Christianity under persecution?

Christianity being discriminated against‘ has been one of the reported concerns in both the Christian and national media. However, to extend that concern in to calling it ‘Christianity under persecution in the UK‘, seems to me to be exaggerating the claim somewhat beyond the realms of what real persecution is.

This was the thesis behind Easter Sunday evening’s BBC documentary ‘Are Christians being persecuted?’ with Nicky Campbell. Of course some of the secular groups were not convinced by it; and even commentators like Ecclesia were not wholly in favour either. Ed Sturton’s excellent documentary on Iraq’s Forgotten Conflict was much more about real persecution (and not just Christian either).

However, the ‘is Christianity being persecuted‘ debate did get me thinking about how the Christian coverage in the media was going over the Holy Week/Easter period. In the end, I was positively surprised at both the quality and the quantity of the stories in both the print and broadcast media.

Not all the stories were quite what the various press offices would have Continue reading “Christianity under persecution?”

Copthorne to Henfield

Updated with move dates: After 14 great years at St. John’s Copthorne, we are moving to Henfield: remaining in Sussex, and Diocese of Chichester, and even in the same episcopal area and archdeaconry of Horsham, but in a new deanery: Hurst.

The following pdf documents were released as information about the Henfield benefice, and it’s new incumbent.

The text from each of the documents is quoted below.

About the parish of Henfield:

About Henfield
About Henfield

About Henfield‘s new vicar:

Alastair Cutting - Henfield
Alastair Cutting - Henfield

About Henfield:
After 14 years thoroughly enjoying ministry at St John’s, The Rev’d Alastair Cutting, with Kay, Hannah & Laura, are to leave Copthorne. Their last Sunday will be Pentecost, 23 May, starting in Henfield on Friday 2 July 2010. Continue reading “Copthorne to Henfield”

Three Strikes, &…

So, the British Airways strike. In my current sphere of work, close to Gatwick airport, I know quite a few folks working in the various aspects of the airline industry.

BA strike
BA strike

The ongoing BA strike is a major issue around here, with people’s jobs and livelihoods at stake, and both the company’s and the Unite union’s reputations potentially in tatters.

It dawned on me that strikes in a major national industry had significantly coloured 3 of my last 4 jobs. I was appointed to Woodlands, Doncaster in the South Yorkshire coalfields, soon after the end of the 1980s miners strike.

Brodsworth Colliery
Brodsworth Colliery

Woodlands was the model village built to house the miners from the nearby Brodsworth Colliery. Photos from the time show the distinctive spire of All Saints church in the background of images of the pit. The strike was over by the time I arrived, and the miners were back to work – but the tensions that had ripped families apart between strikers and ‘scabs‘ were still Continue reading “Three Strikes, &…”

Lesslie Newbigin – Bishop of Hope

2009 is the Centenary of Lesslie Newbigin‘s birth. Churches Together in Britain & Ireland decided to celebrate this with a Conference held at Queen’s College, Birmingham.

CTBI Newbigin Centenary Conference logo
CTBI Newbigin Centenary Conference logo

This post is….

  • part brief background on Newbigin;
  • part a quick glance at some of his theology;
  • part a ‘back of an envelope’ report on the conference;
  • and part a personal reflection on ‘Uncle Lesslie’
  • with a comment on the source of the CTBI banner photo above.
  • and… it should possibly be a ‘page’ rather than a ‘post’ – we’ll see.

    Background

    Lesslie Newbigin was a Presbyterian minister and missionary who – considering that background, and not really approving of church hierarchies – rather surprisingly became a Bishop of the united Church of South India at it’s formation in 1947. In fact not once, but twice – first in the Madurai-Ramnad diocese, then later as bishop of Madras, as Chennai was then known. In between, he was in Geneva with the World Council of Churches. On ‘retiring’ from Madras in 1974, Lesslie & Helen Newbigin made their way back to Britain overland using local buses, carrying just a couple of suitcases and a rucksack – I love that; sort of reverse hippy, on so many levels!

    Lesslie & Helen Newbigin, Cecil & Eleanor Cutting, Wilfred & Mary Hulbert 1937
    Lesslie & Helen Newbigin, Cecil & Eleanor Cutting, Wilfred & Mary Hulbert in India, 1937

    This photograph shows The Troika, or the Three Graces, as the three ‘girls’ were sometimes Continue reading “Lesslie Newbigin – Bishop of Hope”

    Leaps of Christ

    Jumping in the sunset
    The Leaps of Christ - credit thriol

    The ‘Leaps of Christ’ was part of the theme taken by Bishop John Hind at the Chichester Diocesan Synod recently. I had heard of this Old English poem, but on being re-introduced to it, it led me to explore some of the wonderful Advent and Christmas within it.

    The section on the Leaps of Christ comes within the part known as Christ II, or sometimes Christ B, within the Exeter Book. The first book deals primarily with Advent, book two with the Ascension, and the third Continue reading “Leaps of Christ”

    80-F

    ‘After The Fire’, aka ATF or 80-F, were THE megastars of the 70s/80s British Christian music scene. Though I’m not sure they liked the idea of being called that – though not afraid of their Christian influence, they wanted to be known as musicians, not just Christian musicians.

    ATF - credit Richard Dickens
    ATF - credit Richard Dickens

    I took a couple of photos at the Burgess Hill gig – but they weren’t nearly as good as Richard Dickens‘ ones.

    I did bootleg a couple of tracks, which aren’t of any quality to threaten ATF sales, but might give a wee flavour of the live sound. You can get proper quality ATF music either from their store (and it’s almost Christmas…) or off the iTunes store.

    Continue reading “80-F”

    Priests’ Blessing

    Our local clergy chapter were meeting this week, and I was ‘hosting’. Usually, part of hosting involves preparing some prayers and worship. As we were also ‘RememberingSt Martin of Tours, I had a few things up my sleeve, including a fine shell remembering the pilgrims that stopped at St Martin’s shrine in Tours on the Way of St James.

    New Zealand Paua - credit ReedWade
    New Zealand Paua - credit ReedWade

    Actually the shell was in my pocket, rather than up my sleeve; and paua were not really the sorts of shells that pilgrims on the way to Compostela normally wore (they were usually scallops… But these paua are exquisite. We have brought back dozens from NZ over the years.

    Back to prayers and blessings. I have dabbled a bit in Celtic Spirituality over the years, and recently acquired a copy of a couple of John O’Donohue’s books. Continue reading “Priests’ Blessing”

    The Arundel Tomb

    Chichester Cathedral is the ‘mother church’ of the diocese, and as a Sussex priest, I find myself there from time to time. I love wandering through the cathedral when I get a chance. It has so many superb features about it; but one of my favourites is ‘The Arundel Tomb’.

    The Arundel Tomb - credit Tom Oates
    The Arundel Tomb - credit Tom Oates

    It is a fourteenth century table tomb on which lie the effigies of Richard Fitzalan Earl of Arundel, and his second wife Eleanor. One of the most charming features is the way that they are both holding hands, Richard’s hand having been removed from the gauntlet still held in his left hand.

    Arundel Tomb hands - credit bmeabroad
    Arundel Tomb hands - credit bmeabroad

    Continue reading “The Arundel Tomb”

    Rome says “Welcome…”

    Cross-posted from my entry on the General Synod blog on The Vatican offer of special Anglican ordinariates – what in Anglican terms may be called something similar to a Third Province, or the Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s ‘tikangas‘.

    The General Synod blog
    The General Synod blog

    Well, there was a surprise! Yesterday’s unexpected hurriedly put together press conference in London, responding to the Vatican’s scheme for special Anglican ordinariates appears to have put cats amongst pigeons.

    I am seriously struggling to understand what all this is about, where it is going, and I await the ‘details’ with interest.

    It feels a little like we are being told: ‘You know where the door is to come in, but here is a window you can climb in through, too’. Except I’m not one that feels I am standing outside, needing to come in. Continue reading “Rome says “Welcome…””

    Peace, in our time?

    The initial flurry of comments, as the 44th US President, Barack Obama, is nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, seem to be mainly an incredulous “really? so soon?” Well that’s pretty good after 9 months in office.

    However, I want to approach this less cynically than some. It maybe that ‘premature’ is one word that may be applied to the news; but ‘hopeful’ is perhaps a more appropriate one.

    Not hope as in “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow”; but hope of something substantial, more eternal. This week, for the first time for a long time, Northern Ireland paramilitaries appeared with guns at a funeral. My children had not seen anything like it in living memory, though the Good Friday Agreement does not seem that long ago to me. How quickly we have become used to peace in Northern Ireland. Can we dare hope of that that sort of peace elsewhere amongst the world’s troubled spots too?

    The Bible speaks of Hope as something of certainty, that we can depend upon. Perhaps the Nobel nomination committee have that sense of hope for the future of world peace, and Obama’s potential in furthering it. I hope so.