Welcome to Church Society online. We are a fellowship contending to reform and renew the Church of England in biblical faith. On this website, you will find details of our conferences, publications and other resources, as well as our regularly updated blog and weekly podcast.
Mark Wallace is leaving to take up a new role working with the Bishop of Maidstone.
We’re delighted that Mark Wallace has been appointed as Senior Chaplain to the Bishop of Maidstone. Mark will take on this new role part-time, and continue as vicar of St Peter’s, Colchester. While it is excellent news that Bishop Rod is able to expand his team in this way, sadly this means Mark will be stepping down from his work as Regional Director of Church Society at the end of the month. We’re extremely grateful to Mark for his diligence, pastoral heart, and wise counsel as he has established this role in the southern part of England.
We are looking to continue the work of our Regional Directors in supporting churches, clergy, and local networks around the country. Please see the job description for more details of what the role entails and contact us if you would like to know more. Regional Directors work on a part-time basis, for around 6-8 hours/week, and applications are welcome from anyone, lay or ordained. All Church Society staff are expected to abide by our policies and Statement of Faith.
In this article from the summer 2020 edition of Churchman, Mark Earngey examines previous responses from the church in times of plague and draws out some reflections for today's world.
It was unprecedented. Indeed, it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of plague in China, spread over the seas to wreak havoc in Italy, and from there, spread like wildfire throughout the whole of Europe. No, this is not COVID-19. Rather it was the infamous wave of Bubonic plague that hounded humanity in the fourteenth century. Known as the “Black Death,” probably due to the black spots it produced on skin, this pestilence killed around a third of the population between India and Iceland during the years 1345 to 1352 alone. Indeed, in the second half of the fourteenth century around half the population of England perished due to this plague. To put that into perspective, as a proportion of the total population of Europe, this wave of the plague killed more people than all the wars of the twentieth century combined. Not only was it an effective killer, but it was a rapid killer—death ensued around three days after the appearance of symptoms. The disease struck with such terrible speed, that the Italian humanist Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) remarked,
“How many gallant gentlemen, fair ladies, and sprightly youths, who would have been judged hale and hearty by Galen, Hippocrates and Aesculapius (to say nothing of others), having breakfasted in the morning with their kinsfolk, acquaintances and friends, supped that same evening with their ancestors in the next world!”
As we grapple with the catastrophe of COVID-19, it helps to understand something of the history of plagues. In a matter of months our lives have turned upside down (and antipodeans like me have mercifully been spared a great deal of suffering). As individuals face isolation and churches face complex challenges, it can be comforting to hear how Christians have responded to epidemics and pandemics throughout history. This is, of course, why various social media threads, blogposts, and online articles have turned to historical precedents pertaining to pestilence—often from the Reformation period—in order to gain some perspective on the present.
Lee Gatiss asks this question in a talk recorded earlier this summer for All Saints' Church, Belfast.
In this encouraging and challenging talk, Lee Gatiss reminds us that while the Bible is precious and sweet, nevertheless its life-changing words are threatening to much of what the world holds dear. He invites us to embrace that danger and trust our lives to it.