The Church of England has just released its provisional stats for attendance and affiliation in 2010. Overall the picture is one of a church on the turn, growing again in some areas of the country and some aspects of its life, but not in others, with a headline figure of a very slight decline in Sunday attendance.
But in Ely Diocese the picture is one of growth not decline. Average weekly attendances rose from 19200 in 2009 to 19800 in 2010 with similar increases when other measures are used. Electoral roll aggregate numbers were up from 18900 to 19100, but the really striking growth is among children and young people, where average weekly church attendance is up nearly 10% from 3700 to 4000.
Parishes across the Diocese are also talking about significantly increased congregations at both Remembrance Sunday and Christmas, but the hard figures for these will only appear in a year’s time.
All this is by no means a matter for triumphalism. We obviously hope to see growing numbers coming to church because we do believe that the Christian Gospel is good news for people’s lives, and that what we call “church” can be a real strength in building local community. But we also fully respect people’s right to choose, and good news stops being good news if that is taken away.
Nor is this a moment to sit back and rest on our laurels. There is still a lot of work to do. But it will, I hope, be an encouragement to the hard-working women, men and youngsters who make up the life of our churches and chaplaincies, and another small sign that the tide is beginning to turn.
The RSA lecture by Alain de Botton Religion for Atheists on 26 January, 13:00 to 14:00
is fully booked but you can watch it live online.
Moving on from the stale and unproductive atheists vs. believers debate, renowned philosopher Alain de Botton argues for what he sees to be a more helpful and progressive alternative.
I will be intrigued to know whether his vision that “religious” activity like ritual and music can nourish humanity can hold true for the long haul. In the end we still confront a real difference between the viewpoint that all we have is human endeavour and choice, and the belief that value and purpose is somehow a given, whatever we make of it, and we not just love but are beloved, even if the whole world rejects us.
I love Bach’s Cello Suites and they are great to chill out to, but the liturgy of the Holy Communion is where Christ comes to meet me, and I find transformation.
To mark The Ecclesiastical Law Journal‘s first 25 years, its publishers are pleased to offer free access to every article from the jubilee issue.
Access the table-of-contents by following this link.
It can be very difficult for schools, even church schools, to keep Lent – usually Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday will be marked, there is then a huge leap to Mothering Sunday and then, depending on term dates, children end up celebrating Easter before the rest of the Church has embarked upon Holy Week! With this problem in mind, this year all primary schools in the Diocese have been issued with a Lenten challenge by the Bishops and are being asked to mark Lent by performing a task each week. There is a great deal of choice involved in what schools actually do, but they have been given broad themes to work within, such as: “Thinking about the Meaning of Lent”; “Remember the World”; “Remember your Neighbours”. The emphasis is not so much upon “What shall we do” but on Lent as a time of personal commitment, and so at the end of the process schools will receive a gold, silver or bronze award based on their commitment to observing Lent. Twenty schools have already signed up for the challenge and there is still a month for others to put their names forward. They will be sharing their experiences through weekly blogs and you will be able to access these through the webpage http://www.stir-up.org.uk/lent.html, you can also find the challenge booklet as a download on the same web page.
The challenge is a great opportunity for parishes to get involved with their local school during Lent, in fact some of the suggestions within the challenge booklet do relate to the local church, so you might well find the schools approaching you for your support! Remember the challenge is open to all schools – church schools, community schools, academies, special schools, even secondary schools can join in if they wish – so if your local school is not yet on the list of participants you could bring it to their attention and offer to work with them on it – that could be your Lent Challenge!
Dr Shirley Hall
Assistant Diocesan Director of Education
Cambs CB7 4DX
The Cambridge Conversations at Emmanuel College on Saturday 11th February are nearly fully booked now with around 100 participants from movers and shakers to local heroes. Lord Wilson and the Bishop of Ely will top and tail the day with their take on the Big Society. The morning will be spent in rolling discussion groups based on major themes such as education, health, infrastructure and the economy. Lord Glasman and Dr John Hughes will hold a public conversation about the underlying values, ethics and even theology of society which will lead us into lunch, and then in the afternoon participants will engage with one thematic area in particular to start to forge action alliances to build a better society for us all here in Cambridgeshire. A dedicated website has been commissioned that will keep the conversation going.
Our grand-daughter Charlotte was a whole 1 year old on Monday. This could be the photo that re-appears at her wedding reception!
My wife Jean is one of the Trustees of Godly Play UK. She would like to hear from anyone who uses Godly Play in Baptism Preparation. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or add a comment to this post.
Many thanks to those on the Spiritual Child Network who have already responded.
Our latest bulletin can be found at: http://ely.anglican.org/education/schools/documents/9January2012.pdf
As you would expect at the beginning of a new year, there are a number of things being planned:
- Now is the time to register for the Church School Leaders’ Conference on March 9th – a registration form can be downloaded form our website
- the Talking Education series in Cambridge – three dialogues between the end of January and the middle of March.
- Registration for this year’s Bishops’ Lent Challenge
- Worship workshop – a new website and sessions to support its use
- details of other opportunities coming up through 2012.
Enjoy reading and a Happy New Year to you all!
Schools Administrator/PA to Director of Education
Ely Diocesan Office
Bishop Woodford House
Posted on January 18, 2012 by ugandaprojectupdate
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Posted on January 9, 2012 by ugandaprojectupdate
Good news!! Read on……
We are pleased to say that £5000, the last instalment of the money raised by the Walk for Uganda, has been sent to The Bishop’s School, Kyabugashe, Rukungiri District. The final stages of the building should be nearing completion. Parts of the building are already in use. The students have been able to sit their exams there.
The wonderful science resources we have financed are also being used The supplies provided by schools in Malmesbury and Godmanchester have made life so much easier for staff and students alike.
We are delighted to report that the parents of the school students have been so encouraged by the changes in the school that they have “done their bit” by laying new floors in the other classrooms. The school has a new standing in the community and is a powerful witness in this extremely needy area, to God’s provision and Christian love.
Some of the students do have difficulty scraping enough money together to pay for their meagre fees, but they all work hard at their studies and do their best to achieve to their fullest potential. We are grateful to God for giving us this opportunity to help this school.
Antony Billington of LICC writes:
This day, Friday 13 January 2012, sees the London Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for the life of John Stott, held at St Paul’s Cathedral.
John will be remembered for many things, highlighted in the range of tributes already offered. Just one of those, key to LICC’s Connecting with Culture reflections, is his call to ‘double listening’ – listening to the word and listening to the world.
Already in the first edition of Issues Facing Christians Today, published in 1984, John wrote of his conviction to begin with ‘God’s Word written’, along with ‘a second commitment… to the world in which God has placed us’. And that double commitment was played out across a range of global, social, and personal issues. But it was in his 1992 book, The Contemporary Christian, that he laid out the concept of ‘double listening’ as ‘indispensable to Christian discipleship and Christian mission’.
And so he wrote of listening ‘carefully (although of course with differing degrees of respect) both to the ancient Word and to the modern world, in order to relate the one to the other with a combination of fidelity and sensitivity’. For John, this was a way of carefully treading the line between irrelevance to the world on the one hand and accommodation to the world on the other hand.
As such, it lay at the heart of his vision of preaching Scripture, training leaders, and making disciples. Our submission to God’s word and our location in God’s world mean that paying attention to both is essential for authentic Christianity.
But we don’t do so as a cheap evangelistic ploy. John insisted on the need to empathise with the way the world is experienced by our fellow human beings. Listening involves understanding the world’s needs, acknowledging its fears, hearing its questions, and loving its people. Love, of course, goes with genuine listening – living out our love for God and our love for our neighbours in the realities of the world in which God has placed us. The challenge, then (to borrow terms from Andy Crouch’s Culture Making), is to listen not only as an occasional ‘gesture’ but as a characteristic ‘posture’.
John expounded the topic of double listening in his books, but he exemplified it in a life of ministry and mentoring, and encouraged others through exposition of the word and exhortation to be salt and light in the world, for God’s own glory.