idea uniting to change society
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Annual Review p16
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idea september/october 2009
Editor’s note conomic woes and swine flu have dominated our attention all summer. Both seemed to fill the headlines most days, and probably continue to do so even as this issue lands on your doormat. While clearly important, they've also distracted us from the good news of the past few months, namely a concerted effort by Christians to get out into the streets and share with others what Jesus means to them. This is what evangelism is, and it's the final issue in our fourpart series looking at the M, I, L and E in the Alliance's Square Mile initiative (p18). Stories about various aspects of evangelism fill this issue, just as they Don't forget that always do, from preaching to large there's better crowds (Luis Palau in the Highlands on news out there p9 or a local church at the Lichfield Art Festival on p10) to evangelism through action in Sri Lanka (p4), Moldova (p10), Iran (p11) and on behalf of the world's poorest people (p12). Not to mention the range of books, websites, films, debates, courses, events and campaigns that all proclaim the good news. And of course this is also the issue in which we look at what's been happening here at the Evangelical Alliance over the past year. Don't let the limited space fool you: that's just a symptom of how the crunch is affecting idea. The Alliance continues to be as busy as ever, getting out there to mobilise churches to action. And there are two major initiatives highlighted in this issue – Square Mile in September (p18) and Simplify in October (p8). But whatever you get up to over the next few months, don't forget that you have much better news for those around you than they're hearing anywhere else.
Parliament p5 Simplify p8 Events p12
Alpha in prisons p14
14 annual review Building unity p16
16 cover story
E is for evangelism p18
idea Registered Charity No.212325
Head Office 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT tel 020 7207 2100 fax 020 7207 2150 email@example.com • www.eauk.org General Director Steve Clifford Public Policy Executive Director Dr R David Muir Finance & Operations Executive Director Helen Calder Churches in Mission Executive Director Krish Kandiah Conference room bookings Maggie Jones tel: 020 7207 2100 • firstname.lastname@example.org Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland National Director Rev Stephen Cave 440 Shore Road, Newtownabbey BT37 9RU tel: 028 9029 2266 • email@example.com Evangelical Alliance Scotland National Director Rev Fred Drummond 29 Canal Street, Glasgow G4 0AD tel 0141 332 8700 • firstname.lastname@example.org Evangelical Alliance Wales National Director Rev Elfed Godding 20 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT tel: 029 2022 9822 • email@example.com Email address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Rich Cline (email@example.com) Contributing Editor Hazel Southam Head of Communications Miles Giljam Advertising Manager Jack Merrifield (firstname.lastname@example.org) Design Domain Printer Halcyon Print & Design idea magazine is published bimonthly and sent free of charge to members of the Evangelical Alliance. Formed in 1846, the Alliance is the largest body serving evangelical Christians in the UK, and has a membership including denominations, churches, organisations and individuals. The Alliance’s mission is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. There are around 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK, according to a 2007 Tearfund survey. idea is published in accordance with the Alliance’s Basis of Faith, although it is impossible in every article to articulate each detail and nuance of belief held by Alliance members. Articles in idea may therefore express views on which there is a divergence of opinion or understanding among evangelicals. Story ideas from members are welcome, and will be considered by the editorial board. Unsolicited material will not be returned unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope has been provided. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from the editor. idea accepts advertisements and inserts to offset printing costs. Advertising in idea does not imply editorial endorsement. The Alliance reserves the right to accept or refuse advertisements at its discretion.
18 culture Talking about Darwin p23 Film clips p25 The Basics: trust and encouragement p26
23 voice Your voice p28 Essay: R David Muir p29
Last word: Steve Clifford p30
idea september/october 2009
Christians respond to civil war
Sinhalese and Tamil Christians have united with the Alliance to call on UK churches for prayer and donations to agencies working in the country. With 250,000 civilians displaced in government camps, the needs are overwhelming. Alliance General Director Steve Clifford said, “The British Church gave very generously to relieve suffering in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. I cannot doubt that similar generosity will be shown to all those suffering and displaced by the recent conflict.” Specifically reaching out to orphaned and displaced children, Coventrybased Global Care is bringing Sinhalese and Tamil people together after years of bitter fighting. Rt Rev John Stroyan, Bishop of Warwick and president of the Cross of Nails community, said, “Global Care, as a Cross of Nails centre, is committed not only to children in need, but to the work of reconciliation in countries with communities in conflict.” Global Care is supporting an initiative to help Tamil children living in army-run camps for displaced people. The military has not yet released anyone, despite crowded conditions. Drinking water is available but sanitation is a concern, and school-age children have asked for help with education to bring some normality back into their lives. Global Care’s partners plan to construct temporary houses and a temporary school. Alliance members including Tearfund, World Vision and Barnabus Fund are working directly with the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka. Pastor Antonypillai Caesar, co-ordinator of Churches Together, a network of Tamil and Sinhalese pastors based in Croydon, said, “The people in the camps have immediate practical needs, which we are trying to meet. We are also praying for peace. People have suffered so much on both sides.” wer-uk.org
Teens give back A specially commissioned Alliance report has found that 45 per cent of English young people volunteer at least once a month and 80 per cent donate money to charity each month. With a foreword by the Prince of Wales, Young People Matter features results of a survey of more than 700 British teenagers. The report says that young volunteers give on average 3.57 hours a month, which when projected across England is the equivalent of 33,000 full-time workers. Most of this voluntary work takes place through churches or religious organisations, and 10 per cent of those who declared themselves “non-religious” still volunteer through a religious organisation. The report also found that the more active the young person is as a Christian, the more likely they are to volunteer. “I am deeply impressed by their efforts and these deserve to be recognised more widely,” wrote Prince Charles in his foreword. “I sincerely hope that young people themselves will be inspired by the
findings of this report. What is striking, as the report highlights, is the way in which personal faith and religious organisations encourage young people to volunteer.” One teen, Nicole May, serves on the panel of the Manchester City Council Youth Opportunity Fund, which gives young people the chance to engage in positive activities. As part of her role, 17-year-old Nicole helps set up grant criteria, reviews grant applications, trains new panel members and visits beneficiaries. “I decided I wanted to give something back to the community, rather than just sitting at home watching TV,” she said. “I am a Christian, and my faith motivates me to volunteer. I am also from the AfroCaribbean community, and since a lot of
young black people get bad press, I wanted to highlight the positive things happening in the community and dispel some of the negative connotations.” The Alliance’s General Director, Steve Clifford, said, “These results demonstrate what I have seen and known for years: that young people, contrary to the stereotypes, make a massive positive difference in our communities. Far too often they are branded as hoodies or gang members when the real statistics tell a very different story.” eauk.org/public-affairs
idea september/october 2009
Equality Bill and the EU Equal Treatment Directive - both of which threaten to make life more difficult for Christians - the Care report comes with a foreword from the Bishop of Winchester, Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, who expressed concern that the drift of
Teaching code improved The General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) recently published a new draft code that included wording that many Christian teachers said could result in a chilling effect with regard to reasonable expression of their faith. It could also perhaps coerce them into promotion of views and lifestyles with which they disagreed. However, following representations made by a number of organisations, including the Alliance, it appears that substantial common-sense changes have been made to a key section of the code designed to tackle discrimination in schools. Originally the section set out how teachers should “promote equality and value diversity”, but the proposals have now been significantly amended to a requirement to
EQUALITIES REPORT. In July, Alliance member agency Care released the first of two key reports in response to growing governmental pressures for Christians to keep their faith private. Prompted by the introduction of the Government’s new
promote equality and “demonstrate respect” for diversity. The new version should go a long way towards meeting the concerns of Christian teachers and others who, while respecting diversity and valuing equality, believed that the code could have been used to unduly restrict religious freedom. Denying claims by secular humanist groups that the GTCE had “caved in” to demands of faith groups, the GTCE insisted that it had “changed the wording to relate only to teachers’ actions, and not their values or beliefs”, adding that the code would clearly set out teachers’ duties to treat all pupils, parents and colleagues "fairly and with respect" whatever their background, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief.
equalities legislation in the UK is increasingly making Britain a “cold place for Christians”. The report looks at the pressures for the “privatisation” of faith resulting from equalities legislation with respect to employment and goods and services provision and lists a number of recent cases where Christian liberty in the UK has suffered. Care Chief Executive Nola Leach said, “We hope that the report will be widely read by Christians and that it will help them gain a greater understanding of the impact of recent equalities legislation, the Equality Bill currently before Parliament and the very considerable way in which public Christianity has benefited the UK in the past.” care.org.uk CORONERS AND JUSTICE BILL. On 9 July the House of Lords defeated a Government attempt to remove protection for freedom of speech in the Coroners and Justice Bill by 186 votes to 133. The move was intended to overturn a “free speech” defence to the law on homophobic incitement to hatred. Lord Waddington, a Conservative peer, put forward an amendment that preserved the clause and this was agreed by 53 votes. The result means that legislation continues to make it clear that criticism of sexual conduct in itself is not a hate crime. Speaking in the debate the Bishop of Winchester said, “People of all sorts in this country need to be assured, peaceably and quietly, whether on street corners, in churches, mosques, synagogues or wherever, that they are free to express views that others may strongly disagree with but which question the current dominant political orthodoxy.” In the same week, the Lords rejected an attempt to amend the same bill in order to allow family and friends to travel with terminally ill patients to clinics abroad for assisted suicide. This presented a clear danger that vulnerable people could be pressurised into prematurely ending their lives. The vote to defeat the amendment was 194 to 141. The Alliance public affairs team is engaged in extended lobbying and briefing and worked together with key Christian and other groups to ensure an effective coordinated strategy. The Government may still try to insist that the free speech safeguard is removed when the bill returns to the House of Commons this autumn. eauk.org/pq Daniel Webster
idea september/october 2009
Millionth child sponsored lliance member charity Compassion International this summer celebrated the sponsorship of its 1 millionth child, an 8-year-old boy from Togo in West Africa who is sponsored by an Olympic gold medallist. Fellow Blewussi Kpodo (pictured, right) and Jang Mi-ran (inset) of Korea were brought together through Compassion’s oneto-one child sponsorship programme, which helps to release children from poverty while fostering a strong relationship between the child and the sponsor. Jang, a long-time Compassion supporter,
became known as the “world's strongest woman” after winning the superheavyweight weightlifting class at last year’s Beijing Olympics. By contrast, Kpodo is one of four children who live with their father in Kelegougan, 10km northeast of the capital Lomé. Kpodo’s mother was killed as a pedestrian while saving one of his older sisters from an oncoming car. Following this tragic loss, Kpodo’s father continues to work for the family of five as a driver. “This particular sponsorship is very special in that it represents a milestone for
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our ministry,” said Compassion President Wess Stafford. “Compassion is now serving 1 million children and their sponsors. And who better to stand alongside this precious little one? The strongest woman in the world is now sponsoring one of the most vulnerable children in the world.” Compassion’s aim is to tackle global poverty one child at a time, working holistically through local churches to address the individual physical, economic, educational and spiritual needs of children, enabling them to thrive, not just survive. Over its 57-year history, more than 2 million children have been served through the organisation’s programs, but this is the first time that 1 million children have been sponsored concurrently. compassionuk.org Compassion
idea september/october 2009
New members The Alliance welcomes the following members...
ORGANISATIONS Aids Care, Education and Training, Brentford Exeter ICE Charitable Trust, Exeter Precept Ministries - Northern Ireland, Belfast Precept Ministries UK, Salisbury Reason Why, Selkirk SDM Christian Productions Ltd, Streatham, London Pastoral Alliance, Ladbroke Grove, London Word of Life, Worcester
Honouring innovation A teenager from Southhampton won the Youth Website of the Year award at July’s Surefish Awards, which were voted on by visitors to Christian Aid’s Surefish site and Church Times’ website. Connect Southampton is the creation of 17-year-old Sam Matthews (pictured, centre, with BBC Songs of Praise presenter Pam Rhodes and a Connect Southampton colleague). Matthews said he devotes about 10 hours a week to maintaining and upgrading the site. “Our team represents churches across Southampton,” he said. “It’s a labour of love for me. We are about linking everyone into Connect Southampton.” The Local Church Website of the Year
Award was won by another teen, 18-yearold Nick Salisbury, who designed and manages the site for St Andrew’s Church in Rochdale, Manchester. “I’ve been designing sites since I was 8 years old,” said Salisbury, who spends just a few hours on the site each week. “I suppose it’s like designing a house – you get the same sort of rewards.” Hosting the awards in London, Pam Rhodes said, “We’re getting information on everything now from the computer; we reach for the mouse and not the directory. What we’ve seen today is excellent in terms of innovation, business enterprise, imagination and technical skill.” surefish.co.uk
Trans World Radio God’s Word in today’s world Trans World Radio in the UK produces and broadcasts a huge variety of quality Christian radio programmes for teaching, encouragement, entertainment and outreach. The schedule includes daily Bible studies, family programmes and slots by many well known preachers and evangelists. You can listen to TWR on digital television, on your radio or on-line. Tune in today, or call 0161 923 0270 for your free listening guide. Trans World Radio, PO Box 606, Altrincham, WA14 2YS Telephone: 0161 923 0270 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.twr.org.uk
CHURCHES Bethel Prayer Centre International Ministries, Croydon Christian Community Church, Narberth, Pembrokshire Church of Promise, Newark The Community Church, Henfield Consuming Fire Ministries, Worcester East Basingstoke Community Church, Basingstoke Ferndown United Church, Ferndown, Dorset Glorious Inheritance Mission Worldwide, Tottenham, London King's Church Southend, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex New Life Church, Salford, Lancashire North Basingstoke Community Church, Basingstoke Rehoboth International Christian Centre, Croydon Seion Welsh Baptist Chapel, Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taff South Basingstoke Community Church, Basingstoke The Sower Church Christian Community, Liverpool Tayside Christian Fellowship, Perth
To request a membership information pack for an individual, church or Christian ministry, contact email@example.com
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idea september/october 2009
Simplify your life
For some people, living on benefits is a long-term way of life.
ecent projections suggest that UK unemployment will reach 3 million by the end of the year, and this will continue to rise even after the economy begins to recover. For most Britons, the natural reaction to this grim news is to save money as a precaution in the face of possible redundancy. But the Alliance is offering an alternative response. As reported in the last issue of idea, nearly 60 members of Southampton Vineyard chose to live for a month on the amount that they would receive on benefits. Together they raised £24,000 on top of their regular giving and distributed these funds between two local charities helping people in poverty, as well as projects in India and Zimbabwe. Following this example, UK churches will take part in the Alliance’s Simplify initiative this October, continuing on from a month-long focus on Square Mile in September (see p18). General Director Steve Clifford, who lived on this budget during August, said, “The preparation for Simplify helped us understand just how complex our lives have become. It’s good to be asking ourselves fundamental questions about the choices we make. Although we knew that we were only living like this for just a month, while for some it’s a long-term way of life.” Simplify is a call to discipleship – an encouragement to live more simply in difficult economic conditions by cutting out unessential luxuries and remembering
that they cannot offer true fulfilment. But it is not just about being frugal; Jesus commanded His disciples not to store up treasures on earth but in Heaven where they cannot be destroyed. Matt Hyam, senior pastor of Southampton Vineyard, made the important point that it is not just about the financial cost: “It would have been easy to buy cheap stuff from less ethical sources, but where is the point in that? Someone pays for it.”
A small difference? Simplify can help churches and individuals to make a small difference in their community by modelling a pro-active
It’s good to be ask questions about the choices we make
response while providing vital funds for services that are experiencing an extraordinary strain on resources. Churches will decide where the money goes – perhaps to a food bank or a debtcounselling centre trying to get off the ground. Or there may be families in the congregation or neighbourhood that need direct support in the coming months. As Matt Hyam said, “I know that the money we gave away made much, much more difference to its recipients that it would ever have made to us.”
So what will Simplify entail? A couple without children will have around £411 to live on a month after housing costs. Those with children get more; singles get less. Because everyone's situation is different, there is no single figure on what participants should give, but Simplify provides budgeting sheets to help work it out. Steve Clifford’s blog about his experience in August can be found on the Simplify website, along with resources and tips on how to get through the month. Many causes of poverty remain common in Britain as well as overseas. While Simplify offers a practical response to the effects of economic hardship, there is also a clear need to address the root causes of this situation. Steve Clifford believes that “Christians should offer an antidote to the consumerist drive of contemporary culture”, especially as Britain remains on course to achieve a record budget deficit in the next few years. In response to this, the Alliance has commissioned a report that will look into the theological and economic questions that lie behind the powerful role that debt has come to play in almost every sector of society. “So in addition to Simplify providing an opening for everyone to respond practically with generosity,” said Clifford, “we will keep you up-to-date with research on what a Christian worldview says about how and why we got into the current economic situation.” simplify.org.uk Daniel Webster
idea september/october 2009
Highland Festival reaches thousands
Luis Palau Association
More than 100 churches took part in this summer’s Highland Festival, supplying more than 1,000 volunteers for 63 events over a two-week period. During that time, more than 20,000 people were reached directly with the Gospel, with some 750 making decisions for Christ. At the festival’s climax 19-20 June in Bught Park, Inverness, evangelist Luis Palau spoke to an audience of around 8,000 people, who also enjoyed a concert from Christian bands such as Delirious, LZ7, Hillsong London and The Listening. Extreme sports demonstrations from professional skateboarders and BMX riders were especially popular with the thousands of young people who attended. Denominations working together to run the event included the Church of Scotland, the Associated Presbyterian Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, Baptists, Methodists, the Salvation Army and many others. Randal Burtis, who organised the event on behalf of the Luis Palau Association, said, “This effort was a
howling success which exceeded all our expectations. To reach 20,000 people with a positive message of hope is something that the local organising committee should be very proud of. It was their efforts that made the festival free and well-publicised for all of their friends and neighbours. The Luis Palau Association found a wonderful spirit of co-operation in all the Highland communities we visited.” palau.org
Panel debates evangelicalism The Alliance’s Head of Theology, Dr Justin Thacker, took part in a debate at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on 22 June, which examined the impact of evangelical Christianity on the world. Debating with Thacker at MegaGod: The Evangelical Strain were John Micklethwait, editor of The Economist and co-author of God Is Back, and Ian Linden, director of the Faith Acts programme at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. All panellists highlighted the global expansion of evangelical Christianity, drawing attention to mega-churches in South Korea, revival in Africa and the growth of Pentecostalism in South America. Thacker proposed that this is because Christianity fills a hunger people have for liberation and hope. Through lively questions and discussion, the audience demonstrated a strong desire to understand the impact church growth is likely to have globally. “In a context where all we hear is stories of church decline,” Thacker said later, “it was great to be able to draw attention to what God is doing across the world in bringing thousands of people to Himself. It was particularly good to be able to do this in the presence of such senior journalists and opinion formers.”
“Without your financial support Nastya could be homeless again.” SGA has been involved in the care and support of orphans in Ukraine for many years. However, on reaching 18, teenagers must leave the orphanages where they have received the love and care of Christian house parents and step out on their own. NASTYA has been at the orphanage since 2000 when both her parents died of drugs overdoses. Today she is a good student at the High School and wishes to continue her education but is unsure where she will go and how she will live.
• Training • Literature • Support • Sponsorship • Crisis Response
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SGA is helping Grace Church in Odessa with financial support to build a Transition House for teenagers such as Nastya which will house 65 young people in separate apartments giving them both the independence and support they need. Additional finance is needed to support this building project. Will you please help us with this CRISIS RESPONSE MINISTRY to orphans in Eastern Europe?
Slavic Gospel Association, 37a The Goffs, Eastbourne East Sussex, BN21 1HF
idea september/october 2009
At the heart of the city
A church in Lichfield was awarded a “highly commended” certificate in the Best Community Venue category by the Lichfield Chamber of Trade & Commerce in July. Wade Street Church, an Alliance member ecumenical partnership with Baptist and United Reformed roots, has a mission to be “a church at the heart of the city with Christ at the heart of the church”. In July, church members performed the Crucifixion and Burial Plays as part of the three-yearly production of the Lichfield Mysteries in Lichfield Cathedral. With the help
of Wade Street Church, “and we were delighted to be able to join hundreds of other actors in this spectacular presentation of the story of the Bible to an audience of thousands.” Following this and the community award presentation, the church was involved in the local Fuse Festival, a fringe event alongside the Lichfield International Arts Festival. Several members of the congregation exhibited their work, performing on one of the music stages and staffing a quiet space tent on the edge of the festival village. On Sunday morning the congregation held its worship service on the main stage (below), taking the theme of the festival – Words & Voices – as the focus. wadestreetchurch.com
of two professional actors, they acted out the crucifixion with a female Jesus (Jo Hodgkiss, above) and a Greek-style chorus of weeping Marys. Although using Middle English script, the action was set in a 21st century context, and the burial involved a coffin and hearse provided by local undertakers. “The Crucifixion is the centrepiece of the cycle of 27 plays,” said Ian Hayter, minister
Christians reach out to Europe’s poorest nation Residents of a small village in Europe’s poorest nation have forged a partnership with Christians in one of Britain’s most historic towns. Members of Hitchin Christian Centre in Hertfordshire are reaching out to the villagers of Risipeni, Moldova, a community without heating or even a flushing toilet. Sharon Eason has travelled 1,300 miles from Hitchin to Moldova to oversee conversion of a disused hotel into a modern centre to provide badly needed accommodation and care for elderly people. In an area where temperatures plummet to -25 degrees Celsius in the winter, people are still living without heating or constant light, and still using toilets made from rough outside trenches. Building work on the centre, fuelled by donations organised by the church, should be completed by autumn. “Most people haven’t a clue where Moldova is, sandwiched between the Ukraine and Romania in the far eastern part of Europe,” says Eason. “So why should they have any idea of the enormous poverty faced by people living there, especially the elderly who are left to fend for themselves? We always think of Europe as rich and modern – but Moldova is a long way from that.’’ The new centre will also be used as a day centre for the community, hosting activities, clubs and providing support for young people and families struggling on a small weekly wage. hcc.org.uk
idea september/october 2009
Course offers confidence
As the politically charged situation in Iran continues to develop, Christians are being urged to pray for the country using a new guide called Iran 30, produced by Alliance member Elam Ministries, which is designed to help Christians understand what is happening behind the scenes in Iran and pray effectively. Users can also follow Iran 30 online with Facebook and Twitter. “Our goal is to get at least 100,000 Christians to use Iran 30,” said Sara Roshanzamir of Elam Ministries, which was founded in 1988 by senior Iranian church leaders who wanted to train and equip Iranian Christians to reach and disciple their neighbours. The most conservative estimate is that there are at least 100,000 believers in Iran. One leader of a fast-growing house church network said, “The situation is very bad... [but] we will stand with our people because we love them and strongly believe each one of them could be a child of God in His Kingdom. Now, more than ever, we need people to pray for us.” The guide offers 30 short, easy-to-read
Christians in the UK are taking advantage of a new resource that helps them grow in their faith, live it out and share it with others. In the past five years, more than 20,000 people have been through Blowing Your Cover, which is published by Monarch Books. “We did this course over a period of 12 weeks, thus enabling us to delve deeper into the whole area of our faith,” said John Peel, pastor of Elim Community Church on the Isle of Man. “It was quite remarkable to see folk who had struggled with feelings of inadequacy, failure and guilt in the area of personal evangelism being released to share their faith with newfound confidence. Many are successfully sharing their faith now, so much so that we are preparing to run an Alpha course.” Designed specifically for UK churches, the course compliments Alpha, Freedom in Christ, Christianity Explored, J John’s Breaking News and all of the Purpose Driven series. Training days are planned in October and November in Cornwall, Devon and Hertfordshire. blowingyourcover.com
Uniting to help Iran
sections organised under four key subject areas. “Iran 30 is a tremendous resource to help educate our people and focus our prayer efforts for Iran,” said Durwood Snead, director of GlobalX. “I can’t think of a more strategic way to pray for the Muslim world.” iran30.org
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Questions linger about global hunger After July’s G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, Alliance member World Vision is drawing attention to key unanswered questions as to whether £12.2bn over three years for food and agriculture will truly help 1 billion people suffering from hunger. “The G8 wanted to pull a big rabbit out of the hat on the final day,” said World Vision’s Head
of Public Affairs, Patrick Watt, “but it’s still unclear how much of this sum is an illusion and how much is a real effort to end global hunger. Leaders have not said how the initiative will be rolled out; how much of it will be loans and how much grants? Significantly, the initiative does not yet include a donor-by-donor breakdown, making accountability impossible.” Watt stressed that considering the G8’s failure to meet their promise to double aid to Africa by 2010, it must seize this opportunity to help save millions of lives and demonstrate global leadership. “Every six seconds a child dies of hunger-related causes. Malnourished children in poor countries are twice as likely to die from such diseases as malaria and
pneumonia. If this renewed focus on fighting global hunger is followed through, it will be the best decision the G8 leaders have made in L’Aquila,” he said. After the G8’s “weak and ambiguous” communiqué on African aid, World Vision’s Director of Advocacy in Africa Sue Mbaya said, “It’s a huge blow that the G8 has sidestepped the urgent need to accelerate progress on reducing child and maternal mortality. There is now no way they can meet their 2005 promise to double aid for Africa by 2010. And this year’s failure is particularly significant as the current economic crisis means up to 2.8 million more children could die by 2015.” worldvision.org.uk
SERIOUS FUN. A new activity book from London City Mission is helping care home residents to stimulate their minds and engage their brains. Fun With a Purpose is a compilation of resources developed by LCM worker Sylvena Farrant for older people who, because of lack of mobility or restricted eyesight or hearing, can no longer enjoy traditional games like Scrabble or Dominoes. Some of the activities are based on old favourites that have been simplified and adapted. Noting that Fun With a Purpose has a “serious purpose”, LCM Chief Executive John Nicholls (pictured, left, at the launch with Farrant as well as Mission Care’s Brian James and Outlook Trust’s David and Judy Heydon) said, “The next generation of people coming into care homes will be those who have had little contact with the Church and have been bombarded with so much anti-Christian teaching. With this whole generation on the brink of eternity, I cannot think of a ministry closer to God’s heart than this.” lcm.org.uk
Young Disciples 22 Sep, London
Impact the Nations 7-11 Oct, South Wales
This series of training and teaching half-days at London Institute of Contemporary Christianity is designed to equip churches to face the unique challenges of disciple-making in the 21st century. Jon Langford will be presenting his TaG mentoring system. licc.org.uk
The theme of 1020 Vision’s conference this year is teamwork, highlighting the fact that we can only achieve the big goals in life when we work together. It will also launch the 1020 Vision for a decade of prayer and outreach between 2010 and 2020. 1020vision.com
Amos Day 26 Sep, London
Living With a Problem Drinker 17 Oct, Exeter
Sponsored by Amos Trust, this conference will focus on partner organisation Umthombo Street Children’s work in Durban. The day will also feature a Palestinian lunch, Nicaraguan poetry and opportunities for resources and networking. amostrust.org
Dr John McMahon, a leading expert in addiction and recovery, will help the Association of Christian Counsellors South West region to explore how counsellors can support people who are living with problem drinkers. For details, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond Online Sermons 2 Oct, London
Influence 21-21 Oct, High Leigh
A one-day training seminar at the Alliance will help churches and ministries take advantage of podcast technology. David Couchman, producer of the Alliance’s Slipstream podcast, will make it easy to get your church and your ministry up, running and podcasting. eauk.org/slipstream
Aimed at church leadership, this conference offers the chance to hear from pioneers at the cutting edge of church and secular leadership and to provide space to unpack how some of these theories/practices relate to the delegates’ personal context. sharejesusinternational.com
Justice and Young Adults 3 Oct, London
Just Generation Conference 31 Oct, Edinburgh
This workshop is only open to church leaders and those working with young adults. Andy Frost of Share Jesus International and Chris Mead of Christian Aid will help participants think creatively about how they can help young people put their faith in action. To register, email: email@example.com
This one-day conference will feature worship, workshops and speakers Ruth Valerio and Chuck Freeland. Attendees are invited to come and be challenged, equipped and motivated to see the biblical call for justice in their own lives, in our nation and across the world. justgeneration.org
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f o t n e mom
e s a rele Until he went on the Alpha course, John F was another re-offending statistic. The 33-year-old grew up in Barnstaple with a childhood marked out by “rebellion and anger”. First jailed in his teens for aggravated burglary and bodily harm, he moved on to drug dealing. “There are a lot of people that I’ve hurt, emotionally and physically,” he says. In his own words, here’s how God put his life back on track...
or the last 12 years, churches around Britain have been running Alpha courses in prisons, reports Hazel Southam. Today, the courses run in over 70 per cent of Britain’s jails and the effect has been astounding. The normal re-offending rate is high, as two-thirds of all prisoners are back in prison within two years of their release, half within 12 months. But early findings show that the re-offending rate among those who’ve done the Alpha course is just 22 per cent.
When I went in on my last sentence, it was as if God put a mirror in front of me. I could see who I was for the first time, and I didn’t like it. I’ve always been very spiritually aware; I have always been fascinated with truth. I was up a mountain and remember saying, “God, whoever you are, you’re out there, show me who you really are. Reveal yourself to me.” Then I packed up my stuff and came down.
training or planning your activities for 2009/10? For these and a wide range of other services, to meet both your spiritual and more practical needs, please check out:
God took me from the fast lane and put me in a place where I had to be still
Two or three weeks later I began a new sentence. It was like a blessing in disguise, as if God was hearing that prayer and answering it, which is what blessing is. He took me away from the fast lane of life and put me in a place where I had to be still. Part of that “stilling”, the only thing that I can really liken it to, was like an operating table. It hurts, and every once in a while you want to get off the table and run around but God says, “Be still so that I can transform you.” I’d never thought of reading the Bible when I was outside. I never thought that truth could be so close, like a Bible in your hand. So when I was made to be still in that prison, and there was a Gideon’s Bible there, [I read it]. I’d heard lots about the Bible because my friend and partner in crime had been talking about it. He had become a Christian about a year and a half before. That caused me to start reading the Bible. At first I was in Exeter prison. Another Christian told me that there were some onfire Christians in HMP Dartmoor who would be able to tell me more about God. So I put in for a transfer. Alpha helped me to grow, which was like
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spiritual milk, a little meal. I remember leaving some of those worship sessions feeling exhausted but not being able to sleep – it was that kind of high. I can remember other people’s experiences, grown men breaking down and crying, men changed – tough men scared. The biggest ways in which the church helped me was through letter-writing, providing resources, Bibles, tapes and so on.
I was sent a Bible from someone in a church in Devon. That was the most precious gift that anyone ever gave me while I was in prison. Another gift that encouraged and helped me develop was a guitar given by Holy Trinity Brompton. I was able to start leading the worship in prison. The most critical or vital time in an inmate’s walk with God is that moment of release: that someone is there at the gate. The only person to meet them at the gate the majority of the time is Satan. If there’s no one there to take them in and give them a chance, or a blessing, they have no hope. When I came out, someone from Holy Trinity Brompton met me, which was quite profound. He brought family. Lots of these guys have no family. But [I was] met at the gate and driven to a house where I had a roof, food and clothes provided for me. I didn’t have to steal for food. That’s a huge deal. John was released from prison in 2001 and is now married with three children. He has moved to Suffolk where he is involved in his church’s worship team and is developing a farming project that seeks to provide men coming out of prison with accommodation, training, employment and discipleship. alpha.org/prisons
Prison Ministry Conference 20 November 2009, Holy Trinity Brompton ‘Working Together Inside and Outside the Prison Wall’ Including contributions from Police, Church Leaders, Volunteers, Ex-Offenders, Politicians, Victims and Prison Staff. For information or booking: 0207 052 0440 or go to the website: www.htb.org.uk/conferences “… while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight… while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight, I'll fight to the very end!” William Booth – Founder of the Salvation Army, 1829 -1912
Alpha for Prisons
Seeing lives transformed
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Building unity ‘
1 April 2008 – 31 March 2009
The opportunity before us is to use this time of crisis to create a renewed shared vision – John Sentamu
IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE. Much of the Alliance’s activity in public policy takes place behind closed doors, building relationships with Government officials in Westminster, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and Brussels. More public events included November’s Temple Address by the Archbishop of York, Rt Rev John Sentamu.
Churches can make a great difference to their neighbourhoods – Hazel Blears
ADDRESSING THE CRUNCH. The Alliance’s Life Beyond Debt campaign is offering help for those facing financial difficulties due to the recession. At a special event in February, then-Communities Secretary Hazel Blears addressed church leaders and Christian debt experts. And the policy advisory group is reimagining the economy in light of Christian principles.
The church was a godsend. They came and gave us clothes and whatever we needed ’ – Phuoc Tan Diep
PUBLIC BENEFITS. An audit of the voluntary sector in Wales showed a value to the economy of £102m, with churches providing 97 per cent of volunteer hours from faith communities. Throughout the UK, the Alliance is working to unite evangelical churches, organisations and individuals to effectively transform society.
JUSTICE FOR ALL. Over the past year, the Alliance has spoken out for immigrants and refugees, help for suffering Zimbabweans, the reduction of poverty and other major issues. Constructive engagement with government is the primary focus along with grass roots action from churches and individuals.
The faith sector’s contribution to the benefit of society is not confined to the past – Julian Richards
The Evangelical Alliance’s objectives and activities all centre around a vision of “uniting to change society”. There are four key approaches: being a voice in the public square; mobilising evangelicals to engage in spiritual and social transformation; encouraging Christians to work alltogether; and servicing the strategic needs of Alliance members...
I believe it’s very important to be part of the political arena – Patsy McKie
RESOURCING THE CHURCH. In addition to such initiatives as Don’t Be a Stranger, Square Mile, Life Beyond Debt and Slipstream, the Alliance’s communications team keeps in touch with members through publications and websites, highlighting programmes and events while sharing good news stories. The Alliance press office is helping churches run media hubs to share good news in their communities.
The things that unite us are far greater than the things we might have differences about – Steve Clifford
Financial review God continues to meet the needs of the Alliance through the prayers and donations of people, churches and organisations who are united in the mission to change society. Over the financial year, donations provided 84 per cent of the total income of £2,423,805. And nearly half (49%) of these donations were from individuals. Additional income came through tax claimed on Gift Aid declarations (9%), member churches (16%) and organisations (7%), charitable trusts (2%) and trading income (8%). In addition, a number of legacies were received. These funds were almost entirely spent on charitable activities (91%), with the remaining amount relating to publicity and fundraising. More than half of the total expenditure of £2,647,928 went to ministries for change, while another 35 per cent went to uniting and resourcing members. Just 3 per cent was spent on governance costs.
LOOKING AHEAD. The year 2009-10 started with the arrival of the Alliance’s new General Director Steve Clifford, and planned activities include: • the continuing promotion of unity • an emphasis on faith in the public square • further implementation of Square Mile resources, including Simplify • strengthening relationships with member churches • a focus on the 20-30 generation • growth of the Alliance’s web-based resources • continued Forum for Change activities • a major Micah Challenge campaign in 2010 • development of the 2011 Bible Fresh initiative.
ACTIVE CITIZENS. In July 2008, the Micah Challenge UK team facilitated a walk by 670 Anglican bishops attending the Lambeth Conference, who were joined by 1,500 faith leaders and diplomats to demand that governments hit targets to help the poor have better nutrition, education and health care.
This has been an amazing journey for all of us – Lauren Tomlinson
This is one of the greatest public demonstrations of faith that this great city has ever seen – Gordon Brown
WORKING ALLTOGETHER. The Alliance-facilitated Forum for Change networks expertise in key disciplines, while Square Mile mobilises churches to reach local communities. The Alliance supported the nationwide Hope08 initiative and participated in major events such as the celebration in Belfast, attended by more than 30,000 people.
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COUNCIL MEMBERS: Robert Amess, David Banting, Fran Beckett, Carl Beech, Steve Blaber, Colin Bones, Lyndon Bowring, David Bruce, Jon Burns, Derek Burnside, Alistair Burt, John Butcher, Fiona Castle, Tim Cawston, Keith Civval, Graeme Clark, Kate Coleman, Louise Coningsby, Eldin Corsie, Tracy Cotterell, Derek Crookes, Paul Dicken, Elaine Duncan, John Dunnett, JonathanEdwards, Roger Forster, Rachel Gardner, Jean Gibson, Ram Gidoomal, Sheena Gillies, Ruth Gilson, John Glass, Richard Gough, Peter Grant, Sharon Hanson, Jenny Hill, Jennifer Hogg, Jane Holloway, Ann Holt, Nigel James, Rob James, David Jones, Nola Leach, Martin Lee, Tricia Marnham, Howard Marshall, Alex McIlhinney, Stephen McQuoid, Ken Morgan, John Mumford, Dermot O’Callaghan, Olu Ojedokun, Pedro Okoro, Jonathan Oleyede, Tani Omideyi, Siew Huat Ong, Norman Ord, Mike Pilavachi, Kenneth Prior, Lee Rayfield, Andy Reed, Julian Richards, Mark Russell, Keith Short, Carolyn Skinner, Arlene Small, Pat Storey, Chris Summerton, Neil Summerton, Mike Talbot, Jonathan Thornton, Derek Tidball, Paul Weaver, Paul Woolley. This is a summary of financial activities for the year ended 31 March 2009. Figures include unrestricted and restricted funds of the charity and the trading activities of EA Developments Ltd. They are taken from the full audited Annual Report & Financial Statements, which are available from the Evangelical Alliance, 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT.
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is for evangelism After mercy, influence and life discipleship, Hazel Southam explores how evangelism fits into the Alliance’s Square Mile initiative, helping churches reach out to their local communities... icture the scene: Billy Graham is delivering a rousing message to a packed Wembley Stadium. He asks those who want to give their life to Christ to come forward. People stream down the aisles. That’s evangelism right? Well, while big stadium evangelism with a famous name is as relevant today as it ever was, it is far from the full story. Around the country individuals and churches are finding varied and creative ways to impart the Gospel. And most of the time this doesn’t require a stadium. “There’s still a role for the evangelist who has a specific and unique gift in helping people come to faith,” says Krish Kandiah, the Alliance’s executive director for Churches in Mission. “But in general today evangelism is more localised and contextual.” People have, he says, been encouraged by courses like Alpha to see that the local church can reach out to the local community and expect to see people come to faith. “I think that there are some positive changes in our approach to evangelism thanks to
Mayor John Wilkinson officially opens the prayer box in Erith.
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works. There’s a latent belief out there. And for us to pray for people is a great witness.”
Introducing people to Jesus Steven Anderson is also using prayer as a means of evangelism. Co-founder of the Healing Rooms Scotland, Steven has a small “prayer shop” in Glasgow where people can drop in and receive prayer. “Our aim here is to make the healing, liberating, saving power of God accessible to everyone in Scotland,” he says. “It’s very much about healing being a key means of introducing people to Jesus. Healing rooms should be places that anyone can get to and feel comfortable walking in. We have them in church buildings, shops, community centres and market places.” Steven’s convinced that simply setting up Healing Rooms has had a profound effect. “We’ve seen lots of healings – physical, emotional, spiritual and mental,” he says, “and also a significant number of people
We hold our breath when we open the prayer box, because we never know what to expect
Alpha and Christianity Explored. We now see evangelism as a process rather than a crisis. It’s not collaring someone on their doorstep, it’s relational,” says Krish. “And we are seeing a lot of creativity.” Mick Harvey certainly thinks creatively. He’s part of a team in Erith, in outer London, which has placed a prayer box in the local Morrisons supermarket. So in Erith, while you’re picking up your shopping, you can drop off a note asking for prayer. “We hold our breath when we open the prayer box,” says Mick, “because we never know what to expect.” Relationship problems, illness and hospital visits are all frequent requests. But the prayers of immigrants looking for homes and work also often feature, reflecting the realities of today’s world. The scheme has been going nearly a decade, and in that time the nine-strong church team has prayed about thousands of requests. “We get a few who want us to pray for superficial things like winning the Lottery,” says Mick, “but on the whole it’s obvious that people feel that prayer
J John shares the good news in Winchester Cathedral.
Healing Rooms Scotland
Volunteers reach out in the Healing Rooms.
is the sort of thing the Church should be doing.” Working together is another thing the Church should be doing. Just ask the group of 35 churches in Hampshire that teamed up with evangelist J John to run Just 10, a series of talks based on the Ten Commandments, at Winchester Cathedral earlier this year. So big was the appeal of this event that the 2,000seat cathedral wasn’t big enough. In the end, the cathedral was the hub and coverage of the event was beamed to eight other churches in the area, including county towns and New Forest villages. Some 23,000
There was an atmosphere of spine-tingling awe with people singing the praises of God
come to faith. It’s raised the faith level in a lot of places and opened up new channels for outreach: we have a healing room operating in a prison now and teams going into psychic fairs, where we see God really moving. “People from outside the Church have reacted really positively. So many people are very open to being prayed for. A number of folks comment to us that this
CAFÉ CHURCH. When the 30 to 40 people in the church in Binley Woods near Coventry realised that few fresh faces were coming to services, they decided to do something about it. The congregation wasn’t put off by the size of the task. Instead, it launched a café church in the village hall once a month on a Friday night. The themed evenings feature a short DVD presentation, a reflection and time for a chat. Thirty non-churchgoers and 15 children regularly attend. “Our village isn’t a deprived area,” says church member Shan Dobinson, “and people think they have no need for God. But they seem to enjoy it and keep coming back. Some people can’t cope with church every week, but they can cope with this once a month.”
people attended and 783 people made professions of faith. Now local churches are running follow-up courses for everyone who made a decision, offering help with everything from anger management to parenting to Christian basics. “Some people thought that this was an old-fashioned style of evangelism,” says event organiser Karin Ling. “But the response
figures show that ‘proclamative’ evangelism is still possible. I personally think that having one human being sharing the message of Christ through speech is so powerful. At the cathedral there was an atmosphere of spine-tingling awe with people singing the praises of God and hearing the Gospel message.” The whole project has, she says, “consolidated church relations” in the area, with churches being more willing to work together in some instances and in others renewing old relationships. “There were many times when we felt this was daunting,” says Karin. “It was bigger than our capabilities; we couldn’t have done it in our own strength. We literally had to pray about everything because it was so huge.” Feeling overwhelmed is just one of the reasons why churches don’t have the courage to evangelise, says Krish Kandiah. “All kinds of good stuff is happening, even in this multi-cultural society where the Church has begun to lose confidence that the Bible is true and evangelism is a dirty word for a lot of people. “We are nervous about seeming intolerant or Bible-bashing,” he says. “Our tendency is to be afraid and retreat into the ghetto. We mustn’t do that. We need to go with bold humility. God knows that the world needs to know, and we should be bold about that, but we need to be humble and recognise that we need to learn too.”
The Alliance is urging churches to put Square Mile into practice this September, using resources designed for individuals, small groups, whole congregations and communities. For details, visit: eauk.org/squaremile
CHURCHES UNITE. During May, 24 churches from Hemel Hempstead worked together to deliver a three-day mission that reached thousands of people. Miracle Street evangelist Steve Lee was the speaker for the weekend and described the Sunday service as “the best I have ever seen in 22 years”. The mission began with two days of social action undertaken by 18 of the churches. On the first night, a free community barbecue attracted hundreds of people, and the second night saw 400 people attend a quiz. The third day featured a big marquee packed with 1,000 people, followed by a family fun day for some 4,000 local residents. An estimated 150 people either came to faith or recommitted their lives to Christ. The Alliance’s Head of Theology Justin Thacker, who chaired the event, said, “It was just fantastic to see so many different churches working together for the cause of the Gospel. We had the Catholics, traditional Anglicans, Pentecostals, Baptists, independents and free churches all seeking to see our town transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. There were a couple of sticky moments, but we were united in our desire to see the good news spread to all. That focus is what brought us together and made Across Hemel the event that it was.”
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‘If this conference is repeated … make sure you are there!’ Evangelicals Now, February 2008.
THE WORLD, A conference for pastors, church leaders, church workers, carers, and all those with an interest in older people either others, or simply themselves. Seminars and Workshops looking at –
G The value of life G Valuing the integrity of people G The value of older people in the family, church and community G The value of volunteers in caring G Valuing liberty G Valuing spiritual life in older people G Valuing carers G Valued in dying With: Keynote speaker Professor James M Grier, Th.D, distinguished professor of philosophical theology: author, preacher, teacher and conference speaker. Special interests medical ethics; ministry in a postmodern culture. Other speakers include The Christian Institute, former missionary and writer Philip Grist, authors Louise Morse and Roger Hitchings, and Pilgrim Homes’ specialists. Date & Venue: Tuesday 13th October 09, Westminster Chapel, London To Book: Contact us for a booking form. Email: email@example.com or download forms from website: www.pilgrimhomes.org.uk, or write to us at: Conference 2009, Pilgrim Homes, 175 Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 2AL Cost: Individuals, £55. Company or organisation representatives, £75. Cost includes refreshments and lunch.
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Whether we are talking from a pulpit or over a garden fence, Tony Watkins helps us to give relevant answers to the big issues raised by contemporary popular culture...
As the world marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, his influence on the world is as enormous as ever. Whatever you think of his ideas, there’s no doubt that they have shaped science and profoundly affected many aspects of contemporary culture. Darwin’s meticulous work established the natural sciences as a serious scientific discipline for the first time. If this was Darwin’s only legacy, he would still be a towering figure in the history of science. But for most people, his name is linked only with On the Origin of Species. The new film Creation tells the story of how Darwin finally came to publish it in 1859, and the struggles that led up to that point. He had arrived at the essentials of his
Darwin theory at least 17 years earlier, but kept his ideas to himself and a few friends. One reason he delayed was because he wanted much more supporting evidence. Earlier evolutionary ideas had been highly controversial; Darwin feared the response to his work, so he wanted to be sure he was on solid ground. He spent eight years studying barnacles. Creation shows that Charles Darwin was also concerned about upsetting his wife, Emma. She knew that his Christian faith was dwindling, and was concerned that his scientific desire for hard proof was making things worse for him. The film also stresses two other factors: the ill health that plagued him for the second half of his life, and his grief over the death of his beloved daughter Annie, shortly after her 10th birthday in 1851. This event brought to a tragic climax Darwin’s questions about the place of suffering in God’s creation and he eventually became an agnostic. But he never saw himself as at war with God, much less that his ideas had killed God, as Thomas Huxley claims in Creation. The initial disagreement over On the Origin of Species was not primarily about what theological implications it may have had, but about whether or not the science was
true. There were Christians and scientists on both sides of the debate.
A supposed conflict From the beginning, a small minority was appalled by Darwin’s ideas while another minority seized upon them to support
Darwin’s influence has gone far beyond biology, often in ways that he would object to
Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin in Jon Amiel’s film Creation, which opens on 25 September and is reviewed on p29.
atheism. Today Darwin has become the focal point of a supposed conflict between science and faith, which he would have had no time for. Towards the end of his life, he wrote, “It seems absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent theist and an evolutionist.” Some people flatly deny Darwin’s statement. Many atheists – the best-known being Richard Dawkins – maintain that
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evolution by natural selection in a godless universe is the only rational belief. Meanwhile, some Christians insist that belief in God is inconsistent with belief in evolution. Between these two are many shades of opinion. Some Christians argue for intelligent design, for example, while others accept evolution as God’s means of creation and see no conflict with the Bible. And Darwin’s influence has gone far beyond biology, often in ways that he would object to. The concept of the “survival of the fittest” has been used to justify various theories in the social sciences – anything vaguely to do with some kind of evolution. This nexus of ideas has become known as “social Darwinism”, though it has little or nothing to do with Darwin’s biological theory. “Survival of the fittest” wasn’t even Darwin’s phrase, although he later adopted it. It was coined by economist Herbert
Morality cannot be derived from biology, so where does it come from?
Spencer in arguing for laissez-faire, freemarket economics. Today, pundits discuss the credit crunch in Darwinian terms: if some businesses go to the wall, that’s just tough, because the fittest will survive.
An error in reasoning Darwin’s ideas have been used to justify racism, though he was vehemently opposed to it, and eugenics, though he objected to
any kind of government coercion. But these views don’t come out of Darwin’s work at all. They result from a basic error in reasoning: attempting to derive moral ideas of how human society ought to be from Darwin’s description of what he believed the biological world is like. Whether or not “Darwin’s big idea” is right, we must realise that it is rather limited. Yes, after 150 years it’s still a powerful theory for explaining biology, but as these misuses of it show, there are more important things at stake. Questions of morality and meaning are much more fundamental, but science can say nothing about them. Morality cannot be derived from biology, so where does it come from? It must come from something beyond us if it is to have any objective value. Otherwise society is at the mercy of its strongest members. Atheist followers of Darwin believe that his ideas destroy the uniqueness of human beings and that the meaning of life becomes merely passing on our DNA. Yet we
instinctively feel that life is more than this. But where do meaning and purpose come from? Why, like Darwin himself, do we seek truth, rejoice in beauty and love deeply? The answer to these questions is the one that Darwin gave up on because of his grief. Only the existence of God allows for objective morality. Only God gives human life real meaning. Only God can make sense of suffering; without Him it is utterly meaningless. And only God can account for the very existence of life. Damaris has produced a range of official church and community resources for the film Creation. For details, visit: damaris.org/creationmovie
Tony Watkins is managing editor of Culturewatch.org
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Cinema appeals across society’s boundaries. And films that examine important themes can spark lively conversation with neighbours about something more important than the weather. The following aren’t for family viewing, but they can ignite discussions...
CREATION (PG) sensitively tells the story of how Charles Darwin finally came to publish his book On the Origin of Species in 1859 after nearly 20 years of research and dithering. Rather than just make a typical British period drama, the filmmakers artfully weave together flashbacks and anecdotes while focussing on the clash between religion and science for both Charles and his wife Emma (beautifully played by real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly). At the centre is the death of their 10-year-old daughter Annie, which shakes Charles’ faith and strains the marriage. This personal approach keeps the story grounded in humanity rather than issues, which gives us a fresh angle on a theory that has been debated for more than 150 years. Religion plays an important role in the lives of these characters, and we can identify with each of them as they struggle with scientific evidence that stretches their previously unchallenged beliefs. But the film never presents evolutionary theory as a faith-killer. Far from it, the final point is that Charles’ loss of faith had more to do with personal pain, and that Emma’s faith was strong enough to tolerate uncomfortable science (25 Sep). Axiom
THE HURT LOCKER (15) approaches the Iraq war movie genre from an unusual perspective, following three bomb disposal experts (Jeremy Renner, Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie) through a series of lifethreatening situations. It’s an often painfully tense film, but really forces us to consider issues of life and death from the point of view of these young men. Most unexpected is the way filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow gets us to feel how addictive war can be (28 Aug).
FISH TANK (15) features a knockout performance by newcomer Katie Jarvis as a 15-year-old in an Essex council flat who’s trying to juggle her family life, her tough neighbourhood image and her yearning to become a dancer. But it’s her growing flirtation with her mother’s new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) that finally unnerves her. Alternatively funny and terrifying, this sharply realistic film has a bracing intelligence that makes it both engaging and urgent (11 Sep).
AWAY WE GO (15) is an intriguing concoction about a young couple (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) who decide they need to find a different city in which to raise their unborn child. An unusual road movie follows, in which they meet up with old friends and attempt to define what would make a place feel like “home”. Directed by Sam Mendes, the film is a little light and scruffy, but is packed with colourful characters and thought-provoking themes (18 Sep).
UP (U) is the new animated classic from Disney-Pixar, a surprisingly bittersweet story about a man looking back at the things he missed out on before his wife died (including childlessness and economic trouble). So he ties a huge bunch of helium balloons to his house for an aerial journey to make just one dream come true. Then he discovers he has a pesky stowaway. This is a charming, entertaining adventure with rich themes and real emotional depth (9 Oct). RC
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In our series relating the Alliance's Practical Resolutions to the task of mission, Justin Thacker looks at the second resolution...
We recognise our Christian duty of trust and mutual encouragement to all who serve Christ as Lord, not least to those who conscientiously prefer not to be identified with the same churches, alliances or councils as ourselves. Justin Thacker is the Alliance’s Head of Theology
ission, I hope we would all agree, cannot be done alone. We need God’s help, we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit and we need each other. One of the more unfortunate consequences, though, of our evangelical and Protestant heritage is that at times we seem to be more drawn to division and separation than to “trust and mutual encouragement”. As an example, for those of us who are church leaders, sometimes our response to a new church that is planted down the road is a sense of competition rather than encouragement, especially if they are not identified with “the same churches, alliances or councils as ourselves”. The same thing happens in the para-church world, though here the patch is not so much geographical as organisational: “Why are they campaigning on that issue when we have the expertise?” or “Don’t they realise we are the best at working with that age group?” Of course, the good news is that it’s not always like that. Perhaps just as often we see churches united together in mission in the same locality and, increasingly, different para-church organisations come together to work on the same agenda, precisely because they have expertise that they can share. Encouraging such visible expressions of unity is what the Evangelical Alliance is all about, and two of the values at the root of such unity are highlighted in this second practical resolution.
Diversity and differences
“We recognise our Christian duty ... to all who serve Christ as Lord.” The key phrase here is “Christ as Lord”. It is something that trips off our tongues easily in our worship songs, but is it as real in our hearts and minds? For if we really lived and breathed the lordship of Christ, then we would recognise that no
geographical or organisational patch is ours, for all are Christ’s. When we confess Him as Lord, it is not just as sovereign over our lives, but sovereign over the universe. So for those of us who work in the service of the King of Kings, there is no such thing as “my territory” or “my issue”; they are all His. That is what it means to be subjects in His kingdom. And it is for precisely that reason that, whether or not different churches or organisations associate themselves with us, as long as they are also acknowledging this same Christ as Lord, then not only must we get out of the way of their kingdom proclamation, we must, as the resolution suggests, offer them “trust and encouragement”. That is certainly what the apostle Paul taught us. At least one of the problems besetting the Corinthian church was their tendency to fragmentation. In particular, they seemed to have a penchant for attaching themselves to different tribal leaders and making much of those allegiances: “I follow Paul, I follow Apollos” and so on (1 Corinthians 1.12). To that, Paul rightly asked, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?” In other words, Paul took them to task for failing to put Christ front and centre. He went on to say, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each His task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3.4-7).
God makes things grow I wonder how the evangelical world would look if we all adopted this attitude that Paul encourages. No longer would we say, “I follow this theologian”, “I align with this ministry” or “I come from this
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movement”. At least, we wouldn’t say these things in the sense of excluding others, or in the sense of saying that those other theologians, or ministries or movements are not also part of what God is doing in our world. The two specific issues that this practical resolution highlights are trust and encouragement. And, not surprisingly, they are related. If we trust someone or their ministry, we feel more comfortable in encouraging them. We are willing to bless them in their endeavours. Conversely, if we do not trust them, if we are unsure of quite what they will preach or how they will use their resources, we are less inclined to offer those words of support. Our attitude is one of establishing trust first, then offering encouragement. The problem with this, though, is that when trust has broken down – for whatever reason – then a pattern of mutual encouragement almost never returns. Perhaps what is required instead is to recognise that if we seek first to encourage, then as a result mutual trust might
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grow. Encouragement actually builds relationships and ultimately builds trust. In particular, encouraging those who may be outside of our particular circles might be a way to forge relationships with them. It sends a message of openness, a willingness to engage, to support and work together. Others may not wish to be identified with us, but that is no excuse not to encourage them as together we serve the Lord. After all, it remains His kingdom and His glory we seek, not our own. The Practical Resolutions of the Evangelical Alliance can be found at: eauk.org/resolutions
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Strong in the Word
I was very blessed to read your article about Bible reading (Leaders Call for a Fresh Approach, Jul/Aug). What I realise is that everyone needs encouragement. We can all read the Bible, but what people may have never been told is just how much God wants to use them. God needs us. We all have a lot to give and, as we seek to serve the Lord, we can read the Bible and see His wonderful promises to us all, and also the dangers of things. And God can make us all very strong in the Word. I was recently in a Christian conference in Finland and realised how expensive it is to get Christian material in Finnish because of the small population there (5.2m). We have so much Christian material in English that can help us grow, and English Bibles are so affordable, so I think everybody needs to be encouraged to realise how much we have and how much God needs us all. Richard Smart, Hastings
When Justin Thacker (The Basics, Jul/Aug) urges us to avoid excluding from fellowship those who “struggle with same-sex attractions”, I believe he means to distinguish this group from those who, far from struggling, actually affirm homosexual practice. Justin rightly encourages us to remove any unscriptural “walls of division” we may have set up between the strugglers and the rest of us who struggle with other sins, and (one assumes) to put the boundary instead between the strugglers and the self-affirmers.
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The real question It is difficult to know how Rev Dr John Azumah answers his own question: Is Islam a Religion of Violence? (Guest Essay, Jul/Aug). As the Director of Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Relations at the London School of Theology, I was expecting more clarity from him. But after stating that the teaching of Islam on violence is “confusing”, he goes on to make it even more confusing. Even if there is honest disagreement amongst experts, surely what really matters is how to understand the many millions of Muslims who willingly side with and support Osama bin Laden and his understanding of Islam. Individuals make choices for and against violence and how they behave, Muslims as well as non-Muslims. And, of course, individuals are responsible for the choices they make. But the point of Azumah’s essay, the question his readers were expecting an answer to, and which he finds difficult to stick to, is, “Do the teachings of Islam promote and encourage the domination of, and the use of violence against, nonMuslims?” Why does a director of Islamic studies find that question so hard to answer? That is the really confusing part of his essay. Dan Martin, by email
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But his warning against defining more precisely “the boundaries of who is and who is not a genuine Christian” lacks clarity. Without a precise definition of boundaries, his reference to those who struggle with samesex attractions could be taken to include the affirmers, whose worldview is often deeply hostile to the Judaeo-Christian ethic. The Alliance is at a crossroads; either it goes for less precision or - the harder option - more precision. I hope we shall choose the latter, along with more compassion. Dermot O’Callaghan, Hillsborough JUSTIN THACKER REPLIES: I thank Dermot for raising these issues. I’m not sure why “strugglers” would include “affirmers”, as surely the fact that they struggle with these temptations implies that they don’t affirm them. The Alliance already has clear boundaries – the basis of faith, practical resolutions, theological reports, press releases. So the question is whether we
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continue to refine these definitions or whether we turn greater attention to reaching the lost and answering the challenges of secularism and atheism.
Rational decisions In response to Chris Robins’ letter (The Burden of Debt, Jul/Aug), the main issue here is the nation’s attitude to possessions and debt. Not everyone – some would say very few – makes economically rational decisions regarding their finances. The suggestion of paying off £1,000 of debt this year was a way of focusing attention on how to do it and the benefits that result. Our economy does not have to rely on debt and materialism in order to grow satisfactorily. The question of who pays the price for re-aligning the economy will, in the end, be answered by those with the most political power. At the moment, the public sector has tremendous political power and is therefore paying least towards the cost. They have the lowest redundancy prospects, the best pension prospects, the highest salary increases and the lowest efficiency gains. The sections of society who are paying at the moment are those who are living off income from their savings and those who have been made redundant. The only way the unemployed won’t carry a disproportionate burden of the cost of the re-alignment is if they are “equally compensated” for their loss of income while they are unemployed. I’m not hearing that being proposed by any of the political parties. Is Mr Robins? David Taylor, Wombourne, Staffs
Science and faith The relationship between science and faith is often represented as a battleground. But in fact this is a wrong view, supported by the popular media and commentators who want to suggest that it is impossible to be a committed Christian (or indeed committed to any religious faith) while also being an accomplished scientist. We are told that the intellectual rigour needed to be a scientist cannot be applied to faith, and that those who hold a faith cannot deal with the big questions of science. In fact, none of these claims is true. The Test of Faith is a project setting out to talk to leading scientists who also have a genuine Christian faith. Those interested are encouraged to see the documentary and accompanying book and course examining these issues, all published by Paternoster. testoffaith.com Dr Ruth Bancewicz, Cambridge
idea september/october 2009
Changing Church – changing society The Alliance’s Executive Director for Public Policy Dr R David Muir takes a timely look at what’s being called the “new” black Church...
Growth and development There is certainly a rich and challenging history here. Beyond the question of race and rejection, there are many explanations for the development of the black-majority churches and the wider black Christian leadership.
In Let's Praise Him Again (Kingsway, 1992), Arlington Trotman argues that the term “black-led” was imposed terminology originally seen to carry separatist overtones and that the distinction presents difficulties for ministries that pursue Christian unity (John 17.21). But the reality of black-majority churches will remain an entrenched part of British religious life partly because they fulfill a significant cultural and pastoral role in our pluralist society and offer alternative methods of evangelisation.
lack History Month in October provides an occasion for reflection and celebration of the lives, institutions and achievements of black people in Britain and worldwide. After Barack Obama’s election, I suspect that Black History Month will never be the same again. And if that is too radical a suggestion for some, there must surely be a concession that we need a renewed belief both in self and in Paul’s message that all things are possible through Christ’s strength (Philippians 4.13). This message finds rich resonance in the black-majority Church and the wider black Christian leadership in Britain today. It also partially accounts for their dynamic growth and success as places for social change. In the 61 years since the Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury with the first wave of Caribbean immigrants, the black Church has become the most cohesive and coherent section of black communities. It is now fashionable for Church of England bishops, as well as cultural critics and journalists, to hold up black-majority churches as a mirror of the centrality of faith in establishing personal and cultural identities. They are also the fruit of historic missionary endeavour in the former colonies, returning the favour as citizens of the former British Empire bringing new life, vitality and celebratory authenticity to post-Christian Britain. But this acceptance has taken six decades to materialise. After the Empire Windrush arrived in 1948, 11 Labour MPs, led by J Murray, wrote to the Prime Minister complaining about the “discord and unhappiness” this wave of Caribbean immigrants would cause to the nation. Today they are accepted as an integral part of Christian life and worship. Indeed, there is now a Church of England envoy (Bishop David Hawkins) to black-majority churches, while the Prime Minister and senior officials meet regularly with black Church leaders.
Black churches present real opportunities for inter-cultural learning and shared ministry In his book Believing in Britain (Tauris, 2007), Ian Bradley argues that “black Christianity may well prove to be a key agent in the re-evangelisation of Christian Britain”. Over the last two decades, we have witnessed an explosion of independent African Pentecostal and charismatic churches, many with an international reach and roots in Africa. The dominant one is Redeemed Christian Church of God, under the international leadership of the inimitable Pastor Enoch Adeboye in Nigeria and Rev Agu Irukwu of Jesus House in the UK. There is a remarkable history and legacy of pioneering leadership in black Christian leadership in Britain, including Philip Mohabir (the Guyanese missionary who founded the African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance), Ira Brooks, Io Smith, Andrew Adeleke, Bishop Dunn, Esme Beswick and
Joel Edwards. If the UK has its own megachurches, then Matthew Ashimolowo’s Kingsway International Christian Centre falls into this category. With a membership exceeding 12,000 and a congregation often greater than 5,000, it’s not surprising that the Nigerian-born Ashimolowo is was called “Britain’s most successful preacher” in John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge’s recent book about the global rise of faith, God Is Back (Penguin, 2009).
Action and engagement Integral to the Church’s ministry and mission is its social action and community engagement. Rev Annie Ingram’s prison ministry, the Peace Alliance initiative of Rev Nims Obunge and Street Pastors founded by Rev Les Isaac are just three examples of the vision of black Christian leaders. And on a strategic level, the Black Christian Leaders’ Forum represents the concerns of the community to Government policy makers. Add to this Dr Jonathan Oloyede’s remarkable leadership of the Global Day of Prayer. As an institution, black-majority churches are here to stay. Historically, black churches have been what Eric Lincoln, the scholar of black religion in America, refers to as the “peculiar sustaining force” and organising principle around which lives were structured. It is not surprising, therefore, to hear President Barack Obama write in his book The Audacity of Hope (Crown, 2006) of the black Church as the place where he discovered “a vessel for my beliefs” and a community where they “fortified my racial identity and confirmed my belief in the capacity of ordinary people to do extraordinary things”. Black History Month offers an opportunity to look at the history and contribution black Christians are making to our communities. It will also be a time to debate ways in which mission and partnerships can be more effective. On 30 October, the Alliance, New Testament Church of God and Churches Together in England will host the conference The Black Church in Britain: From Windrush to Obama. For details, visit: eauk.org 3
idea september/october 2009
Unity with a bigger purpose General Director Steve Clifford discovers that working together is what it’s all about... t’s been quite an induction. The first five months in my role at the Alliance have taken me to many parts of the United Kingdom testing the temperature of what’s going on. I am really encouraged. The evangelical community is amazingly active. You name it, we seem to be involved in it. Alongside this, Christians are positioning themselves in key places of influence. Whenever I’ve talked about unity to Christians, the first response is a big “yes”, which captures the heartbeat of God and is reflected in that great prayer of Jesus in John 17.23: “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity.” It echoes the unity in the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – their community of relationship, a mystery of mutual giving and receiving founded in love. So when we talk about unity, our “yes” reflects something of who God is. The history of the Church however is one where unity has not always been done well. We want to say “yes”; history says “but”. It is amazing historically what we have managed to argue over and for how long. It is also tragic that when we talk about unity we often end up forming a committee, only to discover more disagreement or become paralysed in endless discussions with little outcome.
now. Such changing and uncertain times encourage us all to engage in the conversation as to what kind of society we want, not just for our children but for our children’s children. But somehow it is more than this. All this talk of changing society must earth itself in our everyday lives and relationships.
Big changes One conversation I had recently has both haunted and challenged me. As I stood in the bike workshop, surrounded by scantily clad women (of the pin-up variety) and unsure which way to cast my eyes, Sid (not his real name) asked me what I did for a living. I’m not always quite sure how to answer that question – “the general director of the Evangelical Alliance” would tend to stop the conversation dead. Vaguely I explained that I was a church leader working with other leaders all over the country. A conversation started, and Sid began to tell me about himself. In his early 20s, he moved to London with his dad after his parents separated. Having been excluded from school 16 times, his educational attainment wasn’t great, yet he spoke in fond terms of his teachers and how they had cared for him. Living in London, managing to hold down a job, but doing drugs, he was recently knifed, robbed and now lives in fear that the friends of those that attacked him will retaliate as he informed the police and the gang went down. He talked about his relationship with his mother (whom he didn’t see for over 11 years) and his dad who is ill. He confided that he often “just got so angry”, doesn’t treat his girlfriend well, that drugs are affecting him badly and he doesn’t want his life to be like this. As we talked for more than an hour, he voiced interesting views on life, religion and the Church. And I told him my own story, my journey to faith and the discovery of a Father in heaven who loves me. He wanted to know about my church and to get together for a drink to talk some more. My final comment before paying the bill was: “Sid, your future does not have to be based on your past.” Our unity is about big changes; we want to see society changed. This is about change for the Sids around us – in our family, where we work, in the pub, in the gym, among our friends, our neighbours, in our place of education. Let’s pray big prayers that will shape the future of our nation. But let’s also look for little miracles that impact the lives of those that surround us.
All this talk of changing society must earth itself in our everyday lives
For the Alliance the word “unity” is crucial. Our vision is “uniting to change society”: this is unity with a purpose. My experience is that unity for the sake of our mission is a very exciting thing. In John 17, Jesus goes on to ask that we are “brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and love them”. There is a spiritual principle at work here: something in our unity releases us into more effective mission and brings revelation that people are loved by their Father in heaven. This isn’t created with institutional agreement or uniformity, but through relational unity. At the Alliance, we thank God that this is exactly what’s being expressed all over the country. Last year as chair of Hope08, I saw this in practice as thousands of churches united together, committing themselves to do more, do it together and do it through word and action. And this powerful combination was underpinned by united prayer. I am convinced we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our nation. The decisions being made over the next two or three years will shape the future for generations to come. If there ever was a time for us to unite with purpose, surely it is
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Published on Sep 1, 2009
in this edition: 'That moment of release', 'Square Mile: E is for Evangelism', 'Talking about Darwin', 'Christian duty of trust and mutual e...