Ely City Amnesty Group is screening Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom on Saturday 1 October at the Lecture Theatre, the Old Palace, Ely. The film stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, and chronicles Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through years of imprisonment until he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa. The Group chose the film to tie in with its annual lecture. Paul Joseph, the long-term friend and political ally of Nelson Mandela, will be speaking at Ely Cathedral on 16th October. Doors open for the film at 6:30pm for 7.00pm. Tickets are £6.00 each and can be bought from Burrows Bookshop, 9 High Street Passage, Ely, or from All profits go towards Amnesty’s human rights work.

A new book to mark Grossteste Day and his place in the history of science 2016-09-25 14-22-59

This book explores a wide range of topics relating to scientific and religious learning in the work of Bishop Robert Grosseteste (c. 1168–1253) and does so from various perspectives, including those of a twenty-first century scientists, historians, and philosophers as well as several medievalists. In particular, it aims to contribute to our understanding of where to place Grosseteste in the history of science (against the background of the famous claim by A.C. Crombie that Grosseteste introduced what we now might call “experimental science”) and to demonstrate that the polymathic world of the medieval scholar, who recognized no dichotomy in the pursuit of scientific and philosophical/theological understanding, has much to teach those of us in the modern world who wrestle with the vexed question of the relationship between science and religion. The book comprises an edited selection of the best papers presented at the 3rd International Robert Grosseteste Conference (2014) on the theme of scientific and religious learning, especially in the work of Grosseteste.

Resources for Remembering Robert Grosseteste on his Feast Day


October 9th is the Feast Day of a medieval Bishop who also has a serious claim to be the first “real physicist”, Robert Grosseteste, who was Bishop of Lincoln from 1235 to 1253. He was born at Stradbroke in Suffolk circa 1168-70 and his early education and clerical service were in Hereford where Bishop William de Vere was encouraging the newly transmitted Aristotelian scientific learning from the Arabic world to take root, extending the study of the liberal arts to include physics observational astronomy.

After de Vere’s death Grosseteste  moved to a benefice in Lincoln diocese, and used this as a base from which to study and then teach at Oxford which was then within the bounds of that huge diocese (and probably at Paris too). At Oxford his main work was to teach the Franciscan friars who were studying there (he taught Roger Bacon), and it is possible that his reputation was such that he also became the Master of Students for the emergent University – effectively its first chancellor.

The same reputation commended him as the right candidate to break a deadlock in choosing a new Bishop for the diocese and despite his advancing years he proved a most active one, remaining in post for 18 years until his death, raising standards, challenging the Pope on bad practices, and after his death being seen as saint, although formal canonisation was blocked by the papal court he had confronted.

As a bishop Grosseteste remained an active author, and most of his works – even though he had taught theology at Oxford – were on scientific subjects such as light (around which mush of this thinking developed) and the rainbow in particular, the generation of sound, geometry, and astronomy, as well as more generally on the liberal arts (which is how I became interested in his work).

The importance of Grosseteste as a pioneer of modern scientific thinking is now being recognised as mediaevalists, scientists and even theologians collaborate in the prize-winning Ordered Universe Project to produce a new edition of his treatises to be published by Oxford University Press, using all their skills together in a sort of academic archaeology to unearth the real meaning and message of his work. It’s a most exciting adventure, and you can follow its progress at

At the heart of Grosseteste’s integration as a Christian bishop of faith and science is the belief that the universe was called into being by God in a wonderfully ordered way – an order that we can still see and measure and wonder at in both scientific and spiritual ways, but an order too that has been broken as creation has turned away from its maker, most particularly by the wrong use of human free will. But his Christian faith teaches him that the same God who made the world in love also entered that world in love to begin a new work of restoration and redemption, in which we humans are invited to join. For Grosseteste joining in that work or restoration took many inter-linked forms: personal prayer of course, and the liturgy and good ordering of the church, but also and importantly education, training our understanding to see again the good order of God’s world and our desires to work towards it (aspect and affect as he would have called them). So the liberal arts and new sciences are very much part of our total work of becoming fully and properly human, as we were intended to be, and restoring the created world too to its proper order and balance.

This is a vision that we can whole-heartedly affirm today as educationalists, environmentalists and believers alike. So don’t let October 9th pass by without remembering the bishop who was perhaps our first modern scientist, and whose thinking still has the power to inspire us today.

To help in his remembrances I have gathered together a selection of prayers and readings and other liturgical material, which you will find beneath the fold.

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Short Course in Cambridge: Science and Faith in the Local Church. St Edmund’s College, Cambridge: Jan 11-12, 2017

Aim of Course

This Faraday Institute short workshop is designed for church leaders, lay or ordained, and those in training. Come and explore a wide range of science and faith issues and think about their relevance in the context of the local church. A team of leading speakers will address key scientific areas such as cosmology, evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology and neuroscience. There will be plenty of opportunity for group discussion as well as input on practical and pastoral application and examples of imaginative church resources. The course will run from 9.30 am Weds 11 Jan 2017 to 5pm Thurs 12 Jan 2017 and there will be no evening sessions. Tea, coffee and a sandwich lunch on both days are included in the registration price. NB delegates will be responsible for their overnight accommodation and evening meals. There are many places to eat within walking distance and a list of accommodation will be provided on request.

Speakers (listed in alphabetical order) and topics

Click on a speaker’s name to obtain brief biographical details.


The course will be held in the Garden Room of St Edmund’s College.

Application Form

Building new friendships between church leaders in Cambridgeshire

A big thankyou to James Gardom, Dean of Pembroke College Cambridge for his initiative and hospitality in hosting a dinner with discussion and prayer yesterday for Bishop Stephen and myself; Peter Wood; Jesse Zink. whose PhD on Christianity in Africa won a major. prize recently; Pastor Wale Adebayo of KICC in Orchard Park, Abury; Pastor Idris of the Cherry Hinton branch of the RCCG (City of David parish) and his wife, and  Leo Esosa Orobor, their community organiser; Pastor Patrick of the second  RCCG church in Cambridge (City of Sion); and Dominic Oyenira who works with the African-language speakers in Cambridge’s Catholic congregations. We were also graced with the company of the Master of Pembroke Lord Smith. What a splendid evening, and one we plan to repeat with an even wider of “world church” local leaders. And we will of course be looking to build bridges between these newer denominations and our older friends in the Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council too, with whom we are meeting shortly. Alleluia!