 2003. Social media didn’t exist, the war in Iraq was in its early stages, and Donald J. Trump was just a TV personality.

The year would feel familiar in one regard: Conflict within the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion wasn’t far from the surface. After the appointment of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, the fissures seemed like they may burst open at any point. Already suspicious of the archbishop’s theology, conservative evangelicals felt their suspicions were confirmed when the Rev. Jeffrey John was appointed Bishop of Reading in May 2003. They would exert pressure to prevent him from taking up his appointment, due to his long-term relationship with Grant Holmes.

In the same summer, Gene Robinson had been elected as Bishop of New Hampshire, and the Episcopal Church’s General Convention consented to the election. Amid ramifications not just for the Episcopal Church but the whole Anglican Communion, Bishop Robinson became a lightning rod for discontent.

Into this febrile atmosphere came NEAC4 (the National Evangelical Anglican Conference in Blackpool October 2003). This was the fourth major gathering of evangelical Anglicans since the 1967 event organized by John Stott and others. Disquiet among centrist evangelicals about the lack of diversity in the speaking lineup and a fear that the event would be used simply as a platform to bash other parts of the Church galvanized a group that had already begun to meet quietly.

Fulcrum was born in a noisy bar at the Blackpool Winter Gardens while NEAC was meeting. It officially launched at Holy Trinity, Clapham, the church of William Wilberforce.

Fifteen years later, we gathered at Lambeth Palace in London to reflect and to look forward. Good News: Global, Local, National was our theme for the day’s symposium — all watched over by the portraits of archbishops from the Reformation to the 21st Century.

Opening the day, the Rt. Rev. Graham Kings, theological secretary of Fulcrum, outlined some of the history and explored the group’s tagline of renewing the evangelical centre. Fulcrum has always had an ambitious aim: not simply to represent Open Evangelical theology, but to be an active voice contributing to debates happening in the Church of England and in the Anglican Communion.

This has not always been comfortable. Fulcrum campaigned for women to become bishops within the Church of England, a campaign that met with disappointments and difficulties but eventual success. In the same period, Fulcrum has attempted to maintain an orthodox position on sexuality in both the Church of England and the wider Communion. The whole Communion has struggled to communicate on this latter issue; in the words of Oliver O’Donovan, this really was a “conversation waiting to begin” (that book emerged from a series of articles for Fulcrum).

Fulcrum has provided a space for much more than debate over women in leadership and human sexuality. With over 1,200 in-depth articles in 15 years and five significant gatherings, it has contributed to conversations on mission, worship, politics, culture, and much more besides. We have met in Parliament with Labour and Conservative politicians (whose deep Anglican convictions underpin their politics), we have met in pubs for regular Beer and Theology events and, this past week, we met at Lambeth Palace to hear wisdom and provoking insight.

The Rev. Rachel Marszalek, general secretary of Fulcrum, challenged us to recall the radical agenda of evangelical Anglicans of ages past, including Charles Simeon and Spencer Perceval — the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated. Her remarks ranged widely, drawing in references to progressives like Walter Wink and conservatives like John Richardson, but ultimately she asked us to “discover how best the gospel can have traction in the local Anglican church.”

Following a response to Marszalek by the Chaplain to the Bishop of Dover, the Rev. Jenny Corcoran, we moved to the chapel at Lambeth to celebrate the Eucharist and hear a rousing homily from Bishop Anthony Poggo, the Archbishop’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs and former Bishop of Kajo-Keji. The South Sudanese bishop told stories of his regular visits to Africa and beyond, where Anglicanism thrives and where some churches have baptisms and confirmations every Sunday. While the focus of many has been on the Church of England and other struggling Anglican churches in the Western world, we have always maintained the importance of constant dialogue with theologians and leaders in the global South.

In the afternoon, Fulcrum’s chair Dr. Peter Webster, a church historian, introduced the keynote address by N.T. Wright. As a past president of Fulcrum, Tom has a long history with the organization. He was on sparkling form at Lambeth, provoking us and prodding at the open wound of Brexit — not to cause discomfort for the sake of it, but to emphasize what has in many ways been his life’s work: to remind us that God has done something startling and something new in Jesus Christ, yet something in continuity with the hopes of the prophets and patriarchs.

What might that have to do with Brexit (or Trump, or any other 21st-century political phenomenon for that matter)? Well, as Bishop Wright and many others have said, if Jesus is Lord then Caesar is not. His plague on both the houses of the Brexiteers and the Europhiles was that they are all selling something they can’t possibly deliver: Utopia.

The great tensions of our time — modernity versus postmodernity, progress versus revolution, if you like — are thus instantiations of the tension between “solidarity” and “difference”: the “solidarity” that tries to put everything together under one roof to create a single organic unity, the “difference” that insists on not being reshaped on someone else’s Procrustean bed.

Channeling the iconoclastic philosophy of John Gray, Bishop Wright tore into naïve and idealistic political philosophies and called us back to worship. At the end of his address, he called for a renewal of reverence and a focus on the Eucharist as drama.

In many ways his talk recalled the adventurous beginnings of Fulcrum as a project of renewal within the one holy Catholic and apostolic church in England. Far from being a bunch of evangelicals who can take or leave the deposit of faith we’ve been handed, we must be those who renew and hold fast to the vision handed to us by the Apostles (and for that matter, the Fathers and Mothers, the Reformers, the evangelical revivalists, and many 20th-century giants).

It’s an ambitious project, especially in our fissiparous times, but if anyone has the fire and flamboyance to call for it, it’s Tom Wright. We also heard a response to Bishop Wright from the Rev. Isabelle Hamley, chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury. An Old Testament scholar, Hamley asked us as Anglican evangelicals to hold our story lightly but confidently, and to offer our good news to others.

As we ended our day together in Evening Prayer, led by Archbishop Welby, we reflected on a day well spent and on 15 years of attempting to renew the evangelical centre. None of us has much of a clue about where the next 15 years will take us or the Church. The world has changed, the Church of England has changed, the Anglican Communion has changed.

But the idea that there’s something worth fighting for and a future to bequeath to the next generation is not in doubt. Renewing the evangelical center may have just begun.

This article first appeared on Covenant and we are grateful for permission to reproduce it on Fulcrum.

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UK withholding offer of asylum to Asia Bibi over ‘security concerns’, campaigner claims – Christian Today

Fulcrum - Mon, 12/11/2018 - 20:04

The UK has decided not to offer asylum to a Christian mother in Pakistan because of concerns that it would be a threat to security, a human rights campaigner has claimed.

Christian Today 9 November 2018

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