Friday, December 24, 2010

Joy to the World

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 13, 2010

Equal Love

I'm glad that there's now a proper campaign in Britain for same-sex marriage: Equal Love.

Living in Massachusetts in 2004 when same-sex marriage came in there I've been impatient to see people fighting for it in the UK.

I'm not sure however, about the part of the campaign to allow civil partnerships to be open to different-sex couples. It is logical I suppose. But I've always viewed civil parnterships as an insufficent step towards marriage, and if marriage is available to everyone, then why would anyone want a civil partnership?

Also, where does this leave our campaign for allowing civil partnerships to be conducted in places of worship? Surely this will now become irrelevant, if we can perform same-sex marriages? Or do we still want to perform civil partnerships? If so what exactly is "civil" about them if they are, religious? Surely if they're allowed for all couples the defining characteristic of civil partnerships will be that they would be non-religious?

Also, what will be the process of a civil partnership converting to a marriage? Or vice versa?

You see the reason I was never in favour of civil partnerships wasn't just because they're not good enough, not equality. It's also because they make things unneccesarily complicated. I've always thought it was more logical, simple and fair to open civil marriage to all couples, allowing religious groups to define for themselves who they want to marry.

Anyway despite all these complications it's good to see the campagin for same sex marriage finally get underway in the UK. It's about time!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Seven Marks of a Healthy Church

(Quoted in "Hope for the Church: Contemporary Strategies for Growth" by Bob Jackson)

1. Energized by faith rather than just keeping things going or trying to survive

worship and sacramental life: moves people to experience God’s love
motivation: energy comes from a desire to serve God and one another
engaging with Scripture: in creative ways connect with life
nurtures faith in Christ: helping people to grow in, and share their faith.

2. Outward-looking focus with a 'whole life' rather than a 'church life' concern

deeply rooted in the local community, working in partnership with other denominations, faiths, secular groups and networks
passionate and prophetic about justice and peace, locally and globally
makes connections between faith and daily living
responds to human need by loving service

3. Seeks to find out what God wants discerning the Spirit’s leaning rather than trying to please everyone

vocation: seeks to explore what God wants it to be and do
vision: develops and communicates a shared sense of where it is going
mission priorities: consciously sets both immediate and long-term goals
able to call for, and make, sacrifices, personal and corporate, in bringing about the above and living out the faith.

4. Faces the cost of change and growth rather than resisting change and avoiding failure

while embracing the past, it dares to take on new ways of doing things
takes risks: and admits when things are not working, and learns from experience
crises: responds creatively to challenges that face the church and community
positive experiences of change: however small, are affirmed and built on.

5. Operates as a community rather than functioning as a club or religious organisation

Relationships: are nurtured, often in small groups, so people feel accepted and are helped to grow in faith and service
leadership: lay and ordained work as a team to develop locally appropriate expressions of all seven marks of a healthy church
lay ministry: the different gifts, experiences and faith journeys of all are valued and given expression in and beyond the life of the church.

6. Makes room for all being inclusive rather than exclusive.

welcome: works to include newcomers into the life of the church
children and young people: are helped to belong, contribute and be nurtured in their faith
enquirers are encouraged to explore and experience faith in Christ
diversities: different social and ethnic backgrounds, mental and physical abilities, and ages, are seen as a strength.

7. Does a few things and do them well focused rather than frenetic.

does the basics well: especially public worship, pastoral care, stewardship and administration
occasional offices: make sense of life and communicate faith
being good news as a church in its attitudes and ways of working
enjoys what it does and is relaxed about what is not being done

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Should I write something for the Guardian?

I just came across this link about the Comment is Free column in the Guardian. They do sometimes publish unsolicited submissions for the column. Catherine Robinson managed to get this article published about Unitarianism a while ago.

So should I submit something? Maybe if I have some spare moments sitting around after Christmas? Anything on this blog worth publishing in a national newspaper? What subject do you think I should write about? Any ideas? Or is this just a bit of an egotistical fantasy?

Advent: How long shall we keep God waiting?

Re-posting from last year.