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News from the Wider Church Community
Church leaders give blessing to plastic-free faith Easter Egg
The Archbishop of York and the lead Bishop for the environment have welcomed a 'plastic free' version of The Real Easter Egg.
Out of the 80 million eggs sold in the UK every year The Real Easter Egg is the only one which includes a 24 page copy of the Easter story in the box, is Fairtrade and supports charitable causes. And now, this year the Real Easter Egg is going plastic-free.
The change is in response to a survey which found that 96% of Christians think it is important for Easter Eggs to be plastic-free and news that 11.5 million tonnes of food packaging waste is produced every year.
David Marshall from the Meaningful Chocolate Company, who make the Real Easter Egg, said: "Easter eggs don't have to cost the earth. We have replaced plastic bags, tamper-seals and Best Before stickers with paper versions. There is still the same amount of chocolate in the Real Easter Egg and the box sizes are the same, but the redesign means our Dark and Original Egg will save at least 5 tonnes of plastic and 175 tonnes of card in the next five years."
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said; "I am delighted that an Easter Egg, which shares the Story of Easter, is leading the way by reducing packaging."
The Bishop of Salisbury, The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, said; "As the lead bishop on the environment for the Church of England I am delighted that an Easter Egg, is taking seriously the care of our planet."
General Synod backs plans to mobilise one million worshippers
Plans to encourage the Church of England’s one million regular worshippers to be more confident in spreading the Christian message in their everyday lives were given the backing of the General Synod in February.
Members of the General Synod welcomed the Church of England’s campaign Motivating the Million, which is aimed at helping congregations in speaking about and living out their faith in homes, communities and workplaces.
The plans include work to create more lay leaders in the Church of England and a project to help build the confidence of worshippers to invite their friends to church events.
The General Synod also backed a call for all the Church of England’s 12,500 parishes to become involved in the global prayer movement ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ for more people to come to know Jesus Christ.
The Revd Barry Hill, from the Diocese of Leicester, moving a motion at the General Synod commending the work of the Church of England’s Evangelism and Discipleship department, said evangelism could not be left to clergy alone.
“Evangelism doesn’t belong to any one part of the Church, it needs all of our church to reach all of our nation,” he said. “Most people know a Christian – most people don’t know a bishop or even a vicar.”
The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, described evangelists as a ‘gift’ to the Church, and said we needed more of them. “Today’s evangelists will not be lone rangers – today’s evangelists will not be loud extroverts who frighten everyone with their enthusiasm.
“The evangelists of today need to be team members who mentor and coach others in everyday faith conversations, helping people to overcome their anxiety and helping them to think through the tough questions that anyone who publicly owns the name of Christian will get asked.”
New code of practice on ecumenical cooperation approved
The General Synod has given overwhelming backing to new guidance which will help Church of England congregations to share mission and ministry more easily with a range of churches in their areas.
Members voted in February in favour of a code of practice giving guidance to bishops, clergy, lay workers and Church of England Readers on how to work more flexibly with other Christian denominations in their communities.
The vote came after an overhaul of rules underpinning ecumenical relations was given final approval by the General Synod last year, opening the way for parishes to take part in joint worship and share buildings with more churches than previously possible.
The new rules include churches without a large national presence which will particularly affect newer independent evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic groups, including many black-led churches.
The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, addressing the General Synod, said: “We hope and pray that this will be a sign of encouragement and enthusiasm, which will lead to the renewal and deepening of our life together and our witness to Jesus Christ.”
General Synod backs drive to create new churches on estates
The General Synod of the Church of England has given its overwhelming backing to a drive for a church to be set up on every significant social housing estate in the country, as part of a programme of Renewal and Reform.
All dioceses will now be asked to include evangelism on social housing estates in their strategies and clergy deployment plans.
The Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, who heads the Church of England’s Estates Evangelism Task Group, told the General Synod that in the past, the Church had closed churches and withdrawn clergy from social housing estates.
But now, the Church has a new vision. “It’s a very simple one. To have a loving, serving, worshipping Christian community on every significant social housing estate in the nation. To plant back in the estates we have abandoned, to better support our presence in the places where we’re struggling. If we can do that, the impact on church and nation will be transformative.”
A fifth of the Church of England’s 12,500 parishes are estimated to be ‘estates parishes’, meaning that they include at least 500 social housing units.
Church of England commits to next generation evangelism
The Church of England's General Synod has overwhelmingly called for action with regard to the future of youth evangelism in England, describing the current situation in churches as 'shocking'.
Canon Mark Russell, Chief Executive of the Church Army, revealed that 36% of Anglican congregations have no one under the age of 16. Meanwhile only 6% of Church of England churches have more than 25 under 16-year-olds, and most of these are younger children.
The challenges are particularly acute for teenagers, with many churches having none.
Yet research suggests 13% of teenagers identify as Christian and many respond positively to the Anglican faith.
The Revd Leah Vasey-Saunders said her journey to be a vicar was a direct result of joining a local church choir at the age of 18. “We need to take young people seriously. The time to act is now.”
The Church of England is making progress, with the appointment of its first Youth Evangelism Officer, Jimmy Dale and its first bishop for evangelism to young people, Bishop Paul Williams.
Call for long view on ‘Character Education and Resilience’
Church of England leaders have called for long-term steps to improve resilience among children and young people, as well as those working in schools, as the Government announced a new five-fold plan for character education.
Speaking at the recent Church of England’s National Education Conference, The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said: “What students will not always tell you is how your enthusiasm for a subject has enthused them, how your stability in the midst of an unstable world has held them and how your belief in them has formed them.”
In his speech, the Education Secretary laid out five Foundations for Building Character and pledged to work with schools and external organisations to help every child access activities: Sport, Creativity, Performing, The World of Work, and Volunteering & Membership.
He said: “Character and resilience are the qualities, the inner resources that we call on to get us through the frustrations and setbacks that are part and parcel of life. How do we instil this in young people?”
The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, welcomed the proposals from the Government, but said that success would require long-term commitment.
“The Church of England has been talking about the importance of character-building for hundreds of years, and recently published a report on leadership for character education.”
New standards on gambling advertisements
Following publication by the Committee of Advertising Practice of new standards protecting children from irresponsible gambling advertisements, The Bishop of St Albans, The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, said:
"While I welcome the proposals, these new standards are, in fact, another lost opportunity in the fight against problem gambling.
“With little consequences for companies flouting the rules and few teeth to enforce these new directives, the Committee of Advertising Practice needs to step-up their approach.
"With so many of the proposals relying on betting firms to self-regulate I sadly have little hope for major changes to the way gambling advertises.
"This endless barrage of adverts has normalised gambling and we now have 55,000 children who are problem gamblers and it is time for the gambling industry to take this issue seriously.”
Church welcomes Glencore’s climate change commitments
The Church Commissioners for England and a leading coalition of investors participating in Climate Action 100+ have welcomed a position statement issued by Glencore significantly strengthening its commitment to combat climate change.
In a first for the mining industry, Glencore has agreed to align its business and investments with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which are to limit warming to well below 2 degrees and to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century. Importantly, Glencore has undertaken not to grow its coal production capacity.
Glencore announced its plans in a statement developed after engagement by institutional investors participating in Climate Action 100+, an initiative led by investors with more than $32 trillion in assets under management.
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