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The shame of Britain’s prison system

Yesterday I went to London to a meeting of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) which was set up in the 1990s following a clash in Synod about how the Church Commissioners were making investments. It has done some really good work, not only in thinking carefully about complex issues of investment ethics, but also in lobbying industries on ethical practice, and pioneering ethical thinking about investment amongst other investors. 

But the most fascinating part of yesterday’s meeting came at lunch time. We were saying farewell to two long-standing members of the group, and to do so we had lunch at The Clink Restaurant in Brixton’s Category C prison. The project, which is a charity supported through donations, Government funding, and its own income, was set up to address the chronic issue of reoffending in the UK prison system. 

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Is it time to forget about hell?

From time to time, somewhere within the Good Old C of E, I come across a claim so baffling that it stays with me and I struggle to make sense of it. That last happened ten days ago, when I read the article by Dr Sam Wells in the Church Times, which called for a reformation so the Church ‘should rethink its purpose and change the way churches [ie church buildings] are used accordingly’. I was all the more baffled knowing that Wells, formerly Dean at Duke Divinity School in the US and married to Jo Bailey Wells, the Bishop of Dorking, has a reputation as an able theologian.

Wells begins by putting Jesus’ offer of abundant life at the centre of the Church’s mission:

Jesus is our model of abundant life; his life, death and resurrection chart the transformation from the scarcity of sin and death to the ab­un­dance of healing and resur­rection; he longs to bring all humankind into reconciled and flourishing relationship with God, one another, themselves, and all creation.

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Are evangelicals (right to be) paranoid?

There’s an old saying: ‘Just because you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.’ (Think about it…) Evangelical Anglicans are often accused of being a little paranoid about their place in the Church of England—but do they have any grounds for being so? I sent this letter to the Church Times […]

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Why we need Silence

When I started my ordination training, like many others I had come from a busy and noisy culture (in my case, in business) and the idea of silence as a spiritual discipline was strange to me. Encouraged by the weekly quiet hour as part of the spirituality programme, for several years I adopted the habit […]

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Why are ‘progressives’ so anti-freedom?

Will Jones writes: It is increasingly clear with each passing year that public life has been colonised by the zealots of a progressive creed of equality and diversity. It is a continuously evolving creed and you have to keep up. Fifteen years ago it was racist (or even fascist) to bring up the topic of immigration, […]

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Is there hope for unbelieving Britain?

The article that caught my eye this week in the Church Times (which I read every week) was a fascinating reflection by Philip North, the bishop of Burnley, on his visits over the summer to three different Christian ‘festivals’. He visited: the Keswick Convention, a bastion of conservative evangelical devotion, shaped by free church evangelicals […]

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How can we use words well in worship?

 We live in a very wordy world. And Christian faith and worship can often be wordy too. But how can this ‘wordiness’ be used well? Mark Earey, who teaches at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham, explores this question in the latest Grove Worship booklet. We use words a lot in worship—sometimes too much, making worship […]

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Is Sunday a chance for rest?

Is Sunday a day of rest for you? If you are in church leadership, I suspect the answer will be a resounding ‘No’! Quite right too—most full-time church leaders will plan for another ‘Sabbath’ on a day other than Sunday. (If you don’t, you should). But is Sunday a day of rest for members of […]

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