Posted on the 10th June 2020 in the category Statements

We are grateful that the Government has heard the increasing dissatisfaction of Christians, and people of other religious traditions, and announced their intention to allow places of worship to open for individual prayer and worship from 15 June. We hope that basic principles of religious freedom, and indeed equity with other groups in society, will continue to be borne in mind in the coming stages of easing the lockdown. We are also grateful to all those in the Church of England, in other churches and in other faith communities, for their continuing work on the Government’s Places of Worship Taskforce to find a safe way of enabling congregational worship to resume as soon as possible.  

We are acutely aware of the painful experience borne by the vast majority of lay people and some clergy in recent months, deprived of corporate worship and the sacraments, and many others who have been unable either to marry or pray for their deceased family and friends in church. We hope that all who wish to - and are able to do so - will make use of the restored freedom to enter Christian churches, where it is feasible for those churches to open safely, and will continue to make use of widely available resources and opportunities to support their faith as we await a further easing of the lockdown.

The influential Anglican priest and theologian Richard Hooker wrote these words in the sixteenth century, "Churches receive as everything else their chief perfection from the end whereunto they serve. Which end being the public worship of God, they are in this consideration houses of greater dignity than any provided for meaner purposes.” While our use of language has changed slightly in the intervening centuries, the essential truth of Hooker's statement remains: the worship of God through gathered, corporate worship, as well as private prayer, is intrinsic to that dignity in worship we seek as Christians. Hooker's writings go on to re-iterate the words of the Psalmist, "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

On this Eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi, we look forward to people being able to return to churches next week to offer their prayers before the Blessed Sacrament of the Lord. We also look forward to the time, over the coming months, when the Eucharist can be celebrated and shared among God's people. The Eucharist is not an optional liturgical extra or a contemporary lifestyle choice; it is the source and summit of the Church’s identity and forms an essential part of our Christian witness, as the historic formulae, the canons and the liturgies of the Church of England rightly recognise.

 

In this short devotional video on the theme of Corpus Christi (below), the Bishop of Fulham speaks powerfully of the vital role the Blessed Sacrament has in our spiritual lives. The film is a joint initiative between The Society and the Church Union and was made in accordance with the Government guidelines in place during the pandemic. It is the final film in a series of eight such films, covering the themes of Holy Week, Easter, Our Lady, Pentecost, praying for the dead and, now, Corpus Christi. The films are offered, with our prayers, as a resource to all those looking to reflect on these important Christian themes at home in this time of pandemic.

 

 



Posted on the 22nd May 2020 in the category Announcements

Following on from the success of their Holy Week and Easter devotional videos, The Society and the Church Union have worked together on four new devotional videos on the following themes: 

 

1. Our Lady to be released at 7pm on Sunday 24 May to mark Mary's month of May and to complement the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham's National Pilgrimage at Home initiative, whose live streaming commences at 11.45am on Monday 25 May.

 

 

 

2. Pentecost to be released at 8am on Sunday 31 May to mark the feast of that name and to renew our lives with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

3. Praying for the Dead to be released at 8pm on Thursday 4 June to support all those mourning the death of loved ones, including those grieving at this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

4. Corpus Christi to be released at 7pm on Wednesday 10 June to mark the eve of the feast of that name and to deepen our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

 

 

The videos aim, in part, to fill a spiritual gap left by the closure of churches for public worship and, for most of the faithful, private prayer. In making the videos, the lockdown rules in place at the time of filming were followed in full. The lockdown rules, and their associated health guidance, prevented most of the bishops of The Society from contributing to the two sets of videos. The bishops of The Society are therefore grateful to the Bishop of Fulham for taking a lead role. The Society and the Church Union would like to record their thanks to the Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham for the use of the Shrine Church for filming and to the Vicar and the Churchwardens of St Benet Fink, Tottenham, for the use of that church building for filming.

 

The videos will be made available at the times listed above via The Society Facebook Page.  Those who use Facebook are encouraged to watch them there and to share them so that they reach as many people as possible. However, it is also intended to subsequently post the videos here, for those who don't use that platform.

 

This liturgical music is used in the video.

 

Photo Credit: George Reynolds

 

 

   

 



Posted on the 14th May 2020 in the category Statements

The Council of Bishops encourages participation by Society parishes

 

The Ascension of the Lord marks a new moment in the life of the community of Christ’s followers. Jesus returns to the Father in order to send upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and so from earliest days, Christians have used the days following Ascension Day to wait in prayer for the renewing, reviving gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This time of expectant waiting echoes the experience of the Apostles who gathered with the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer before the Spirit came upon them.

 

This period of prayer is often referred to as a ‘novena’, which is an ancient practice of the Church to spend a series of consecutive days or weeks in prayer for a particular theme or intention.  In praying this novena, we are uniting ourselves with the ancient tradition of the Church.

 

In the past few years this period has been given a particular focus through the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative; a global ecumenical movement that invites us to pray for strength in conviction as we live out our faith in our daily lives and as we strive to draw others into a lively relationship with God in Christ in the fellowship of his Church.

 

The circumstances of Covid-19 mean that we are unable to gather in our churches this year, but we provide these resources to encourage you to pray and act as part of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ in your homes, asking ever more earnestly in these times for the Holy Spirit to come to renew the face of the earth.

 

This year we have produced Praying at Home from Ascension to Pentecost:

 

Download booklet.

 

There are also lots of resources on the Thy Kingdom Come website as well as our own resources from previous years.

 

Parishes of The Society running events as part of this initiative are encouraged to use the hashtags #TheSociety and #ThyKingdomCome when promoting them on social media.

 

 

+TONY WAKEFIELD

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson

Chairman of the Council of Bishops

 



Posted on the 5th May 2020 in the category Statements

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter 2020

 

As the Bishops of The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, we are gravely concerned by the growing body of evidence that indicates that the COVID-19 Pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on the poor.

 

The parishes we serve are for the most part located in areas characterised by high levels of deprivation and every day we are hearing stories from our priests about the impact of the pandemic on those they serve. We thank these clergy and laypeople for the faithfulness and imagination with which, in desperate circumstances, they are serving some of the most deprived communities in the land. They report particular concerns about the negative effects of the current crisis on family life and the level of hunger they are finding amongst children. We are alarmed by data that suggests that those in our most deprived communities are twice as likely to die as those from wealthier areas.

 

To compound the situation, it is those same deprived communities who are worst impacted by other aspects of the pandemic including the spiralling rate of unemployment, the loss of fragile jobs, the chaos surrounding the distribution of free school meals vouchers and injustices and inefficiencies in the benefits systems. After years of austerity, our deprived communities have lost much of the infrastructure that could once have supported vulnerable people through a crisis such as this, and we are alarmed about the economic and social impact of pandemic upon those least able to bear it. Of equal concern to us is the disproportionate number of BAME people who are being impacted by the virus and we urge greater research into the reasons that lie behind this.

 

Whilst long-term restoration of the economy must remain a priority in resolving these issues, we call upon HM Government and the Church of England to take immediate and decisive action to bolster the resilience of our deprived communities.

 

We call upon HM Government to withdraw the two child limit on benefits, to review the benefits cap, to address at once inefficiencies in Universal Credit, to continue job furlough schemes for as long as necessary and to ensure that children who are entitled to free school meals have access to healthy food until such a time as schools are able to re-open. We support the Bishop of Durham, the Child Poverty Action Group and other organisations and individuals who are active in these areas.

 

We call upon the Church of England to commit itself anew to service and presence in our deprived communities, to strengthen its commitment to its poorer parishes as it emerges from crisis and to guarantee that central church funding streams dedicated to lower income communities reach the people for whom they are intended.

 

As we celebrate Easter with its themes of new creation and redemption, we pray that the whole Christian Church might faithfully and compellingly witness to the promise of the dignity of life in its fulness for every human person. Let us resist conformity to the inequalities of unregulated greed, and be transformed by the renewal of our minds, so that we might discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12.2).

 

 

+ TONY WAKEFIELD

 

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield,

Chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops

+ GLYN BEVERLEY

The Rt Revd Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley

+ PHILIP BURNLEY

The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley

+ MARTIN CICESTR: 

The Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

+ JONATHAN EBBSFLEET

The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet

+ JONATHAN FULHAM

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham

+ NORMAN RICHBOROUGH      

The Rt Revd Norman Banks, Bishop of Richborough

 



Posted on the 4th May 2020 in the category News

Resources for Time of Pandemic

Available - here.

 

Resource for Day of Prayer, Fasting and Works of Charity - 14 May

Available - here.

 

Statement from the Bishops of The Society on the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Poor

Statement issued on 5 May 2020 - here.

 

Preparing for Holy Week

Pastoral message issued on 1 April 2020 - here.

 

Pastoral Statement from the Bishops of The Society in response to the Coronavirus

Statement issued on 19 March 2020 - here.

 

Prayer Continues

The Forward in Faith Chaplain, Fr Peter Hudson SSC, is continuing the cycle of prayer for the work of Forward in Faith and of The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda at this testing time. Fr Peter can be contacted on email via chaplain@forwardinfaith.com

 



 

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