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How did the first Christians ‘worship’?

One of the most frustrating things about the ‘occasional’ (rather than systematic) nature of the NT writings is that none of them give us precise details of what the first followers of Jesus did when they met together for ‘worship’. (I use inverted commas here, because the NT never actually uses the word ‘worship’ for what Christians did when they met.) If only Paul had attached to his letter to Corinth and order of service! We would have avoided centuries of debate between denominations, and saved ourselves hundreds of thousands of hours in liturgical revision—and even avoided the debate about whether we do in fact meet to ‘worship’!

The latest Grove Worship booklet is by Colin Buchanan, and asks the intriguing question: suppose we do have hints in the Letter to the Hebrews as to what happened when believers gathered? Colin is well equipped to ask this, being not only a life-long commentator and contributor to thinking about worship and liturgy in the Church of England, but also classically trained and an excellent exegete.

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Can bishops save the Church?

Earlier this week, Adrian Hilton (who writes the Archbishop Cranmer blog) reprised his hosting of Martyn Percy’s views with the offering of a new set of 95 Theses, in the year of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s original. (Contrary to suggestions in online discussion, Luther’s are not dull and rambling, and are worth a […]

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Is Christmas Good News?

Though it is Advent which has passed, and we are now in the Christmas season proper, because of the front-loading of most Christmas activities, it is now the season when most church leaders are breathing a sigh of relief and finally putting their feet up—assuming they didn’t on Christmas day itself. It might be a […]

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Jeremy Pemberton loses employment appeal

It was announced yesterday that Jeremy Pemberton has lost all appeals at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that he brought in relation to his Employment Tribunal (ET) case brought against Richard Inwood, Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. At one level there is not much to say on this, since the EAT has confirmed in […]

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What does church planting achieve?

One of the key changes that has been introduced as part of the Renewal and Reform programme within the Church of England is in the way that Church Commissioners’ money is distributed to dioceses. Instead of all of it being allocated using a formula determining need, part of it now is distributed as Strategic Development […]

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The pragmatics of the sexuality debate

I offer here the second of three planned reflections on the sexuality debate—before returning to the bigger questions such as question of biblical interpretation, the importance of apocalyptic. Adrian Hilton recently published an exchange of six letters (three each) with Martyn Percy, Dean of Christchurch, Oxford, and in the last one Percy claims that:  I am […]

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The discourse of the sexuality debate

I am reluctant to comment too frequently on sexuality, not least because there are other pressing issues, and some which might not be urgent but are rather important and deserve our attention. But there is a lot going on just now, and the intensity of debate will continue for the next few months at least until […]

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Is Church decline the fault of poor leadership?

In the summer, and after a year’s delay, Bloomsbury published That Was the Church That Was by Andrew Brown and Linda Woodhead. Woodhead is professor of sociology of religion at the University of Lancaster, and Brown has been a religious correspondent for a national newspaper for many years. So you might expect them both to know what they are […]

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Letter to the College of Bishops

I am publishing here, with permission, a letter that has been sent to all members of the College of Bishops prior to their next meeting to decide what proposals to bring to General Synod in February. I am not offering here a full exposition of the text, but there are a few things worth noting […]

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Is Pastoral Accommodation the way forward?

Andrew Goddard writes: As we move from shared conversation to shared deliberation, initially among the bishops, there are a number of important elements which must be at the heart of the discussion. We do not start from a blank sheet. The Church of England has set out its official teaching and discipline in relation to sexuality […]

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