Religion news 20 October 2021

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image: Church bells Ingham, Suffolk; credit Qazwsx777 CCLicense

Church bells ringing out next weekend to save the planet

In ten days time, at 1800 on Saturday 30 October, church bells will ring out across England to warn of impending disaster due to climate change and will urge the faithful to take action. The “Ring Out for Climate” initiative takes place a day before the historic Cop26 environment conference in Glasgow.  The idea was devised by Edward Gildea, of St Mary’s church in Saffron Walden, Essex, as a warning of the danger from the climate emergency. The Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, said: “A nationwide ‘ring out for climate’ on the eve of the COP26 can be a warning symbol, but also one of hope.. that this conference will lead to action”. Simon Linford, President of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, said: “Ringing church bells as a warning for people in this country at times of national crisis is well known – with bells for the Spanish Armada right through to the Second World War.  The climate crisis is not just a national problem but a global one”. 

The vital role of faith groups in leading on climate change

The Anglican Communion Office quotes a UK government official saying that faith groups can play a vital role in inspiring a global response to climate change and driving worldwide action.  Nikita Mistry, who heads the government’s Civil Society Engagement for Cop26, believes her role is to engage with faith communities in the UK and around the world to have a voice in the summit. It reports her meeting with top Anglican officials where she re-iterated the goal of global net-zero by 2050; protecting communities and natural habitats; and ensuring accelerated action in developed countries to tackle the climate crisis.  She said Anglican bishops have a unique position of influence and wisdom to share with the world, to keep the messages on the environment alive.

Catholic bishop joins calls for priests delivering last rites to be viewed as an emergency service

The Catholic bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, has repeated calls for the last rites to be regarded as an “emergency service”, following the death of Sir David Amess MP. Police stopped a priest from administering the sacrament to Sir David, a devout Catholic, because the area was a crime scene. Bishop Mark Davies said: every Catholic Christian hopes to receive the last rites in the final crisis of life: “This is something well understood in hospitals and care homes, yet the events following the murderous assault on Sir David Amess suggest this is not always comprehended in emergency situations.” 

Religious exemption for Covid-19 vaccinations challenged in the USA

Religious exemptions for Covid-19 vaccinations have become a major issue in the United States, challenged in law. New York health care workers will be able to seek religious exemptions from a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate.  The Catholic Archbishop in the U.S. military has supported service members who have refused to get vaccinated on religious grounds. California has become became the first state to require Covid-19 vaccines for all schoolchildren but students will be granted religious exemptions.  The Religion News Service has been following the story here

New CofE general synod will “block any major change in same sex blessings”

The Rev Peter Ould, a Church of England vicar who is also an analytics consultant with a California software company, predicts that the newly elected CofE governing body, the General Synod, will block any major change in doctrine or new liturgy that would allow same sex blessings. He told Premier Christian News that conservatives held their ground in the synod elections among the clergy and laity – 40 and 37 per cent respectively. This meant there was a “blocking minority” to stop any major changes. The proposals are expected to come before the synod in the next two years and were a major factor in synod elections. He told Premier: “We are in a position where there are a substantial group of Orthodox evangelicals, Anglo Catholics, who are opposed to change, and it can’t happen in any substantive matter. My suspicion is that we won’t see any change. But we might see lots of fireworks. It’s going to be really interesting to watch”.

Daily click to pray app to support all voices being equal in Catholic church

Pope Francis’ Worldwide Prayer Network has launched an app “Click To Pray”, encouraging daily prayer with Pope Francis to support the ”synodal” process allowing everyone in the church to have a say in its direction. The Pope says that the heart of the church’s mission is prayer and “Click to Pray” will be both a personal encounter with God and membership of a worldwide community of digital prayer.

Young religious leaders net £70k for interfaith projects

Twenty one young faith leaders met at St George’s Windsor to encourage their shared vision and learn new skills. They also netted a bonus – £70,000 in cash and in-kind support – to pursue local interfaith projects judged to be of real value to the community. The young leaders project “21421” is the latest in a series of initiatives to encourage young people to engage and move forward in faith traditions. This year, they had the opportunity to pitch ideas to three businessmen in a Dragons’ Den style-event in front of Muddassar Ahmed, Dr Neil Harbury and Christopher Kenna. The award of £70k was shared between a mental health initiative in Hertfordshire and the south Midlands; and a project to bring stories of hope to children aged under 11. The project manager was Michael Wakelin, also executive chair of the Religion Media Centre, who said that the best way to overcome misunderstandings between faiths is to build friendships.

Unravelled Sikh turbans save a man from drowning

Five Sikhs are reported to  have used their turbans to save a tourist who slipped into the Golden Ears waterfall in Lower Falls , Golden Ears Provincial Park near Vancouver. They removed their turbans, tied them together and made long ropes to rescue the stranded hiker. The search manager said the man was extremely lucky that the Sikh men were passing by

Creating Connections: sign up in Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and Birmingham

The Religion Media Centre has launched a project this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides. Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England. They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life and it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to life and lasting contacts for the future will be made. Reserve a place using the links below. All events take place in the afternoon. The Leeds event was last week – here are the next four:


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