Editorial by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 62 - Jul 2016

One aspect of the church growth movement, to which Guy Elsmore refers in his current series of articles, is the promotion of the ‘eight essential qualities’ of Natural Church Development (ncd-uk.com).

These have captivated my own Diocese of Coventry, and some others, to an extent which can border on the idolatrous. But in themselves they can be useful tools for analysis, provided we remember they are not quite as neutral between different Christian traditions as they claim. They originally came out of a US Protestant tradition which tends to the conservative and the charismatic. For the rest of us, they require some translation.

by Brenda Watson
from Signs of the Times No. 62 - Jul 2016

Christopher Hallpike and Maria Barry, in their article Do we need God to be good? [Signs April 2016] noted that

‘a Christian civilization that is abandoning its religion is being hollowed out in fundamental ways’.

This is certainly happening today in our society. Typical of the embarrassment felt at the least mention of religious commitment is the reticence concerning the Queen's Christian belief in the celebrations for her 90th birthday. Jesus, she said in her 2014 Christmas broadcast, is ‘her inspiration and anchor’. Mark Greene notes: ‘Rightly the world marvels at the Queen's magnificent achievement. Might we not all benefit from hearing who she thinks has helped her do it?’1

by John Hall-Matthews
from Signs of the Times No. 62 - Jul 2016

Whenever I have a prayer time, I prepare myself by doing some stilling exercises.

I sit usually on a chair with a straight back, and then focus on different parts of my body relaxing my muscles, so that the whole of me becomes loose and relaxed. I then spend some time concentrating on my breathing, noticing the air as I breathe in and out. I pay attention to any noises either in the room or outside, and tell myself not to be distracted by them during my time of prayer. And finally I try to still my mind, laying aside any things I have brought with me from the past or any anxiety I may have for the future, so that I become more aware of being in the present moment. Imagine my surprise when I discovered in this book that what I have been doing for years was very similar to mindfulness, so quite naturally I found it a fascinating read.

by Dr John Quenby
from Signs of the Times No. 62 - Jul 2016

Jean Mayland and Robert Baldwin have both written articles ending: ‘What do the rest of MC think?’ [Signs, January & April 2016].

First re: language. As an attendee with my wife of the St Hilda’s Community after it left Queen Mary College and accepted hospitality from the Methodist Bow Mission, I very much regret the disappearance of the feminist liturgies and prayers developed at that time. The current concentration on prayers to Jesus can be countered by the biblical statistics to be found in James Dunn's Did The Early Christians Worship Jesus? where it is shown that the most common form is addressing God through Jesus.

by Tracy Reynolds

from Signs of the Times No. 62 - Jul 2016

In the beginning the rolling slopes of green and brown
shine majestically in afternoon sun. Warm and welcoming
arrayed in the splendour of autumn jewelled trees.
A gentle stroll along century worn tracks,
safe with knowledge that many feet have gone before
a myriad of footprints marking out the way.