Friday, October 02, 2009

Double victory for Broadland Liberal Democrats

Norfolk Liberal Democrats are celebrating a superb double victory in district council by-elections yesterday (Thursday). Both Ben McGilvray, in the Wroxham ward of Broadland District Council, and Hugh Lanham, in the Walsingham ward of North Norfolk District Council, registered impressive victories with huge swings to the Lib Dems. Significantly, both seats will be part of the new Parliamentary constituency of Broadland.

The by-elections had been caused by the deaths of two Independent councillors David Teager and Tom Moore who represented Wroxham and Walsingham respectively.

Ben, Hugh and their teams fought terrific campaigns, highlighting local issues and national concerns and both will make excellent councillors. These results will send shockwaves through Norfolk Conservatives and show that in this time of economic uncertainty and political disillusionment, it is the Liberal Democrats that people are turning to. Our recent conference in Bournemouth was a great success and under Nick Clegg’s leadership, the party is gaining ground nationally and locally. As MP for North Norfolk, Norman Lamb shows what a difference Liberal Democrats can make.

Friday, August 21, 2009

An unfortunate welcome home

Whilst I stand by my own blog post yesterday when I called for the release on compassionate grounds of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, convicted by involvement in the bombing of the Pan Am flight which exploded over Lockerbie, his orchestrated return to Libya was unfortunate,insensitive and unnecessary and enabled others to take the moral high ground. This though was not the fault of Scottish Government.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Releases from jail on compassionate grounds are correct

On balance, the decision of Scottish Justice Minister to release 57 year old Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi on compassionate grounds to return home to Libya is the right one. Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, had served 8 years of his life sentence having been found guilty for the bombing of the Pan Am flight which exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988. Serious doubts remain over who was really responsibile for the bombing which resulted in the deaths of 270 people (259 on the plane and 11 on the ground).

Canon Patrick Keegans was a parish priest in Lockerbie at the time of the atrocity. Giving Premier Radio his reaction to the verdict, he says Mr MacAskill didn't cover the whole story. He said:

“He quite simply painted Megrahi in the blackest of terms as a mass murderer and then said that we will have compassion. I am very disappointed he did not mention once the doubts many people have regarding this conviction.”

Revd. John Mosey lost his daughter Helga in the tragedy, but said Megrahi should be shown mercy, although he respects the decision of the courts. He said:

“I have no option not to forgive. If I don’t forgive my heavenly father won’t forgive me. However the law must not forgive. The law must pursue and protect the public, that’s what it’s there for.”

He added he would have liked to see more questions answered in this case:

“We would have preferred him to go home either an innocent man or a guilty man. Now it’s all in the air and we don’t really know either way.”

Revd. Ian Galloway, a spokesperson for the Church of Scotland, said he thinks the right decision has been made:

“It’s really important in any circumstance when you have the opportunity to show mercy that that is taken very seriously. Of course it’s possible that information can come out in later date and it could be greatly regretted.

“The Christian face has its origin in a blameless man suffering a violent death and with his last breath calling down God’s mercy on his violent killers. That example of mercy is one that we must at least acknowledge in the decisions that we make.”

I believe that the recent release of Ronnie Biggs also on compassionate grounds was also the right decision. I have visited the elderly lifers wing of Norwich Prison where staff do a good job of providing the care some of these inmates need but few people deserve to die in prison. There comes a time when the question of how the public interest is being served must be asked and it is right that it that is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Unlike the United States, we do not have the death penalty. In some cases life should and does mean life but there is a time for compassion, moving on and doing the right thing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Priest wins unfair dismissal appeal

The Wardman Wire reports the good news that Father Seraphim Vänttinen-Newton, a Russian Orthodox priest has won his appeal for unfair dismissal against GEO Group, the private firm that runs Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre (or “removal centre”, as the UK Borders Agency website calls it).

Father Vänttinen-Newton was chaplain at the centre and gave a short interview to BBC Radio Oxford about “faith in the workplace” - a pretty reasonable thing for a chaplain to do, it might seem, but which led to his being sacked for apparently breaching company rules- an odd decision rightly overturned.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What's next for Norwich City?

I fall for it everytime:I was feeling optimistic as I strolled up to Carrow Road on a sunny afteroon-the mood was so upbeat- series of disappointing leage campaigns seemed in the past, not least because gone were the loan players instead a new team been built with lots of new faces, seemingly, many with experience of lower league football. Unbeaten pre-season, dared I hope that this would be our season?- back towards the championship this time with momentum going in our favour for a change?

So what happens next (good question for A Question of Sport)? Colchester hardly looked like Champions but by half time were 5-0 up. So much for fortress Carrow Road! Instead the 25000 fans were stunned into near stunned silence. Final result 7-1! Complete and utter capitulation.

Was this just a blip-a bad day at the office? Or symptoms of deeper trouble at Carrow Road and Colney? Is this what we can expect for the rest of season? Some deadwood out New players in, but are they good enough? Is Bryan Gunn experienced enough as manager, team builder and strategist?

I was concerned that despite that absolute horror of a first half-no substitutes emerged from the bench until over an hour of play had passed. Further inept performances like this will soon result in falling attendance figures. I am worried that players like Wes Hollahan wil start to look to ply their trade elsewhere. Matches come thick and fast in this league and it is easy to fall out of contention very quickly indeed. Yesterday triumphalism overtook confidence and we paid the price.

Let's hope for better performances and goals in the coming weeks-starting with Yeovil away in the Carling Cup on Tuesday and Exeter away in the league on Sunday.

I'm not sure whatelse to say-I am still shell shocked by Saturday. Former manager, Nigel Worthington used to talk about bouncebackability (a phrase first coined by Iain Dowie)-lets hope that everyone concerned wakes up and smell the coffee before this crucial season starts going the wrong way fast. At least following Norwich City can never be said to be boring...

So, 45 more league games to go and various cup opportunities ahead. Time to get things sorted, otherwise this could end up being a very long and difficult season indeed.



Tuesday, August 04, 2009

More about the National Secular Society

Thanks to Red Maria over at Dolphinarium for the following article relating to the attacks on David Kerr, SNP candidate in the forthcoming Glasgow by-election).There is no place for religious-based bigotry however it manifests itself.

Sounds of the brakes being slammed on and the screeching of tires as the car is put into a sharp reverse in Glasgow.

Spokesmen for the Labour and Conservatives parties told the Scottish Catholic Observer this week the politicians had been misquoted, their comments taken out of context, and that neither believed that membership of Opus Dei would bar a candidate from public office.This looks like a definite reverse ferret. But connoisseurs of bigotry shouldn't be disheartened, there's still one group which is up for some old-fashioned Catholic-bashing.

None too subtly playing the dual loyalties card, Titus Oates of the National Secular Society opined,
“The concern for voters would be that such a person would have their allegiance to the Church and not to the SNP. It is one thing to bring your religious beliefs to politics, but it is another to bring the dogmas of a right-wing Catholic organisation. That would be the worry for voters.”

Warming to his theme, Oates claimed that David Kerr had tried to "guilt trip" his critics into silence.

In fact, David Kerr had nothing more than plead for his religion not to be made an issue of in the election but in the topsy-turvy truth-distorting world of the NSS where "good" is inevitably described as "bad" and every Catholic in public office is carictured as a villain this is par for the course.

Hence Opus Dei is an "extremist" organisation, even though it doesn't teach anything the Catholic Church doesn't teach and Oates insisted, David Kerr's membership of a perfectly legal, legitimate organisation is an issue that the electorate of Glasgow North East should be "made aware of" even though David Kerr is emphatically not campaigning on a religious platform of introducing compulsory fish-eating on Friday.
Of course, the NSS has a lot of er, previous m'lud when it comes to stirring the currents of ancient hatreds and bullying people to whom it takes exception.
Two years ago, Titus Oates sprang to the defence of Dolphinarium favourite and honorary NSS member, la Venomballs when she caused uproar by suggesting that Catholics should be discriminated against in public office. Typically, he didn't just defend the bigots' champion, he also went on the attack against journalist Paul Donovan, who he described as having "launched a fussilade against her".

In fact Paul Donovan just reported the facts and gave la Nutball plenty of opportunity to reply. It's called being a journalist and writing relevant copy.
See that twisting of the facts, that distortion of the truth again, that aggressive totalitarian instinct for controlling the press and lashing out at any reporter who doesn't toe the NSS line? That's Oates's modus operandi, as is his scraping the bottom of every barrel of stereotypes his feeble impotent imagination can reach for.
In Oates's mind, Catholics are all the same. They are invariably sinister stooges of a foreign power, bent on breaking Britain under the Vatican cosh. Catholic bishops are "opportunists" who think "they have the whip hand" which they can direct with "hysterical ranting". Catholics have an "enforcement machine", which started a "campaign to silence" Mary Honeyball. Catholics are also secretive and duplicitous: "Ruth Kelly the Labour MP who became a cabinet minister, was revealed by the press to be a member of Opus Dei – she did not volunteer the information herself" and on and on.

And don't think that Titus and his friends restrict themselves to defaming Catholics in public life or running down working journalists doing their jobs. No way Jose Maria. Like the big badass fighters they are, they're a dab hand at picking on civilians, like Mrs Jackie Parkes. That must've taken some guts, boys. And, ooh, wasn't it sidesplitting to say, "this Catholic mum lives up to every stereotypie imaginable - and then some" .

That comment probably wasn't just an accident, by the way. Judging by the types the NSS invites to be honorary members, the fertility rates of different social groups are a cause of a lot of anxiety at 23 Red Lion Square. And yes, I am talking about the fragrant Baroness "tell the poor to have fewer children" Flather. She made those notorious remarks in 2004. Two years later, the NSS which has almost as obsessive a media monitoring operation as this blog does, welcomed her as an honorary member.
Ed West put it well when he described the National Secular Society not as secularists but as Athiest bigots. From producing what looks like dodgy research in an attempt to drive chaplains out of hospitals through bitching at working journalists to bullying civilian bloggers, there is no level the NSS will not stoop to in its drive to make the lives of religious people as unpleasant as possible. This isn't just another pressure group to be taken seriously in the corridors of power. The NSS is a purveyor of prejudice and it should be shunned by everybody.

Thanks to Red Maria over at Dolphinarium ( for the following article relating to the attacks on David Kerr, SNP candidate in the forthcoming Glasgow by-election).There is no place for religious-based bigotry however it manifests itself.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What message have people of Norwich North sent?

Having had time for reflection, the people of Norwich North have sent complex messages to all parties complex messages. This first in series of postings concerns Ian Gibson.

Despite high profile campaign from several parties and media, only 45% of people bothered to vote. This election was about differential turnout. I was telling in Mile Cross and the low turnout there spoke volumes. But why not vote- are people disillusioned with politics as a whole or loyalty to Ian Gibson?

Having lived in the constituency myself, I can testify that Gibson was a good constituency MP. He may have done the wrong thing in terms of the property issue but other MPs have done much worse. I think it was more to do with Labour wanting to look tougher than Cameron so removed the whip from this frequent thorn in their side. So good result all round for Labour-until Gibson resigns to force by-election. Once again Labour party leadership underestimated his principles. He could easily have followed the example set by series of other (mainly Tory) MPs who announce they will not be restanding at next election thereby getting another year's pay and generous pay-off. He had a strong personal vote which appears to have stayed at home.

On one level, the by-election was a victory for the Conservatives but a somewhat hollow one-failing to really create a bandwagon of enthusiasm for David Cameron's revamped party-not reaching the heights of New labour in 1997 but maybe sleepwalking towards victory. I still think that is far from certain but Labour do have to take action soon-time for proper political reform and a referendum for PR me thinks.

Chloe Smith has spoken alot about accountability-I am sure the electorate will respond to her record accordingly. She would do well to hold this seat post boundary changes and the loss of apparent Tory leaning areas to the new Broadland seat. maybe she should have fought SW Norfolk after all.

For the Lib Dems, second place would have been nice but avoided getting completely squeezed and saw off UKIP and the Greens. I still feel that April Pond was left in a difficult situation when it emerged that the party had made approaches Martin Bell and Peter Franzen to stand. I still hope this was not true but have seen no convincing denial. Certainly neither made any effort to endorse the party in the campaign with Bell publicly backing Craig Murray who deserves credit for his own campaign and result.

UKIP will be pleased, benefiting from proximity to EP elections where they polled well in Norfolk. The Greens must be devastated and made no inroads in the Broadland end of the seat.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is this the most desperate political spin of the year?

"Was this a poor result for us- yes it was, but everybody lost bar Chloe Smith, and even she cannot go to take her seat until October."

Andrew Withers, UK Libertarian Party responding to party achieving 36 votes 0.01% and 11th place in Norwich North by-election
more of that at:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Norwich North by-election result

Here is the result but what does it mean for politics, parties, policies and people?

At the By Election in Norwich North on 23rd July 2009, 34379 votes were cast (approximately 45% of the total number of eligible voters) with the following result:

39.5% Chloe Smith (Conservative): 13591 votes (+6.3%).

18.2% Chris Ostrowski (Labour): 6243 votes (-26.7%).

14% April Pond (Liberal Democrat): 4803 votes (-2.2%).

11.8% Glenn Tingle (UK Independence Party): 4068 votes (+9.4%).

9.7% Rupert Read (Green Party): 3350 votes (+7%).

2.8% Craig Murray (Put An Honest Man into Parliament): 953 votes.

2.7% Robert West (British National Party): 941 votes.

0.5% Bill Holden (Independent Candidate): 166 votes (-0.2%).

0.4% Laud Howling (Official Monster Raving Loony Party): 144 votes.

0.2% Anne Fryatt (None of The Above Party): 59 votes.

0.1% Thomas Burridge (Libertarian Party): 36 votes.

0.1% Peter Baggs (Independent Candidate): 23 votes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Secularists attempt to drive faith from politics

Over at Conservative Home, Tim Montgomerie brings news of The National Secular Society's latest unwarranted attack on the participation of people from religious faith prespectives in politics.

This time the target is David Kerr, SNP Candidate in the forthcoming Glasgow East by-election. He has been open about his membership of Opus Dei and rightly tells the Scotsman (190709)that it is "preposterous and deeply prejudiced" to argue that somebody of his religious beliefs should be "debarred" from running for public office.

Unsuprisingly, the NSS disagree and claim that "The concern for voters would be that such a person would have their allegiance to the Church and not to the SNP. It is one thing to bring your religious beliefs to politics, but it is another to bring the dogmas of a right-wing Catholic organisation. That would be the worry for voters."

It is people of faith who are at the forefront social reform remaining significant drivers of community cohesion and social capital. The NSS should be doing likewise.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Statement from the Norfolk Church Leaders re the Norwich North by-election on July 23rd

The following statement was released today by Church Leaders in Norwich

Prior to the European and County Council elections on June 4th we issued the attached statement. We reiterate those same concerns in the context of the Norwich North by-election on July 23rd.

It is important for us to do so since the British National Party candidate styles himself as ‘Revd’ and is often to be seen dressed as a clergyman. He belongs to no known denomination and voters should not be mislead by his adoption of clerical dress. The policies he promotes are not shared by any of the Churches we serve and are contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. There we read that in Christ ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female’ (Galatians 3.28).

Christians in Norfolk and Norwich have had a long tradition of welcoming the stranger. We pray that this generous instinct may continue to be celebrated here.

The Rt. Revd. Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Church of England)
The Rt. Revd. Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia (Roman Catholic)
The Revd. Graham Thompson, East Anglia District (Methodist Church)
The Revd. Richard Lewis, Regional Minister, Norfolk (Baptist Union)
The Revd. Paul Whittle, Moderator Eastern Province (United Reformed Church)
John Myhill (Society of Friends)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Norwich North by-election-the question the BNP refuse to answer

Thursday will see the long-awaited by-election in Norwich North following the resignation of popular maverick MP, Ian Gibson. Despite, its unprediactable nature, the campaign momentum seems to be heading for a Tory v Liberal Democrat, April Pond finale. Labour seem well out of the race yet their is still not massive enthusiasm for the Tories in a seat they would have been expecting to win in the next General Election anyway.Despite their previous predictions, there is no evidence that the Green bandwagon is really rolling. I suspect that this will be the story of the by-election, at a time when all parties attempt to manage expectations.

One thing that is clear is that the BNP are far from gaining ground. So before he slopes off after defear, I join calls from Ekklesia and other faith-based groups and individuals for the BNP candidate, Robert West (from outside the county let alone the city to finally answer the question so far avoided by him and cronies: Exactly where does he get his "Rev" title from?

I know of no Church in the UK that doesn't condemn the racist party. It was suggested by The Times a while ago that he might belong to the Apostlic Church. However, the Apostolic Church expressed no knowledge of West.

A spokesperson for the church told Ekklesia: "If this person has had any association with The Apostolic Church in the past the only means by which he can maintain either his membership or office is by attending one of our churches. If he were an active member of the Church his views would not be accepted by the Church and disciplinary action would be undertaken by the Church which strongly distances itself from views such as these."

Will any church come forward to claim him? Or is this another example of BNP deception? Is his "Rev" status somehow derived from the Christian Council of Britain? And if so, who ordained him if it only has a membership of one?

Norwich has a notable history of welcoming people fleeing persecution elsewhere in Europe, sometimes on religious grounds-for example it has been home to one of the earliest Muslim communities in the nation. Christian teaching is clear that hospitality and living together with mutual respect remain the foundation of a civilised society. All human beings are created equally in the image of God. That is why racism is a sin. Christ calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves and in this forthcoming by-election, it is right to be vigilant about any party or individual candidate seeking to use people’s fears for their own well-being to stir racial or religious hatred.

At a time when many people are anxious about their jobs, finances and future, we pray that the best and most generous traditions of our national life will guide all voters on July 23rd and that people from faith perspectives not only vote but do so with an attitude of hope not hate.

Thanks to Ekklesia and many others for keeping this issue live and attempting to keep candidates to account.

End Vulture Culture Now

Picture shows Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg pledging his support to the Jubilee Debt Campaign to "End Vulture Culture", whilst attending the Glastonbury Festival earlier this month.

One of the shadier aspects of international finance has been the role of companies known as ‘vulture funds’. Vulture fund is a name given to a private company that seeks to scavenge profit from some of the world's poorest and heavily indebted countries by buying up ‘bad’ debt at a cheap price, then trying to recover the full amount, often by suing through the courts. At least 54 companies, many based in tax havens, are known to have taken legal action against 12 of the world's poorest countries in recent years, for claims amounting to $1.5 billion. This means money released by debt relief is going into the pockets of a few wealthy investors, not spent on much needed health and education.

So far 155 MPs (including 43 Liberal Democrats) have signed the all-party Early Day Motion (EDM 1440)in the name of Sally Keeble MP.

More information available via:

Photograph from Jubilee Debt Campaign with thanks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ill-thought out Tory plans would make things even worse for world's poorest people

Aid agencies have attacked a 'Green Paper' on International Development issued by the Conservative Party yesterday, with some saying it could increase the dependency on aid of the world's poor.

Entitled 'One World Conservatism' it was branded a "disappointment" by one agency, said to have "glaring omissions" and "blind spots" by others while one even said it risked worsening the impact of the financial crisis on the world's poor.

"This green paper is a disappointment for anyone looking for fresh thinking in response to the financial crisis. Instead of questioning the policies that have led to the crisis, the Conservatives risk worsening its impact for the world's poor" said Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign.

"More liberalised trade, more privatisation, more multinational corporations and more exposure to volatile capital markets - the very steps that have caused the worst economic crisis in a generation. The millions of people reeling from the effects of this crisis do not want more of the same."

"The paper speaks of capitalism as Britain's 'gift to the world'. Given the problems which the unregulated global economy has recently subjected the world to, many countries might prefer to be removed from the Christmas list."
The aid agency Tearfund pointed to the report's failure to address the role of faith groups.

It comes after the Government promised to double development funding for those working from a faith basis in international development.

Tearfund Advocacy Director Paul Cook said: "It is astonishing to see a debate on international development without any recognition of the role of faith communities in the field.

"In Tearfund’s experience of working for more than 40 years through local churches in the poorest parts of the world, it is facile to consider that it is possible to address need at a local level without engaging local faith-based organisations."
The agency also said it wanted more policy detail in the paper’s reference to climate change. "This is not just an add-on to international development; environmental sustainability is fundamental to addressing issues of food security, agriculture, land and water resource management and disaster risk reduction" Cook said.

Christian Aid also pointed to what it called a number of "blind spots" in the paper.
Melanie Ward, Christian Aid’s Senior UK Political Adviser said: "While the Conservatives now officially share our vision of a world free from the scourge of poverty, we believe that the party’s plan for realising it currently lacks some vital steps. To build a better world, we must tackle the fundamental causes of poverty, including huge existing inequalities of wealth and power. The Conservatives need to address their blind spots and explain how they would do this."

Christian Aid issued a statement saying that the Conservatives had "not yet fully articulated their understanding of what causes and sustains poverty." They warned of "a risk that short-term, micro projects get undue support because they are easier to evaluate than large-scale, long-term work for social change."

It also called on the party to expand its ideas for mitigation - what needs to be done to prevent further climate change - and to set out a vision of how poor countries can continue to develop in a low-carbon future.
The agency also said it was concerned about the proposal to issue aid vouchers to individuals in poor countries. "This may exacerbate aid dependency and undermine the development of basic services such as health and education" it said. "Vouchers would break the link between citizens and the state and effectively remove governments’ responsibility to provide services for their citizens. Vouchers will, in the long term, jeopardise development."

It descibed as "deeply worrying" the idea that the budget of the Department for International Development (DFID) could be diverted to support the priorities of other departments, such as the Ministry of Defence.

Most agencies welcomed the report's call for accountability and transparency in the delivery of aid. But they also warned that using aid money to support private schools and healthcare throughout Africa would not make developing country governments more accountable to their people but instead could weaken them even further.

Christian Aid said that the Tories should now accept that ideas of transparency should apply to tax revenue as well as to aid.

This article taken from Ekklesia 140709

Monday, June 08, 2009

BNP- a stain on all our houses

I am appalled that the BNP has won representation in the European Parliament. Their success maybe due to a dishonest campaign including despicable claims to be the only Christian (cit) party, scare tatics and the voice of the white working class communities and feeding off disillusion with mainstream political parties in the midst of an economic recession. Their success though is a stain on our houses so it isesponsibility of all of us to redouble our efforts to campaign and to expose ther true views.I've just received some bad news - the BNP have just won a seat in the European Parliament. It is terrible news for our country.

Please read message below from Nick Lowes of the Hope not Hate campaign.
Or visit:

I am disgusted that the BNP have at least one MEP.While the BNP will take a seat in Brussels they will not represent me - they are not going there in my name.

I've just launched a petition saying just that: BNP - not in my name. We will deliver this petition to the European Parliament on the first day that their MEP takes their seat. I'd like you to sign the petition as well - let's show the rest of the EU what we think of this new MEP:

We will deliver our petition to the European Parliament - I want you to add your name and then get your friends to join in as well.

Let's send a deafening message of defiance: NOT IN OUR NAME.

Thank you so much for all that did during the elections - but now our fight for Hope Not Hate must go on.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A call to vote

This week is election week. On Thursday, the people of Norfolk will be electing a new County Council and members of the European Parliament. We do so at a time when the integrity of politicians is under question by many, as a result of the ongoing MP’s expenses scandal and also in the context of a continuing world-wide recession. Turnouts in these elections are often low and there is a temptation for people to reject all parties, stay at home and keep out of politics. This would be a mistake. I believe that Christians in particular are called to participate fully in the political process and that means voting. It was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who remarks that when people tell him that religion and politics shouldn’t mix, he is puzzled as to which Bible they are reading.

Politics is concerned with debate over values, with worldview, with the shaping of society. Surely that wholly coincides with the Church’s mission? And even if its impact ends up muted or ignored, nevertheless the Church is at least being faithful in seeking to connect God with the contemporary world. Theology too must surely be related to the public sphere. For if theology is not about disciplined and applied reflection on the nature and destiny of life, involving an ultimate and absolute frame of reference, what is it? Christians should therefore endorse and model an intimate, interactive relationship between God and the world. Christ himself called them to engage with the world without compromising their faith (John 17). Politics is an essential aspect of human social activity. Because they are human beings participating in everyday relationships, Christians are, by definition, ‘political’. And because knowledge of God necessarily involves concern for justice and love in action, today’s means of offering food to the hungry and water to the thirsty inevitably involves activity of a political nature. We are called to be effective stewards of our environment and community.

Christians in Politics is an umbrella organisation facilitating dialogue and partnerships between Christians in all the major political parties. It strives to encourage engagement with and participation in the political process; to foster civic literacy amongst faith groups and religious literacy amongst government agencies and public sector organisations; and to build partnerships with minority faith groups and the voluntary sector. No one party can ever legitimately claim to be the one true Christian voice and on most issues, Christians find themselves on different sides of debates within and between political parties but do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect and constructive discussion. Each major party has an active Christian group within it (Conservative Christian Fellowship, Christian Socialist Movement and Liberal Democrat Christian Forum) enjoying more influence than any narrow fringe grouping. Contrary to current public perceptions, there is a strong contingent of people of religious faith serving their communities as councillors, MPs and MEPs, doing so for the right reasons, making a real contribution to the common good and putting principles into practise. These people deserve our prayerful support. Public and political should be a noble calling.
The European elections are important. The EU was founded on the Christian principles of international co-operation, social justice, compassion, hospitality, equality, freedom and tolerance and these values should influence our votes on Thursday.
The Rev’d Simon Wilson is Chaplain and Press Officer to the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum. For further information visit:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Making Connections-Fire and Rescue Service Chaplaincy

by the Rev’d Simon Wilson,
Chaplain to Norfolk Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service
Social and Community Concerns Co-ordinator, Diocese of Norwich

One of the advantages of having a dual role (in my case it is as Diocesan Social and Community Concerns Co-ordinator as well as chaplain to police and fire and rescue services) is that it forces us to make connections between our chaplaincy work and the Church’s wider mission and ministry. In recent months, I have had the privilege of being involved in three conferences which have encouraged me to nurture, develop and broaden these connections and networks and reminded me of the opportunities that arise when stories shared and real partnerships forged.

Firstly, I co-led a CME weekend encouraging curates to reflect on the place of the church and priest in wider community in ministry beyond the Church door. One request was that the fire & rescue service chaplaincy team provide some resources to equip ministry to fire stations and fire-fighters in their parish.

Secondly was our annual multi-disciplinary inter-faith chaplaincy conference. An opportunity to share the pleasures and pains of chaplaincy, to counter the feelings of isolation, to make sense of how chaplaincy works in a multi-faith context and find ways of working together in training, major incident working etc. Next year, we shall tackle the challenge of secularism and the notion of institutional spirituality.

Thirdly, was participation in a regional conference exploring voluntary and public sector/faith community partnerships. It was great to hear how valued chaplaincy programmes and faith participation were. Regional co-operation is important; in the East of England, we are exploring how to develop and co-ordinate chaplaincy to the ambulance service and will see if any lessons for fire and rescue service chaplains emerge.

Emergency incidents do not respect county or diocesan boundaries so collaboration is a must.

This article was first published in "Burning Issues" (Vol 1 no 3 May 2009)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I am saddened and frustrated that Dr McKee has written a factually inaccurate and politically and theologically incoherent article. We are in an election period and it is a shame that the author has chosen to air these opinions in public rather than be involved in the ongoing and relevant debate inside and outside the Liberal Democrats about the place of religious faith in the public sphere. It should be pointed out that, the recent party conference in Harrogate saw those calling for the closure of faith schools defeated. Instead, the party voted to improve faith schools by making them more inclusive and open working with groups such as Accord a coalition of progressive religious minded people rather than militant secularists.

Dr Mckee may see Evan Harris as some sort of "political anti-Christ" yet many Roman Catholic commentators and leaders have applauded his recent private members bill to overturn the Act of Settlement which since 1701 has discriminated against Catholics.

The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum enjoys the support of many leading Liberal Democrat MPs, peers, councillors and members and has been involved in debates with the humanists and secularists minority within the party striving to increase religious literacy and affirm the valuable role played by people of religious faith in party and community. Surely,constructive debate should come before public diatribe and misinformation. Political and theological credibility is hard to come by and easy to lose. This article may prove very unhelpful to all Liberal Democrats, Christian or secularist alike.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bishop of Norwich on Jade Goody

Bishop of Norwich,Rt Revd Graham James used his Easter message to explore some of the issues arising from the life and death of Jade Goody and to suggest what it all mean for the rest of us. Article originally published in Eastern Daily Press Good Friday 10/04/2009

A few people die very publicly. John Paul II was one. Jade Goody was another. The Vatican managed the Pope's death with dignity. Max Clifford managed the media for Jade in the final weeks of her life. To his credit, he brought dignity and order to the task.

I can't say I'd taken much notice of Jade Goody until then. I don't think bishops were her target audience. Her marriage to Jack Tweed seemed to me a bit like a media circus. Then something happened which surprised me. Her two boys were christened. And Jade was christened too. Unlike her wedding, conducted by the leader of a fringe church, it was the local curate who baptised Jade and her children without any great razzamatazz. Apparently she said to Max Clifford: “I want to get christened. I want the boys to be christened. I want them to know Jesus; that's how we'll stay in touch.”

I'm sure plenty of people were cynical about Jade's christening. They may have thought it was one more event to excite the tabloids. But the tabloids seemed to be more puzzled by it than excited. Jade didn't get christened in order to be cured. She was well past that. She didn't talk about fear of hell as if baptism might prevent some awful judgment on her. It was more to do with Jesus defeating death. She got that right.

Most people don't associate christening with death. With infants it seems like a celebration of life. But Christians have always talked about those who are baptised “being made one with Christ in his death and in his resurrection”.

I had a very vivid experience of this a few years ago at Center Parcs. Our children were then teenagers. We stayed with another family at Longleat, paying rather a lot of money to exhaust ourselves with endless sporting activities. I needed a rest when I got home.

Thanks to my children I found myself sitting at the top of a huge water chute. It dawned on me that I was rather old for hurtling down a long wet tube, but there was no going back on it. Down I went. I plunged into the pool below with arms and legs flying in the air. I thought I was drowning. Then I realised I was only in about two feet of water, so stood up thankful still to be alive.

Then I had a theological experience. It's an occupational habit for bishops. I thought this was just like being plunged into the waters of Christ's death in baptism and rising to new life with him in triumph.

Of course, some of our churches - Anglican ones included - do practise total immersion baptism. It's a vivid symbol of dying with Christ to rise with him. We can't live without water. It's the very basis of life. Yet too much water drowns us. Water can be the means of death. What gives life also takes it away.

On Good Friday, Christians believe the life taken away from Jesus was given by God again as a promise of new life for us all. Even in a society like ours Jade Goody, an icon of secular celebrity, embraced this faith. That she did so when she was dying comes as no surprise.

Hospices and palliative care units are often places of life and hope. Where the reality of death is acknowledged, people seem more keenly alive. But dying can be hard work. The Christian Church refers to Christ's suffering and death as his 'Passion'. In origin that word relates to sacrifice. Yet we use 'passion' to speak of love as well. Love and sacrifice go together. If someone loves you they'll want to bear your suffering.

Some years ago a young man of great promise and talent had a serious accident. There didn't seem much hope for him. He was brought to London and eventually underwent a very complicated brain operation performed for the very first time. The whole procedure took seven hours. It required uninterrupted concentration on the part of the surgeon. A small error might have proved fatal.

The operation turned out to be a triumph. Afterwards, though, the surgeon had to be led out of the operating theatre held and supported by a nurse almost as if he was a little child guided on the way. He was exhausted. Utterly spent. Emptied by the experience.

That's what Christians believe the love of God is like. Jesus on the Cross exhausts himself to the point of death for love of humankind. Jade Goody seems to have been one of countless millions to have glimpsed this truth. It lies at the heart of the Easter story.

A very happy Easter to you all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jade Goody

The illness and death of Jade Goody has been culturally significant and the huge media interest has enabled people to journey with her and engage what our own priorities would be had we been diagnosed with a terminal condition.

Though having never been her greatest fan, I have been really impressed and challenged, both individually and in community,about how nearing end she put things right in her life-in terms of spirituality, marriage, baptism and the welfare and future of her sons.

Jade proved that it is possible to have a "good death" but that does not diminish the pain and suffering her family will be going through. All her life she craved affection and fame-it is slightly ironic that that finally came through her brave struggle by being as much as doing.

Making Faith Schools even better

Letter published in Church Times 21/03/09

Dear Editor

I was surprised to see the report in last week's edition in which Jan Ainsworth accused the Liberal Democrats of adopting a "confusing" policy on faith schools.

The party's spring conference in Harrogate saw a detailed and informed debate over education policy, which included discussion of faith schools and their place in the development of cohesive communities. Conference overwhelmingly rejected calls to close faith schools, instead affirming the quality of teaching and the positive ethos which make them so popular and effective and calling for improvements in terms of inclusivity and openness which will enable more pupils, parents, teachers and communities to benefit from them. The new policy has been welcomed by the respected Christian think-tank Ekklesia as a crucial development in the public debate about how to make faith schools better and by Accord as the first political party policy to put the national good above sectarian interests

The Liberal Democrats are proud to be the only major party who trust their members to make policy and whether on conference floor or at fringe meetings, many people from a range of religious faith perspectives or none were able to contribute to this important debate and make policy that is relevant and realistic.

Yours faithfully

Revd Simon Wilson
Chaplain and Press Officer
Liberal Democrat Christian Forum

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Faith in Affordable Housing

A new website called 'Faith in Affordable Housing' is being launched today at Church House Westminster, headquarters of the Church of England.

Under the cooperative banner of churches' campaign Housing Justice, it offers practical and technical information to help local churches of all traditions offer their land or property for housing aimed at those in social and economic need.

Converting existing church buildings into affordable housing provides a win-win situation, argues the website.

Not only does it provide a much needed resource for the local community but also brings in an often urgently needed revenue stream to the church.

The guide presents nine case studies from different Christian denominations in both urban and rural areas of England.

One example is St James's Church Centre in Northumberland (United Reformed Church). It was in desperate need of renovation. Now it hosts nine affordable homes plus a thoroughly modernised century church, including facilities that meet the needs of diverse groups within the town.

The worship area is also adaptable and can be used for conferences and concerts.

Meanwhile at St Paul's in Plymouth (Church of England), the old church and hall was demolished and a new 40-flat extra care scheme for older people built in its place.

A new community building, complete with a dedicated smaller worship space for the church to use, was built on the site of the local library. In turn a new library was developed as part of the extra care building.

The supply of affordable housing needs to be increased dramatically, say the churches. Faith in Affordable Housing offers ways in which churches ­ across all denominations ­ can contribute to the supply, as well as generating income.

Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, President of Housing Justice, said: "I am delighted to commend this initiative to all faith communities who are seeking to respond to the needs of the homeless or poorly housed. In both urban and rural areas there is evidence of spiralling hardship which can lead to the loss of a basic requisite of human dignity ­ shelter."

Faith in Affordable Housing sas: "Although churches often support the principle of the redevelopment of church land and property for social housing, many are concerned about meeting other objectives ­ they have staff to pay, buildings to maintain and a mission to fulfil. Yet there is great potential for churches to use surplus assets for those in housing need and still fulfil these aims.

"This guide offers the ideas, information and inspiration to help churches provide affordable housing wherever possible", said James Derounian from the University of Gloucestershire.

To see Faith in Affordable Housing visit:


“Arguably, the global economic crisis will turn out to be more significant for us and other developed economies than the collapse of communism. A New Capitalism is likely to emerge from the rubble. For many, the New Capitalism may well seem fairer and less alienating than the model of the past 30 years, in that the system’s salvation may require it to be kinder, gentler, less divisive, less of a casino in which the winner takes all.” Robert Preston

“Impossible to ignore and reminding us all of our vulnerability, the crisis that threatens us seems to be us; we are simultaneously menaced by the wave, and exist as elements of that wave. After all, that is what an economic crisis actually is: the sum of all the individual actions of billions of people around the world, deciding whether to lend or hoard, borrow or save, sell or buy, move or stay, hire or fire, study or look for work, be pessimistic or optimistic.”

£135m daily increase in UK debt
£59,702 average household debt
£242 amount of interest paid in the UK daily
Every 10 minutes a property is repossessed
2,466 people made redundant every day
1 person every 4.8 minutes declared bankrupt or insolvent
£102 average daily decrease in house prices in 2008

Poverty, virtually no interest for savers; poor investment returns for individuals and organisations, fuel poverty
Increased unemployment, reduced income, hours; manufacturing meltdown;
Mental and physical health (60% more family GP visits when main wage earner made redundant),
Family breakdown, domestic violence, separation and divorce
Crime (vehicle, street, deception),
Civic unrest (nationalist sentiments + racism to migrant workers etc; rise of the BNP), A
Alcohol , gambling, drug abuse, domestic violence,
House repossessions & homelessness/unsuitable housing (affordable housing);
Bailiffs, threats and loan sharks,
Bankruptcy; fuel poverty; money lenders/loan sharks= exploitation;
Voluntary sector funding and giving; bankers bonuses;


MAKE a fresh and distinctive contribution to an emerging public debate about the heart of a ‘new capitalism’ which marries wealth creation and social justice, drawing upon the deep wells of Christian principles and historic traditions of social thinking.
EXPLORE how the local church can offer practical, pastoral support to both congregations and local communities; seeking to address indebtedness, financial capability, responsible sustainable consumption, and the creation of a generous, neighbourly society; and then to seek to put this into action.
STANDING alongside people in empathy
CHALLENGE Christian attitudes to wealth and possessions as a part of personal discipleship, thereby encouraging godly aspiration, contentment, restraint, gratitude and generosity.


There is reason to believe that the moral consensus is capable of revival. One way for the Church to explore and promote this is by appealing to widely-held notions of fairness, generosity and sustainability:
Is it FAIR? Does it give priority to the vulnerable-the young struggling to enter the labour market, and the elderly living on fixed incomes; people in poverty within UK and globally? Financial inclusion? Credit Unions?
Is it GENEROUS? Does it embody the obligation to give and share our resources with others? Does it embody fair trade and global aid?
Is it SUSTAINABLE? Long-term thinking not quick fixes

• Voluntary Norfolk
• Church Action Poverty
• Life 4 Seekers
• Christians Against Poverty
• Samaritans
• West Norfolk VCA

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Holocaust Memorial Day-stand up to hatred

Will we ever learn the lessons of history?
Speak up for the oppressed and the victims;
Give a voice to the powerless;
Stop ethnic cleansing;
Do not stand by and watch genocide and ethnic cleansing

Let us pray for God’s ancient people, the Jews, the first to hear his word – for greater understanding between Christian and Jew
for the removal of our blindness and bitterness of heart
that God will grant us grace to be faithful to his covenant and to grow in the love of his name.

Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. Do not remember all the sufferings they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we bear, thanks to this suffering – our comradeship, our loyalty, our humanity, courage, generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgement, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.
(A prayer found on a scrap of paper beside the body of a girl who died at Ravensbruck)

God, you created us all in your own likeness.
We thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in your world.
Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellow feeling and understanding;
show us your presence in those most different from us, so that in all our relationships,
both by what we have in common and by things in which we differ,
we may come to know you more fully in your creation;
for you are Father, Son and Holy Spirit for ever. Amen

Judge eternal, bringer of justice,
hear the cry of those who suffer under the lash of heartless political oppression;
those who languish in prisons and labour camps, untried or falsely condemned;
those whose bodies are shattered,
or whose minds are unhinged by torture or deprivation.
Meet them in their anguish and despair,
and kindle in them the light of hope,
that they may find rest in your love,
healing I your compassion
and faith in your mercy.
In the name of him who suffered, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
(Prayers said on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Anne Frank: Reproduced with kind permission of the Anne Frank Educational Trust and the Council of Christians and Jews)



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration of Barack Obama 20 January 2009 Prayers

Inauguration of Barack Obama 20 January 2009

Bishop Gene Robinson: Invocation

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will...
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of colour, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him colour-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace. Amen

Rev. Rick Warren: Prayer

Let us pray.
Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.
The Scripture tells us Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now today we rejoice not only in America's peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.
We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership.
And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.
Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.
When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.
And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.
Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.
May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.
We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.
I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Rev. Joseph Lowery: Benediction

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.
Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.
We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.
We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.
He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.
Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.
For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.
And while we have sown the seeds of greed - the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

A new dawn

It was impossible to watch yeterday's inauguration without sensing that history was being made. Seeing those proud older African Americans see a sight they would never have believed possible cannot fail to have brought a tear to the eye. Truly, anything can happen.

We live in interesting times. The burden of global expectation will lie heavy on Barack Obama'a shoulders. I pray he is encouraged and strengthened by the strong team he has appointed around him, his inspirational family and his firm and radical faith.

At a meeting last week, the Church of England’s Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns discussed the impact of the election of the new American President. In the light of that discussion, the Chair of the Committee, the Revd Rose Hudson Wilkin, has today issued the following statement which I feel is an accurate and prophetic reflection which we all can echoe:

“The election last November of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the USA, culminating in his inauguration today, is a most momentous occasion.

“His election was a truly redemptive moment and one of pride and aspiration for many people. It was a particularly redemptive moment in terms of the legacy that African Americans have endured for over two centuries - and this was not lost on the President elect, Barack Hussein Obama.

“It is totally right that there was joy inside the tears of many for the whole of the United States. But the moment also gave the world a new iconography – a first family that is not defined by any one ethnic group. This is a symbol of immense significance to millions of people, not just in America but across the world.

“The Church of England has a significant number of minority ethnic people among its regular worshippers, and of course among those within its pastoral care. As a Church we must decide on how we will respond in the light of this truly transformative moment. Despite the contentious issues around the world-wide Communion, the election of Obama is a prophetic pointer to the possibilities which open up if hearts and minds have the confidence to change by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has used the term ‘Kairos Time’. This is truly a ‘Kairos Time’ when we urge the Church to begin to nurture a leadership that can engage and function at all levels within it – across all ethnicities – but this must be done intentionally. This affects us as individuals, locally, nationally and internationally through the Anglican Communion. All could reflect on their key aspirations concerning Hope and Transformation in Christ but we call on the Church of England to renew its commitment tangibly to minority ethnic people. This is what Obama's Presidential Campaign was all about, but it is unfinished business in the Church. Can we ever have "business as usual" in our Church again?

“God Bless Barack Hussein Obama, America and our own nation as well.”

Thursday, January 08, 2009

2009: A year of social responsibility

A year of social responsibility

6 January Epiphany
11 January Plough Sunday
16 January Martin Luther King Day (US)
18 - 25 January Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
18 January Peace Sunday
18 January World Religion Day
25 January World Leprosy Day
27 January Holocaust Memorial Day
1 - 8 February Poverty and Homelessness Action Week
'Voices from the Edge';
2 February Candlemas
6 February UNICEF Day for Change
8 February Education Sunday
23 February - 8 March Fair Trade Fortnight
25 February Ash Wednesday
1 March Tear Fund Sunday
6 March Women's World Day of Prayer
22 March Mothering Sunday
24 March Oscar Romero, Archbishop, Martyr
29 March Passiontide begins
5 April Palm Sunday
7 April World Health Day
9 April Deir Yasin Day
10 April Good Friday
12 April Easter Day
28 April Workers Memorial Day
1 May Day of Prayer for Police Service
6-11 May Week of Prayer for Parliament
9 May Europe Day
10 May Josephine Butler, social reformer
10 - 16 May Christian Aid Week
16 May Caroline Chisholm, social reformer
17 May Not for Sale Sunday
21 May Ascension Day
25-31 May National Family Week
31 May Pentecost
7 June Trinity Sunday
7 June Environment Sunday
15 - 21 June Refugee Week
17 June Samuel and Henrietta Barnett, social reformers
21 June Fathers Day
21 June World Peace and Prayer Day
26 June Int Day in Support of Victims of Torture
6 July George Edwards Memorial Day
12 July Sea Sunday
30 July William Wilberforce, social reformer
6 August Hiroshima Day
11 August Claire of Assisi
13 August Octavia Hill, social reformer
13 August Florence Nightingale
20 August William & Catherine Booth, Salvation Army
23 August Slavery Memorial Day
13 September Racial Justice Sunday
13 September Int Day of Remembrance for Firefighters
21 September International Day of Prayer for Peace
26 September Wilson Carlile, Church Army
1 October Earl of Shaftesbury, social reformer
1 October Older People’s Day www.
4 October Disability Sunday
4 October Animal Welfare Sunday
12 October Elizabeth Fry, prison reformer
18 October Healthcare Sunday
18 October Micah Sunday
18 - 25 October One World Week
24 October UN Day
31 October Martin Luther King (UK)
1 November All Saints day
6 November Nat day Prayer for armed forces
6 November William Temple, archbishop
8 November Remembrance Sunday
15 November Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians
15 November RoadPeace day of remembrance
15 - 21 November Prisons Week
25 November White Ribbon Day domestic violence
29 November Advent Sunday
30 November St Andrew, int mission
1 December World Aids Day
10 December Human Rights Day
17 December Eglantine Jebb, founder “Save the Children”
18 December International Migrants Day
25 December Christmas Day
28 December Holy Innocents Day

Please note that a multi-faith calendar is available via:

Please contact me with any omissions or errors.
Rev Simon Wilson
Diocese of Norwich
January 2009