Lorgues with Fayence in the Var

Part of the Anglican Mission of the Diocese in Europe

A Wider View - archive

Does Father Christmas really exist?

imageA new Christmas tradition is emerging.  Sometime in December there is a news item about a clergyman who tells some primary school children that Father Christmas isn’t real.  Often it will be a retired minister, giving a talk and possibly getting mixed up about the age of his audience. 

The newspapers pick it up and parents and teachers hasten to reassure the youngsters.  The Daily Telegraph reported on 4th December that after one such incident this year “the head teacher at St Thomas More Catholic School in Buxton, Derbyshire, knew just what to do so he got on the phone to the North Pole.  He said: "I want to reassure all year three pupils at St Anne's, and their parents, that I have personally spoken to Father Christmas and told him about what has happened.  He was sorry to hear about the confusion and has promised me that he will arrange for his elves to write to each of the children and reassure them that he will definitely be coming to visit them this Christmas." Here is a link to the article in the Telegraph.
There is a sad irony here; our post-modern western culture refuses to affirm any absolutes and so finds it difficult to accept Jesus Christ.  Yet in the case of Father Christmas it rushes to affirm as true what we know to be false, and to mislead children on the way.

So how can we better answer the question “Does Father Christmas exist”?  I still remember with gratitude the answer my parents gave to me when I came home after my best friend had told me there was no such thing as Father Christmas. They let me down gently and told me about Santa Claus, whose name comes from St Nicholas who they explained gave gifts and had lived in Scandinavia a long time ago.  Well maybe they bent the truth a little – he was actually a Bishop of Myra in what is modern day Turkey.  The Scandinavian bit might
have been their way of referring to the fact that Santa Claus is derived from Sinterklaas in Dutch tradition, itself obviously derived from St Nicholas who was famous for giving presents to the poor.

One of the downsides of the Father Christmas tradition is that it inadvertently promotes “works righteousness”.   Father Christmas visits on Christmas Eve with presents for good children.  For Christians the Santa Claus explanation has the advantage of bringing the free gift of Jesus Christ himself into the picture.  We can do nothing to deserve God’s mercy; all we have to do is repent and believe.

There is a helpful article on Santa Claus here on Wikipedia.

Happy Christmas


13th December 2014

Treating Ebola in Sierra Leone

imageEbola is a virus, without a cure.  It kills about half of those who are infected.  The current outbreak in West Africa has killed about 6,000 people. It is the worst outbreak since the virus was discovered 40 years ago near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  There are about 1,000 new  cases every week which is the equivalent of every other Ebola outbreak in history happening every fortnight. It is crucial that Ebola does not spread or mutate but the health care systems of the three countries at the centre of the outbreak, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, among the poorest countries in the world, are unable to cope on their own. 

People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth, nose or eyes, with the blood, vomit, faeces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola. The early symptoms are a sudden fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and sore throat.  This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding - both internal and external - which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and in the stools.  Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.

Against this background France, the USA and the UK, as well as other countries, are sending medical teams to work to treat Ebola patients.  Treatment is re-hydration and isolation, to allow and encourage the body’s immune system to work against the virus.  And there are a lot of blood samples to be taken and tested.

Sierra Leone has been assigned to the UK (it is a former British colony). The British Army is building treatment centres and the NHS has been asking for volunteer doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. Our daughter Rosie, who is a doctor at The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading has volunteered and goes on Saturday 6th December as part of the second UK team to fly out.

They have been training this week in England.  There will be about 30 of them and they will work at the treatment centre at Lunsar, about 60 miles east of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Rosie has been to Sierra Leone before,  having visited it as part of a team from her church, St Ebbe’s in Oxford, and spent her elective there whilst a medical student.  She will be there for about five weeks, the standard “tour of duty”.

Sarah and I, and her siblings Lucy and Richard are immensely proud of her for going out there, but we are naturally somewhat anxious as well.  Health care workers are most at risk.  More than 400 of them have contracted Ebola since the onset of the outbreak and more than half of those infected, 232, have died from the virus.

imageRosie, (pictured right) and we, would value your prayers for:


Care and patience with the personal protective equipment

Good administrative arrangements

Patients to survive and Ebola to be beaten

There is a lot of good clear information on the BBC website if you would like to know more about Ebola and what is being done.

David, 4th December 2014

For Unto us is born a Son


It only seems like yesterday that we were anticipating the Millenium, new numbers to get used to writing on the chequebook, new hopes and opportunities for the future as this milestone on the calendar approached.  Sixteen years down the line much will have changed in our lives, some good and some not so good as life with all its challenges moves on. But one thing remains constant and has done for all of those 2000 years, Love came down at Christmas in the form of a refugee child, subsequently homeless and itinerant as his Mother Mary, and Joseph sought safety in another country. It is hard to imagine how that felt for them, but during 2016 we have been given a glimpse of such an experience through the countless hundreds of thousands of families struggling in desperate circumstances to survive in a world torn by war and violence and struggling to find a place of refuge and peace, and a hope and a future.

Jeremiah says, “ For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”.Throughout Advent we are encouraged to reach out for that hope, seek those plans, and to wait expectantly for the promise of God’s future for us through the coming of the Christ Child. A mere infant destined to carry the burden of all that is wrong in this world and in us.  The question for us, as this poignant festive season approaches once again, is how does this affect me, how do I respond to this amazing gift of hope and opportunity sacrificially given to each one of us in love. Perhaps the English Poet Christina Rossetti gives us the answer in the last verse of that beautiful and much loved carol, In the Bleak mid Winter……what can I give Him;  give my heart.  Surely the rest should follow.

May this Christmas be all that you wish for and 2017 everything that you hope for.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you wherever you are over the coming days, and may there be Peace in your life as you carry your cross into the New Year and all that it holds for you.

To hear In the Bleak Mid-Winter from Gloucester Cathedral,  copy and paste into search


Every blessing in His name. from Lorgues with Fayence

Peter and Shirley

Fresh Expressions - a view from Nottingham.

imageMeeting in the pastor's garden and the friendly, supportive, easy relationship with and concern for believers, non- believers and inquirers was one of the things which first attracted Sarah and me to the Oasis/Ark.  Here is a post from Ian Paul, who was once on the staff of St John's Theological College in Nottingham, sits on General Synod and is both a minister and Professor at Nottingham. 

He's writing about a refreshing discussion on Fresh Expressions at their Deanery Synod. Ian writes "When you spend a lot of your time amongst fellow Christians, church attenders and generally churchy things, it is very sobering to be confronted with the 60% of the population who are ‘closed’ to church".  It is important to keep our focus on those who don't come. Church is one of those things which exists primarily for the benefit of its non-members.  I don't agree with all that Ian Paul writes, but he is a theologian with a strong heart for the Gospel and plain Word of God (even if his blog is called Psephizo).  Do read his post.

David - 23rd November

Sweet Chiming Bells

imageDid you know that the carol While Shepherds Watch has over 30 different tunes and variations to it.  Here is a folk tune from Yorkshire with words by Kate Rusby....enjoy it,  we might just sing it at the Reynolds this Sunday 18th Dec, so be prepared ! Click on the link below or on the picture

Sweet Chiming Bells

In Memory of Jack Heaslip


Above: Jack preaching at Arc-en-Provence in 2013

It is with a real sense of loss that I have to share with you that Jack Heaslip, who has been writing our " I was Just Thinking" column, died last weekend at his home in Howth near Dublin.  Jack had been suffering for quite some time with Motor Neuron Disease and he leaves a great hole in many peoples lives. We send our love and condolences to his wife Patricia and their children and grandchildren.  Jack has been part of my life for over twenty years and part of the ministry here in France since it was a mere dream.  He has both followed and been part of every step we have taken, quietly advising, directing and encouraging us along the path God has led us. I was with him last Thursday in Dublin for a few hours when we were able to talk a little about the journey we have shared.

Jack was quite literally someone who hid his light and his ministry from public view.  Very few people knew that he was quietly working with U2 traveling with them as he supported, guided, toured and prayed with the band and their crew. Jack knew U2 since the days when he taught them in school back in the early seventies.  Below is a tribute to Jack and his work and his ministry with U2.


imageIt’s a sad week for the U2 family, and we mourn together with them in the loss of a very significant member. Although Reverend Jack Heaslip was highly influential and well known in the band's tightknit community, many people have not heard of him.

Jack was there from the beginning. Way back at Mount Temple Comprehensive, a nondenominational “experimental” high school in Dublin, he was both counselor and teacher, and an especially important mentor for the boys who would come to be known as U2. Neil McCormick, lifelong friend of the band, in his book Killing Bono, describes Jack as “a gentle, thoughtful, soft-spoken, bearded man with strong spiritual leanings.”

Students were drawn to Jack because of his friendliness, creativity and artistic outlook on life and faith. McCormick recalls in Exploring U2, edited by @U2 staff member Scott Calhoun: “I can remember him reading in class from Leonard Cohen and overseeing sex education classes so explicit that it caused one nervous girl to faint. And it is an openness that is reflected in Bono’s own faith and its practical interactions with the corporeal world.”

Eventually transitioning out of his role as career counselor at Mount Temple, Jack became an Anglican clergyman, ministering to a congregation of his own. Along the way, he nurtured a deep friendship with U2 and came to be their “traveling pastor,” providing spiritual direction and care for the band, their families and hundreds of crew members as they trekked across the globe together on multiple tours. Clearly, Jack was a strong personal influence on Bono, officiating at his wedding with Ali, baptizing their children and burying Bono’s father.

Despite his high-profile position with the band, Jack lived outside the spotlight, focusing on personal relationships and congregational care rather than fame and media attention. He always prayed for the band and crew before the opening of a show and on the Elevation tour in Miami, Bono introduces Jack, and invites everyone to gather around the front of the stage for a word of blessing. Jack’s words are inspiring:

Next time we hear this music, there will be people everywhere, which will transform everything. And the great deal what I feel about this tour is what is going to happen to the people who will come here, who are going to be touched by this album, and who already have been touched by the album (and the albums over the years). So, I thought of a psalm, Psalm 61, which has pretty pretentious words, but then they were used by Jesus himself about himself, so, I suppose we could do no better than that really.


Advent week 4 Love Came down

Love Came Down At Christmas

imageLove came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead
Love incarnate, love divine
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token
Love shall be yours and love be mine
Love to God and to all men
Love for plea and gift and sign...

Migrant church at Calais


STOP PRESS - this church is to be featured in Songs of Praise on Sunday 9th August.

Just time for a very quick blogpost. It’s immensely encouraging, and somewhat humbling, to see that even in the midst of the trouble at Calais, Christians still get together for fellowship and to click on this link for more

Christmas presents

imageNow we are in November I think it is respectable to have some Christmas presents on the Lorgues with Fayence website.  So on the Bookstall, which is accessed here thegoodbook.co.uk or via the Spiritual Resources tab, I have put up a selection of books suitable to give at Christmas.  There are several for younger children and toddlers - good for bedtime stories - some for teenagers and even a range for adults.  John Stott's "Living Church" is there - a thoughtful read about what actually makes a church.  And so is a short book from John Stevens about doubt - many Christians have moments when they question God, or simply worry about whether the promise of life with the Father is true.  There are Christmas cards too.

And if its all to much and life is so full of activities that Christmas is just another problem, there's always Tim Chester's book "The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness".  Seriously.

David - 1st November

Three down, three to go !

A big thank you to Giles Williams and Holy Trinity Cannes for welcoming us and facilitating my re-licensing for this Chaplaincy.  Back in 2014 when Lorgues with Fayence was officially recognised, I was licensed as Priest in Charge. image It was a big step in the journey of our two Fellowship communities and it's relationship with the Diocese and the Church of England.  I was then licensed for three years and that license was renewed at the end of July for a further three years which takes me up to "Three score years and ten" which is generally accepted as a good time to bow out gracefully and hand over the reigns.  It seems a long way off but I suspect that it will slip by quite quickly and we all need to use this as a time of transition and preparation.  God has been faithful to this community since its inception and I have no reason to doubt that will continue.  Your continued prayers and support for Lorgues with Fayence are important to us and greatly appreciated. May God bless us and show us the way forward here for the Christian Church in Var that others may come to know the saving Grace of Jesus.


Same Message, Different Viewpoint


David Cameron is urged by Justin Welby to help the  'armies of people going hungry in UK today'

Both Justin Welby and David Cameron have spoken this Christmas of our inherited Christian values in Britain. However, Justin Welby underlined that despite these values, the alarming increase of homeless people over the last five years and the poverty and hunger that exists in our society is deeply concerning.  He urged government to focus on these statistics and to respond practically to them as a matter of urgency.

David Cameron on the other hand spoke of Britain being a tolerant and welcoming society because of our Christian heritage. Sadly though Britain, along with most of Europe, is now considered to be post-Christian, and those values can equally be found amongst compassionate and caring people who have a real concern for the welfare of others.

If Christmas in the wider sense has a significance, it must not be found in the commercial frenzy, but in those who give of themselves, not just at this time of year but constantly. Thousands of volunteers will be supporting the homeless, now considered to be about 12000 in the UK, offering them food, a bed and most importantly a listening ear.  One in four of all homeless people have no family, no friends and suffer from  loneliness, not just at Christmas, but all the time.

We may have homes here but we are also aware of the real isolation and loneliness that exists in the English speaking community in the Var....perhaps you know someone who would welcome a visit...who knows where that relationship might go....perhaps even to Jesus with a little bit help and encouragement... oh and of course Love, which points the way !!   Peter

New government - how should it govern?


The Bible tells us that governments are God's servants for our good.  Paul writes about the relationship between individuals and government in Romans chapter 13.  Governing authorities are established by God; we must submit to them therefore or we rebel against God.  But three times he also makes the point that they are God's servants.  So servant-hearted government is the rule.  Our prayer, as the 1662 prayer book says, is that we may be godly and quietly governed.

Advent week 3 Joy to the World

imageWe ought to expect trouble. Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation". The apostle James said, "Consider it all joy ... when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance".  God has His own profound purpose in our afflictions, but it's never to take away our joy.  To maintain our joy we must adopt God's perspective regarding our trials. When we yield to the working of His Spirit in our lives, our difficulties will not overwhelm us.

B. Paul's Joy Amidst Difficulties

The apostle Paul seems almost larger than life because his joy knew no bounds. As you read through his letters, it seems that the greater the trial he faced, the greater his joy. His life is a living illustration of severe affliction mingled with supreme joy.

His joy was in Christ whom he had found on the road to Damascus, this Christmas search for the pink candle in your life and light it up.

No Religion is a Problem In France


Emmanuel Macron: ‘No religion is a problem in France’

Being neutral is at ‘the heart of secularism,’ the former economy minister, now President said.

“No religion is a problem in France today,” Macron said on Tuesday at a recent rally of his ‘En Marche!’ movement in Montpellier during the campaign.

“If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity,” he said.

France’s second-most popular politician had not stated his intention to run for President at that stage but concluded his speech with a hint toward his intentions by saying: “France is a project, and that’s the project I want to take further.”

As a minister, Macron, had complained he was only allowed to talk about the economy.

Did you know

On July  19th in 1919, the Cenotaph, a monument to those killed or wounded during the First World War, is unveiled in Whitehall, London, during the first Peace Day celebration.

Designed and built by Edwin Lutyens, at the request of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, the Cenotaph (literally “empty tomb” in Greek) was initially a wood and plaster construction created in less than two weeks. Inspired by the example of the French, who were planning their own similar celebration for July 14, 1919, Lloyd George envisioned the monument as one small part of a whole day of events commemorating the Allied victory in World War I, which had ended in an armistice the previous November. In early July, the prime minister formally commissioned Lutyens, who was forced to design and construct a monument to mark the endpoint of London’s victory parade in less than two weeks.image

Within an hour of the Cenotaph’s unveiling on the morning of July 19, 1919, onlookers had piled wreaths of flowers high around its base. The parade that day included Allied military leaders such as Douglas Haig, the British commander in chief; Ferdinand Foch, the Allied supreme commander during the last year of the war; and John J. Pershing, head of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) that served in World War I; along with some 15,000 Allied soldiers. In the florid words of the Morning Post newspaper: “Near the memorial there were moments of silence when the dead seemed very near, when one almost heard the passage of countless wings–were not the fallen gathering in their hosts to receive their comrades’ salute and take their share in the triumph they had died to win?”  ( click on picture above to listen to Nimrod played at the Cenotaph )

Immediately, discussions began in the press and within Parliament over the possibility of making the Cenotaph a permanent memorial to the fallen. Some believed the monument–located in the middle of highly-trafficked streets near Whitehall–should be moved, though Luytens himself greatly objected to this proposition, believing that now that the monument had been “qualified by the salute of Foch and the [A]llied armies and by our men and their great leaders?no other site would give this pertinence.” On July 30, the British Cabinet decided that that Cenotaph should be erected again, this time permanently, at the same location.

imageThe current monument, cast in Portland Stone, was unveiled in 1920, with a simple inscription commemorating “The Glorious Dead.” Each year, on the Sunday closest to November 11–Armistice, or Remembrance Day–a service is held at the Cenotaph in honor of British and Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two World Wars as well as later conflicts. Attended by the British royal family and political and religious leaders, as well as representatives from the armed forces, the service has not changed greatly since its introduction: it features the singing of hymns, an offering of prayers and the observation of two-minutes of silence, ending with a march of war veterans in a show of respect for their fallen countrymen.  ( click on picture above to listen to " I vow to thee my country" from the Albert Hall )

On Sunday we combine All Saints day and the service from the cenotaph when we meet together,( see left column on this page for details )

Why have you forsken Me

From the Word For Today


      The psalmist wrote: ‘My God, why have You forsaken Me…I am…a reproach of men, and despised…All those who see Me ridicule Me…saying, “He trusted in the LORD…let Him deliver Him”…I am poured out like water…My bones are out of joint…My tongue clings to My jaws…They pierced My hands and…feet…and for My clothing they cast lots’ (Psalm 22:1-18 NKJV). Think about it: David could be describing Jesus’ crucifixion in detail. Yet when he wrote these words crucifixion hadn’t been introduced as a form of execution. It was initiated centuries later by the Phoenicians, and long after that before it was adopted by the Roman Empire. Dr Charles Augustus Briggs says: ‘You can take this psalm…lay it side-by-side with New Testament accounts of the crucifixion…and see how they dovetail perfectly. It’s astonishing that someone could describe something so intimately and intricately a thousand years before it happened.’ Calvary wasn’t the result of happenstance. Long before Jesus came on the scene, God had a plan to reconcile us to Himself through Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV). Historian Paul L. Maier says: ‘In Isaiah chapter 53 we have almost a running commentary on what happened on Good Friday…It would be mathematically impossible for anyone else to fulfil all these parameters of prophecy in the Old Testament better than Jesus.’ Bottom line: ‘It’s what God had in mind all along…that he give himself as an offering for sin.’ That means long before there was an Easter, God was thinking about you!

My King is Jesus. Queen's New Book


It is a rarity for a member of the Royal Family to speak of their beliefs, but to celebrate her 90th birthday, Queen Elizabeth has written about her religious beliefs in a book.

Her Majesty has written the foreword to The Servant Queen and the King She Serves. In the foreword, she notes how grateful she is for God and the public for praying for her.

In order to create the book that gives readers an insight into the Queen’s religious beliefs and how it affects her life, the three Christian charities, HOPE, the Bible Society and LICC teamed up together.

The book will be published by the Bible Society this April to help celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Another special 12-page edition will be published by Scripture Union for schools.

In the foreword, Queen Elizabeth wrote: “I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love.

“I have indeed seen his faithfulness.”





From the Diocese in Europe

As vigils and memorials take place across Europe tonight (Thursday 8 January 2015) The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Dr Robert Innes, has expressed his deep shock as well as his solidarity with the French people in the aftermath of the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, yesterday; and after the death of the police officer near Montrouge, this morning. He also condemned the attacks on Mosques, by echoing the French President’s call for unity after the brutal loss of life.

The Church of England’s Diocese in Europe has two churches in the French capital. They will be offering prayers for the departed and for those who have been cruelly robbed of their loved ones in such traumatic circumstances.
imageDr Innes said "At this time of the year, Christians are celebrating God’s eternal word, who is revealed in a tiny bundle of human flesh and blood, as Jesus Christ shows us the vulnerability and potential of human life. We pray especially for journalists, artists and novelists at this heart-breaking and fearful time. We give thanks for their courage; and we pray that they may have the freedom to tell the truth about the human condition and God's broken but beloved world."

Pictured above are scenes from Monaco where hundreds packed the main square, held placards and launched chinese lanterns during an act of remembrance shared by the representatives of four religious groups in the Principality: Pastor Didier Meyer, French Reform; Father Walter Raymond from St paul's Anglican Church, Archbishop Bernard Barsi of Monaco and Rabbi Daniel Torgmant.


Extremist speech


David Cameron’s speech yesterday on Extremism must have been difficult to write.The extremism issue is at the forefront today because of the self styled Islamic State, and Boko Haram. Criticising these terrorist organisations risks reprisals from them and causing offence to peaceful Moslems, especially as few of us have much grasp of what Islam is, and for example how central it is to establish of a world-dominating Islamic Caliphate and what that would mean for non-Moslems.

Commendably, Cameron shows signs of moving from repeating that we must challenge extremism to read more here 

Conference of European Churches


         Paris Climate Agreement: A signal of hope

The historic United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) has concluded in Paris. For the first time, after a generation of negotiations, a global community of close to 200 nations has been able to speak with a common voice on climate change. Talks ran overtime and produced the Paris Agreement—a legally binding and ambitious global deal.

CEC welcomes the agreement as a signal of hope for combatting climate change and advancing ecological justice. It outlines comprehensive measures to hold global temperature increases to ‘well below’ 2°C, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. The agreement also recognises the particular needs of vulnerable communities, and commits richer countries to financial transfers to regions most affected by climate change.

imageThe agreement is historic in its recognition of the need for radical change of the global economy. This includes increasing efforts toward reducing carbon emissions, and the role of industrialised nations in leading these initiatives. “CEC has long advocated for a strong link between economic and environmental justice,” said CEC General Secretary Guy Liagre, “We welcome this agreement as a signal of hope, and as significant recognition of the necessity of global and common action.”

Peter Pavlovic, secretary of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN), underscored that although the agreement is important, it must be viewed as an invitation to further action. “The significant work of implementation lies ahead. We must believe that the good intentions of the text will be honoured.”

imageReligious contributions to the Paris proceedings were notable. Churches and ecumenical organisations from Europe and around the world had a strong presence at COP21, including a lead up . Their efforts in shedding light on the ethical dimensions, care for the vulnerable, and accepting human responsibility for climate change were acknowledged during negotiations. At the centre of church campaigns and actions was a call for climate justice—a key concern that was largely edited out of the final text.  

“Effective response to climate change will increasingly call into question many habits in industrialised societies, we will be increasingly confronted with the challenge of fairness and limitations in our lifestyle” continued Pavlovic, “However, recognition of this responsibility, and the need for climate justice will continue to guide the work of the churches in the safeguarding of Creation.”

Erin Green
Communication Coordinator
Conference of European Churches

Is God a moral monster?


There's a good question. How can God save just some people?  How could he command the Hebrews to exterminate the Canaanites when they entered the Promised Land?  How could he allow the Hebrews to be exiled in Babylon?  Why did Jesus have to die on the Cross?  Those were some of the questions at a live discussion I led last week.
Noah is a good starting point. In Genesis 6 we learn click here to read more

Why read the Bible?


I am currently reading a book which has been on my bookshelf, unread, for about three decades. It is called “Decision Making and the Will of God”. How do we find out what God wants for our lives, how to choose where to live, who to marry, whether to apply for that new job? It’s particularly important for me at the moment in concection with a church growth initiative with which I am involved at All Saints Little Shelford – what should we be doing?. I haven’t finished the book yet but the author, Garry Friesen, points out that there is a range of good decisions which lie within the moral will of God, so the important thing is to discern God’s moral will. How do we do that? Friesen guides us like this: ... more

What can WE do


We chose to show this picture of the child, Aylan Kurdi, who was washed up on the beach, as we prefer to  celebrate life not death, but we cannot stand idly by ...

Local churches  in Greece and Turkey are actively involved and we will be making a contribution.  If the pictures of the last few days have moved you, please send  a contribution to our treasurer, Blake Long at 670 Rue de Vins 43143 Le Val.  We will be forwarding this to our Sister Chaplaincy in Budapest. ( Cheques can be made to Lorgues with Fayence)

Peter, 4th September 2015


Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement on the refugee crisis

Responding to the refugee crisis facing Europe and the Middle East, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said today: ( Sep 3rd )

“This is a hugely complex and wicked crisis that underlines our human frailty and the fragility of our political systems. My heart is broken by the images and stories of men, women and children who have risked their lives to escape conflict, violence and persecution.

“There are no easy answers and my prayers are with those who find themselves fleeing persecution, as well as those who are struggling under immense pressure to develop an effective and equitable response. Now, perhaps more than ever in post-war Europe, we need to commit to joint action across Europe, acknowledging our common responsibility and our common humanity.

“As Christians we believe we are called to break down barriers, to welcome the stranger and love them as ourselves (Leviticus 19:34), and to seek the peace and justice of our God, in our world, today.

image“With winter fast approaching and with the tragic civil war in Syria spiralling further out of control, we must all be aware that the situation could yet worsen significantly. I am encouraged by the positive role that churches, charities and international agencies are already playing, across Europe and in Syria and the surrounding areas, to meet basic humanitarian needs. These efforts may feel trivial in the face of the challenge, but if we all play our part this is a crisis that we can resolve.

“We need a holistic response to this crisis that meets immediate humanitarian need while tackling its underlying drivers. I commend the UK Government for its strong commitment to the world’s poorest people through the delivery of the aid budget. It has shown global leadership by providing £900 million since 2012 to the crisis in Syria. It has also shown moral leadership in using Royal Navy ships to save the lives of hundreds who have tried to make the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean.

image“I hold in my heart particularly those who are most vulnerable in conflict, and those who we have a special duty to protect. The Government has rightly sought to provide sanctuary to unaccompanied children, women and those who have been victims of, or are at risk of, sexual violence. I welcome this, while urging a renewed commitment to taking in the most vulnerable.

“The Church has always been a place of sanctuary for those in need, and Churches in the UK and across Europe have been meeting the need they are presented with. I reaffirm our commitment to the principle of sanctuary for those who require our help and love. The people of these islands have a long and wonderful history of offering shelter and refuge, going back centuries — whether it be Huguenot Christians, Jewish refugees, Ugandan Asians, Vietnamese boat people or many, many more.

imageIt has always been controversial at the time it happened, always been seen as too difficult. Yet each time we have risen to the challenge and our country has been blessed by the result.

We cannot turn our backs on this crisis. We must respond with compassion. But we must also not be naïve in claiming to have the answers to end it. It requires a pan-European response — which means a commitment to serious-minded diplomatic and political debate, but not at the expense of practical action that meets the immediate needs of those most in need of our help.”    + Justin

UK Parliament Petition can be signed here


Advent week 2   My Peace I give you

Perfect Peace sung by Laura Story

imageSome advent questions for reflection:

What does peace look like in your life?

Where do you see peace today?

Is there an area of your life where you need peace?

Where do you look to find peace?

In what way(s) are you an instrument of peace?

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

imageIsaiah 9:6 For unto  us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.

My Identity is in Jesus Christ

image[Episcopal News Service – Zambia, Lusaka] The second day of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting here got off to a strange start when the members were read a statement from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby about a news report that he was born illegitimately.

The Telegraph newspaper reported April 8 that while Welby had always assumed he was the son of Gavin Welby, who was married briefly to his mother Jane Williams, a recent paternity test showed that his father was instead the late Sir Anthony Montague Browne. The Telegraph’s lengthy story broke overnight local time here.

“This comes as a complete surprise,” Welby said in the statement which was read April 9 before the council’s daily Bible study by Bishop of Lambeth Nigel Stock.

Welby said in his statement that “in my life and in our marriage Caroline and I have had far worse.” The Welbys’ seven-month-old daughter was killed in a car crash in France in 1983.

“I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes,” he said in the statement. “Even more importantly my role as archbishop makes me constantly aware of the real and genuine pain and suffering of many around the world, which should be the main focus of our prayers.”

Welby said that his experience in learning about his biological father “is typical of many people.”

“To find that one’s father is other than imagined is not unusual,” he said in the statement. “To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal.”

Where Was God ?

imageAs the UK reels from a series of traumatic events which have deeply and permanently affected the lives of many through loss and injury, the age old question of " Where was God?"   has been heard yet again.  Closely related to that question is the other familiar challenge, "If there is a God, how could He let this happen?"  Perhaps the real answer is in the faces and deeds of those closest to these tragedies who responded with unparalleled love and compassion to the victims of human depravity and and possible commercial exploitation.

There will be many questions raised through the inquests and inquiries as to what exactly happened and could it have been avoided.  All that is in the future, hopefully not too far as an emotional vacuum urgently needs to be filled.  But for now, the lasting images of human kindness, generosity and compassion are the real responses that demonstrate what is within us, namely the ability to express love without qualification that is bigger and stronger than all the negative, evil  and divisive attitudes and actions that threaten our societies.  At Kensington the mosques and churches were united and immediate in their practical provision and a close knit community rose to the needs and pain of those caught up in this nightmare.  The Methodist church became a safe and Godly haven and a place for people to express their grief and find the love of God and the compassion of Christ.


The words of that beautiful hymn, "Brother Sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you" concisely answer the question of "Where was God?" Quite simply within you and me if we allow it and let the Spirit dwell richly.  We are in a constant spiritual battle on all levels, personal, national, religious, and maybe we tend to be less vocal about that and prefer the "Good News" to acknowledging the truth.  Paul said he was blessed when troubles came because it affirmed the reality and vitality of his faith and mission.  Satan is not interested in apathy and indifference, so if you are going through a tough patch as a Christian, be encouraged and know that you are not on your own, God is with and will not leave you.

Trumped by the White Evangelicals


Statistis, statistics and more d..n statistics, but what do they really mean?

An analysis entitled, "The Evangelical Reckoning Over Donald Trump," concluded that "White, conservative Christians voted for the Republican candidate by a huge margin, but this election revealed deep fractures among leaders and churches - especially along racial lines."

It was noted that for months, media stories spoke of the death of the religious right alluding to "a new moral minority" asserting that the Christian reasons for voting for Trump were closely followed by reasons for not voting for him.

Yet now it is clear that as reported, "They overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump."

Exit polls indicated that "Never Trump" was not a likely outcome amongst white evangelical voters who showed up to support President-elect Donald Trump in their highest turnout since 2004 when George W. Bush won.

It said that despite the reservations that many evangelical and Republican leaders had expressed, white 'born-again/evangelical' Christians cast their ballots for Trump at an 81 percent to 16 percent margin over his rival Hillary Clinton.

At the same time, Christianity Today reported that Evangelicals of colour, who account for 2 in 5 evangelicals, "but aren't segmented out in most national political polls" largely went for Clinton in the lead up to the election.

We know that God moves in mysterious ways and believe that, 'God works for the good of those who love him', so at this stage all we can do is hope and pray that a deeply divided, but influential United States finds its potential vocation on the world stage to be a sound messenger of peace and stability founded on true values and not those that are influenced by political correctness and opportunism.

Listen to Can a Nation be saved "

Fact or Fiction


Decline in the Church of England has accelerated, according to a new survey. Other faiths, however, are growing in Britain, especially Islam.

The British Social Attitudes survey of nearly 3,000 people found that they proportion of people saying they are Anglican has fallen by by two fifths in 10 years, part of an overall picture of decline going back more than 30 years, according to the survey, by NatCen Social Research.

The proportion of British adults who said they are Anglican has fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. However the decline was steepest over the past decade when the proportion fell by two fifths in ten years, down from 29 per cent of the population in 2004.

In real terms, says NatCen, this suggests the number of Anglicans in Britain has fallen by as many as 4.5 million over the last ten years from around 13 million people to about 8.5 million today.

The biggest group in the survey was made up of people who said they have no religion, who accounted for nearly half (49 per cent) of the population, up from 31 per cent in 1983 and 43 per cent a decade ago.


Most of the Christian decline appears to have been in the established church, with other denominations remaining stable over the three decades.

Roman Catholics and those grouped together as 'other', including Methodists, Presbyterians and non-denominational Christians, made up 8 per cent and 17 per cent of the population respectively in 2014, a similar level to 1983.

Non-Christian religions rose from 2 per cent in 1983 to 8 per cent in 2014. The biggest rise was in Islam, which grew ten-fold, from around half a percent of the population in 1983 to around 5 per cent in 2014.

Naomi Jones, NatCen's head of social attitudes, said: "The proportion of people saying that they are Anglican has fallen quite dramatically in the last ten years, coinciding with a rise in people saying they are not religious. Meanwhile, members of other Christian and non-Christian religions have remained relatively constant and even increased."

Previous analysis of British Social Attitudes indicates that the main explanation for the increase in British people saying they are not religious is because each generation is less religious than the next. As older generations die the overall population gradually becomes less religious.

But Jones said this doesn't explain why the Anglican Church alone continues to decline. "One explanation for this might be that the numbers of Catholic and non-Christian people in Britain may have been supplemented by migrants with strong religious beliefs.

"Another explanation could be that in the past religion played a more prominent role in people's identity. We know from recent NatCen research that people are less likely than in previous years to see being Christian as an important component of being British. Therefore, fewer British people may feel that the Church of England is an important part of their identity nowadays."

Next Week Fresh Expressions continues to give Hope

How do Christians transform society?

imageMany different groups of people seek to transform society.  The Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the UMP, and  most religions.  Do we ever think how Christians should go about transforming society?

My friend John Stevens writes a Christian blog - callled Dissenting Opinion - which I enjoy reading and he has recently put up a post on just this question.  Here is a link to the post, and if you would like to explore his blog a bit further this is a link to the home page

I am grateful to John for permitting me to put up extracts from it.

David, 17th October 2014

NEW , BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship



Each Sunday at 08.10 (UK time) BBC Radio 4 Broadcasts Sunday worship. Perhaps you already know this and listen online or on satellite, but as an addition to our website we will be putting up the link each Sunday just in case there is no service in your area or you are unable to get to us for some reason. We can only put the link up after the Live broadcast, but it will remain up on the site for the whole of that week. We hope this will be something that will allow you to feel connected to the Wider Church and perhaps plug a gap in your spiritual life.

Happy Birthday Richard Dawkins

imageToday is the74th birthday of Richard Dawkins.  We should wish him happy birthday, but not only because Christians love their neighbours, and indeed their enemies.

Surprisingly, Christians owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Dawkins. As the leading new atheist in the UK he has helped keep Christianity in the public eye.  He has also caused many Christians to think about the relationship between science and religion rather than putting it in the "too difficult" box.  "Hasn't science disproved God?" is a common question, and increasingly one which Christians use to interest non-believers in Jesus.  I was listening to a radio series the other week by another leading atheist and intellectual, the journalist Will Self, called "Self orbits CERN" in which he walks the circle of the large hadron collider and interviews scientists who work there along the way.  He puts that question to several of them and usually gets the answer that science and God are about different issues. Science is about the question "How were we created?"  God is about the question "Why were we created?"

I once asked Dr Dennis Alexander, Fellow of St Edmund's College Cambridge, who is a Baptist, a leading microbiologist and one of the founders of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at Cambridge University, if he didn't groan at the barrage of anti-God material coming from fellow academics like Dawkins and Stephen Hawking. "Not at all" he replied.  "It's another great opportunity to talk about the Lord Jesus Christ".

Lest anyone be intimidated by them, remember that actually they aren't all that certain of what they believe. The picture is of Professor Dawkins by the famous London bus campaign poster.  The best they can manage is that there probably isn't a God.

26th March 2015

New Area Dean for Riviera

Bishop Robert recently appointed Giles from Cannes as area Dean for the Riviera including the chaplaincies in Lyon and Grenoble.  Having an area Dean helps us all with communications in the Diocese and in the Archdeaconry of France and there are now three appointed. Basically the Area Dean is a local presence for the Archdeacon and in a better position to keep contact with the local chaplains and help sort out any problems and give advice where needed.

imageGiles is an old friend of Lorgues with Fayence and has visited us many times and preached at my Institution back in 2013.   My licence as Priest in Charge, which was up for renewal has been recently re-issued and will be formally presented to me (and our chaplaincy) in Holy Trinity Cannes on 30th July; more on that later but do put it in the diary and come to Cannes to share that with us if possible.


NHS stops Christian from talking about her faith


In the week before Easter, an employment tribunal in London gave its ruling on Victoria Wasteney's appeal against disciplinary action taken by her employer, an NHS trust in Hackney.  Victoria had been accused of bullying a fellow employee, a Muslim.  Reports say that the Muslim woman befriended Victoria and they were both concerned about slavery.  Their discussions moved to matters of faith and prayer and Victoria prayed for her colleague, invited her to church and gave her a copy of Bilqist Sheik's well known book "I dared to call him Father" about her journey from Islam to Christianity.  The colleague told Victoria that people in her team disliked Victoria for her Christianity and were urging her to make a complaint about Victoria.  In due course she complained.

Her employer's disciplinary panel found Victoria guilty of bullying and harassment, but Victoria appealed.  The Employment Tribunal upheld the employer's decision.

This is a sad decision.  It demonstrates hostility to Christianity and faith.  It is actually profoundly intolerant but the laws enacted by Parliament seem to be driving us there.  They and this decision expect Christians to keep their beliefs to themselves, to become closet Christians.  But secular views can be trumpeted loudly.  What would be the position if the Christian (or Muslim, or Jew for that matter) felt harassed and bullied by claims that God does not exist, or that God is a moral monster? What would be the position if a Christian or Muslim found themselves challenged at work by secular values?  What if in a conversation about Stephen Fry at the office coffee machine someone says they strongly approve of Fry's vitriolically expressed question "Why should I respect a God who could create a world so full of injustice and pain?"  That's pretty much in your face. Is that forbidden now?

The question for us all, whether Christians, Muslims, Jews, Shinto-ists secularists, atheists or just agnostics, is whether we really want a society where we cannot talk openly about these things.  Do we want a society where people hide their identity? Is it really unacceptable to express the love of Jesus?  Should we not rather encourage debate, discussion, openness and honest, at times robust but always polite, disagreement on matters of faith?  Should we not be creating the climate in which these things can happen without causing offence?  To do otherwise drives belief underground, where, unchallenged, all sorts of peculiar ideas can flourish.

Here is a link to an interview with Victoria on ITV in January 2015, before the tribunal judgment.


10th April 2015

For Better For Worse


Congratulations to Andrew and Georgie,

 married at St Denis Tourtour on the 2nd April with a church full of lusty Brits who lifted the roof off with Cym Rhonda and Jerusalem.  Pray for them as they start their new married life together.

Farewell John

It was good to see some of you at John Collingwood's funeral last Friday.  He had an amazing life and dealt with the last difficult year or so in his typical uncomplaining manner. He will be sadly missed, a "one off" to put it mildly with a huge compassionate christian heart.  His faith was something he neither flaunted nor concealed.  Thank you John for a wonderful and inspiring life.


All our HOPE on God is founded

Advent Week 1

All my Hope on God is Founded

imageHOPE is a funny word. it’s kind of a nebulous word fora nebulous idea or feeling.

How many times do we say, “Oh, I hope so!”

To  a family member or friend we might say. “I hope you have a good day.” or “I hope you have a great time!”

It’s kind of like a wish.

Other times it’s an expectation for something to happen or for someone to make something happen.

We often put our hope in things, in people, in events.

Recently, a lot of people in America and France placed their hope in a presidential candidate… hoping their candidate would win… and that their candidate would make our country their better place.

We aren’t alone in that hope for an improved political climate.  The Jewish people living more than two thousand years ago were hoping and wishing for rescue from the tyrannical rule of the Romans.  They were hoping for the arrival of the Messiah to rescue them and bring about a just and peaceful kingdom.

This is the first Week of Advent.

This is the first Week of Advent.

As weary people, we all have a longing or hope in our hearts.  We hope for something better.  We long for God to answer our prayers. Perhaps we have been waiting a very long time for an answer to a particular prayer

In this first week of Advent  we light the candle of HOPE, weknow that our hope is not an empty hope.  The hymn lyrics tell us … “All our hope on God is founded”,  and what better foundation

Jesus freed us from sin and shame.  He made a way for us to live in love and joy and peace.

Whatever our circumstance Jesus has provided a way for us.

And he has placed in our hearts a desire for something more than this world has to offer. We know that God has something better for us. And yet, while we are here, we should not only live in hope and expectation but live well because of that hope.

Because Hope with a capital “H” resides in us…

Because Hope with a capital “H” resides in us…

we get to be Hope-givers to a weary and hurting world.  We get to share our Hope so that others are liberated and can also walk free from chains of despair, addiction, and fear.

And though that song is not a Christmas song, it certainly is perfect for the Christmas season.  Not only of glitter and tinsel, but a season of light brought into the darkness, of hope where there is oppression, a season of redemption and renewal.

This Christmas may your life be the banner of Hope to a weary world….Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.image

This Christmas may your life be the banner of Hope to a weary world….

Does God have a purpose for your life?

The standard and utterly uncontroversial response to that question, by many Christians, is “of course”

Try this one, it’s a little bit more difficult.  “Do you agree that it is better to be a dead hero than to live impassively?”  The concept of heroism is reckoned to be quite laudable.  Medals are awarded for it.  Perhaps


we think of Colonel H Jones, killed in action at the Battle of Goose Green, commanding his men as the British Army fought to retake the Falkland Islands, and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.  But we probably feel uneasy about seeking out hero status and I don’t suppose Colonel Jones sought it either. We’d certainly be reluctant to be If you'd like to read more, and find out why this is important click on this link.

Bombs or ideas?


Major-General Patrick Cordingley, in a letter published in The Times on 28th November wrote, to the surprise of some, “Terrorism will be defeated by ideas, not bombs”. This is a welcome recognition that bombs alone will not solve the current terrorist crisis.  We know that young people in the West are being turned into terrorists, recruited for ISIS (and no doubt similar organisations). So we should be putting forward our ideas and trying to discuss them with friends and neighbours of whatever background, faith or no-faith.

The UK Government announced last week that Madrassas will be subject to inspection by Ofsted, who will be instructed to look out for encouragement to violence. On the surface this sounds like a prudent move. But what this does not do is to engage with and argue with the preachers of hate, nor with those who they Read more at this link

Why pray?

imageNo, this post is not the opening of a Shakespearian dialogue, but about the question, Why should we pray? 

At it's simplest, we read the Bible to hear what God says to us, and we pray to talk to God.  Why should we want to talk to Him,  when should we do so?  It has always seemed to me that we want to talk to God so as to involve Him more fully in our lives, to share our joys with Him, to seek His guidance in our lives and to share difficulties and sorrows.  God cares for each of us (“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?" - Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Ch 6).  So it would be a bit odd really if we only prayed to Him in times of trouble, or worry.  Think about our close relationships. Do we only share our troubles with close friends? Or do we share joys and news, and seek advice? Jesus had a rich prayer life we can read about in the Gospels.  It's taken for granted - Jesus tells us how to do it - see the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11) and where (generally in your room - Matt 6), and it is frequent.

imageWe can often put it off, on the ground that we are too busy, (there is even a book about praying, titled "Too Busy to Pray").  So how to we get around to regular prayer?  

I find that simply doing it, first thing in the morning, is really the only way that works for me.  So if I am breakfasting alone, then over breakfast, or if I am being more sociable, no later than immediately afterwards.  And I use a small notebook to keep a list of things to pray about, updating it at appropriate times, such as when friends ask for prayers, at church prayer meetings, and after Home Group meetings.  It's not perfect, and in reality it doesn't happen every day. But when it doesn't, I can ask others to pray that I will get back on track.  I also meet regularly with two other men friends in what we call a prayer triplet.

The notebook of course cannot cope easily with the prayer diaries which come from various organisations, including our church in England - All Saints Little Shelford.  But there is a great new way to integrate those, and which helps pray daily, it's an App called Prayer Mate.  Using this you can put in the names of people you want to pray for, a photograph of them, and keep their, and your, prayer requests up to date. You can get a feed from many Christian organisations (such as Barnabas Fund) who contribute to it.  It's free and works on Android and Apple platforms.

David - 14th June 2015

Who needs religious freedom? Stephen Fry or the people of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France, the UK ...


On Wednesday (February 4th)  the Religious Liberty Commission was launched by Archbishop Justin Welby (and others) at the Palace of Westminster.  Religious persecution is a worldwide and significant issue.  Over 76% of the world’s populations live in countries with high restrictions on religious freedoms .  Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Declaration of Human Rights contain the right to freedom of religion and also freedom to change one’s religion.  We might take this as read in the UK or France, but we need to defend it as well and afford religious liberty a place of importance.  Even the freedom to be an atheist needs to be respected. As does the freedom to allow one’s belief to affect one’s decisions.

The Religious Liberty Commission has been launched to try to persuade politicians, media and church leaders to give religious liberty the importance it needs.  Justin Welby spoke at the launch  about a number of aspects of religious freedom, including rooting it in the Christian tradition.  He mentioned in an aside the right of Stephen Fry to say what he thinks about God.  Strangely however, the media got off onto the wrong foot immediately.  Newspapers and BBC have latched only onto that, with headlines such as “Stephen Fry has every right to call God an evil, monstrous maniac says Archbishop” (Daily Telegraph) with little of no reporting of the launch of the Religious Liberty Commission.

Stephen Fry is in the news for his recent rant about God on Irish Television – why should he respect a God who could create a world so full of injustice and pain? – expressed in vitriolic language.  The Religious Liberty Commission is urging media to ensure that the persecution of religious minorities around the world is always equitably and accurately reported and treated with a high degree of importance, especially where there is evidence of religious cleansing. The irony of course is that Stephen Fry enjoys a high degree of religious freedom. But in Saudi Arabia, to convert from Islam is a criminal offence punishable by death. The ISIS attacks on Yazidis attract attention, which is good, but the fate of Christians at the hands of ISIS largely unremarked by media and politicians.  Boko Haram attacks are reported (though Amnesty’s publication of satellite images of the January attack on Doro Baga in Nigeria, in which 2,000 people were killed, was initially reported as “Amnesty International claims satellite imagery shows that there has been an attack…”) but the aim of Boko Haram which is to establish an Islamic State with Sharia law (under which apostasy would be a capital offence) receives little coverage.

The Religious Liberty Commission also calls on politicians to insist that the UK Department for International Development make freedom of religious belief a strategic priority, and for the UK Government to be a vocal defender of the Right to Freedom of Religion, including the right to change one’s religion.

If you would like to read more from someone who was present at the launch, have a look at John Stevens’ highly readable post in his blog about it – here.

And this is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says on the subject:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

David - 6th February 2015

Salt of the Earth Day 2


Reflections from the creators of Christian programming at Latvian State Radio

In the Soviet era a Christian presence through public media was impossible in Latvia. Since independence, Latvian State Radio broadcasts Christian programmes providing a forum for leaders from diverse churches to encounter one another. This public witness of mutual respect, love and joy contributed to the spirit of Latvian ecumenical life. The joy of the Gospel calls Christians to live the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘…to bring good news to the oppressed’. When we are saddened by our own suffering, we may lack the vigour to proclaim the joy that comes from Jesus. Even when we feel unable to give anything to anyone, by bearing witness to the little that we have, Jesus multiplies it in us and in those around us. When we love one another as Jesus loves us, so we discover mutual love and joy at the heart of our prayer for unity.image

DAY 2 Reflection
Good news indeed! Such nice people, in such a nice part of town: no immigrants, no offenders, no prison. A new vicar: young, white, and thankfully male, to match the new church roof and the state of the art kitchenette that cost thousands. The poor? Ah yes. The poor... Isn’t something sent to a place called the Third World? And doesn’t someone collect tins   and stuff for a food bank somewhere? But this is a good area. The sleepy stillness of its Sundays knows no sigh of need, no howl of pain, no cry of despair.image


Lord Jesus, Lord of joy, the world craves good news; the world craves your love and joy. Fill us with that love and joy. Help us to see the plight of others, to hear the sighs of need,
      the howls of pain      the cries of despair, and to respond, always, in the love and joy of you, our Saviour and our Lord.  Amen.

Vandalism almost 500 years ago

If it was 31st October 2017 Martin Luther might have written a blog, or worse, sprayed graffiti on the walls or doors of All Saints Church Wittenburg.  But 500 years ago his options were more limited. He had a message he wanted to convey so he did it in the most public way he could think of and simply nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church Wittenburg. The rest, as they say, is history and the reverberations of this act and other acts in other parts of Europe have echoed down the centuries, fundamentally changing relationships and expressions of belief within the Christian Church, sadly even starting wars.


At the end of 2014 Pope Francis received a delegation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany at the Vatican. In his address to the Lutherans, the Catholic Church leader said some astonishing  things. Catholics and Lutherans should "remember together" the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  Celebrate the schism as a common event? An idiosyncratic form of "historicization" of the Reformation?

What the Pope said: "Ecumenical dialogue cannot now be separated from reality and the life of our churches. In 2017, Lutheran and Catholic Christians commemorate together the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. On this occasion, Lutherans and Catholics will, for the first time, have the opportunity to keep one and the same global ecumenical commemoration, not in the form of a triumphalist celebration, but rather to  confess our common faith in the Triune God.image "On October 31st 2016 Pope Francis goes to Sweden to celebrate the start of the year of celebration. Not everyone supports his visit. Both Catholics and Protestants  have challenged this extraordinary event but surely some conversation is better than none in a world that is threatened by so many "firmly held convictions" which so often border on arrogance and ignorance.  We should pray for his visit and celebrate what we have in common, not what divides us. 

In the Steps of Jesus


The Sea of Galilee

Shirley and I are on a study tour in Israel with Oak Hall Theological Study Tours.  It is a trip of a lifetime and we are grateful to the Archdeaconry of France for funding it.  We are here for ten days visiting many of the sites that are so familiar to us through the Gospels and the Old Testament.  We start in Gallilee and finish in Jerusalem and each day we hope to put up a short blog so that you can share in our experience.  Every blessing from Peter and Shirley  

Follow our blog in A Wider View

Politics and God

imageI was struck this morning by a headline on the BBC news website “Jim Wells: NI health minister 'will not abandon religious beliefs' in policies”. Sadly the article did not expand on his Christian faith but concentrated on hot-button issues.  But why is this news? It is encouraging to see Christians who do not leave their faith behind on Monday mornings, especially Christians in public life.  We wouldn’t expect Richard Dawkins or AC Grayling to abandon their secularism were they to be elected as MPs.  Of course, the atrocities in Iraq and Syria perpetrated by Islamic State might make us wish that people didn’t take religion into life. But that is to forget that wars and atrocities just as easily have secular roots – Lenin, Mao-Tse Tung and Pol Pot all spring to mind.  The fact that this is a news item stems from the common idea that there is a religious/secular divide, that we should keep our faith to ourselves and that religion is for Sundays (or whatever other day of the week is special).  But how could Christians live out Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves without letting our faith work seven days a week?

So it is encouraging to see also that US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said last week that we should “keep God in the public square". Speaking at Colorado Christian University he said “I think the main fight  is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion”.
Here is the link to the article about Jim Wells on the BBC website and this is the link to the item about Justice Antonin Scalia’s speech on the Christian Institute’s website, with this link to their source, The Washington Times.

David – 7th October 2014

GCHQ rejects Christian who puts loyalty to God first

This story was in the news a few weeks ago.  During the job interviews Charlie Storey said that “without doubt, if required to choose between his loyalty to his country and his loyalty to God, he would choose his loyalty to God whatever the outcome.”   GCHQ decided not to offer him the job, quoting this and that he took drugs as a young man, leading to a drug induced psychosis, as reasons.  The judge ruled that GCHQ were entitled to conclude that “the effect those [religious] beliefs might have on his [Storey’s] behaviour and judgment in the workplace” did raise national security issues.

What are we to make of this?  Is it another example of the marginalisation of Christians today?   Are we to keep our beliefs to ourselves?  Is faith just a private thing, between the individual and God?  So that it is fine to be a Christian so long as that does not affect how we behave.  And is there no place for practising Christians in our Security Services?

Putting country above God could lead to the maxim “my country right or wrong”.  Read more at this link

And Finally

imageThis photo had to be included.  Our group leader, who did not swim, said the Dead Sea is like Marmite; you either love it or hate it!

About 1.2 kms inland from the Dead Sea is Qumran where ancient scrolls were found in 11 caves over a period of eleven years.  Over 980 texts were discovered in tall earthen jars and have been dated between 300 and 100 BC.  Included amongst them is the complete book of Isaiah which we had seen earlier in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  A visitor centre at the site displays similar jars to give an impression of the extraordinary discovery.image 

2015 Church and Science in Harmony


Though todays launch of the Soyuz space rocket to the International Space Station has taken place many times before, it's TV coverage was none the less captivating and moving.  There is something powerful about being able to to witness an event that brings people from many races, creeds and colours to combine in one common objective that demonstrates man's creativity and ability to be in harmony for a shared vision.  And the church was there to bless the occasion in a long held tradition which might come as a surprise but the pictures of both the astronauts and the rocket being blessed by the Russian Orthodox priest would have be seen by millions of people.....may God touch peoples hearts through this.

And earlier this week there was another shared vision in Paris that it might just be possible to save the plant, that Tim Peake will be orbiting and observing over the next few months.  190 Nations agreed that something must be done to curb CO2 emissions before it is too late.....rhetoric or action? time will tell !  imageBut on a more local level churches were able to make make a contribution.  I am sure many churches prayed into this COP 21 conference, we certainly did, and Notre Dame Cathedral set aside a special time when people came to pray for this challenge to humanity on a very different level. 

See A Wider View for European Churches response.

Jan 26th .. First Woman Bishop in C of E


The Rt Revd Libby Lane has been consecrated as the first female bishop in the Church of England in a packed service at York Minster today attended by more than 100 bishops from the Church of England and women bishops from across the Anglican Communion.

Listen to an interview with Rev Libby Lane shortly after the announcement that she is to be the first Woman Bishop in the Church of England

God and Politics

God and Politics is the name of a blog written by Suffolk teacher Gillan Scott. Gillan is a teacher, husband and father. It's a blog on current affairs from a Christian perspective. Today - 25th September - Gillan has posted about AC Grayling's call to abolish religious education in schools.  This is an important issue; are we indoctrinating impressionable youngsters with superstition, or imparting knowledge about things we consider important?  Grayling is a clever man, with a passionate contempt for Christianity and religions.  Gillan's blog faces the issues and reminds Grayling and us that there can never be teaching which is free of values.  But read what Gillan says here, rather than a paraphrase from me.

Archbishop's New Year Message


"Jesus was a refugee, fleeing with his parents."

Justin Welby visited Marsh Academy in his Diocese of Canterbury and was inspired by its values of welcoming, loving, serving and teaching.  "This is our heritage and tradition and Hospitality and Love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism."

Listen to Justin Welby's full New Year Address here


imageMasada sits on a high rocky inaccessible outcrop overlooking the dead sea  It is an extraordinary story of courage by the Zealot Jews, determination by the Romans and in the end, tragedy as the whole Masada community killed themselves rather than be enslaved by the Romans.  The Romans built a massive ramp up to the fortress to conquer Masada and it can still be seen today, but when they eventually got there there was nothing left. The 1981 film Masada, with Peter O'Toole, is used in the visitor centre and praised for its historical accuracy in telling the story. We had to go up to it by cable car, though four fit youngsters walked up the Snake Path to get thereimage

Final Day (a)

Masada and David's Spring.

imageMasada is about an hour from Jerusalem and in the Dead Sea valley. The Dead Sea is 3500 feet below sea level and we had a photo stop at the marker, but no time for a camel ride as our day was pretty full.  The younger ones of course needed to record the occasion. Our group was quite mixed from "senior" people of our age to many in their twenties and thirties, most of them in some sort of ministry.image

How should Christians respond to the beheading of Iraqi Christians and James Foley?

The brutal treatment of non-Muslims by the Islamic State  has shocked us all, and reached a new low with the beheading of journalist James Foley broadcast in a YouTube video on Tuesday 19th August.  President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Hollande condemned the execution in the strongest terms.  In England MPs now call for stronger anti-terrorist laws, for the jihadist in the video and others like him to be stripped of UK citizenship and of course for him to be brought to justice.  In the midst of this, we might be asking ourselves how our Christian faith informs and affects our response.  And then we are confronted by the fact that the jihadists claim that they are following what their faith requires.  The Barnabas fund which supports the persecuted church and is expert in Moslem issues explains in the latest edition of Barnabas Aid that under Sharia law “Christians living in territories conquered by Moslems are given three options: live under crippling restrictions and pay the humiliating jiyza tax, convert to Islam or face death”.  And The Times today (21st August) explains that one verse in the Koran says: “When you encounter unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely”.

So is the Christian on the Clapham omnibus (or the Nice tram) expected to distinguish and debate these points of theology, especially when the jihadists appear to be well versed in the Koran and Islamic teaching?  For those of us who feel confident to do so, it is as well to be ready. But such persons will be few and far between. We do however know that God in Jesus brought a message of reconciliation and forgiveness, and died himself on the Cross to pay the price of sin and to reconcile us to God.  Believers in Jesus know they are forgiven by God.  There is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to God and gain eternal life with Him.  We are forgiven by God’s action and not by anything we do to “earn” forgiveness and eternal life.  All we have to do is to repent - turn away from sin - and believe in Jesus.  Jesus calls his followers to forgive those who trespass, or sin, against them, just as God forgives us.  Reconciliation, forgiveness and love are the way to reconstruct human lives and nations ripped apart by history, war, hatred and atrocities.  Reconciliation, forgiveness and love is the Christian message.  Reconciliation, forgiveness and love is God’s message to the human race, to Christians and non-Christians, Jews, Gentiles and Moslems, to the righteous and the sinner.  God’s reconciliation, forgiveness and love is the simple message the Christian on the Clapham omnibus can explain to friends, neighbours and even enemies.

Is God then a soft, wishy-washy, unjust God who would rather say “there-there” than confront sin and wrongdoing?  Certainly not.  To anyone who questions that, we should point out that “The wages of sin is death”.  Ultimately God is going to judge.  As Paul explains in his letter to the Romans: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written [in Deuteronomy]: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”

And we can help people by reminding them of the second part of the quotation, also in Paul’s letter to the Romans:  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Hold on to that wonderful promise.

21st August 2014

It Affects us all


imagePosted on 22 March 2016  by the Diocese in Europe

On the Tuesday of Holy Week it is traditional to celebrate a Chrism Eucharist. Two were planned for 22 March 2016, one in Nice and the other in Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral, Brussels. As clergy and Readers set off for Brussels news came though about the carnage caused by bombs at Brussels Airport, followed by a bomb on the Metro which caused the Belgian capital into paralytic lockdown once again. Archdeacon Colin Williams writes;Just as I arrived in Brussels the city closed around me and a bomb exploded in the Metro. I was in Brussels to preach at the annual Chrism Eucharist at which clergy and lay ministers renew their commitment and Holy Oils are blessed.

“I made my way on foot to the pro-Cathedral and the serviced went ahead with depleted numbers – colleagues from Copenhagen, Helsinki and other places couldn’t get to Brussels.

“Sirens sounded and helicopters hovered overhead. Going ahead with the service felt like an act of defiance and as the Eucharist began we lit candles to show again that the Light has come into the world and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

Bishop Robert sent a message to the many anxious inquirers who heard the breaking news story; Thanks for your prayers. We are all safe but aware of much distress in various parts of the city

imageSome churches around the diocese have been opened for special prayers during the day as the shock news sinks in. In Ghent, Rev Stephen Murray tweeted; “Sint-Elisabethkerk in Ghent, is open for anyone & everyone who needs a place to pray... for peace, in grief or with tears”

We continue to pray for the many who have been bereaved and those who suffered horrific injuries in this terrorist atrocity which will be at the forefront of many minds as we follow Christ through his agony in Gethsemane and on the Cross.

Day 7 To Jerusalem (c)

imageHezekiah's tunnel, built in 8-900 BC, is an amazing engineering feat built to provide water to the city in times of siege by blocking the river down. It is 533mtrs long and barely .5 of metre wide and today we were to walk through it.  Water still flows in it so we were advised to wear suitable shoes and bring a torch as it is pitch black. image Quite an experience and not for claustrophobics as it is virtually impossible to pass anyone in the tunnel so you just have to keep going.  The tunnel comes out into the pool of Siloam where the blind man was healed by Jesus. 

Lunch was back in the old city before going to the Garden Tomb, the place of Jesus's burial and resurrection. Again a disputed site but that did not matter, it was a place of peace and a genuine tomb just outside the city walls and possible to imagine the events of that dramatic Passover.  imageI have to say that the highlight for me was to be able to celebrate Holy Communion for our group just a few yards away from the tomb itself.  We read Mark's account of the last supper and Judas betrayal and then remembered just what Jesus has done for us as He commanded us to do.image

John Simmons at Kandersteg - August 2014


John is back at the International Scout Centre in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland for the next couple of weeks where he is the visiting ICS chaplain – see the archived post about him earlier this year.  He is there with his wife Helen and will be joined on Saturday by four other members of the team who are coming from John’s church, Christ Church, Chadderton.  Sadly the mood at Kandersteg is low after one of the young staff members fell from his bedroom window and died last week.  Jake Shaw had just finished at Sheffield University.John asks for prayers for his family who live in Lincoln.

John has been invited to a special meal with other staff members today (14 August), and has explained the Gospel to eight scouts from Frankfurt at “Scouts’ Own”.  John asks for prayers

for Jake's closest friends who are finding this all very hard;

for the ongoing work of chaplaincy especially ...

Sunday's service

Monday's International evening and

The Light Trail;

for the rest of the team (4 others) arriving together on Saturday;

that the openness of staff to John and Helen will lead to gospel conversations.

14th August 2014

Vision and Reform

imageA Hopeful Future: Vision, Narrative, and Biblical hope, for Renewal & Reform

The vision and narrative is based on a set of (hopefully) unsurprising assumptions – that Renewal & Reform is about the kingdom of God rather than fixing the church; that it needs to be based on Biblical hope rather than sets of data; that it needs to be honest and real about what we face rather than myopic or delusional; that we need to be missionally ambitious rather than simply seeking to hold onto what we have; that an abundantly generous God gives us all we need and much more; that it is about the workers being sent out; that there is no single approach or solution; that growth, properly understood, is a good thing; and that Renewal & Reform is about all of us.
It also tries to lay out the ground for the kinds of things we might do. We can’t do everything. So with Synod’s endorsment of this document we will use the vision and narrative to discern current and future workstreams by asking the questions:
  • Will it help us to achieve the ambitions of ‘A hopeful future?
  • Will it help us to address the challenges identified through ‘A realistic assessment’?
If an idea doesn’t it is highly unlikely to find its way into Renewal & Reform. We are excited by the possibilities within Renewal & Reform. We are encouraged by the responses we have been getting. And most of all we are hopeful that the Lord of the harvest will send out many, many workers into his harvest field.



A message from The Bishop in Europe

imageI want to assure the people of Nice, and indeed of the whole of France, of my prayers at this time, on behalf of the whole Diocese in Europe. The terrible events of last night, which was to have been a day of national celebration, have reminded us that we must yet again stand together as men and women in the face of violence. I continue to pray for peace and, today in particular, we hold in our prayers the victims of this attack and their families. We also pray for Fr Peter Jackson and the people of Holy Trinity, Nice, situated so close to the Promenade des Anglais who, along with all faith communities of the city, will minister to all affected by this tragedy. May you be strengthened by the prayers of the whole Diocese, your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

+ Robert Bishop of Gibralter

Day 6 To Jerusalem (b)

Another early start next day, but this time onto the Mount of Olives.  This is the place where Jesus prayed for the last time before He died and the place where the Soldiers came and took Him.  You look across to the whole of the Old City from here and across a vast "waterfall" of Jewish graves flowing down the hill.  They are here because they are closest to the Temple and believe they will be first in the queue when the dead are raised.image

British values - implications for Christians and universities


The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill is currently being debated in the UK Parliament.  It is being promoted following the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris at the beginning of this month.  Amongst other things it would place a duty on universities to participate in the Government’s “Prevent” strategy.  According to a consultation about this:

 “Universities must take seriously their responsibility to exclude those promoting extremist views that support or are conducive to terrorism. We would expect the policies and procedures on speakers and events to include at least the following:

• Sufficient notice of booking (generally at least 14 days) to allow for checks to be made and cancellation to take place if necessary;

• Advance notice of the content of the event, including an outline of the topics to be discussed and sight of any presentations, footage to be broadcast etc;

• A system for assessing and rating risks associated with any planned events, providing evidence to suggest whether an event should proceed, be cancelled or whether mitigating action is required (for example a guarantee of an opposing viewpoint in the discussion, or someone in the audience to monitor the event); and

• A mechanism for managing incidents or instances where off-campus events of concern are promoted on campus.”

But this effectively creates a vetting and censorship system, operating in extremely short timescales.  There is considerable concern about the effect on freedom of speech in general, and also on the work of Christian Unions (or CUs) in universities.  CUs are typically affiliated to the Student Union and hold meetings and services to support their Christian membership and to reach other students with the Gospel.  They are all affiliated to the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (usually called UCCF). 

So let us imagine what will happen when a speaker is invited to one of their meetings.  The university authorities will have to be notified 14 days in advance, when the content of the event, speaker’s Powerpoint slides and materials will have to be submitted to be checked.  And let us imagine that the topic is going to be Joshua and the Battle of Jericho.  You’ll remember what happened – the Israelites marched around the city for six days.  On the seventh day of marching the priests blew their trumpets, the people gave a shout – all as the Lord said to Joshua – “and the walls came a-tumblin’ down”.  It’s a Sunday School favourite, even today.  Joshua tells the people to shout, saying “for the Lord has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to destruction” with the exception of Rahab the prostitute. 

There are plenty of secularists around who would like to limit or shut down discussions of Christianity and especially outward-looking bodies like CUs and UCCF.  And taken at face value, many people may find that the conquest of the land of milk and honey, the Promised Land, and the Battle of Jericho contains actions of which they disapprove.  It is not difficult for parallels to be drawn with the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.  Others may simplistically argue this is not dissimilar to the behaviour of Islamic State and Al Qaeda.  So it is not difficult to envisage that the university authorities may come under pressure to require the CU to cancel a meeting where there is to be discussion of the killing of a whole city by the Lord’s chosen people.

But is it really realistic to regard the CU as an organisation which wants to promote terrorism?  The basic tenets of the Christian faith have nothing to do with terrorism.  As UCCF say:

 “Given that this is a Counter -Terrorism measure, what possible security benefit can be gained from requesting personal details of Christian speakers and outlines of their talks when they speak at carol services and the like?

CU speakers are already required not to stray beyond a ‘mere Christianity’ and to give written consent to the CUs that they adhere to the orthodox, historic formularies of Christian faith and will not insist on any sectarian or denominational distinctives outside of this.” 

There are no known examples of CUs being used to “radicalise” students to violence, murder or terrorism.

Others are also concerned about the effects on free speech. Baroness Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5 said in the House of Lords this week "It is a profound irony in seeking to protect our values against this pernicious ideology we are trying to bar views too vaguely described as non-violent extremism, which falls short of incitement to violence or to racial or ethnic hatred or the other legislative constraints on universities."  She was one of many peers who expressed similar concerns.  It would be a great shame if free speech, a long-standing traditional freedom, is curtailed in an attempt to counter Islamist threats.

Others are concerned about this; here are a couple of links to other websites or blogs

(href=https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/government-uses-british-values-to-destroy-british-values/)https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/government-uses-british-values-to-destroy-british-values/ - the blog of a free church minister in Dundee

(href=https://www.uccf.org.uk/news/potential-threat-to-freedom-of-speech-in-university-cus.htm)https://www.uccf.org.uk/news/potential-threat-to-freedom-of-speech-in-university-cus.htm - UCCF’s own comment

It would be good to remember this issue in our prayers.

David - 30th January 2015

This post is also available on "A Wider View - the blog"


We then walked down  the Mount, past the graves and into the garden of Gethsemane at the bottom of the hill. Again possibly the place Jesus prayed for his disciples ( John 17), but if not, something very similar with ancient Olives and a peaceful atmosphere despite the tourists. From the right angle with no people in the background you could imagine Jesus sitting here that night of the Last Supper as the last part of His journey started towards the cross.image


Brexit: Time for the Church to stop doing

politics and start doing faith

imageFrom Christianity Today.....one man's challenging views.

Brexit is a political earthquake and the reverberations are still being felt. Not so much in the dreaded economic collapse, which has not happened (yet), nor in any of the apocalyptic disasters which were supposed to hit us the minute we decided not to take the 'experts' advice; but rather in the collective hysterical meltdown that seems to have afflicted some parts of society.

Watching from afar it seems as though some sections of society have gone mad. The Labour Party is tearing itself apart, the far right are playing their usual horrible racist games trying to turn the result to their own advantage, the Scottish Nationalists are marching their troops up to the top of the hill, and we are told that the 'youth' feel betrayed (although only 25 per cent voted to Remain). The venom, disgust and abuse on social media, especially from those who are astounded they did not get their way, leaves a nauseating taste in the mouth and a heavy burden on the heart.

imageSo with a leadership vacuum in the nation, panic in the markets, hysteria from some of the middle classes and an emboldened racism, the Church has stepped in and provided the voice of calm, reason and tolerance, while speaking the truth of Christ into a nation in sore need of it. I wish! Sadly the Church has largely mirrored the nation. In fact this whole shambles has revealed some rather unpleasant truths about the Church as a whole in the UK.

David Robertson is Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and a regular contributor to Christian Today and he makes the following points; his full article can be read here and your comments are welcome.

1. We are rubbish at politics

2. We have lost our sense of perspective because we have lost our sense of God

3. We are disconnected from the poor and many of the people we profess to serve

4. We are more likely to listen to the voices of social media than we are to listen to the voice of God

5. The Church is still the salt of the earth and the light of the world

So what do you think ?

ISIS purge Christians in Mosul


Mosul is the site of the ancient City of Nineveh.  It has been a significant Christian city in Iraq for many years. But in the past fortnight, ISIS – the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (definitely not the River Thames) – has issued an ultimatum to Christians living there; convert to Islam, pay the non-Moslem tax, or die.  Christians' houses have been painted with the Arabic letter N which is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christian, and most if not all of the Christians have fled. The image above is an example (and it is emphatically not a smiley face).  But as they have left, their belongings have been taken from them, and they go out penniless and possession-less.   If you doubt this, here is a link to a concise report in The Huffington Post  and another in Christianity Today , well worth reading even if you don’t doubt this.  The facts are truly shocking.  The Times also carried a report on 22nd July (available behind its pay-wall).  And here is a report on the BBC website, dated 21st July.
One thing which is slightly surprising about these reports of religious cleansing is that most of them are now 10 days or so old, and these events are not getting very much publicity.  So well done to the French Government for the help it is giving to refugee Christians from Iraq, announced on 28th July (and reported in the Daily Telegraph – see the post in “News from the Vine”).  It is also sobering at this time to learn from the respected Roman Catholic journalist and commentator Paul Vallely that “According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians.”

What are we to make of this?  Well we should certainly be praying for the Christians of Mosul, that they will be strong in their faith, comfort one another and reach a place of safety where they can rebuild their lives.  We ought also to pray for ISIS members, that they would respect human life, other faiths, and come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.  And I suggest that we should do this with a Biblical understanding of the position.  I found myself preaching on the last three chapters of the book of Daniel on 20th July, the day before these events were first reported. Looking back on what I said I am astonished at its relevance.  Daniel, you will remember is not just the account of the Writing on the Wall at Belshazzar’s Feast, the Burning Fiery Furnace, and the Lions’ Den, but also of the prophecies about the suffering God’s people would undergo some 300 years later under the truly cruel and brutal Antiochus Epiphanes IV.  I said this:

“Eleazar was the leader of Israel at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes IV.  An old man by that time, he was summoned before Antiochus Epiphanes and told to eat pork, which was “unclean” to the Israelites.  He refused, and responded: “We, O Antiochus, who have been persuaded to govern our lives by the divine law think that there is no compulsion more powerful than our obedience to the law.” His speech was rather longer than that but in it he affirmed the sovereignty of God who he worshipped.  Antiochus Epiphanes  had the old man flogged mercilessly.  Members of the king’s retinue came out whilst the flogging was being carried out and (I think in sympathy and wanting to bring an end to the brutality) suggested to him as he suffered that it would be better to eat some pork, or even pretend to do so which they would prepare. But Eleazar would not do that; he was tortured to death.  To resist like that needed warning and preparation I suggest.
And in truth we need warning and preparation as well.  The end times are going to be unpleasant.  That is what Daniel’s vision tells us.  They will not be a time when the whole world is Christianised.  On the contrary, Ch 12 v. 7, tells us that “when the power of the holy people has been finally broken, these things will be completed”."

Of course we do not know how long the end times will last.  But there is persecution of Christians even in the West on a much less brutal scale but nonetheless distressing scale, an example of which is two posts earlier in this column.  Eleazar had been prepared for the awful persecution he suffered by the Book of Daniel.  Bishop Latimer comforted Bishop Ridley as the two were led to the stake in Oxford in 1555 saying “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”  We also know from Daniel that “at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered” (chapter 12 verse 1).

I pray that we will not experience persecution like Eleazar, like the Christians of Mosul, or Victoria Wasteney, but we can and should prepare ourselves for persecution, listening to the wise Christians, learning from example, but always secure in the knowledge that our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death and that “the vilest believer who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives” , so reconciling the believer to God.  Do we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and so find our names written in the book?

31st July 2014    David

Day 6 The afternoon

In the afternoon we wandered back through the town to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Part of our walk took us through the Market streets ( top right picture on the homepage) and through the Via Dolorosa.  It was possible to imagine the hustle and bustle of Good Friday through these streets as Jesus carried His cross and to also imagine the mixed reactions from the crowds, pity, curiosity, abuse, all things we can experience ourselves or even be guilty of, but not the circumstances.image

" We need to be a risk taking church"


So says Archbishop Justin Welby.....and why ?

The headline in this weeks Church of England Newspaper reads;  

"New statistics shows slowing in rate of decline in church attendance."

 As with most statistics you need to get between the lines to see exactly what is going on and the position is that this is an averaged figure for the UK.  Wales, Scotland and N Ireland continue to show significant falls in people going to church but in England it is sort of holding its own but only because of the impact of Immigration and Fresh Expressions. People coming from Poland have brought new life to the Roman Catholic church and .immigrants from Africa have joined all denominations.

So what about Europe.  Well to some extent the same applies, though the Diocese in Europe has shown growth, largely through ex-pat migration and not just the Brits.  One of the reasons for this growth is the simple fact that , if you water a desert, something will undoubtedly grow. New groups and fellowships, such as ours, have sprung up in places where there was no church before and usually down to a few enthusiastic people meeting at first in someone's home.  Fellowship and Community are also key elements of this growth and this may be both the cause for a church starting or a consequence of our activity in a particular location. Of course there are many historical and traditional chaplaincies in Europe and they fluctuate as population fluctuates and a people are either vising part time or move for work reasons. University cities seem okay but industrial and business centres have declined mostly due to the withdrawal of American businesses and their workers.

So what about us here in the Var?  There is a temptation to say "all is well" and ignore underlying trends.  How important is the gospel and the person of Jesus in our lives, do we need to be comfortable or comforted, there is a big difference.  What can we learn about ourselves through the character and attitude of our own two churches and how can we best convey the message of Jesus to those who do not know or want to know about Him.

In a recent interview Archbishop Justin Welby gave a frank, honest and moving interview that could only leave you with a feeling of hope.  Not that he said things will simply improve, but that he gently showed his vision for the way forward which we would do well to reflect on.  You can listen to that interview on YouTube here. It is almost one hour long but I urge you to make a cup of tea and invest an hour of your time to listen to this for the sake of our church. As usual, any and all feedback is welcome.      PETER

Christian NHS manager suspended for praying with Muslim colleague


Victoria Wasteney is Head of Occupational Therapy at the East London NHS Trust.  A Christian, she has been disciplined for praying for a Muslim colleague, even though the colleague encouraged her to talk about her faith.  But in June 2013 the colleague complained and now a disciplinary hearing has decided that Victoria is 'guilty' of three offences: praying for her colleague, inviting her to church charity events, and giving her a Christian book entitled ‘I dared to call him Father’ – Bilquis Sheikh's well known account of a Muslim girl (herself) who had converted to Christianity.
Victoria is appealing under the Equality Act.  Read more about Victoria's case here

Jerusalem, at last.

And so we "set our faces towards Jerusalem". As the bible tells us it sits on a hill, but it is now a sprawling modern city sitting on many hills. We had travelled through the mountainous deserts of Judea along the edge of the fertile and productive Jordan valley.  We were pleased to reach our hotel close to the old city walls and have a chance to freshen up.

John Simmons at Kandersteg


John Simmons, Vicar of Christ Church, Chadderton, who came to lead our PCC awayday in March 2014, is returning to Kandersteg to be the seasonal chaplain at the International Scout Centre for a fortnight in August.  John was there for two weeks in 2013 when he also met Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner for Scouts who was  delighted to discover a Christian chaplain from the UK serving at the Centre.

John hopes this year to offer a Sunday service at the Scout Centre as well as in the church, to be able to help plan "spiritual" activities as part of the Scout Centre programme and that many scouts will hear the gospel in Kandersteg.  The continuity which comes from repeat visits by John, building on previous experience, is really valuable.
The Kandersteg chaplaincy is organised by ICS, with whom we also are linked, and there is more information about it here on the ICS website.

Day 5 To Jerusalem (a)



Early next morning we went to the wailing wall. ( above ) Security was very tight but we got in eventually and walked across a causeway where you could look down on the early morning worshippers and then onto the Temple Mount where the Great Mosque is with the Golden dome. Not a lot to see up here but the ladies were constantly hassled by the Temple Police if they were not covered up properly;  no shoulders low necklines or anything above mid-calf was permitted and a couple of our group were asked to leave..

The next stop was the Israel Museum where an amazing 1/50th scale model of The Old City was displayed. It was commissioned  by a wealthy hotel owner for his hotel and then moved to the Museum.  As you see from the picture of the Temple, it gives you a very clear idea of how it was and how it developed.

Day 4 Bethlehem to Jericho

Matthew 2 says " But you Bethlehem in the land of Judah........out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd people Israel".

imageI was in Israel in 1966 on a school trip but we were unable to go to Bethlehem as it was In Jordan then, before the Six Day War. I was not sure what to expect.  Bethlehem is a sprawling city, not very clean and first impressions are rather disappointing.  We parked near Manger Square and were then "fed through" the Church of the Nativity peering into a cave, reputably the birthplace of Jesus.  But it does not matter, we are here and somehow connected with the momentous events of over 2000 years ago.  The romantic christmas card images may never be the same but will be replaced by a different reality.image

We then went to the Herodian, Herod's man-made mountain and summer palace.  It is the highest point around and from here Bethlem sits on top of a hill in the distance surrounded by hills that once may have been places that sheep and shepherds roamed the hills.  Now it is high rise apartments and unfinished concrete houses that roam the hills,,,but that's progress, not to mention the politics of the settlement programme.

We then travelled on through the Judean desert which is utterly spectacular and hard to describe.  Even harder to contemplate travelling through it as a young pregnant Mother on the back of a donkey.  The next stop was Jericho and they made a really good job of bringing the walls down, there is not a lot left. It is believed to be the place Jesus was tempted and the sign below shows that the problem. still exists.image

Thought for the Day - on war


This week we have commemorated the commencement of the Great War; ceremonies in northern France and Belgium attended by world leaders who have drawn attention to that awful conflict and the huge loss of young lives.  Archbishop Justin Welby, speaking on Radio 4's "Thought for the Day" on Monday 4th August noted the grim paradox that we still live in an age of war, saying,  "And so today. South Sudan, Myanmar, Mosul, Aleppo, Israel and Gaza, Ukraine, Nigeria: we watch and feel for those suffering, fear for those not yet born. Never again, the slogan after so many wars, requires us to say yes to the words of Jesus who tells us that love for our enemies is in fact the only way to eliminate them – we make them our friends – and change our world forever."  
Today, 7th August, the expulsion of Christians and now other non-Moslems from cities in Northern Iraq is still in the news. In fact it was the lead item on the PM programme and 6 pm Radio 4 news.  It is rare for the persecution of Christians to get so much airtime.  This is becoming a humanitarian disaster as well; people go hungry and disease will ensue.  Does the Archbishop's timely reminder mean that we do nothing?  Should we simply accept the refugees and airdrop aid?  Should we tolerate those who are intolerant?  Or should we take the reconciling message of the Gospel and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ into international and domestic politics?
This is a link to the Archbishop's broadcast, on iPlayer until Sunday 10th August.

Day 3 Northern Gallilee




This morning we travelled to Capernaum by boat.  Jesus lived here after leaving Nazareth and preached in the synagogue here.  The foundations of Peter's house are also believed to be here and a church has been built over the ruins.

From there we travelled to the place of the Sermon on the Mount (middle photo) or Sermon on the Plain as it is sometimes referred to. To see the terrain and the surrounding hills brings the whole thing to life and our group leader read the whole of the sermon to us.

Our last visit was to Tagbor and the beach where Peter was restored by Jesus after the resurrection. It is very close to Capernaum and easy to picture the disciples returning to their home to go back to fishing and Jesus telling them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.

Tomorrow we head for Bethlehem and Judea.

Meriam Ibrahim released


It is great news that Meriam Ibrahim has been released and is now safe in Italy.  A Christian all her life, Meriam was convicted by the courts in Sudan of apostasy - abandoning Islam.  Though her mother is Christian and brought her up as a Christian, her father is a Muslim and the argument seems to have been that she was therefore Muslim too.  Her case attracted international attention. Groups such as Amnesty International and several governments took up her cause.  The right to change and practice one's religion is a fundamental human right, protected by both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 18) and the European Convention on Human Rights (article 9). Meriam Ibrahim had been sentenced to death by stoning, and to a flogging, but as she was the mother of a young child and also about to give birth the death sentence was postponed for two years.  She gave birth in prison.
A few days later the sentences or conviction appeared to have been overturned and she was released. However, leaving Sudan she was arrested again at the airport. At that point the news trail went quiet and the next most of us heard was that she was at the US embassy.  But on Thursday 24th July, reports emerged that she had arrived safely in Italy, accompanied by the Italian foreign minister. It would be good to pray for healing for her, for safety for her, her husband and children, to give thanks for the work of the US and Italian governments, and to pray for the government of Sudan and its judiciary.
Here is a link to the BBC report of her arrival in Italy.

New Bishop in Europe


May 1st   image   

 NEW BISHOP OF EUROPE       The date has been released for the announcement of the new Bishop for the Diocese in Europe.  It is this coming Tuesday, 6th of May at Noon Uk time.  We will of course publish full details of who he is immediately on this webpage.

Day 2 Caesarea Philippi


The Israeli " National Trust" has treated these historic and significant sites with great care and sensitivity in order to convey to the visitor a real impression of how things were at Caesarea Philippi 2000 years ago. This was when Jesus visited the city to make the point that authority came from God and not from man and asked the disciples " Who do you think I am? ". Eventually it was Peter who got it right. "You are the Messiah".

This is also where the river Jordan starts rising from several springs making the area very lush and green.

imageTel Dan City.

History of conflict in the area of Northern Gallilee continues to this day. As we climbed a hill past the ancient city of Tel Dan to look past defensive trenches and lookout positions that the Israeli army had built on the Syrian border in 1967. We were also able to overlook Lebanon. Tel Dan was where Jrabohim was forgiven and corrected by God for worshipping idols.  Jerabohim however accepted the forgiveness but then went back to his old ways making sacrifices to idols;  sound familiar !

ICS chaplain named as new Bishop in Europe


The next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe will be the Reverend Canon Dr Robert Innes, currently Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of the Pro- Cathedral of Holy Trinity Brussels. 

Pictures of Canon Robert and a video interview with him is at

Canon Innes was educated at Cambridge University and is an engineering graduate.

He moved to the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe to become Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Brussels in 2005. He was additionally appointed a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen in 2012.

Canon Robert Innes is 54 and is married to Helen. They have three daughters and a son. He will be commissioned and consecrated on the 20 July 2014 at Canterbury Cathedral.

The new bishop will be based in Brussels and work closely with the Diocesan Office in London. He says it is timely that news of his appointment comes on the twentieth anniversary of the opening of Eurostar adding; “It links Britain and mainland Europe in a very physical way. My job as a bishop will be to build links and bridges – between England and the continent and between the different parts of our huge European diocese.  Full interview on Youtube


Day 1 Megiddo & Nazareth


Main Gate to Armageddon

Megiddo, or Armageddon as we tend to call it is an extraordinary place.  Designated a world Heritage Site in 2005 it features in scripture several times, most usually as a site of severe conflict as it was situated on a major trade route between Egypt and Babylonia.  It was fought over and re-occupied 16 times over several thousand years but perhaps the most significant battle for us as Christians will be "Armageddon",Good and Evil" as written by John in the book of Revelation. It is a story in itself, simply type Armageddon into google but for us, as we stood on the summit overlooking the Plain of Jezreel, and Mount Tabor, hearing that passage from Revelation read by Tony, our group leader, will be a lasting image.  image 

Is the Bible a closed book for you?

Biblica, in conjunction with renowned writer and theologian Philip Yancey has launched a new initiative to encourage us to read the Bible like a book (or more properly, a collection of books) rather than in isolated snippets on Sundays.


There are about 31,000 verses in the Bible.  If there are two readings in a Sunday service of about 20 verses each and you went to church every Sunday, it would take 15.9 years to get through the whole of the Bible.  And that assumes there is no duplication, which is unreal as, for example, we do tend (rightly) to do the Christmas and Easter histories every year. 

Church leaders attending the launch event at Westminster Abbey came to hear Philip Yancey and other local leaders explain how Biblica's Bible engagement programme could serve their church. They heard stories from around the UK &Ireland of lives changed and churches re-energised by God's Word.

Sharing about his own Bible journey, Philip Yancey said: "The Bible isn't just a record of what God has said, but what He is saying today. When we begin to engage seriously with God's Word –it literally changes everything".

For more about Biblica and the Community Bible Experience click on this linkThis is a link to the Evangelical Alliance article.


imageIt is important to be able to put our romanticised visual ideas of the Holy land in a separate box as  you travel around Israel.  Nazareth is definitely a place where you need to be able to do this.  Once a large village of 3-500 people it is now a bustling, noisy and rather scruffy city of mostly 70.000 arab people. We were however not disappointed as we were taken to an authentic re-creation of Nazareth Village, a Christian ministry, where we experienced life as it would have been when Jesus lived there. Most moving was the synagogue where the guide sang in Hebrew and then read from the scroll as Jesus did, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me" explaining how the crowd went from fascination to anger as Jesus said that the Messiah was coming to save everyone, even their Roman oppressors.image

Financial advice to be available in church

The first steps towards a national network of churches, communities and credit unions were unveiled on 27th May at a launch, supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Task Group on Responsible Lending. 

The Church Credit Champions Network (CCCN) aims to create a network of people who will bring together churches, communities and responsible lenders. The scheme is being piloted in three Church of England Dioceses - Southwark, Liverpool and London. The members will act as advocates for the community finance providers.

In  a speech at the launch Sir Hector Sants, former Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority and Head of Compliance and regulatory affairs for Barclays Bank, who convenes the Archbishop's Task Group said: "This is a grass roots initiative that will only succeed with the enthusiasm and engagement of the local Church. Central to this engagement will be the flexibility to adapt to local circumstances and the willingness to learn from all as we go along. I hope that today's event will demonstrate to you the impact success in this area would have, not only on the mission of the Church, but also, crucially, on individual lives.

'I am confident that the successful implementation of the Church Credit Champions Network will equip churches to be even more relevant to their local communities, and transform the lives of the many people we hope will be served as a result."

This is a link to the report on the BBC website.


Sunshine celebration for 20 years of women's priesthood


May 4th

Sunshine celebration for 20 years of women's priesthood



Gathered on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, they stood smiling and waving in glorious sunshine, as friends, husbands, children and grandchildren strained to spot their own in the Class of 1994.

The twentieth anniversary of the first priesting of women in the Church of England on Saturday was, the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed, "party time". Around 700 of those ordained in 1994 attended the service at St Paul's, with many arriving after taking part in a walk of witness from Westminster Abbey.         Read more


Two popes join to canonize two popes


April 27th

Two popes join to canonize two popes!image

Popes John XXIII &John Paul II join ranks of saints

Pope Francis canonized into sainthood two 20th-Century popes at a Mass Sunday conducted before hundreds of thousands of people at the Vatican's St. Peter's Square, lauding his predecessors as "men of courage."

The crowd roared when Pope Francis read the formal proclamation of sainthood for Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II. The event drew scores of global leaders as well as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whose decision to step down last year put Francis at the helm of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics.

"They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them," Francis said of the newest saints. "For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful — faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history."

Pope Francis described Saint John XXIII as "the pope of openness to the Spirit" and Saint John Paul II as "the pope of the family." Francis stressed their faith, saying they were filled with the Holy Spirit and "bore witness before the Church and the world to God's goodness and mercy."

The two new saints "teach us to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy," he concluded.

St. Peter's Square was packed for the event, and big-screen TVs were set up in squares — piazzas — around the city so thousands more could witness the spectacle on a chilly, gray day in the ancient city.

Benedict had promised to remain "hidden from the world" after resigning last year, but Francis has coaxed him out of retirement and urged him to take part in the public life of the church. He sat with a group of cardinals next to the altar.

Pope John Paul II, the second-longest serving pope in history, led the church from 1978 until his death in 2005. A native of Poland, he was the first non-Italian since Pope Adrian VI, who died in 1523. Polish pilgrims carrying the red and white flags of John Paul's homeland were visible everywhere in the square.

"Four popes in one ceremony is a fantastic thing to see and to be at, because it is history being written in our sight," marveled one of the visiting Poles, David Halfar. "It is wonderful to be a part in this and to live all of this."

John Paul's support for Poland's Solidarity movement is credited with ending communism in his native land. He worked to improve relations with other religions, including Jews. He also was among the most traveled of popes, visiting more than 120 countries during his rule.

"John Paul was our pope," said Therese Andjoua, 49, a nurse who traveled from Libreville, Gabon, with some 300 other pilgrims to attend. "In 1982 he came to Gabon and when he arrived he kissed the ground and told us to 'Get up, go forward and be not afraid,' " she recalled as she rested against a pallet of water bottles. "When we heard he was going to be canonized, we got up."

Pope John led the church from 1958 until his death in 1963. He is best known for ordering the Second Vatican Council, a liberalizing effort that actually completed its work two years after John was felled by cancer. He is credited with efforts to modernize the church that included allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages instead of traditional Latin. Like John Paul, he also pressed for closer ties to other religions: This Council in 1965 issued a landmark document that called for Jewish-Catholic dialogue and rejected the ancient Christian stigma against Jews as killers of Jesus.

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