Religion news 24 November 2023

Music manuscripts from Auschwitz finished and performed at Sadlers Wells 

A young composer, Leo Geyer, has pieced together incomplete musical works he stumbled across in the archives at Auschwitz, and restored them into an opera-ballet “The Orchestras of Auschwitz”, which will be performed for the first time at Sadlers Wells on Monday 27 November. He discovered the music manuscripts by accident whilst having an offhand conversation with an archivist, when visiting Auschwitz seven years ago for a research project. Many were incomplete, some had burned edges, and one had a sketch for a composition, but it was both incomplete and unsigned. He said “Strangely, the handwriting was identical to mine. I felt it was my duty to finish the sketch and let this lost voice be heard”.  More in our article here

The place of religion in diplomacy ending conflict

The deal in the Israel Gaza conflict, to secure the release of some of the 240 Israeli hostages and pause hostilities for four days from 0500 GMT this morning, follows global shuttle diplomacy involving Egypt, Qatar and the United States, talks which will continue until all hostages are released, aid is delivered and war stops.  In a RMC briefing, speakers considered which arguments gain traction in a conflict involving majority religious populations. They concluded that negotiators need religious literacy and an informed understanding of religious ideas and impulses, in order to resolve intractable positions. Northern Ireland peace broker David Porter, Dr Sara Silvestri, senior lecturer in international politics at City, University of London, and Kaleem Hussain, honorary fellow at the Cadbury Centre in Birmingham, discussed his theory of “theo-diplomacy”, the understanding that religion and political ideology intertwine. View the discussion on YouTube here

March in solidarity against antisemitism in London this Sunday

The campaign against antisemitism is organising a demonstration in London this Sunday, 26 November, to show public support for Jews who have experienced rising levels of antisemitism since Hamas’ attack on southern Israel seven weeks ago. The Campaign says much of our country is with the Jewish community and its many allies and supporters have signed up in their thousands to join the demonstration. It says it is time for the country to hear the community’s voice after recent large demonstrations included antisemitic rhetoric and made Jews so fearful that central London became a no go area.

Dutch far right election success “shocking for Dutch Muslims”

The Dutch PVV party (Party for Freedom), led by right wing leader Geert Wilders has won 37 seats in the Dutch elections, the highest number of seats for one party in a parliament of 150. The result has shocked Dutch Muslims, as the party’s manifesto includes a ban on mosques, the Qur’an and Islamic headscarves in government buildings. The Guardian quotes Muhsin Köktas of the Contact Body for Muslims and Government, saying “the distress and fear are enormous”. He hoped that people from across the Netherlands would join together to defend and protect the rule of law. The party has to persuade others to form a coalition, but its extreme views put this in doubt. The GreenLeft-Labour alliance came second with 25 seats, and the liberal-conservative Party for Freedom and Democracy won 24.

Suspended Soul Survivor senior pastor Andy Croft able to return to the ministry

The Rev Andy Croft, senior pastor at Soul Survivor in Watford, has been told he is able to return to the ministry but he has decided to leave Soul Survivor to work in another church. The decision follows a safeguarding investigation after it was revealed that Mike Pilavachi, the co-founder and leader of Soul Survivor, had abused young men by massaging them and wrestling them to the floor. Andy Croft was suspended while a CofE investigation took place. In a statement on Soul Survivor’s website, he said the investigation found that his safeguarding practice fell short on three occasions. He writes: “Two of the three instances did not reach the threshold for a disciplinary complaint to be made. In the third instance, a disciplinary complaint was made but it has now been dismissed”.  He has sincerely apologised again for errors of judgment which allowed others to experience pain and has completed additional safeguarding training. Soul Survivor issued a statement saying Andy Croft had shown humility, contrition, and a desire to learn from the mistakes of the past and there was mutual agreement that “it would be healthier for Andy if he and the family were to start a new chapter elsewhere”.  Telegraph report here

Bishop David Pytches, founder of New Wine and Soul Survivor, dies aged 92

Bishop David Pytches, the clergyman in whose church New Wine and Soul Survivor was born, has died aged 92. He was the evangelical charismatic vicar of St Andrew’s Chorleywood, where the Christian festival “New Wine” started. His influence was profound. One of the tributes to him is from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said he and his family had “transformative encounters with Jesus through New Wine”. New Wine gave birth to Soul Survivor and Mike Pilavachi was appointed its leader, remaining until his abuse of young men was discovered this year. Premier Christian News reports that he has broken his self-imposed silence to pay tribute to David Pytches, a man he described as his spiritual father around whom “things kept happening”.

Suffolk village church wins alcohol licence for a bar in the hall

St Peter’s Church in Brandon, Suffolk, has won permission to hold an alcohol licence to create a bar off the hall’s kitchen. The Rev Dennis Coburn, assistant priest at the church, said the bar would be used for social events during the day as well as wakes following funerals. Local residents objected after concerns at selling alcohol for profit on church premises. But the church assured councillors alcohol consumption would be monitored and money raised would further the work of the church. The licence was approved. Suffolk News article here


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