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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

+ Richard outlines his survival strategy

That is, a survival  strategy for the six diocesan bishops of the Church in Wales (CinW) whose membership can't stretch to 1% of the population of Wales and continues to shrink based on the CinW's own figures. 

From the 2013 Membership and Finances Report quoted in Highlights:
"The trend is down across the board. There is no set of figures which indicate a rise in physical numbers in any single category. There are no positive indicators—every field shows decline compared with previous years, and in some cases that decline is significant. Our core membership continues to fall year on year."

In senior manager positions implementing strategies for growth in a declining market the bishops are far more secure than they would be if considering the continuing need for six dioceses with six Bishops and an Ass Bishop, six Deans, numerous Archdeacons, etc, etc. Clearly top heavy but in management terms spot-on in mirroring society today which has become the primary aim of liberal Anglicanism

Bishop Pain explains that "as time has gone on we need to be more focused": There's lots of changes happening in the Church and in society and there are challenges which we are facing and I think any organisation needs to have a clear understanding about where it is going. The key message is to harness our develop ministry in new and exciting ways.

And here is the crunch, "but you need to have a plan for that. You need organisation. And you need resources for that. There are tensions I think between what parishes want and sometimes what the diocese needs and you need to hold all those together and that is what the plan is trying to do."
Without any hint of irony the bishop says that he would be very surprised if you didn't have any organisation which was working well that didn't have focused leadership. [My emphasis - Ed.]  Working well doesn't sit comfortably with the bishop of Bangor's comments when he introduced the Finance and Membership Report. He said, More money today is being spent on ministry than at any other time in the history of the Church in Wales. That means less on buildings, more on people. For a Church that wants to orientate itself towards mission, that is very, very good news. The bad news comes with membership.   

According to the bishop of Monmouth, because of the economic stringencies we are facing at the moment, we have to have a clear understanding of how we manage the money, so that we can have the right resources in the right place. This will mean cutting the number of clergy down but hopefully having good teams which will enable us to go forward in the future. 'Hopefully' being the operative word.

The Diocese of Monmouth's new strategy is headed: "Monmouth 2020: Becoming the people God calls us to be. The bishop says that the roots of the Church go back "hundreds and hundreds of years" but "plants go in different directions at times". He claims that the diocese is "going back to the roots of what the Church is about". But what "the Church is about" is not what the Church in Wales is about, or the Church of England for that matter. Plants which go off in different directions are often regarded as weeds to be plucked out or left to wilt after hoeing, a process already in evidence in England and Wales having spread from the US.

How much more deluded can our career focused bishops become? The "people God calls us to be" are those Anglicans who have remained true to the Catholic faith along with our brothers and sisters in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. 

What the Church in Wales fails to realise is that in departing from the Catholic faith they have set themselves apart from the Apostolic Church. The roots are in the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Any survival strategy which ignores that will protect only its senior strategy managers at the expense of their flock.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's a funny old world

Christina Rees CBE (Photo: Guardian)                 Bishop Anba Angaelos OBE (Photo: Cranmer)

Ebola scarcely warrants a mention in the media these days thanks to the selfless individuals who literally put their lives on the line in their fight to halt the spread of this highly infectious and generally fatal disease. The Queens Birthday Honours 2015 included a wide variety of people with carefully scaled awards. One of those in the news was a poorly paid Ebola nurse Will Pooley. He was awarded an MBE.

Contrast Will's lowly award for risking his life for the benefit of others with the higher accolades handed out over the years to over-paid footballers for kicking an inflated bladder around a large, grass covered spittoon in front of worshiping clones who clap and gesticulate in unison with hands held aloft, cheering or jeering as the mood takes them while chanting their local mantra, all in the name of sport!

There was less publicity for the Women and the Church (WATCH) starlet Christina Rees who bizarrely was awarded a CBE for "her services to the Church of England". How involvement in the campaign for women bishops is seen as a service to the Church of England is not explained but deluded as ever, Ms Rees said she was "thrilled" by the honour which to her shows the campaign was "recognised as a service for the whole Church, not just about women".

The "whole Church" includes the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the majority of Anglicans who view her campaigning as a disservice to the Church which has resulted in a steep decline in Church attendance as the feminisation of the Church of England accelerates.

But do not despair says the Canon Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral and former NHS Chief Nurse, Dame Sarah Mullally, who was recently named as Bishop of Crediton: "Empty pews are not the end of the world" (here). Perhaps not but the end of the Church of England.

Again, contrast the CBE award to Christian Rees for "her services to the Church of England" with the lesser OBE awarded to Bishop Anba Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, honoured for services to international "religious freedom", not something that WATCH is renowned for except on their own terms.

Meanwhile in Wales there was no honour for the Archbishop of the Church in Wales who like Ms Rees has used every device to secure the admission of women to the episcopate. But he has been invited to deliver a keynote speech exploring the "ethical dilemmas faced by decision-makers when investing billions on behalf of charities". Not know for his own charitable views towards anyone who disagrees with him, he has plenty of experience of how things can go downhill. It is interesting to note that charities for the advancement of religion account for about one fifth of all registered charities. One pound in six given to charity goes to religious charities (here).

Dr Morgan said, "How and where we invest our money can say a lot about us. If we believe in values such as justice, equality and respect for others we need to reflect that as much as possible in our investments – literally putting our money where our mouth is." It is thought unlikely that the Archbishop's discretionary funds will be referred to.

As Margaret Thatcher said at her last cabinet meeting after being ousted from office, "It's a funny old world". Not words a compliant bench of bishops is likely to hear.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Help make it happen

Swimmers hit the near freezing water at Blackroot Pool in Sutton Coldfield Credit: Express & Star

Whether braving the icy waters on Christmas Day,

Escaping the summer heat in China.                                                                  Credit: Telegraph

escaping the Summer heat,

Do you shower or bathe every day?                                                                   Credit: Guardian

taking a shower,

How on earth can I use a Canadian toilet without splashing myself?                      Credit: Travel

or simply doing what comes naturally.

Millions of people around the world do not have the luxury of choice. Dirty water and inadequate sanitation spreading disease which leads to the early death of over 1,400 children a day.

This is the reality for over 750 million people who live without safe water.

Two and a half billion people don't have access to adequate sanitation, one in three of the world's population.

Over 500,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

WaterAid need our support to gather 100,000 signatures to get taps and toilets to everyone, everywhere by 2030. Please help by signing their petition #MAKEITHAPPEN.

They are half-way there.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The cost of compassion

Mary Portas' brother is the 'biological father' of her son. Story here.

The permissive society has descended into chaos. Free love became free lust resulting in the rampant spread of STDs and AIDS followed by bending traditional marriage to accommodate all sorts of sexual permutations, few of which have any regard for the ultimate feelings of the children caught up in these relationships.

Anyone watching the BBC TV's Newsnight programme on 2 June would have heard Evan Davis introduce a discussion on transgender: " With such rapid change in social attitudes to sexuality, the LG&B, are we witnessing a change in our attitude to the T of LGBT? The story (here) initially focused on the all-American sporting superstar Bruce Jenner who won gold for the decathlon in Montreal in 1972. Jenner announced that he was transsexual saying that for all intents and purposes, "I'm a woman", revealing that her new name was Caitlyn.

Answering a question posed by Evan Davis' one of his guests replied that people are talking about transgender more and more. "The 'trans' thing is about where we were with the gay community twenty years ago".

In that passage of time the strategy has become all too clear. Exploit the “victim” status; use the sympathetic media; confuse and neutralize the churches; slander and stereotype Christians; bait and switch (hide their true nature); and intimidation. Read 'The six ways homosexual activists manipulate public opinion' here, the same formula as used by the feminist movement to devastating effect in the Church. See also previous entry 'To be joined together' here.

Davis' other guest, a journalist and transgender activist, complained that while it is very important to emphasis that we should "praise" and "affirm" women like Caitlyn, it requires a "certain amount of money" and "privilege" to present oneself as a transgender woman as Caitlyn had. "People perceive that as reality but it is also really important to recognise that transwomen, especially in the US, have very little access to surgery."

But compassion is not always the answer to change. Read here about the "dark and troubling" history of the contemporary transgender movement, with its enthusiastic approval of gender-reassignment surgery which has left a trail of misery in its wake. "The beginnings of the transgender movement have gotten lost today in the push for transgender rights, acceptance, and tolerance". Eighty percent of the people who want to change their gender shouldn’t do it. "There is too much unhappiness among people who have had the surgery…Too many end in suicide."

'Transgender' is following the same path as other 'equality' issues and it is downhill all the way. Here are some recent issues:
  • Gay Vicar pushes Church of England to celebrate Transgender Identity like a Baptism; sex change surgery is 'absolute trauma' Clergy Must Mark Occasion (here).
  • Irish baker fined for not promoting illegal gay marriage (here) while 13 Gay Bakeries refuse to make a traditional marriage cake with the message: 'Gay Marriage Is Wrong' (here).
  • Idaho city’s ordinance tells pastors to marry gays or go to jail (here).
  • Mary Portas reveals that she cancelled her son's baptism after grilling a Catholic priest who she thought was 'uncomfortable' with Portas' marriage to a woman (here). - The couple's son calls Miss Portas 'Mama' and Miss Rickey 'Mummy'. The father, Mama's brother, is referred to as 'Daddy'.
Fertility specialist and IVF consultant Dr Geetha Venkat said, "Usually with same-sex couples, one partner will give an egg and the other will carry the baby and then for their next child they swap roles – meaning they have babies from both the families’ genes. In ways, this is similar to that."

The big losers in these arrangements are the children. The cost to them of compassion will become evident in later years when they are able to assess for themselves the price of 'equality'.

For the rest of us it is already evident. Gay activists target opponents of same-sex marriage as if only gays are entitled to an opinion while conscience in the Church is frowned upon, particularly by Church in Wales bishops.

But the ultimate affront must be to Almighty God whom the compassionless, feminist, pressure group, Women and the Church (WATCH), wish to transgender. Their stupidity is well expressed by Jennifer Leclaire:

"Make no mistake, God is not a woman. He never has been and He never will be. Indeed, such a notion is especially disturbing in the gender-bending world in which we live; a world where the Girl Scouts are letting boys who identify as girls join their ranks and where Bruce Jenner appears on the cover of Vanity magazine in a leotard; an age in which some are declaring transgenderism is the new black in Hollywood.

"Let's call it what it is: a strong delusion (2 Thess. 2:11). It doesn't take a prophet to see the wave of deception sweeping through the church. Some denominations are allowing gay and even transgender clergy take the pulpit and, now, a group within the Church of England is calling for God to be referred to as female. God forbid."

"Make no mistake, God is not a woman. He never has been and He never will be. This, though, is just another symptom of a greater problem—a perversion of the Word of God that will lead many astray and even into a Great Falling away. I beseech you in this hour to be a lover of the truth, speak the truth in love, and pray for the church in this hour. Consider the words of Jesus and put your hand to the plow: "I must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4). Full article here.

Amen to that.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The witch, the crone, Christina Rees and others

The Rev Crone
Not satisfied with what Women and the Church (WATCH) has done to reduce the Anglican Church in Great Britain to a pale reflection of her former glory, its former Chair and "prominent Church of England campaigner", Christina Rees, will be among the speakers at a conference in Philadelphia later this year of the Catholic movement for women's ordination, Women's Ordination Worldwide. (H/T Ruth Gledhill).

The BBC's Religious affairs correspondent, Caroline Wyatt, recently posed the question: Is the UK still a Christian country? The answer was 'Yes'. But based on analyses by the US Pew Research Center, the conclusions suggest that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%. The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK - the "unaffiliated" - will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.

One would have thought that alarm bells would be ringing but no, feminism, LGBT and what is absurdly labeled 'equality' is all today. Faith and regular worship have been sidelined.

Ruth Gledhill was reporting on the latest in the Westminster Faith Debates series at London's "liberal flagship church", St James' Piccadilly. Among the guest speakers was the Rev Kate Bottley, described as a 'Gogglebox tv' vicar. She amused her audience by relating a story about how she had told her hairdresser that she was coming to London to take part in the debate on women bishops and the difference they can make. "What's a bishop?" her hairdresser asked. After the vicar explained, the hairdresser said she did not know what the Church of England was either.

If the Rev Kate Bottley's hairdresser, or anyone else wants to know what a real bishop is like, they should watch this video as Bishop Mark Lawrence speaks to his text from Hebrews 12: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith".

But the event wasn't about traditional Christian values. Adam Dinham, the only man on the panel, and who is married to a Muslim man, and who was there as director of the Faiths and Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths, which sponsored the event, said he had wanted the evening to celebrate and think about the contribution of women as faith leaders in the Anglican community as well as other religions and traditions".

Represented among these religions and traditions were a "leading witch and herbalist" who shared the Church of England platform with the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori and Helene Mobius, who heads the prison chaplain ministry of the Pagan Federation who challenged stereotypes of women. She said, Paganism had a "deep reverence" for both the feminine and masculine, not in a partnered but in a "conjoined" sense. This was not to diminish the role of God because without His "fertile seed" the cycle of life could not continue. However, she criticised the debasement of women in society which had seen words such as "crone", which once meant "elder", used as a term to mean something quite different.

She explained: "The word crone does not mean wizened old cackling pagan". Instead it referred to a woman who had passed beyond menstruation. It was the "passage of the mother becoming grandmother, no longer able, thankfully, to reproduce." This led to some discussion about whether there should be an authorised liturgy in the Church to mark the menopause.

Given the number of menopausal women clergy that idea must have been received with some impact. Perhaps the honorific, the Rev Crone could be introduced to make the Church of England more relevant to paganism? And why not? There are calls for a service to meet just about every occasion, the most recent being for a service to "celebrate transgender identity like a Baptism" (here). In fact, there seems to be more of an appetite for celebrating the extraordinary than for the straight forward worship of Almighty God, particularly on a Sunday by "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith".

Which brings me back to the Googlebox tv vicar. She is "all for a mid-week church service" so that she can have a "Sunday lie-in" (here). A joke perhaps but many a true word spoken in jest. She added, "I don't think declining church numbers are down to a loss of faith rather increasing pressure on people's time. Perhaps the Church could recognise this." Or, as the Archdeacon of Norwich, Ven Jan McFarlane put it in response to the revelation that Norwich is the most godless city in England: the citizens of Norwich are "doing their churchgoing differently", ie, staying away.

In new Anglicanism the daily Eucharists have been eroded and Sunday Masses cut so busy people are less able to make their Communion compared with the Roman Catholic Church yet these women want to spread their brand of Christianity to do for the Catholic Church what they have done for Anglicanism.

For millennia the Word of God has been received through the Bible. It is being replaced by the opinions of feminists, LGBT pressure groups and any other so-called 'equality' groups obsessed with 'sameness', interpreting Holy Scripture to suit the latest 'equality' cause. Do they not know, or do they conveniently forget, that "for just as each of us has one body with many members, these members do not all have the same function"?

The Rev Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James', said that it mattered not so much that women were bishops and priests, as "how" they were bishops and priests. The authority held by a woman will be held "differently" from that held by a man. How true, but probably not what she meant. If she had been interested in biblical authority, she need only have referred to 1Timothy 3:2. The revisionists long argued that we were all the same but having achieved their aims, women now have to be seen as different.

A fuller report in the Church Times quotes Presiding Bishop Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori as saying that women could offer a "witness to the otherness of God" as could gay bishops, or those who were young, or old, or from BME backgrounds. "White, male, English-speaking bishops with degrees from Oxford or Cambridge are only one sort," she said. "They cannot image the fullness of God."

And there was me thinking that the 'otherness of God' was represented by mystery and holiness.

Perhaps the flavour of the event was best captured by another guest speaker, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. She was "applauded for her moving acapella solo of The Lord's My Shepherd, sung with female instead of male pronouns"! That certainly is different.

Here is the panel:

The panel: (back row left to right) Adam Dinham, director of Faith and Civil Society Unit,
Goldsmiths, University of London;  Helene Mobius, Pagan Federation prison ministry manager;
 Saleha Islam, director of the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre; Ms Winkett; Dr Schori; Hilary Cotton,
chair of WATCH; Professor Linda Woodhead, director of the Westminster Faith Debates;
 (front row left to right) the Dean of the Diocese of Kootenay, British Colombia, Nissa Basbaum;
 Mrs Bottley; Bharti Tailor, executive director of the Hindu Forum of Europe; Laura Janner-Klausner,
senior rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism.                           Source: Church Times

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pentecost - residents of Wales

Source: FiF

From Acts 2: "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place... Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting... When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? ... Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?' "...

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common."

No longer for residents of Wales who worship in the Church in Wales.

To their shame the bishops of the Church in Wales claim to be successors of the Apostles but they do not behave like the Apostles to ensure that we all have equal opportunity to flourish within the Anglican Communion.

Forward in Faith has produced a card (reproduced above) with the Church of England's 'Five Guiding Principles following the House of Bishops' Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests'. The Church of England acknowledges that "its own clear decision on ministry and gender" is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God.

Those unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests are within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition and will be enabled to flourish. So, pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England has been made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.

Adopting only four of the guiding principles, and contrary to the wishes of Church members expressed at diocesan meetings held specifically for the purpose of discerning their views, the unprincipled bishops of the Church in Wales dropped the fifth principle and inserted:
  Since the Code of Practice needs to be both strong and flexible enough to respond to a changing situation in the future, and since the Governing Body has entrusted the Bench of Bishops with the task of agreeing a Code which commits the Bench to making provisions for all the members of the Church in Wales, the Bench reserves the right to amend the provisions of this Code as may be necessary in the future.

The Code of Practice made no meaningful concessions to those for whom the Code was intended. In fact, the inference to be drawn from the revised wording by the Bench is that church life for those unable to receive the ministry of  women bishops or priests on grounds of theological conviction can only get worse. Perhaps it is just too difficult for bishops devoid of conscience to comprehend the beliefs of those who do.

So for residents of Wales whose bishops speak in alien tongues, having "everything in common" is as far away in the Church in Wales as the Apostolic Succession.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Give me the ******* money!


This is Dementia Awareness Week (17-23 May)
Click HERE for more information

Charity bags: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

It is an urban myth that Bob Geldof used the title phrase in the 1985 Live Aid campaign to raise money for starving children. He did use the 'f' word in an interview but not as generally quoted. View here.

Concerts were held around the world following a BBC news report on the famine which had afflicted the people of Ethiopia. But potential contributors had a choice. Those who were not in the audience could make a payment or enjoy free entertainment while children starved. Persuasion and conscience were key ingredients.

Charity is big business. Arm twisting is a professional activity. Charities pay arm-twisters a percentage of the money they raise. But what of the target? Legendary poppy seller Olive Cook is presumed to have taken her own life after being sent 260 letters from charities every month asking for money and stress caused by cold callers.  

Jenny Phelps, a former carer, 'slammed charities' saying they were 'preying on goodwill' after receiving 1,000 begging letters over five years.

Charities need to get their act together. Stewardship teams like to remind churchgoers that "God loves a cheerful giver", a message not lost on charities but cheerful giving often results in harassment. Once on their books charities will target donors regardless of whether they have already given to their latest appeal and their regular givers with pleas for more cash, often with harrowing pictures to drive their message home.

A practice I find particularly objectionable involves charity consultants ringing donors to encourage them to increase their giving, often from meagre resources, so that they can claim commission.

Another irritation is the intimidating supermarket collection where in-your-face charity collectors glare at customers with a 'don't you pass-by-on-the-other-side look'. Thankfully the pressure has eased since most supermarkets have banned the collection of direct debit details to avoid customers feeling pressurised.

The worst abusers are the scam bag collectors who trade on people's ignorance, sympathy and generosity. It's so easy. Pick a charity, print their details on a bag with the Charity number to make it look authentic then promise to pay the charity between £50, £85 or £100 while making a fortune for themselves - see the charity bag scam here.

According to the British Heart Foundation the trade had led to an estimated loss of donations direct to BHF shops worth £4.6million over two years. In some cases they said "charities are getting £50 to £100 per tonne of goods collected when, in fact, the goods can sell abroad for anything up to £1,800."

Charities need the money but if there is any doubt that a charity bag is genuine, far better to go direct to the charity shop, some will happily collect, or make a donation directly to such as the Alzheimer's Society displayed in the header.

And be aware of the FRSB ü  logo. I have an animal welfare bag in front of me which prominently displays the tick of approval but reading the small print shows that they will donate a minimum of £50 per tonne of goods collected, presumably leaving the collector in excess of £1500 while claiming that every penny of every pound donated goes to directly to animal welfare. That's just £50 in pennies then!