New kid on the block

A warm 30Days welcome to Affirming Liberalism, a new organization apparently based either in the city of dreaming spires, or in the ether at www. Apparently, AffLibs are folk who ‘have identified the need to try and rehabilitate the word liberal in its Christian context, rescuing it from the prefix ‘woolly?

The focus of this network will be on ‘on theological and spiritual formation, rather than on what might be called ‘religious party polities’ – as important as these are’. An inaugural conference will be taking place this month, at which one of the keynote speakers will be either Canon Martyn Percy (if you believe their website) or Dr Mark Chapman (if you believe their advert in the Church Times).

Given that the former is the Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon and that the latter is his Vice-Principal, the difference probably won’t amount to much. Still, it’s good to know that Percy (keynote speaker at the launch of GRAS in 2000) or Chapman (keynote speaker at an Affirming Catholicism day conference back in 2006) will from now on be steering clear of’religious party polities’. (Given that the title of Canon Percy’s address is supposed to be ‘Why Liberal Churches are Growing’, it would be all too understandable if he was the one who had cried off.)

PEV of the Year!

Commiserations to Bishop Keith Newton, who came within a hair’s breadth of being named Anglican of the Year by the Church of England Newspaper at the end of 2007. Apparently, the CEN polled no less than 102 members of General Synod; the notoriously publicity-shy Primate of England came first with 29% of the vote, whilst the Primate of All England was the runner-up with 24%.

In third place was Desmond Tutu, and fourth was Michael Nazir-Ali. Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria came fifth and the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Durham and Sir Joe ‘Talent and Calling’ Pilling tied in sixth position. Ninth equal were Frank Field MP, the Archbishop of Uganda, the Revd Nicky Gumbel (of Alpha Course fame) and – fanfare! – the Bishop of Richborough! We know it won’t go to Bishop Keith’s head for, as he was quick to point out to our informant, he only polled 1% of the vote – which, out of a total turnout of 102, amounts to, er, one vote. Still, that’s one more vote than a hell of a lot of other bishops!

A Growing Church: the truth

‘Bishop Katharine’s visit is the most exciting event in our history,’ said Fr Stephen Martz of St Nicholas, Elk Grove, Chicago. ‘Having the presiding bishop come here is a wonderful affirmation of our determination to become a new kind of church.’ Spokesman for the Chicago Diocese, David Skidmore, said St Nicholas was chosen because ‘it is a growing church.’ Fact: St Nicholas’ average Sunday attendance 1998: 90. Fact: St Nicholas’ average Sunday attendance 2006: 50.

Taste of Paradise?

We make no apology for returning to the riveting subject of bishops’ expenses this month. Moving away from t’ northwest where, you will recall, things are different, we turn now to the overall picture and are delighted at last to be able to announce the 2006 awards for the Most Expensive Bishops. Because of their special circumstances the two archbishops, the Bishop of London, and the Bishop of Gibraltar are not eligible.

Once again it is the Bishop of Exeter who has gained the prestigious Diocesan Golden Mitre with a total of £127,267 or £348 per day – sadly slightly less than last year. It seemed at first that he would be pipped at the post by the Bishop of Birmingham with £138,941, until it was realized that the diocese was vacant for seven months in 2005. Since for five months in office that would be £904 per day, a figure that even a bishop of the Church of England could not be expected to achieve, he was disqualified from consideration.

The Suffragan Golden Mitre award again goes to a London area bishop -not Willesden this year, but Edmonton, at £51,450 or £141 per day. Kensington was a close runner-up with £50,077. The wooden spoon – the Diocesan Wooden Crozier – goes to the Bishop of Bradford with £65,182 (£179 per day), with another Yorkshire bishop, Ripon and Leeds, a close second at £69,574. Yorkshire is a county known for its careful expenditure, but both bishops will be expected to do better next year. The Suffragan Wooden Crozier goes to the Bishop of Lynn at £8,375, a pathetic £23 per day – less than half that of even the Bishop of Bedford, last year’s runner-up, who this year did manage to attain about half the suffragan average with £18,703.

Women and the Church

Do you want to know what Christina and all the girls at Watch are talking about? Then all you have to do is go to the Watch Message Board at
‘…aplace to talk about anything relating to WATCH or the place of women in the Church of England, especially as the debate about women in the episcopate gathers pace. Vigorous debate is welcome, but let’s respect one another, even when we disagree. Insulting or inflammatory posts will be deleted. Anyone can read messages, but to post a message, you need to join – it’s a simple process and there is no need to use your own name unless you wish to! The quality of debate is astounding. Take the latest post:
I am a single mom who is outgoing, open-minded, adorable. If you are interested in make friends with young single charming mom, just touch me at I would like to telly a anything if I know. I am looking forward to hearing from yal -wink-‘. A bishop in waiting if ever there was one!

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