Religion News 11 June

Pic: Diocese of Leicester

Church of England bishops  have ‘taken the knee’ in protest at racial injustice. The Bishops of Leicester, Coventry and Warwick have been pictured  kneeling alongside their clergy and lay colleagues for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time George Floyd was held to the ground  by police in Minneapolis, before he died. Bishops have said that it is time to repent of white privilege.

The Secretary of the Methodist conference, Dr Jonathan Hustler, has issued a statement about the killing of George Floyd, saying the church is appalled that it happened and at the continuing injustice many black and ethnic minority people experience. He said the church repents of past failings and falling short and is committed to creating a future where all are welcome and safe from abuse and discrimination.

The Rev Diarmaid MacCulloch, emeritus professor of the history of the church at Oxford University,  said he was ‘hugely cheered’ to see the statue of slave trader Edward Colston pushed into Bristol harbour. In a comment piece for the Religion Media Centre, he made a distinction between monuments to historical figures who did wrong, and those erected by Victorians to slave traders such as Colston. He said: “The difference between the present protest and the perfectly valid historical examples listed above is that African-Americans and West Africans are still living with the direct consequences of the European-run Atlantic slave trade; experiencing concrete, perceptible and even measurable injustices. A symbolic protest can be a trigger for specific action to right the injustices, action that is perfectly feasible, and long overdue.”

OTHER NEWS

An Anglican church in Rainham, Kent, is appointing a journalist to its staff to improve links with the local community. The vicar of St Margaret’s, the Rev Nathan Ward, said people had longed for community during the pandemic and ‘the only way God’s story can be understood is in our own individual stories and vice versa’. Full story here..

EMERGING FROM LOCKDOWN:

As the country emerges from lockdown, the United Reformed church has suggested churches should re-consider their role as friends and neighbours in the community. In a document produced this week, it urges churches to consider eight positive contributions they can make to the local area. Ideas include using church spaces as places of welcome for people in need; memorial services for those unable to attend funerals; collection of supplies for food banks or care homes; and offering   carers and parents mutual support. The URC has been praised for   its earlier work ‘Ready for the new normal’, which has reportedly been used to aid planning by the Scottish government.

The Muslim Council of Britain has also produced guidance for the re-opening of mosques. Its nine steps include preparations for making safe the space and cleaning; preparing the community, staff and volunteers; and planning the process for allowing prayers.  The MCB has 500 affiliates, many of which are mosques. Cambridge Central Mosque is planning to open for private prayer on 15 June.

Following a meeting on Tuesday, the Church of England’s Bishops are advising that funerals can take place in churches from Monday 15 June, if the local church can be satisfied that the service can be conducted safely. The decision will involve considering cleaning, space and whether people are shielding.

The meeting also advised that ordination services could be held from August, with strict rules over how the ‘laying on of hands’ is performed. Usually several people are allowed to place their hand on the candidate to convey a blessing. The advice suggests only the Bishop and two priests do so, that they touch for the minimum time and wash their hands.