Gone for good? A day conference on church leaving

by Karin Lyle
from Signs of the Times No. 27 - Oct 2007
[NW region conferences]

On Saturday, June 9th, Professor Leslie Francis of the University of Wales, Bangor, joined a group of us, from the North West Branch of the Modern Churchpeople's Union, at St. Deiniol's Library, Hawarden.

Our purpose was to consider the reasons why people are ceasing to attend church. Gone for Good?: Church Leaving and Returning in the 21st Century, to be published later this year, is the sequel to Professor Francis's earlier book, Gone But Not Forgotten: Church Leaving and Returning. In it he takes further his research into falling church attendance, by examining the relationship between people's motives for leaving church and the prospects for their future return. In many cases, he suggests, 'congregation switching' within a 'Multiplex church', could be advocated as infinitely preferable to having people leave the church altogether.

Read more ...

Lake Malawi still has no bishop

from Signs of the Times No. 27 - Oct 2007

Events at Lake Malawi continue to astonish. Two years after the Revd Nicholas Henderson was elected as their bishop the diocese remains without him.

At the time the Archbishop of Central Africa, Bernard Malango, blocked the appointment on the ground that Mr Henderson had been Chairman of the MCU and therefore 'not of sound faith'. The clergy and laity refused to accept anyone else and have campaigned on the matter ever since.

Earlier this year his supporters in Malawi were accused of murdering a local priest. Canon Rodney Hunter, 73, was a prominent member of Forward in Faith. He died of cancer in November. In that part of Africa, as part of the legacy of pre-Christian religion, it is still customary for families to gather after a death to discuss who was to blame. Often witchcraft is suspected. On this occasion they decided to blame the supporters of Mr Henderson for murdering him.

Read more ...

Intercessory prayer - a Google of ideas

Extracts from an online discussion
in Signs of the Times No. 27 - Oct 2007

Towards the end of last year we set up an online Google group for members of the MCU's Council, to facilitate exchange of ideas and the conduct of business. For a few days in late April this year there was a lively discussion about intercessory prayer. Some edited and abridged extracts from it are given here - apologies to those whose contributions I have not used.

Participants have agreed to publication of their contributions. Please bear in mind that they came into being as fairly informal internet chat, not as scholarly papers.

Read more ...

The authority of the Bible

by David Taylor
from Signs of the Times No. 27 - Oct 2007

There is huge variation these days on how the claim, 'The Bible is authoritative', is interpreted.

At one extreme we have those who insist that every word in the Bible comes directly from the mouth of God and demands our absolute and unquestioning obedience; at the other, those who doubt whether it is sensible or wise to treat the Bible as authoritative in any sense at all that resembles the traditional claims for it. Both sides typically insist they are Christian; not rarely the traditional-minded accuse their opponents of betraying the faith and denying the truth of the word, while the liberal-minded accuse their opposites of a peevish and irrational dogmatism. I'd better say at the start that I belong pretty firmly to the liberal camp.

Read more ...

Obituary: The Revd Canon Chris Bard

by David Driscoll
from Signs of the Times No. 27 - Oct 2007

Chris was a leap year baby, born on 29 February 1952. He grew up in Fareham, Hampshire and studied at King's College London where he met Mary, his wife. After ordination he served curacies at Billingham and Eaglescliffe, combining the latter with the post of chaplain to Arts and Recreation in York Diocese. Later he moved to Chelmsford Diocese, combining the post of Diocesan Communications Officer with the parish of Epping Upland where he was priest-in-charge.

It was at this time that the Movement for the Ordination of Women got off the ground. Chris became a member of the branch in Chelmsford where I first met him. He also got involved in the (London) Metropolitan branch and was a founder member of Priests for Women's Ordination at the end of 1983.

Read more ...