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HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle. Please join us in prayer: O MERCIFUL God, the Father...

He Will Burn Up the Chaff with Unquenchable Fire

Bishop JC RyleHe Will Burn Up the Chaff with Unquenchable Fire In 1878, two years before he was made the first Bishop of Liverpool, The Revd JC Ryle delivered a sermon on the biblical teaching regarding the doctrine of hell. His words are as pertinent today as they...

Pilgrim’s Process

By The Revd Dr Peter Sanlon In our journey to heaven we are to be thankful for the world we pass through. One of the great prayers of the Book of Common Prayer (there are many!) is the General Thanksgiving. In it we pray, 'We bless thee for our creation, preservation...

Original Sin is the fundamental systematic cause of abuse

Original Sin is the Fundamental Systematic Cause of Abuse The Christian world has recently been shaken by revelations that two high-profile Evangelical leaders—the late Ravi Zacharias, founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; and, closer to home, the Revd...

Letters To The Editor – Graham

Dear Sir, The organisers of an evangelistic event in which Franklin Graham preached have won a legal dispute with Blackpool Council. The Lancashire Festival of Hope took place over three days at Blackpool's Winter Gardens in September 2018, which saw hundreds make...

Letter To the Editor – Government

Dear Editor, Readers may appreciate the relevance of the following comments by Bishop Ryle in his Expository Thoughts on John 18:36 (Volume 3 page 274): “No government can expect to prosper which refuses to recognise religion, which deals with its subjects as if they...

Lancashire Judge Rules in Favour of Franklin Graham

In a strong and clear rebuke of the cancel culture sweeping the UK, a court ruled that the 2018 Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham was discriminated against by the Blackpool Borough Council and Blackpool Transport Services Limited by taking down bus ads...

Spectator Cover Shows Empty Tomb for Easter Edition

Many of the readers of the English Churchman are also readers of The Spectator but the 3 April edition was a rather nice surprise. If you missed it, the cover featured an artist’s rendering of Jesus’ empty tomb. Bright morning sunlight showed the inside of a tomb,...

BCP Worship

The Second Sunday after Easter 11 April 2021 Psalm 81:1-4Ezekiel 37:1-101 John 5:4-12John 20:19-23 BCP Collect “Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification: Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice...

St George’s Church Crowhurst Promotes Wider Use of the BCP

A parish church in East Sussex – located next to the ruins of King Harold’s Saxon Manor, mentioned in the Domesday Book – has joined the Prayer Book Society in a bid to strengthen its campaign promoting wider use of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) by young people as...

General Synod Update

Last November, the General Synod of the Church of England held its first formal online Group of Sessions. As anyone who can imagine spending three days on Zoom might understand, this was not an experience to be relished: it was therefore a relief to learn that the business previously scheduled for February is to be postponed until late April, when it is hoped (perhaps somewhat optimistically?) that gathering in person will be possible. The agenda for that sitting is yet to be determined (but seems certain to include some discussion of the controversial ‘Living in Love and Faith’ project on human sexuality).

Meanwhile, in late February there will be a one-day informal remote meeting of the Synod which, we are told, ‘will be focusing on looking forward to the aftermath of the pandemic and how the Church can help our communities recover’. At the time of writing, neither the agenda for this special meeting nor the motion(s) for discussion has been published, so at this stage one can only speculate on the form the proceedings might take.

On the face of it, it is encouraging that the discussion is planned to focus on ‘recovery’, recognising that the current situation must soon be brough to an end. At a time when many are facing bereavement and ill-health as a direct result of the coronavirus itself, as well as (to perhaps an even greater extent) the devastating long-term effects of the measures taken to control the virus, local churches have a unique opportunity to offer practical, pastoral and spiritual support, and a message of hope. Some will rise to this challenge admirably.

The Church of England is, however, nothing if not highly disparate, and for much of the Church there are increasingly urgent and serious questions about its own recovery, let alone its ability to assist the recovery of others. A leaked internal document has recently suggested that a fifth of worshippers may not return in the aftermath of COVID (compounding already falling numbers). At the start of the pandemic, the national Church was so enthusiastic about the closure of churches for both public and private prayer, that it sought to forbid clergy from praying alone in their own church buildings. Now that, in the third lockdown, the government has permitted churches to open for public worship, the majority have declined to do so.

In parts of the world where Christians are routinely persecuted, they regularly put their lives at immediate risk by meeting together to pray, because they understand that such gatherings are as essential to the Body of Christ as, say, an open supermarket is to the sustenance of our physical bodies. The Church of England urgently needs to consider whether it really thinks church attendance matters.

 

Prudence Dailey is a longstanding lay member of the General Synod of the Church of England

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