Religion news 1 August 2022

Image credit: Lambeth Conference

Welby: don’t make this Lambeth Conference about ourselves

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has appealed to the 650 global bishops gathered for the Lambeth Conference to look out to the world rather than focus on internal disputes. In his opening address, he said “We will not quickly be forgiven if this is another gathering that focuses mainly on ourselves.” He said the world was in crisis with war involving a nuclear power, poverty, climate change and food shortages. People who are suffering want a church standing with them, he said.

Plan to reaffirm same-sex ban faces procedural challenge

Disputes over same-sex relationships and marriage have once more provoked sharp disagreement. Conservative bishops from the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) are demanding that the conference reaffirms “Resolution l:10” which bans same-sex marriage and they put their case in a private meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury. But after a weekend of procedural changes, it is not clear whether the move will be possible. The conference procedure, clarified on Saturday, simply allows leaders from discussion groups, randomly selected, to speak on their group’s deliberations. The GSFA also wants a roll call on Resolution I:10, but the conference has been told that voting with electronic devices has been withdrawn. Instead the gathering will be asked for general verbal assent. According to Anglican Ink, the archbishop offered to write a letter reaffirming the church’s teaching on same-sex marriage. He is expected to make a statement clarifying the outcome of the talks.

Bishops in sit-down protest during communion

Some bishops from the Global South grouping remained seated during the service at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday, refusing to receive communion alongside “gay-partnered bishops and those who endorse same-sex unions”. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke openly about the action, appealing for prayer that the universal church be united. Reporters were unable to get a wide view to assess the scale of the protest and TV cameras didn’t capture it. Episcopalian News Service report here

Charter for a safe church

The conference has adopted a charter for the safety of people in the Anglican Communion and agreed to share information between the churches on suitability of ministers. Justin Welby told a plenary session that dealing with safeguarding issues was the biggest and most painful burden of his role. The biggest challenge had been to try to get the institutions of the church be curious about it and never to cover up in any way at all. He said it was a problem largely of men, and of the misuse of power and nothing to do with human sexuality.

Other news

Christian legal group behind last-minute action in Archie Battersbee case

The Christian Legal Centre is supporting lawyers making a last-ditch application to continue medical treatment for Archie Battersbee, 12, who has been in a coma since April after an online dare went wrong. A High Court judge has ruled that ending treatment is in Archie’s best interests. The case went to appeal but the Supreme Court refused to intervene, so the family has taken it to the United Nations committee on the rights of persons with disabilities. Now the government has asked the High Court to hold an urgent review, expected at 11am today, two hours before the Barts Health NHS Trust in London intends to start withdrawing treatment. Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said it has stood by the family from the beginning.

Global demonstrations in support of the Uyghurs

Muslim organisations joined campaigners for the mainly Muslim Uyghur population in northwest China, in demonstrations across capital cities this weekend. The “Stand4Uyghurs” coalition aims to mobilise Muslims in Europe and North America to lobby for action to highlight injustice against the Uyghurs and make it stop. In a khutbah, a message to be delivered as a sermon, detailed reports of atrocities and violence such as burning Qurans and destroying mosques, are outlined, with a plea for Muslims to use their power and influence to lobby for change.

Sikh faith explained at the Oxford Union

Ravi Singh Khalsa, the chief executive of Khalsa Aid, renowned for aid work in the UK and abroad, has spoken at the Oxford Union. Asian Image reports that he is believed to be the first Sikh to speak individually about the faith there, and was one of hundreds of speakers selected for the summer. Ravi Singh Khalsa became well known when distributing aid in the Somerset floods and has since initiated aid efforts in the UK and abroad.

Elvis Presley’s deep Christian faith revealed

Elvis Presley’s step-brother, Billy Stanley, has revealed in an interview with The Observer the depth of the singer’s faith. He said: “He relied on God for everything. It’s where he got his strength. Elvis was so appreciative of what the Lord had given him. He thanked God every day and constantly sought God’s guidance through prayer and reading the Bible.” He said Presley prayed before going on stage, saying it settled his nerves as he asked God to bless the concert.

First religious broadcast in Britain discovered

Paul Kerensa, comedian, podcaster and now historian, has uncovered the story of Britain’s first religious broadcast, 100 years ago on 30 July 1922. In a Twitter thread, he shows a plaque on a church in Peckham, that marks the spot. He records how Dr Ebenezer Boon, a medical doctor and preacher, broadcast a sermon from a wireless firm in Blackheath to his church congregation five miles away. This was five months before the oft-cited first radio broadcast by the Rev John Mayo in Whitechapel on 24 December 1922.

When Richard Coles met Richard Dawkins

The Guardian brought together, over a dining table, the broadcaster and Anglican clergyman Richard Coles, with the biologist, author and atheist Richard Dawkins. Remarkable similarities emerged. Both were choirboys. Richard Coles was an atheist from the age of eight until his twenties. Dawkins says the beauty of the world is that it is explicable. Richard Coles doesn’t find anything in Darwin’s theory of the origin of life that he “would have to surrender in order to make a commitment (to faith)”. Dawkins concluded that Richard Coles is not swayed by factual evidence, but it is feeling that matters: “Feelings are important, but they don’t tell us what is true,” he said.


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