Posted on the 23rd Dec 2014 in the category News

On behalf of the Council of Bishops, its chairman, The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, extends Christmas greetings to all look to The Society as the means of providing ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.  Reflecting on the mystery of Christmas he writes:


One of the great scenes in the Christmas story takes place in the fields outside the city of Bethlehem. The angel appears to the shepherds to tell them the news of the birth of the Messiah. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’


Yet many people today find Christmas "not what it used to be", ‘a messy commercial enterprise’, and ‘a joyless chore’. How can they ever sing ‘Glory to God in the highest’?


The answer is wrapped up in the birth of a baby. Christmas teaches us to accept the humdrum, the chores, the trivialities, and the messiness of life as a source of joy. The circumstances surrounding the birth of the Son of God were certainly messy, although the story of Mary, Joseph, a humble stable with a manger and straw, shepherds, and wise men on camels has been romanticized in legend.  We should remember that Mary travelled on a donkey while she was heavily pregnant, with a husband who, not long before, wanted to break off their engagement. They were turned away more than once in their search for lodgings and when they did find somewhere strangers kept coming in to gawk and wonder. An all-around messy situation.


All our lives are so messy that we can legitimately conclude that it is meant to be that way. There's never a time we don't have some kind of problem and there is never a day without its hassles. We plan a great Christmas get-together for family and what happens? The cake sinks, the parsnips burn, Uncle Dave has a bit too much to drink, Aunt Madge just got divorced  and won't stop crying, cousin Sue has the flu that we might all catch, and the cat just licked the turkey. God says it's okay. We can still sing "Glory to God in the Highest."


This Christmas is not the first Christmas where the international situation is tense and anxious. We do not know if 2015 will bring more conflicts or further terrorist attacks but every news bulletin speaks of a new and terrifying reality. Even in the life of our Church there are many things which are messy and difficult. The world is a messy place this Christmas.


We can only find joy by embracing life exactly as it presents itself, with all the bumps, upsets, drudgery, inconveniences, pettiness, discomforts, and messes included. If things have to be perfect, neat, and all wrapped up in tinsel and pretty ribbons before we can enjoy them, then our experience of joy will be very limited, if we find it at all.


It will never be a ‘happy’ Christmas for you if you cannot sing “Glory to God in the Highest”. Despite all the messes and problems in your life this year try to focus on the positives. For every problem you have, find a blessing you enjoy. For every difficult person in your life, think of a friend who brings you laughter and fun. For all the work you do, reflect on the benefits your labours bring you and others. Take time to notice what others have done for you. Look at your Christmas cards and reflect on those who sent them to you.  Don't let this Christmas go by without finding something that makes you want to sing like the angels "Glory to God in the Highest.”

Posted on the 16th Dec 2014 in the category News

Pope Francis has reminded us that it "is essential [for the church] to be present [on the internet], always in an evangelical way, in what, for many, especially young people, has become a sort of living environment;"  The Catholic movement of the Church of England has been at the forefront of the use of new media.  Indeed, over half of the members of the Council of Bishops use social media to promote their ministries.  Accordingly links to their Facebook and Twitter streams can be found on their profile pages.


Today the Society launches its official Facebook page.  Click the 'Like' button on this page and remember to click that button again selecting the 'Get notifications' option to ensure that you always receive all the very latest news from The Society. 


From the very day that the plans for the creation of The Society were announced by the Catholic Bishops of the Church of England on 24 September 2010 an unofficial group has existed on Facebook.  This has grown and developed to become a popular and lively forum for all who look to The Society as the means of providing ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.  This page will now however be made private ('closed' in Facebook terminology) so that anyone can find the group and see who is in it but only members can see posts.  This will help to clearly distinguish it from the official Facebook page.

Posted on the 10th Dec 2014 in the category News

Last week, The Right Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, a bishop of The Society, went on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Iraqi Kurdistan, where there are some 1.2 million refugees and internally displaced persons. A large number of these are Christians who fled Mosul and the Christians towns and villages of the Nineveh Plain at very short notice in August following the advance of ISIS. He explained,

“The churches in Erbil, Dohuk and other places are faced with a tremendous challenge of accommodating these large numbers, providing them with shelter appropriate for the oncoming winter, food, heating, washing facilities and education for the children. Archbishop Warda, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, is leading, together with fellow bishops, a major relief operation. Together with Fr William Taylor, Chair of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, who speaks Arabic and Syriac, I visited those who have fled who are now living in containers, tents, and derelict buildings, both in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and outside Dohuk to the north-west. We were enormously impressed by the vision and energy of Archbishop Warda and the clergy and others working with him, and will be reporting on their work to Archbishop Justin. Archbishop Warda will be visiting England in February, and we hope to enable him to speak of the situation to both the Church, Parliamentarians and more widely.”

Donations can be channelled through Iraqi Christians in Need


An interview with Bishop Geoffrey on the BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday can listened to here (from 8:51).


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