Posted by George Crowder, 20 Aug 2021
In the third and final part of this short series on Christian essentials, George Crowder explores the true meaning of love.
To attempt to say anything definitive about love is both ambitious and treacherous. It is ambitious, because great minds and skilful artisans have long willingly offered their talents in service of what is the greatest of all virtues, and yet, it still carries a mystery and power we cannot fathom. It is treacherous, because the strength of individualism in our age has made its definition fiercely subjective. Love’s power and value is universally accepted, but it’s exact nature and form is deeply personal and strongly connected to a sense of identity and self-worth.
For this reason, though ambitious and treacherous, definitive words about love are much desired and much needed. Many people are inclined to contemplate the existence of God when drawn on the topic of love. It is both beyond us and all around us. It is both the most valuable treasure and the commonest currency. It makes us feel both lost and found. Our desire to bridge these and so many other paradoxes leaves us hungry for enlightenment.
Photo by Photo by Patricia McCarty from Pexels
Posted by George Crowder, 9 Aug 2021
In the next in this short series looking at Christian essentials, George Crowder examines the true nature of Christian hope.
Christians live in hope and the world we live in is our waiting room. By definition, a waiting room is never the final destination. It is never the place we want to be. This world can be uncomfortable and painful, and Christian life has seasons of tribulation. Temptation, frustration, trials and persecution are par for the course. Yet Christian life can also be very pleasant; fellowship in Christ and spiritual encouragement are uplifting and joyous. Still, this world is not the final destination, there is something better that we yet hope for. There is something that is worth waiting for.
Our life has a goal, just as all creation has a goal, and God sent his Son to redeem us from our sins to restore us and fulfil that goal. Paul evokes how we long for that goal in Romans 8:23. “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Our future hope is invested in our eternal relationship with God the Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and adoption in the name of the Son.
Without that hope there is no point to being a Christian. It is what lies beyond this life that is the ultimate motivation for faith in Christ.
Photo by Photo by Sunyu Kim from Pexels
Crossway Special Edition: Class
Posted by Ros Clarke, 6 Aug 2021
The Spring 2020 edition of Crossway on the theme of class is now available to download.
Earlier this year we published an edition of Crossway, our quarterly magazine, examining the issue of class in the Church of England. Contributors spoke about the particular challenges for working class people called to ministry, the opportunities that ministering in working class parishes can bring, the systemic discrimination against those from poor educational backgrounds in the church, and ways in which the new selection process may help to overcome some of this.
Unfortunately, due to some printing issues, we don’t have any copies of this edition left in stock. Instead, you can download a pdf of the whole issue here. We would encourage you to share this with others in your church, deanery and diocese. We hope it will be a useful contribution to the ongoing discussions about how the church can do more to reach the whole nation with the good news of the gospel.
Church Society Update
Posted 2 Aug 2021
Church Society Council publish a full report of our involvement with the Church Society Trust parish of St Peter's Stapenhill, the incumbent, Revd Michael Andreyev and his wife, Mrs Kate Andreyev.
Following a long series of private and public allegations against Church Society, its staff and Council members, and against the Church Society Trust (the patronage body for Church Society parishes), the Council have decided that a full account of all our interactions with the individuals and parish involved should be published.
It had been our intention to commission an external independent review, but following repeated public calls for a direct response to the allegations instead, the Council agreed that we should make an exception to our normal policy of not responding publicly.
A full account of our relationship and interactions with the Church Society Trust parish of St Peter’s Stapenhill, and with the incumbent and his wife, the Revd Michael and Mrs Kate Andreyev, can be downloaded here.
As well as addressing the continued public accusations of bullying and abuse, this paper responds to all 26 of the points raised here insofar as they relate to Church Society.
An executive summary of the full report is also available here.
Our purpose in publishing these papers is transparency about the wider situation, including the experiences of the congregation, as well as Church Society’s role. We have been deeply concerned that much of the content and tone of online engagement has served to propagate incomplete and/or inaccurate information.
Church Society is committed to continually reviewing and improving our policies and practices to ensure that Church Society members, delegates at our conferences, members and incumbents of Church Society Trust parishes, Church Society staff, Council members and other volunteers, and everyone with whom we interact are kept safe and treated with dignity and compassion.
We recognise that some may consider that we should have continued to not make a public response, and some may wish that we had taken action sooner.
As the paper and summary make clear, the Bishop of Derby is the duly constituted authority in this case, with respect to both employment and safeguarding.
It is not the intention of Church Society to comment further on these matters. But we continue to pray for everyone in the church in Stapenhill, during these very difficult pastoral circumstances.
Crossway Special Edition: Racism
Posted by Ros Clarke, 30 Jul 2021
The Crossway edition on the theme of racism is now available to download.
Last autumn, we published a special edition of Crossway, our quarterly magazine, on the theme of racism in the church. All our contributors were men and women of colour, who wrote carefully and thoughtfully about this issue, as they reflected on biblical teaching and theological principles, as well as sharing their own experiences. We are extremely grateful for their willingness to write for us, sometimes at significant personal cost.
Print copies of this issue are still available to purchase, but we wanted to make sure that this important content was now freely available. You can download a pdf of the whole magazine here, and we would encourage you to share it with others in your church, deanery and diocese. As the Church of England responds to the “From Lament to Action” report, we hope that this edition of Crossway will make a useful contribution.
Posted by George Crowder, 28 Jul 2021
In the first of a series of three posts on the Christian essentials of faith, hope and love, George Crowder examines the true nature of Christian faith.
It must be heart-breaking for someone with a life-threatening condition to know about a new treatment but have no access to it. Family and friends will campaign and fundraise. Every effort will be made by them because they know that there is a solution to the problem, and that they just need to get hold of it somehow.
For Christians, salvation is like that: it is the application of the solution to the problem. Christ’s atoning death on the cross is the solution to the problem of our sin; sin which separates us from God.
Yet, as Calvin explains, “We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value to us.”
The very thing we human sinners need most is available in Christ, but it needs to be accessed by us to receive it. Salvation is not ours automatically. Salvation does not simply happen to all human beings now Christ has died and risen from the dead.
The Church Society Annual General Meeting 2021
Posted by Marion Mason, 26 Jul 2021
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Church Society will be held at King's Park Conference Centre, Northampton on Wednesday 1st September 2021, commencing at 4.30pm.
At this meeting, held this year at our annual JAEC conference, we elect our honorary officers and Council, hear reports from the Chairman of Council, and Chairman of Finance, and have a chance to discuss issues of importance to us as a Society. If you are a member of Church Society, please come along to exercise your vote and make a contribution.
Please download the official notice of the AGM and the nomination form for those who might wish to stand for election to Council.
Summer Sermons in Ephesians
Posted 15 Jul 2021
The full set of eight summer sermons is now available to download.
Eight sermons on Ephesians are now available to download in audio and video formats. These can be used in online or in-person services, on sermon phone lines, in midweek meetings or however would be most useful to your church.
1. Ephesians 1:1-23
2. Ephesians 2:1-22
3. Ephesians 3:1-21
4. Ephesians 4:1-16
5. Ephesians 4:17-5:2
6. Ephesians 5:3-20
7. Ephesians 5:21-6:9
8. Ephesians 6:10-24
We hope that these will be a blessing to weary ministers and hungry congregations alike!
Posted 14 Jul 2021
A series of blogposts examining the issue of spiritual abuse
In the last few years, we have published a series of blogposts looking at spiritual abuse. Sadly, this subject is as important to consider as ever, so we wanted to draw attention once again to this series.
John Telford explains what spiritual abuse is and isn’t: Spiritual Abuse.
Lee Gatiss examines the Church of England’s definition of spiritual abuse and how to avoid it: What is Spiritual Abuse?
Ros Clarke looked at the Bible’s teaching of God’s Judgment on Spiritual Abuse
Nick Gowers wrote about Guarding Against Spiritual Abuse
Robin Barfield considered some of the particular dangers of spiritual abuse in ministry with young people: Suffer the Little Children
Posted by George Crowder, 12 Jul 2021
George Crowder explores how change is central to the Christian life and gospel.
Change is upon us whether we like it or not. We have experienced massive disruption and restriction on our lives, an experience which has changed us and will change us irreversibly. Even when all restrictions are lifted and even when the world is out of the clutches of the pandemic, our lives will not return to exactly the way they were before.
When we say we want to get ‘back to normal’, we need to qualify that. Normality is a construct. Normal is aspirational; for example when people consider it normal to buy a new outfit every month. The definition of normal is constantly under development, like how we now consider it normal to own a smart phone. Normal is subjective: what is ‘normal’ for one person is not what is ‘normal’ for someone else from a different generation, background or country. One could attempt a broad description of normality, but it is simply a product of shifting societal expectations.
Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash