8 - 14 July
NSW congregation stands behind gay couple given ultimatum by Church; call for "thousands" of church plants in Australia; women priests abused more often on social media, London's first female Anglican leader tells C of E's General Synod; ecumenical plea from the top to South Sudan's leaders; what is the meaning of Bastille Day … and much more.
July 14 2021
The congregation at a small Anglican church in northern NSW has rallied behind a gay couple, who have left the church after a dispute with the clergy. Peter Sanders, the former organist at St Mary's Anglican Church in West Armidale, has been married to his husband since early last year. He said he was told in May that he could not continue in that role unless he and his husband separated, lived celibately and undertook religious counselling. The couple did not agree to those conditions, and have since stopped attending church services.
Australia needs thousands more church plants a year, with the current estimate of 200 new churches across the nation described as “catastrophically small” by founding member and CEO of the Australian branch of global church planting organisation City to City, the Revd Dr Andrew Katay. Dr Katay is Senior Minister of Christ Church Inner West community in Sydney, a multi-site Anglican church that meets across three locations. City to City grew out of US theologian Tim Keller’s Redeemer City to City ministry in New York, after a group of pastors from Amsterdam sought information, advice and lessons about its experiences for their own outreach.
There have been many examples of heroism during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need look no further than the scores of health professionals around the world who put their lives at risk to care for COVID-19 infected patients. Many of these workers contracted the virus, and a good number have lost their lives caring for society’s most vulnerable. Sadly, the pandemic has also left us with no shortage of examples of egregiously unethical behaviour. If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from lockdown, writes Australian ethicist Xavier Symons, it’s that life in a post-pandemic world ought to be lived in solidarity rather than individualistic isolation.
Bishop Sarah Mullally, the first woman to lead Anglicans in the UK capital, tells the Church of England’s General Synod that women priests “are more often abused on social media — see how often I am subject to abuse”. “We need to get to grips with that ... be intentionally engaged about where we stand. We have chosen to live with one another in total agreement and love.”
Canada’s Anglican Journal reports on the experience of two childcare workers at an Anglican Residential School for Indigenous children in the 1970s in the wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School established by the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, many hundreds more unmarked graves have been found at other sites.
The latest Great Leap Forward for the C of E looks like this, writes priest and commentator Giles Fraser. “Get rid of all those crumbling churches. Get rid of the clergy. Do away with all that expensive theological education. These are all ‘limiting factors’. Instead, focus relentlessly on young people. Growth, Young People, Forwards. Purge the church of all those clapped-out clergy pottering about in their parishes. Forget the Eucharist, or at least, put those who administer it on some sort of zero hours contract. Sell their vicarages. This is what our new shepherds want in their prize sheep: to be young, dumb, and full of evangelistic … zeal.”
Politicians in South Sudan must be prepared to make personal sacrifices to reverse the fear and uncertainty that continues to grip the nation, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis and Church of Scotland Moderator Jim Wallace have warned. In a joint letter to political leaders in South Sudan on the 10th anniversary of its independence, Archbishop Justin Welby, Pope Francis and Mr Wallace write that “small progress” had been made in the country’s first decade. “Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem.”
A series of organised Bishops’ Conversations are taking place over the next six months as part of the preparations for next year’s face-to-face twice-deferred Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops. Bishop Peter Stuart of Newcastle in the Anglican Church of Australia, said: “The conversations were humbling as we heard of the harsh political environments experienced by some of those present as well as the impact that many had experienced with COVID-19 pandemic. We moved comfortably to open and generous prayer for each other.”
It is not a neutral act to allow secularism and anti-faith theories to take the place of religious education, writes Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of proposed changes to the school curriculum in England. “Faith is not the declining force that some secularists believe or indeed desire it to be,” he writes in The Spectator. “Even here in the UK, we have our growing and vibrant black-led churches; increasingly present mosques, temples and gurudwaras; and believers arriving from Eastern and Central Europe.”
French people travelling to or living in English-speaking countries are sometimes surprised when asked about their plans for “Bastille Day”: they refer to the day as Quatorze Juillet (14 July). France’s National Day is not really about the storming of the Bastille, and the day’s English language name conveys a misleading image, according to two Australian historians in this article from The Conversation. But it gives us an interesting glimpse into how the English-speaking world imagines France’s revolutionary past.