Magazine Leader March 2014

From the Vicar

I have recently come back from a remarkable Group of Sessions of General Synod in London. Happily, we took the legislation to allow women to be Bishops through to the next stage. The final vote will be in July and it might well be that news of the first woman to be a bishop in the Church of England will be announced before this year is out. It is good news, because we can joyfully receive the episcopal ministry of women; because we have wasted far too much time and energy on this matter and it can now be brought to a conclusion; and because we are doing so in a way in which those who oppose this change can feel they have an honoured and safe place within the Church of England.

In fact other debates in London were of far more significance, including a presentation about ethical investments and a debate about climate change. The Church Commissioners have a vast portfolio of investments, which produces an income to fund clergy pensions, support bishops, create mission projects in some of the more deprived areas of our country, and so on. The Church of England has an Ethical Advisory Group which not only advises the Church Commissioners as to which investments are ethically sound, but also provides such advice for other bodies and indeed other denominations. They have evolved their thinking and practice. At one stage they might have advised against investing in companies which, for example, manufacture arms or tobacco or who use slave labour, or who damage the environment. Now they take a much more proactive stance and engage in discussions with companies about what is, or is not, an ethical way of doing business. If a company is underpaying its workforce, for example, they will ask to meet with the directors of the company and seek to change the policy of that company. It is a good example of the church engaging in the market-place, rather than withdrawing to a place of ‘financial purity’.

This all linked in with another debate, which was about climate change. There is now no doubt that we live in a time of rapid climate change, as can be seen by the catastrophic weather we have been having this winter. The worldwide Anglican Communion is committed to work towards five ‘marks of mission’, which are

- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom To teach, baptise and nurture new believers

- To teach, baptise and nuture new believers.

- To respond to human need by loving service

- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation

- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

It is to be welcomed that we had this debate, which very much links into the last of these five ‘marks’. The challenge to us, as a local church, is to ask to what extent the life of our church demonstrates each of the five ‘marks’. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth is part of what it means to live out our lives as Christians and it should be the concern of us all.

This Lent, the Bishop of Ramsbury is giving up his car and entering into a carbon fast. He is challenging people to join him and he is asking that 40 parishes might join with him for the 40 days of Lent to try and reduce their carbon footprint by 40%. I am not sure that we are in a position to become one of those 40 parishes, but at least we ought to be challenged by this and ask the question as to whether each of us could reduce our carbon footprint by 40%. That is a ridiculously high target. Yet such a radical change in our lifestyles will be needed if we are to reduce the damage we are doing to our environment. That fact alone ought to give us food for thought as we ask ourselves what we might give up this Lent.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is Wednesday 5th March. It would be lovely to see many of you at our services that day (10:30am or 8:00pm), but also in our Lent Groups as we reflect on what it means to ‘Meet Jesus’ in our daily lives.

Nigel LLoyd 

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