Friday, February 15, 2019

More Church Statistics

With the Anglican Church in North America poised to enter its second decade it seemed opportune to David Goodhew of Cranmer Hall and myself to look at such data as currently exists and provide an overview of where the denomination may be going. Thanks to the Covenant website, you can read our preliminary findings here.

There is much more to be researched and written regarding the most recent expression of the Anglican tradition and it is our hope that this will be realised in the not too distant future. Certainly there is ample scope for a goodly number of doctoral dissertations.

UPDATE, February 16.

For those who wonder about cross-denominational comparisons, comprehensive data on church growth can be found in the ARDA reports for 2000-2010. Below are listed Christian denominations that gained more than 5,000 adherents in this period (Pentecostal churches in red, Holiness churches in green and Eastern Orthodox churches in purple).

The Latter-day Saints gained just under 2 million (+45.5%), while the Assemblies of God (+14.9%), Seventh-Day Adventists  (+29.5%)and Church of God (Cleveland) (+13.9%) gained between 100,000 and 350,000. 

In the 50,000-100,000 range were the Christian and Missionary Alliance(+29.5%), Evangelical Covenant Church (+49.1%), Evangelical Free Church of America (+25.0%) and Vineyard USA (+42.4%).

In the 25,000-50,000 range were the Evangelical-Presbyterian Church (+61.6%), the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (+11.5%), the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (+19.7%), the Presbyterian Church in America (+8.3%), and (unusually) the Unitarian Universalists (+15.8%).

In the 10,000-25,000 range were the Community of Christ (+24.6%), the Pentecostal Church of God (+22.7%), the Baptist General Conference (+8.9%), the Southern Baptist Convention (+0.1%), the Missionary Church (+28.8%), Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (+1.0%), the Mennonite Brethren (+49.0%), the Serbian Orthodox Church in North America (+23.2%), and the Free Methodist Church of North America (+11.5%).

Two other churches gained more than 5,000, the Orthodox Church in America (+10.1%) and the Church of God of Prophecy (+8.0%).

ACNA's recent gains would appear to track those of the Orthodox Church in America pretty closely, with a projected gain of 6,500 in the course of a decade, or a roughly 6% decennial increase (a rate comparable with the Orthodox Church in America and the Presbyterian Church in America and greater than the Southern Baptist Convention)

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

A New Book

Almost eight years ago I first broached with Grant LeMarquand at Trinity School for Ministry the possibility of a book centred on the Kikuyu Conference of 1913 and the theological debate that erupted in the Church of England as a result.

This project has gone through many twists and turns in the years that followed and the final result, released tomorrow as part of Brill's Anglican-Episcopal History and Theology series, is very different from what was originally envisaged. I would nevertheless argue that the topics under consideration, covering a period from the twilight of the British Empire to the political and cultural upheaval of the early twenty-first century, serve to illuminate the ecclesial conundrum that is contemporary Anglicanism. 

To my fellow contributors, and especially to my co-editor, Mark Chapman, I extend a profound expression of thanks for the patience and good humour with which they have greeted the numerous delays on our journey. May all our readers be informed and encouraged by the lessons of the past.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Is the Sky Falling?

I had the interesting experience recently of being interviewed by Fr Colin Chapman for Priest Pulse, which he hosts with Fr. Benjamin Gildas, regarding my contribution to the volume Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion, 1980 to the Present. You can find a record of our discussion here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

From dying suddenly and unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us

Image result for tree of life synagogue pittsburgh

We are overly accustomed these days to news of violent death, not merely in Kabul and Damascus but in Chicago and London, yet when it strikes a community with which one has great familiarity it takes on a peculiar resonance. Yesterday, in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighbourhood, eleven people died in a shooting at Tree of Life synagogue, past which I often walked between 2004 and 2011.

It is sobering how even places of worship can no longer be assured that their sanctuaries are inviolate (something with which Christians - and those of other faiths - in Africa and Asia have long been familiar). "Am I my brother's keeper," demands Cain of his heavenly Father when confronted with the murder of his brother Abel, already knowing the answer. Today we weep with those weep, but we are also called in the weeks and months ahead to strive to redeem that which has fallen so short in our common life. This tragedy further serves to remind us of the fallen and sinful nature of our humanity.

I append the English text of the Mourner's Kaddish, the acknowledgment of the gathering in of souls by the One who first provided them. 

Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Tragedy of "Repeal the Eighth"

My political views are such a curious blend (by contemporary standards) of moderate liberalism on matters economic and solid conservatism on matters cultural (and had I had a vote to cast in the 2016 US presidential election, it would not have been for the current incumbent) that I rather doubt they are comprehensible outside the Rust Belt (and by no means all of those in it).

Ireland's recent abortion referendum, however, disturbs me, though not so much the result (which was generally expected) as the manner in which it has been treated by the winning side. While a consistently pro-life stance (on capital punishment, euthanasia and abortion) is certainly a minority position in much of the developed world, it is still saddening to see so many treating this result as something akin to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. What the vote signals is that a majority of the population believe that the unborn child has an inferior status relative to the mother and treat this as a "progressive" development. I could better understand someone who declared this to be the least worst option (and doubtless some supporters of repeal fall into that category) but this is far from the story that the news media promote.

It is noteworthy, too, how many British politicians are now speaking in terms of bringing Northern Ireland 'into line' with the Irish Republic. Few seem interested in a referendum (which they might lose) but rather in taking advantage of the power vacuum to impose "choice." I note the presence of Sir Vince Cable in their ranks, clearly demonstrating that Tim Farron was wise to give up the leadership. Gone are the days when the Liberal Party could encompass David Steel (the author of the 1967 Abortion Act) and David Alton (the battling pro-life Liberal from Liverpool). Today to be a Liberal Democrat seems to involve going with the cultural status quo.

The irony of the contemporary world is that we are willing to spend untold sums on premature baby units to save the 'wanted', but also willing to condemn the 'unwanted' healthy unborn to death. Even as absurd (to me at least) sums are spent on IVF and surrogacy for gay couples, so many children remain in council care desperately awaiting fostering or adoption. There is much wrong with contemporary culture, some of it is the product of actions by so-called conservative politicians, but those who consider themselves part of the liberal mainstream should take a hard look at what that mainstream has wrought.

Repeal the Eighth is no part of the solution; it's part of the problem!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Go forth upon thy journey, Christian soul!

And so Billy Graham passes from this earthy plane of existence to a heavenly one. Doubtless, he would echo Dwight L. Moody:

"Some day you will read in the papers, 'Billy Graham of Montreat is dead.' Don't you believe a word of it!

At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now;
I shall have gone up higher, that is all,
out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal --
a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint;
a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.
I was born of the flesh in 1918.
I was born of the Spirit in 1934.
That which is born of the flesh may die.
That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."
Few 20th century evangelists have had such a profound impact on the global stage.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Anglican-Orthodox dialogue in happier days

From the 1950s onwards, my father was a member of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, founded during the 1920s to promote greater dialogue between the East and the West (at a time when Rome, the abortive history of the Malines conversations notwithstanding, largely eschewed ecumenical contact). Dominated in its early days by the larger-than-life Nicholas Zernov and his formidable wife Melitza, it hosted annual conferences that drew such speakers as Donald Allchin, Anthony Bloom, Lev Gillet, Kallistos Ware and Rowan Williams. The following is an undated fragment chronicling aspects of a conference clearly held in Durham, whose unknown author (almost certainly an Anglican) captures some of the spirit of the Fellowship in its heyday.

Oh my gosh, it's half past seven -
How can I expect to sing?
Yawning, moaning,
Stretching, groaning,
Here the damned alarm clock ring.

Yes we know this talk would bore Him
And that question make him weep.
MAKING Speeches
Voicing contemplations deep.

Rowan's velvet Welsh tones greet us -
When he speaks we know he cares -
Canon Allchin's
Reading poems
And Elizabeth BRIERE'S

4. LITURGIES which run forever
Vespers drag on hour by hour
Standing always SITTING NEVER
Held up by the Spirit's power.
Evensong and
EARLY matins
In the shade of Durham tower.

5. DRINKING beer with Greeks and Romans
Every evening in the bar.
Helps to make our thinking shar-p
Thinking deeply
Drinking deeper
Theologians that we are.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

A Missionary Bishop for Europe

Yesterday saw the consecration at Wheaton College in the United States of the Reverend Canon Andy Lines as Missionary Bishop for Europe, following the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to amend canon law on marriage to permit same-sex unions. A graduate of Durham (University College, 1982), Lines served in the British Army from 1983 to 1988. He was ordained for the South American Missionary Society in 1997 (at the age of 37), having worked as a missionary to Paraguay since 1991. He has been General Secretary of Crosslinks and chairman of the Anglican Mission in England.

Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America had this to say:

After the American revolution, the new Anglican Church here - then called the Protestant Episcopal Church - could not get the establishment in England to provide a bishop.  It was the Scots who came to the rescue and consecrated Samuel Seabury in 1784 as the first American Bishop.  It is a privilege to now return the favor to those in Scotland who are crying out for oversight.
It will be interesting to see whether such a move will dramatically alter the prevailing dynamic within the Church of England. The statement of support from Bishop Rod Thomas of Maidstone, whose appointment was supposedly intended to reassure conservative Anglicans that the Church of England remained a broad tent, suggests that "border crossing" may be here to stay (and not in Scotland alone).

Monday, May 22, 2017

Under the Mercy

This evening Jennifer and I said Compline by my father's grave on the fourth anniversary of his death.

After life's fitful fever he sleeps well.