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We update our blog several times a week, with news and comment on ministry, theology, the Bible, liturgy and issues of the day.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 22 Jul 2019

Two current students on the Priscilla Programme share their experiences from the first year.

More information about the Priscilla Programme.

Application form and fees.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 18 Jul 2019

Ros Clarke examines three Bible passages containing examples of spiritual abuse and showing God's judgment on those who do it.

Spiritual abuse may be a relatively new term and one that is not always well-defined or well-understood, but it is not a new concept. The Bible gives us multiple examples showing clearly how it is possible for people to manipulate, bully, use, coerce, control and abuse others in a spiritual context. And it leaves us in no doubt about God’s views of those who do such things.

1 Samuel 2
Two kinds of abuse are mentioned here: priests claiming for themselves that which should have been God’s, and the use of shrine prostitutes.

Preventing others from worshipping God
In the first case, the priests are preventing the Israelites from making their offering of meat to the Lord by insisting on claiming their share first. If the Israelites refused, the priests instructed their servants to threaten to take it by force. This is clearly coercive behaviour, using force or threatened force, to compel the Israelites to give up their offering. It is spiritual abuse because it denies the Israelites their freedom to make their offering, and because it is the spiritual authority of the priests which is being abused in order to coerce.

God’s judgment on this specific abuse is given in v17: “This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.”

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Posted by George Crowder, 16 Jul 2019

George Crowder gives us some ideas for summer evangelism - and explains why he's started smoking!

It’s barbecue season - piquant aromas carry on the warm evening breeze making our mouths water and our tummies rumble.  This week our church hosted an evangelistic barbecue; I suspect we were not the only ones.

Positively, though it is a well-worn formula, it gets a reasonable turn out and is at least an enjoyable experience.  Negatively, I can’t help feeling that, in a similar vein to barbecued meat, the church barbecue so often promises much more than it delivers.

While pondering the purpose of events like this, I was inspired by the whole barbecuing concept.  Are we unwittingly wedded to ‘barbecue evangelism’ - a short hot blast of gospel leaving people burnt on the outside but raw in the middle?

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 15 Jul 2019

Stephen Walton talks to Ros about the history and the present international ministry of Christ Church, Dusseldorf.

How to listen to the Church Society podcast:
1. Listen to the episodes as they are posted here on the website.
2. Listen to all the episodes and all other Church Society audio resources via Soundcloud.
3. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
4. Subscribe to the podcast on an Android device (phone or tablet). You will need to install a podcast app and then subscribe via our RSS feed here.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 8 Jul 2019

The Priscilla Programme run in partnership between Church Society and Union School of Theology reaches the end of its first year.

“...when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside
and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Acts 18:26

It’s almost exactly a year since Church Society and Union School of Theology agreed to work in partnership on the Priscilla Programme, and we have now completed three full modules: Old Testament, Doctrine, and Ethics and Pastoral Care. Lectures for next term’s Church History module have already been filmed. Students have valued the contributions from Robin Barfield, Sheila Stephen, Lee Gatiss and Ros Clarke.

Each term, we have been able to run two seminar groups, and a total of 12 women have studied one or more modules. There has been a wonderful mix of women at different stages of life, with different experiences, and coming from different kinds of churches. Some have a particular ministry they want to be better equipped for and others are simply wanting to understand their faith better. Some have been Christians for decades and others are relatively new to the faith.

We are planning to expand the Priscilla Programme in two ways from September. First, I’m really excited that a local Priscilla group is being planned at Christ Church Central, an AMiE church in Sheffield. The students will have access to all the online lectures, reading material and discussion forums, but they will have their weekly seminars in person, led by the women’s worker there. This is a really great way for churches to equip their women for all kinds of service.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 8 Jul 2019

Ros Clarke and Amanda Robbie discuss a recent biography of J. C. Ryle, "A Tender Lion".

Enter the giveaway here

Church Association Tracts, including a number by J.C. Ryle

Audio version of Ryle’s, “What do we owe to the Reformation?

Distinctive Principles for Anglican Evangelicals and Christian Leaders of the 17th Century are Church Society publications of works by Ryle. Stand Firm and Fight On includes articles about Ryle by Vaughan Roberts, Andrew Atherstone, Peter Toon and others, as well as two articles by Ryle himself.

In “Wait not for the bishops!” Andrew Atherstone explains how even Ryle recognised the limited powers of a bishop to change the church.

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Posted 4 Jul 2019

Latest statistics on recent senior appointments in the Church of England.

Senior appointments of women
Since the enactment of the legislation for the consecration of women bishops in 2014:
• 22 women have been ordained bishop;
• 4 women have been appointed deans
• 23 women have been appointed archdeacons
• 31 have been appointed as residentiary canons

Senior appointments of traditional catholics and conservative evangelicals
The diversity monitoring data for those appointed to senior roles since that time indicates that 3 bishops (1 diocesan and 2 suffragan) and one archdeacon identify themselves as either traditional catholic or conservative evangelical. None of those appointed as residentiary canons do. It should be noted that the labels which people use to describe their church tradition do not necessarily correlate with whether they are unable for theological reasons to recognise the priestly or episcopal ministry. We are unaware of any diocesan bishop appointed since 2014 who is in that category.

Senior appointments of clergy from BAME backgrounds
Since the establishment of the Turning Up The Volume (TUTV) task group in 2012:
• 4 BAME clergy have been ordained bishop;
• 4 BAME clergy have been appointed deans
• 41 BAME clergy have been appointed archdeacons
In 2012, only 1.1% of clergy in senior appointments were of BAME heritage, compared to 2.8% of clergy overall. Currently 3.2% of senior clergy were from BAME backgrounds, compared to 3.7% of all clergy. This increasing representation is due to initiatives such as the Wilfred Wood programme, Unconscious Bias training, and the involvement of more BAME clergy in the Strategic Leadership Development Programme.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 3 Jul 2019

The latest edition of Churchman includes articles on William Cowper, Thomas Cranmer, the theology of the atonement, and Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics

Peter Jensen’s editorial opens the journal with a stirring call to clergy and lay people alike, in “The Partnership of All Believers”:

“...nothing can take the place of individual, converted men and women, mere Christians, as we may say, prepared to share the gospel, the whole gospel and nothing but the gospel with their contempories. They need to be persuaded of the reality of hell and the uniqueness of Christ as the only way of salvation, and the need for genuine repentance, and they need to be prepared to suffer for having the gall to say such unfashionable things. Furthermore, because the denominational connections impact on this task, they must be prepared to contend for the faith in their denominations also as well as in and through voluntary societies.”

He ends with a challenge to consider your own congregation. How many are truly gospel partners? What are you doing to inform, involve and inspire them to become such partners? Peter’s editorials are certainly living up to their predecessors as must-reads!

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 2 Jul 2019

The Summer 2019 edition of Crossway is a special resource edition for individual and church use.

All Christians are called on to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and as Anglicans, we pray for all who are baptised to ‘Fight valiantly as faithful soldiers and servants of Christ.’ But many of us don’t know quite what all this talk of contending and fighting means. Why is it necessary? How are we to go about it? What does the Bible say about it?

In this edition of Crossway, we have included ten stories of contending for the faith to encourage and inspire you to do likewise. They are from lay people as well as clergy, from women and men, from people in the UK and overseas. We hope you will see from their example how contending is part of the normal experience of every Christian, just as much as it is about taking a public stand in the face of opposition.

Alongside these stories, there are eight interactive Bible studies, suitable for individuals or small groups. These look at the Bible’s teaching about contending: what it is, who should be doing it, what it entails, how we can do it in a godly manner. These would be ideal to work through with a church leadership team, PCC or home group. To enable this, we have put together a Study Group Pack, which includes a copy of Lee Gatiss’s book on contending for the faith, Fight Valiantly!, as a leader’s guide, and ten copies of Crossway for group members. You can also order as many additional copies of Crossway as you need, and more copies of Fight Valiantly!

Fight Valiantly Study group pack  Crossway


Because this is a special resource edition of Crossway, it does not contain the usual prayer diary. You can download a printable version of the prayer diary, or you might like to use Prayermate, Facebook or Twitter to get our daily prayer updates.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 1 Jul 2019

Several Church Society books are now available in Kindle editions.

We’re delighted that several of our Church Society books are now available digitally as Kindle books. These can be read on Kindles or via a Kindle app on most other devices (phones, tablets, computers). There are six titles currently available, and we will be adding more from our back catalogue in coming months.

Reformed Foundations, Reforming Future  Feed my Sheep  The Effective Anglican

Confident and Equipped  Be Faithful  Fight Valiantly!

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