Religion news 7 July 2021

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Image credit: Emmanuel church, Northampton

Church of England plans 10,000 lay led communities

A Church of England plan to create 10,000 new Christian communities led by lay people across home, work/education, social and digital platforms, has come in for criticism on social media. The proposal, to be discussed by the General Synod (the church’s parliament) on Monday 12 July, envisages  a “simpler, humbler and bolder” church. It comes out of a strategic review faced with falling congregations and loss of funds through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Telegraph quotes a church member who says the plan condemns the parish church to die

Singing allowed in churches as Covid restrictions lift, but full guidance still awaited

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullaly, who is leading on Covid-19 for the Church of England says she is waiting for government advice for places of worship, before publishing adapted guidelines for churches. On Monday, the new health secretary, Sajid Javid, said singing would be allowed in places of worship from 19 July when restrictions are lifted: “There will no limits on the number of people who can attend life events such as weddings and funerals, and there will be no restrictions on communal worship or singing”.

Methodists bewildered, ecstatic or sad following same sex marriage vote

Methodists in Britain are bewildered, ecstatic or sad at its recent decision to allow same-sex marriage in church, according to the Rev Sonia Hicks, president of the Methodist Conference. She was reflecting on the fallout after the vote, which was passed by 254 in favour with 46 against, a larger majority than expected. In a Religion Media Centre briefing she said that the way forward was to work out how people with different views could remain in the same church, but she didn’t see why this issue should be the one that particularly breaks the church. Hardliners say they feel alone but prominent evangelical, the Rev Ashley Cooper, principal of the Methodist Cliff College, said it was right to work together to provide a new way forward and to live together despite the differences. Full story here and video here

Bishops back challenge to abortion law

The Archbishop of York and bishops of Carlisle and Newcastle, are backing a legal challenge to the abortion law which allows for abortion after 24 weeks for all non-fatal disabilities, including Down’s syndrome. The case is listed for two days and began yesterday. The Church Times reports that it is brought by a young woman with Downs and a mother of a Downs child, who was offered abortion until a few days before her son was born. The bishops say the law is discriminatory against disabled people. The case continues.

Bishop of Liverpool announces retirement

The Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes has announced that he will retire in February next year. In a letter to clergy, churchwardens and ministers, he says he hopes to spend more time in prayer and reflection and stillness, in resting and writing and reading and thinking. Paul Bayes. who is 67, has pursued social justice campaigns including same sex marriage.

Who runs the Vatican while the Pope is in hospital?

The Associated Press has an explainer on who runs the Vatican while a Pope is hospitalised. It says there is no system in place, the only process in the rule book is what happens when a Pope dies. Pope Francis underwent surgery on his colon at the weekend and is said to be progressing well but will stay in hospital for a week

Female rabbi re-instated after public outcry

The female Jewish rabbi who lost her job at the London School of Jewish Studies when she qualified as a rabbi, has been re-instated. Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz was dropped from her teaching role in mid-June after the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, clarified that because it was an Orthodox school, it was impossible for her to continue teaching. There was a rebellion against the move and yesterday the U-turn was announced. In a statement reported by the Jewish Chronicle, the college said: “Our academic fellows are not religious appointments — and therefore should be made on the basis of academic merit”.

Muslim Golf Association a runaway success

A recruitment consultant from Luton has set up The Muslim Golf Association to tackle diversity and create community amongst a burgeoning group of fans. Amir Malik, aged 37, told Islam TV: ““There are so many similarities between golf and Islam. It’s based upon tradition, rules, etiquette and respect.” He hopes to stage tournaments, competitions and golf days across the UK.  Players should feel able to break off and pray, he says, while they are going round the course. It grew quickly as soon as it started, with 90 people on the waiting list and a successful charity fund raising venture. This summer he is organising a tri-series tournament in Manchester, London and Birmingham

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