Monday, 31 January 2011

Launch of the Papal Visit Legacy Programme: ‘Some Definite Purpose’

This is the content of a press release issued recently.

A new programme has been launched to support the Catholic Community to contribute to the legacy of the Pope’s Visit to the UK.

Called ‘Some Definite Purpose’ the programme reflects the content of Pope Benedict XVI’s speeches, homilies and addresses during his September 2010 visit to the UK. A number of events and projects have been timetabled for 2011 and beyond, with the legacy of the Holy Father’s visit categorised under six headings: ‘To know our purpose’, ‘To grow in confidence’, ‘To witness to our faith’, ‘To serve others’, ‘To seek and engage in dialogue’ and ‘To point to the transcendent’.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: ‘The visit of the Holy Father was a grace-filled occasion and a source of great joy for many. He presented us with a clear task for the months and years ahead. It is hoped that the new initiative, “Some Definite Purpose” will support every member of the Catholic Community, and those who are not Catholic, to make a positive and faith-filled contribution to life in the UK. A key focus is serving those who are most in need where we live and work.’

The calendar for 2011 can be found on the Some Definite Purpose website.

Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis, Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: ‘This initiative will support the mission of the Church in England and Wales. It has a specific parish focus and materials will be easy to download and use. It’s so important that we all consider ways of continuing the journey of “heart speaks unto heart”, of witnessing to the joy of our faith in everyday life. I invite and encourage everyone to get involved and give generously of their time and talents.’

Every Catholic parish in England and Wales is being sent a resource to encourage and support their involvement.

The site includes six mission priorities, which include a section about dialogue.  There is also a page about prayer and reflection.
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Friday, 28 January 2011

Poverty of Ambition Audio

Make Poverty History!Image by rogiro via Flickr
An audio account of the Poverty of Ambition Conference, previously mentioned in this blog here and here is now available.

At the conference, journalist and commentator Will Hutton spoke about what it means to work towards a fair society, and what this may mean for taxation and media standards.  Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, addressed the question of what ‘The Big Society’ means for local communities. Revd Kirsty Thorpe, Co-Moderator of the United Reformed Church, drew the conference to a close by reflecting on what it means for Churches to be committed to a politics of hope.

Audio of these keynote speeches from Saturday’s public issues conference is now online, although if you click on this after a few days you might have to scroll down to find them.  There is also a summary on the Connexional Praxis blog.

The conference - entitled Poverty of Ambition? Churches and a Politics of Hope – examined how churches can engage with contemporary political issues. A particular focus was how churches can respond to the cuts announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review and how this relates to the coalition’s concept of Big Society.

There were a range of workshops aimed at experienced policy professionals, enthusiasts and people who simply want to know more. Workshop topics included:
  • What do our churches and politicians believe about poverty?
  • Acting on debt - practical suggestions for churches
  • Climate change - international agreement or technological change?
  • Peacemaking - nationally, locally, internationally
  • Big society - opportunity or threat?
  • Practical hints for lobbying your MP
  • How do I get my church interested in public issues?
Audio of the speeches is also available through iTunes.
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Thursday, 27 January 2011

New European Forum for Historic Places of Worship Created

Sarica Church - CappadociaImage via Wikipedia
Here's a follow up article about the new European Forum for Historic Places of Worship from the January edition of the European Bulletin, number 66:

In November, representatives of twenty-four countries signed up to a new Forum as the culmination of a two day summit in Canterbury, UK. A Romanian village church with beautiful wall-paintings in immediate threat of collapse, a baroque Russian church re-found within a forest and the development within a grade I listed church in the UK of a community shop and post office while remaining an open place of worship were just a few of the topics discussed by over 50 representatives of European place of worship. Delegates shared their thoughts and experiences of community, extended use or adaptation of places of worship when the congregation is no longer able to cope alone, how to fund work needed to keep these places open for worship and visitors and ways of making politicians aware of the difficult issues that organisations face. There were expert speakers from Swedish National Heritage Board, the Westminster Parliament (Sir Alan Beith MP), Europa Nostra, English Heritage and the University of Montreal (Professor Luc Noppen).

Further information on the event and network can be found on the Forum website or in the Building Faith in Our Future email bulletin available from the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division in Church House.
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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility

The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) is an example of ecumenical collaboration featured on the Methodist Churches' website.  The following article is adapted from the latest edition of CTE News.

An investor coalition and membership organisation founded in 1989, ECCR’s mission is to promote economic justice, human rights and environmental sustainability. It works through research-based dialogue with companies, faith-based and responsible investors and others on the impacts of business on society and the natural world. ECCR’s Chair, Lee Coates, who has been involved with the organisation for many years, welcomed charity registration: ‘After 21 years of advocating higher standards of corporate and investor responsibility, I am heartened that ECCR continues to grow and develop. Charitable status will help us build on our past achievements and take our work forward.’

ECCR’s 80-plus corporate members control and advise on more than £17.5 billion of invested assets. Member denominations and church bodies include the Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Industrial Mission Association, the Methodist Church and its Central Finance Board, the Missionary Society of St Columban, Pax Christi, the Society of Friends (Quakers), St Patrick’s Missionary Society, the Society of Jesus, the Student Christian Movement, the United Reformed Church, and USPG: Anglicans in World Mission.

Financial services members of ECCR include Cazenove Capital Management, CCLA Investment Management, Co-operative Financial Services, Ethical Investors, Rathbone Greenbank and Triodos Bank. Campaigning organisations such as Christian Aid, FairPensions, Traidcraft and Trócaire (Ireland) are also ECCR members. Current and recent funding partners include CAFOD, Cordaid (Netherlands), the EIRIS Foundation, the Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Souter Charitable Trust.

ECCR, which also has individual members, is currently working on the social and environmental impacts of the oil industry in the Niger Delta, the trade in Israeli settlements goods, mining and human rights, and risks associated with deep-water oil drilling and the Canadian oil sands. It will publish a new report on the banking sector in March 2011. ‘New members and supporters are always welcome,’ said ECCR’s Co-ordinator Miles Litvinoff.
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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Women offer Theological Perspectives on "Kairos Palestine"

Picture of Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank...Image via Wikipedia
Here is another news item from this month's CTE News.

Thirty women gathered in Bethlehem on 13-18 December to celebrate the first anniversary of the “Kairos Palestine” document on the quest for peace and human rights in Palestine and Israel. The gathering also reflected theologically on the content of the text. Participants came from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Latin America and Australia.

The group represented different ecclesial traditions and included one member of the Jewish faith. They were lay, ordained, theologians, ecumenical and church leaders, and many are engaged in social action. The Bethlehem gathering was sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) office on Women in Church and Society and by the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum. The women also experienced the visible reality of the occupation of Palestine during visits to Israeli checkpoints and encounters with the Separation Wall. They united around a common hope for the end of the occupation and a call for just peace.

The women embraced “listening as a mark of solidarity”: a form of participation during the meeting and a point of origin for the just peacemaking work to be done following the meeting. Faith, hope and love expressed through just peace were themes within "Kairos Palestine" that these women found particularly inspiring. They noted the inclusion of three Palestinian women in the writing process that produced the text and listened to a few Palestinian women explain that, although they found the document a testament to equality and welcoming for women, “there is much work to be done both in the churches and wider Palestinian society” to include and engage women fully. They affirmed that “there is an ongoing need for the global ecumenical community of women to listen to, strengthen and support the work of Palestinian women”.

During a larger one-year celebration of Kairos Palestine, Dame Dr Mary Tanner, European president of the WCC, offered greetings on behalf of the group of women gathered to reflect on the document. "We pledge ourselves to pray for you, knowing that in Christ no wall, however high, however obscene, can separate us in the communion of God’s own life of love. What happens to you happens to us, your pain is our pain, and your struggle becomes our struggle," she said. "We will accompany you in that movement which the Kairos Palestine document has begun and bring it, in whatever ways we can, into our ministries, into our churches and societies. Your story will be our story and we will ask the fellowship of churches in the WCC that has gathered us to take your witness and your challenges into its work and into the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in May 2011," she continued. "We shall not be silent."
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Monday, 24 January 2011

Money Outreach Ministries through Churches

This month's CTE News carries this article by Liz Mann of Credit Action about how churches can support people struggling with debt.

Money is a worry for many at the moment, 1,732 people are made redundant every day, VAT has increased and levels of personal debt remain high (£8,495 per household excluding mortgages). No community, inside or outside the church, is immune and the effects of financial problems can cause fear and shame, stress, ill-health and relationship breakdown.

Regardless of whether we ourselves have money problems, for Christians this is an opportunity both to review and recommit our own finances to God and to also demonstrate the compassionate, all-accepting heart of Jesus to those who find themselves in financial difficulty. Church groups have much to offer. They can bring hope to those trapped in financial despair and can play a powerful role in preventing others from getting into difficulties in the first place by teaching wise stewardship both within the church and in the wider, secular community around them. Responding to money issues doesn’t have to be complicated, even simple interventions can make a big difference.

Help people to get help

Over 200,000 unsolicited calls are made every day to consumers by fee charging debt management and loan companies. However, there are many excellent charities providing free, independent advice. Community Money Advice, Christians Against Poverty and Citizens Advice Bureaux provide face to face advice at centres across the country and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) and National Debtline both operate national telephone helplines. Your church could display posters for free services or make booklets, such as Credit Action’s ‘moneymanuals’, available to people.

Set up a money outreach ministry

Churches are well placed to provide one-to-one support to individuals with money issues. By doing so, we have the opportunity to follow Jesus’ example in proclaiming “good news to the poor” and “freedom for the prisoners” (Luke 4 18). A number of churches have set up debt advice centres. This is a big commitment but there are two Christian charities, Community Money Advice (CMA) and Christians Against Poverty (CAP), who can help. With Christians Against Poverty, churches partner with CAP and support a CAP Debt Coach who works within the community. Community Money Advice supports churches in setting up their own, independent debt advice centres. The impact of a debt advice ministry can be life-changing for individuals who have been struggling under the burden of debt.

Another option is to set up a budget coaching service. Because budget coaches do not give debt advice, which heavily regulated, this can be a lighter undertaking. Budget coaches are volunteers who help individuals to prepare an accurate, realistic budget. Creating a budget enables people to regain control, shine a light on their finances, highlight areas of waste and lift fear of the unknown. After completing their budget, some individuals may still need specialist debt advice, which the budget coach might support them through, but the first, and therefore, hardest steps have been taken. Credit Action can provide Personal Budget Coach Training.

Develop wise and Godly attitudes to managing money

As well as responding to those in difficulty, we need to focus on prevention and to develop a Godly attitude towards money. Money is a significant factor in our daily lives – we cannot avoid it, so we must learn to use it wisely, to be generous and to prevent it from becoming our master (Matthew 6 24). This is both spiritual, remembering that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6 19), and practical, ensuring that we are good stewards of everything God has put in our care.

There are many great resources available for sermons and small groups available on the subject of managing money and giving (see some of the websites below). It is important that we learn how to manage money effectively. Only 26% of people have a budget that they follow regularly, yet this is the most effective way of keeping control of our finances. You can find budget planners to help you on line.

You might consider running budgeting workshops for your congregations or local community. These can be particularly effective if incorporated into other ministries and courses such as marriage preparation or parenting groups. There are resources and courses that you can use to do this, or book someone to come and run a workshop for you.

Useful links and resources:

Credit Action
Community Money Advice
Christians Against Poverty
Crown Financial Ministries
The Money Revolution
Consumer Credit Counselling Service
National Debtline

Friday, 21 January 2011

Calls for Unity after Alexandria Church Bombing

Coptic Cross (SVG version of Image:CopticCross...Image via Wikipedia
The following article is reproduced from the January edition of CTE News:

President Hosni Mubarak urged Egypt's Muslims and Christians to stand united against terrorism after a bombing outside the Church of Saints Mark and Peter (al-Qiddissin) in Alexandria. At least 21 people were killed and 70 hurt in the suspected suicide attack, which happened during a New Year's Eve service at the Church. In a rare televised address, Mr Mubarak said it bore the hallmark of "foreign hands" seeking to destabilise Egypt.

The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom issued a statement signed by Bishop Angaelos saying ‘We are deeply saddened and disturbed that once again, days of joy and celebration have been turned into a time of mourning and weeping. Our immediate thoughts and prayers are with all those who were affected by the bombing at the Church of Saints Mark and Peter in Alexandria: those who have lost their lives, their families, those who were injured, members of that parish, Christian communities in general, and Christians throughout the land of Egypt.’

Visitors from the Geneva offices of the World Council of Churches (WCC) were honoured to be received in Cairo, Egypt on Saturday 8 January 2011 by Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, led the group to Cairo in order to offer personal condolences in the aftermath of the lethal bomb attack at the New Year on a church in Alexandria. Tveit expressed the sympathy and support of the WCC member churches to Pope Shenouda at this difficult time for Egypt. He gave his assurance that the fellowship of churches was united in prayer for the Coptic Orthodox Church and for all the people of Egypt. The WCC general secretary spoke of the cross as a symbol of solidarity shared by Christians around the world. “The cross serves as a reminder of the suffering borne in human life, and of Christ’s death on the cross, yet as a Christian emblem it also points toward resurrection, reconciliation and peace,” Tveit said.

In his message for Christmas, which the Coptic Orthodox celebrated on 7 January, Pope Shenouda focused on the love and peace of God towards everyone. “It is encouraging to see how his message inspired both Christians and Muslims to stand together against violence and attempts at dividing the people” Tveit said. “Pope Shenouda demonstrates that when spiritual leadership is done well, it can have tremendous influence in making peace.” Pope Shenouda stressed the importance of prayer to God, and the need for solidarity among all people.
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Thursday, 20 January 2011

Poverty of Ambition? Churches and a Politics of Hope

LONDON - OCTOBER 20:  The front cover of the B...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The following is a text from a press release issued yesterday:

Journalist and commentator Will Hutton will be addressing a free conference hosted by the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Baptist Union of Great Britain on the 22nd of January 2011 in Birmingham.

Mr. Hutton will be joined by a range of contributors including Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, who will speak and answer questions on ‘The Big Society’. Revd Kirsty Thorpe, Co-Moderator of the United Reformed Church, will also reflect on what it means for Churches to be committed to a politics of hope

The conference - entitled Poverty of Ambition? Churches and a Politics of Hope - will look at how churches can engage with contemporary political issues. A particular focus will be how churches can respond to the cuts announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review and how this relates to the coalition’s concept of Big Society.

There will be a range of workshops aimed at experienced policy professionals, enthusiasts and people who simply want to know more. Workshop topics will include:
  • What do our churches and politicians believe about poverty?
  • Acting on debt - practical suggestions for churches
  • Climate change - international agreement or technological change?
  • Peacemaking - nationally, locally, internationally
  • Big society - opportunity or threat?
  • Practical hints for lobbying your MP
  • How do I get my church interested in public issues?
The Conference will take place from 10.30am to 4pm on 22 January 2011 at Carr's Lane Church Centre, Birmingham.

Journalists wishing to attend should contact Anna Drew, Lead Media Officer on the Connexional Team.
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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Churches Together Connect

A social network diagramImage via Wikipedia
News this week of a new development from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian UnityChurches Together Connect is a new social network primarily for Churches Together groups, launched on Monday 17 January 2011.  Here is their press release:

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has today launched a new social networking site called CT Connect. Launched to coincide with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it will offer a free website to local Churches Together groups with direct links to CTBI’s online resources.

CTBI General Secretary Revd Bob Fyffe said “This is about resourcing and developing a new space to work on our agenda for unity. It’s about building an on-line community. Significantly, it will allow Christians at a local level to engage directly with each other and with the many organisations in the ecumenical family. It will also be an interactive space that will resource and strengthen the work of local Churches Together groups. It’s a good example of our being ‘More Together, Less Apart.’”

CT Connect will also offer a quality space for Christians to seek and share information and best practice. It will facilitate groups sharing resources for worship and spirituality, publicising events, and most importantly to engaging, interacting and discussing current issues locally, nationally and internationally.

CT Connect will build a community online.  It will be a place to:
  • learn from each other and to explore what it means to be a Church united in Christ
  • Generate ideas
  • Share resources for worship, liturgy and spirituality.
  • Engage and discuss current issues with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Publicise community and Churches Together events and get ideas from others about how to organise particular events and use the best resources
(This list is from the January edition of CTE News.)

I welcome this development as I welcome any initiative which, like this blog, increases the presence of ecumenism on the internet.  However, these initiatives work only if they are supported, so please follow and comment on this blog and also join CT Connect. 
Finally, Church Mouse has commented on this new development in a post yesterday.
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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Review of Intermediate Bodies

Health checksImage by Coventry City Council via Flickr
Churches Together in England (CTE) is about to initiate a review of Intermediate Bodies.  Here is an extract from "Between the local and the national: a health check for churches working together in the counties and large cities of England" published by CTE in 2001:

A unique feature of church life in England, hardly paralleled elsewhere in the world, has been the development of a network of intermediate bodies - mostly corresponding to counties or large cities - where the churches have developed a pattern of co-operation and shared life which also gives oversight to local ecumenism in its different forms.

These intermediate bodies are an example off the development of shared episcope, the oversight of the whole people of God, reflecting the wider movement towards joint decision-making and mutual accountability.

Ten years on, it is time to review the intermediate bodies again.

An online questionnaire will be available to County Ecumenical Officers, various members of intermediate bodies, denominational officers, diocesan officers and any others able to answer questions on behalf of Local Ecumenical Partnerships or Churches Together Groups.  This will need to be completed by the end of February.

Most of these people should receive details through the usual channels but if anyone would like to complete the questionnaire and believes they are unlikely to receive a copy, contact me and I will pass on your details.  Once I have a contact for the review, I'll add the details as a comment to this post.
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Monday, 17 January 2011

Promoting Prayer for Unity

One of the topics that came up for discussion at the recent meeting of National Ecumenical Officers was prayer for unity. 

The Catholic Church has introduced a moment of prayer for unity, once a month.  So, it may be worth exploring whether this could be broadened into an ecumenical observance.  This might be a prayer to be said during services.  Some places might observe this through a monthly special service, especially where a suitable service already exists.

The aim would be to remind ourselves once a month of the continuing call to unity.  In the light of talk of  an ecumenical winter, such a shared prayer might help us remember, desire for unity is still very much with us.

If such a prayer were possible, there is the possibility of linking it with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  The annual theme could be picked up through the monthly prayers. 

There is another possibility, as some churches are starting to celebrate mid-week festivals on the preceding Sundays.  It seems Catholic Churches in England and Wales were asked to celebrate Epiphany on 2 January this year and this may be a trend in the Church of England too.  Methodists have done this for many years.

So, if there is a trend to do this, how about developing mid-week festivals, such as Epiphany and Ascension, as opportunities for ecumenical prayer and celebration?

So, what do you think?  Is this something your church, Churches Together group or other group of local churches might welcome?  Is it already happening anywhere?  How would you set about it locally?  What resources would you need?  Are there any prayers you would recommend?

Oh yes!  One suggestion for a short monthly prayer was the Pilgrim Prayer:

Lord God we thank you
For calling us into the company
Of those who trust in Christ
And seek to obey his will.
May your Spirit guide and strengthen us
In mission and service to your world;
For we are strangers no longer
But pilgrims together on the way to your Kingdom.
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Friday, 14 January 2011

Education Sunday 2011

Education Sunday is on 20 February 2011 and Churches Together In England has prepared resources for it.  Here are extracts from the resources:

Education Sunday is a national day of prayer and celebration for everyone involved in the world of education. For more than 100 years there has been an annual recognition of Education Sunday in England and Wales (traditionally on the ninth Sunday before Easter).

The resources are designed to help you prepare for your own celebration on or around Education Sunday, or on any other day throughout the year, such as at the start or end of the academic year. You can use these resources in your church, in local schools, colleges and universities and in other places of learning.

The theme for this year is as follows:

Firm Foundations

‘It’s only bricks and mortar’. Well, that’s one way to describe a building – but there is so much more! An architect designed it, a builder dug the foundations, a surveyor oversaw it, an electrician wired it, a roofer made it water-tight, a glazier added windows. And then a business is started, a shop begins to trade, a family move in – and the building comes to life. The structure is decorated, reshaped, fashioned to suit its occupants’ needs – all building on the work started by the construction team.

One understanding of education is laying the foundations needed for life. The readings for Education Sunday 2011 offer a chance to muse further on this. Jesus Christ is the foundation (I Corinthians 3) and whether we are educators at school, church or home we need to build with regard to our faith.

So what ‘materials’ might we use? Matthew 5 suggests values that run counter to cultural norms, which offer children and young people a perspective on life that encompasses compassion, forgiveness and generosity. Psalm 119 shows the pathway of God’s law – signposting obedience with understanding.

But education – in whatever context – also needs to build children’s spiritual lives as well as their intellect and moral capacity. Space for God to break through – and space for children and young people to glimpse the Divine - needs to have its place in the building blueprint, to give them a chance to glimpse holiness (Leviticus 19). Awe, wonder and curiosity contribute to a child’s spiritual growth and flourishing. We omit them at our peril.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

International Ecumenical Peace Convocation

From the WCC website:

The World Council of Churches' (WCC's) 9th assembly in February 2006, decided that the 2001-2010 Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) would end with an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC)".

The assembly also called for "wide consultation ... toward developing an ecumenical declaration on 'just peace'".

This consultative process leading up to the IEPC allows for broad participation with many entry points, and covers a wide spectrum of thematic and methodological approaches.

The Convocation will take place on 17 - 25 May 2011 at Kingston in Jamaica.  It will be a "harvest festival" celebrating the achievements of the Decade to Overcome Violence which began in 2001. At the same time it encourages individuals and churches to renew their commitment to nonviolence, peace and justice.

One way of supporting it will be mark World Sunday for Peace:
On Sunday, 22 May 2011, churches in every corner of the world are invited to celebrate God’s gift of peace. A peace prayer written by the Caribbean hosts of the IEPC is currently being translated into many languages.

Mission statement

The IEPC aims at witnessing to the peace of God as a gift and responsibility of the oikumene. It seeks to assess and strengthen the church's position on peace, provide opportunities for networking and deepen our common commitment to processes of reconciliation and peace.

There is a page of suggestions about how anyone can support the IEPC.  I would like to hear from any British Methodist who is likely to attend and might write some posts for this blog.

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

National Ecumenical Officers

Counties of England by population, based on GN...Image via Wikipedia
Churches Together in England (CTE) supports the work of a network of County Ecumenical Officers.  These are not actually a part of CTE, as they are appointed by their sponsoring bodies, but their support is one of the services CTE offers to the churches.  Similarly, CTE also supports a small group of National Ecumenical Officers (NEOs).

Who are the NEOs?  They are officers from most of the mainstream churches, who have some time dedicated to ecumenical work.  They are usually staff of the churches, who designate them as members of the NEOs group.  Some churches have two NEOs.

The NEOs group will be meeting today for a twenty four hour consultation.  As well as staff from CTE there will also be representatives from the Methodist Church, Church of England, URC, Baptist Union, Roman Catholic Church and Salvation Army.  I think that's everyone!

This group does not have a formal agenda and should be thought of as a think tank for the churches.  Its members are in touch with local churches and also the ongoing national (and to some degree international) conversations.  This consultation is an opportunity to take stock, identify trends and suggest new initiatives.

Consequently, it is difficult to be certain about what will be on the agenda.  Nothing daunted, here are three items likely to figure in the conversations:
  • Follow-up to Edinburgh 2010 Consultation
  • Alternating ministry in Local Ecumenical Partnerships, including the implications of the Church of England's new Common Tenure legislation
  • Intermediate Bodies: their common functions & expectations.  These are currently being reviewed by CTE.
As always I am able to provide detail of these issues on request.
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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Lent Courses 2011

Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian o...Image via Wikipedia
Thank you to Lincolnshire's CTAL Notepad, for their summary of Lent Courses for 2011.  I posted about the courses in November and by now there is more information.  Here is a sample.

  1. Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) are producing The Unreconciled.  Details can be found by following the link and there is also a PDF file, Introduction to the Resources.  Apparently, the resources will be published on the website soon. 
  2. Rich Inheritance: Jesus' Legacy of Love is from York Christian Study Courses.  It is edited by Bishop Stephen Cotterell and features RC Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, Writer and lecturer in Biblical studies, Paula Gooder, and author and public theologian, Jim Wallis on the course CD / audiotape. Dr David Hope introduces the course and Methodist minister Inderjit Bhogal provides the Closing Reflection at the end of each speaker.
  3. Jesus The Wounded Healer (DVD) is a new CWR study for Lent. Comprises a DVD with five 15‐minute presentations, and a 48‐page study booklet with five weeks of daily Bible reading notes by Selwyn Hughes.
  4. Exploring God's Mercy by Bishop Stephen Croft, is available from Church House Publishing with companion videos and podcasts.
  5. Barefoot Disciple: Walking the Path of Passionate Humility by Stephen Cherry is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent book for 2011.
  6. Another Lent book is a series of bible readimngs and reflections by Nigel G Wright, Jesus Christ the Alpha and the Omega
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Monday, 10 January 2011

Parish Nursing

I came across Parish Nursing a few years ago and think it is a brilliant idea.  It is unfortunate if the name might  imply it is only for those traditions with parishes.  In fact all churches can be involved and I think I'm right to claim one of the earliest was Methodist, without a parish in sight!  I do wish interdenominational organisations took more care about choosing names reflecting their inclusive nature.

So, here are a few excerpts form the website or click on the link for pages and pages of interesting information.

We are a not-for-profit Christian organisation whose purpose is to maximise the wellbeing of society in community through three specific means
  • Application of professional nursing skills to healthy living and coping with illness
  • Response to people’s inner (spiritual) needs
  • Mobilisation of ordinary members of church communities and beyond.
Parish Nurses are registered nurses with some community experience. We work from local churches to develop a whole-person health ministry in the community.

Parish Nursing Ministries UK provides and continues to develop training for registered nurses to become accredited Parish Nurses. We are engaged in development of the theology of health and wellbeing; in articulating the spiritual component and value; and in identifying good practice. We work collaboratively with complementary organisations; we are multi-denominational and non-sectarian.

You can arrange for someone to come and tell you more about the basic concept. There's a team of supporters who love Parish Nursing so much they've volunteered to explain it to others! Just send us a request for a visit.

Parish Nursing uses professional nursing skills in a Christian context and works across the UK with and through the church and its local community promoting whole-person health.

Rooted in a church community, a Parish Nurse combines the benefits of health with spiritual care and community resources. Parish Nursing has a strong foundation in Christian faith but is offered unconditionally to people of any faith.

Accountability is normally through the local church, and the projects are locally funded. Parish Nursing operates in consultation with other health providers.

Professional skill, care and compassion are qualities a Parish Nurse brings as part of a ministry team, for the benefit of that team and church, and for its community. The collaborative ministry includes training and co-ordinating of volunteers to participate in the church’s care for its local community.
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Friday, 7 January 2011

Where Might we get to Ecumenically?

Hald Church, Denmark:Fresco, Saint John the Ev...Image via Wikipedia
Ken Howcroft, the Connexional Ecumenical Officer, made a presentation at a meeting of the Connexional Team's Strategic Leaders and Cluster Heads on 16 December 2010.  An outline follows.  It is a useful summary of Connexional ecumenical activity.

The (other) Lord’s Prayer
“May they all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me… I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me… May they be with me where I am to see my glory” John 17:21-4

Priorities for the Methodist Church
In partnership with others wherever possible, the Methodist Church will concentrate its prayers, resources, imagination and commitments on this priority:
  • to proclaim and affirm its conviction of God’s love in Christ, for us and for all the world; and
  • to renew confidence in God’s presence and action in the world and in the Church
Lund Principle 1952
Churches should act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately.

Ecumenical Vision 
  • All together in each place
  • Worship and Mission
  • Holy Church, wholly Church, not the whole of the Church
  • Conference 2009
Ecumenical Identity: Church Identity

See Ken's post on 29 October 2010 

Current Situation and Future Scenarios
What does ecumenical working mean in:
  • inter-religious contexts?
  • inter-confessional contexts?
  • within our confessional context?
If you have answers to these questions or other questions or views, please comment below.
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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Ecumenical Christmas Quiz - Answers

Look my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see o...Image by Larry He's So Fine via Flickr
The Methodist Ecumenical News Christmas Quiz has kept you all guessing for weeks I am sure.  The quiz was so difficult, that no-one submitted any answers.  Here they are at last - most of them refer to significant events during 2010.

  1. When is a LEP not a LEP? - Everyone has heard of a Local Ecumenical Partnerships, abbreviated to LEP from time immemorial.  Last year the British Government saw fit to introduce Local Enterprise Partnerships, also to be abbreviated.  So, take your pick. 
  2. Who might be wearing their own ordinary hat from 2011?  I'm afraid this is a rather silly pun.  So, 'their own' would be 'personal' and 'ordinary hat' is of course the 'ordinariate'.  The first Anglicans were received into the Ordinariate on Saturday 1 January 2011.
  3. Who is the odd one out? (Give your reason.) Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Bishop Nathan Hovhanissian and Commissioner Elizabeth Matear.   These are the four Presidents of Churches Together in England.  Bishop Hovhanissian stood down during 2010, as reported in a post last year.
  4. What do the following have in common? Be specific for extra points ... Revd Martin Atkins, Revd Roberta Rominga, Revd David Cornick, Revd Olav Fyske Tveit, Brother Stephen Smyth.   They are all General Secretaries of, in the same order, the Methodist Church of Great Britain,the United Reformed Church, Churches Together in England, the World Council of Churches and Action of Churches Together in Scotland. 
  5. Join the dots ...
Edinburgh - World Missionary Conference in 1910

Lausanne - First Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation 1976

Edinburgh Cape Town - Edinburgh 2010 (Centenary of 1910) in June 2010 and the Third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelisation in October 2010.

Now pay attention through 2011 and see if you can answer the next quiz!
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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Ecumenical Work in the Connexional Team

Shamrock Club lacrosse team, Champions of the ...Image by Musée McCord Museum via Flickr
At today's monthly Connexional Team meeting, there will be a 15 minute slot about ecumenism.

Chris Elliott, the team's Secretary for External Relations, will present the Ecumenical Vision Statement (click and then follow the link to 'Our Ecumenical Calling'), which was received by the 2009 Conference, Agenda Item 45, Daily Record 7/17 and 7/18.  She will also introduce the new Ecumenical Stakeholders' Forum, which had its first meeting in October 2010.

Chris Sissons, the Assistant Ecumenical Officer, will present some work he did over a year ago, researching the ecumenical work of the Connexional Team.  The main outcome of this exercise was the discovery of 56 formal organisations and 54 informal groups where members of the team participate, as well as numerous other instances of collaboration.  This was from a sample of the team members and so the real figures are likely to be substantially higher.  Ecumenical collaboration is a significant part of the work of the churches at national level and applies to all sectors of the team's work, not to faith and order related issues only.

The paper recommends the promotion of the Vision statement wherever possible and various resources for the team, including a guide for new members.  The team's clusters will be encouraged to discuss their ecumenical relationships and share experiences with partner churches.  Copies of this paper can obtained from Chris on request.

Finally, Chris will say something about this blog and how it will develop in the future.  Readers of this blog will have to wait a little longer, so watch out for announcements in the not too distant future.  Oh yes and team members will have a chance to answer the Christmas New Year Quiz - the answers will be posted here tomorrow.
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