Archive for May, 2009

Secular France?

The Abbey at St Malo set off the Brittany coast with wonderful views out to sea is a very special place and worth a visit if in that part of the world for its beauty, serenity and another of those thin places where one might experience the presence of God afresh.

The Archdeaconry of France consists of the British diaspora across France.
There are nearly 50 Anglican churches across the country from the major cities to the Cote d’azur.

Before I got up to speak the preceding debate concluded by saying that the problem in France is that we are in the most secular country in the most secular continent in the world. Before I started the presentation I wanted to challenge that mind set and so I said that “Christ was alive and active in this continent and especially in this country of France”

Over 100 clergy and church representatives were present and responded positively to the message of friend inviting friend and the renewal of the church. We laughed together and had a good time mocking ourselves as church and talking about the changes we could make. I expect Back to Church Sunday to happen across the country in Anglican churches and chaplaincies and my hope and prayer is that in 2010 other church denominations and this time French speaking will join in.

The trip to France followed a weekend in Bournemouth at the Baptist Assembly doing a seminar with my friend Mark Hope-Irwin who spoke passionately at our Welcome Workshop for more details see below the interview afterwards

Back to Church Sunday Baptist Assembly

Back to Church Sunday in Bradford Turning the Tide

Yorkshire Post
Published Date: 26 May 2009
By Michael Brown Religious Affairs Correspondent
A YORKSHIRE bishop is claiming there may be a “turning of the tide” in the supposed decline of Christianity in this country – or at least in his 920 square-mile “patch”.
Pointers to a boost are outlined by Bishop of Bradford David James in an upbeat message to his diocese of 130 parishes and 165 churches in Bradford, a quarter of North Yorkshire, and parts of Leeds, Lancashire and Cumbria.

The 63-year-old church leader, in an article headed “What’s the Buzz?” in the June issue of his diocesan news, admits that in Western Europe Christianity is in decline.

But even in that part of Europe he says there are signs that the situation is changing. And in the last few weeks as he has travelled around his area, he has been hearing encouraging comments.

Bishop James says the comments include: “Some new young families have started worshipping with us – I haven’t a clue where they come from”; “nearly everyone in the Upper Dale came to a carol service”; “we have more people in church during the week than on a Sunday – there are scores of mums and toddlers”; “we have a lot more weddings this year, for some reason”; and “baptisms are on the up”.

He added: “These are just a few of the ‘What’s the Buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening!’ snippets,” and concludes: “They suggest a turn of the tide”.

Bishop James, who has been at Bradford since 2002 and was previously Bishop of Pontefract, says that last September 130 of his churches took part in Back to Church Sunday – a Church of England scheme to get people going to church again – and from a survey in five deaneries it is estimated that over 1,000 people responded to the invitation.

He adds: “I have begun to confirm some of those who continued to come.”

This year’s Back to Church Sunday is on September 27 and his prayer for every church in his diocese “is that there will be something of the sense of ‘electricity crackling in the air’ because any one of the people you welcome could be an angel in disguise and any one could be coming with that sense of curiosity and expectation – What’s the Buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening! – and you will be saying to them in some way or other ‘The living faith, the God who brings life from death is for you!