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Strengthening church

Below is an article that was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of Village Link, itself based on my opening address at our 2018 Annual Conference. Strengthening ‘Strengthen’ occurs about twenty times in the NT, translating Greek words, with meanings of ‘supporting’, ‘upholding’, ‘making more firm’, ‘straightening out’ and ‘fixing in place’. In Hebrews (12:12), the writer exhorts us to ‘strengthen our weak knees’. Anyone who has had a knee injury knows that strengthening

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Preparing for the earthquake

In October 2016, a violent earthquake struck central Italy destroying the medieval basilica of St Benedict in Norcia, the town closest to the epicentre. This was the fourth time in three months earthquakes had hit central Italy. Norcia (formerly Nursia) was the home town of St Benedict, the 6th Century founder of Western monasticism. The cathedral was built in the 14th Century in his honour. Benedict is widely recognised as one of the founding fathers

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Why opt for the Benedict option?

  In an earlier post, I introduced and commended the The Benedict Option by American author, Rod Dreher. The book was published in 2017 and quickly became a best seller – and the focus of much debate and controversy among Christians of all persuasions. A while after its publication, Christian Today ran an article setting out ‘five reasons to value The Benedict Option’, from a British perspective. These are summarised below. “The Benedict Option emphasises

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Herrnhut

In an earlier post, I described how the story of the household of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding in the 17C provides inspiration to those of us today seeking to live a life of prayer, community and service, and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. The next century provides a perhaps much better known and more comprehensive example and model in the story of the Moravians at Herrnhut – one that has inspired and influenced

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Little Gidding

Earlier this month (4 December), the Church of England commemorated the life of Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) as a ‘minor festival’. Nicholas Ferrar was a scholar and businessman, briefly an MP, and a deacon in the Church of England. He was a close friend of the poet and hymn writer, George Herbert. In 1626, having lost much of the family fortune in the Virginia Company, he retreated with his family in 1626 to the manor of

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The Benedict Option

The ‘Benedict Option’ is an idea, a book and a movement, which has attracted great interest in the USA, and beyond, in the last couple of years. It is the brainchild of Rod Dreher, an American journalist and author Much of it is familiar. Its core argument is that, in post-Christendom, the Church, inspired by the example of Benedict of Nursia (480–537), needs to construct close, intentional, communities as contexts for evidentially living out radical discipleship

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The community of the Church: Hopes and dreams

In the course of this short series of articles I have sought to make some suggestions that may inspire and encourage you to look at different aspects of church life in a new way, and to remind you to see church as the community of God’s people, just as the early church did. In making these suggestions I have tried to draw on my own experience and ideas to present things that are achievable for

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The community of the Church: Strengthening identity

Significant portions of the book of Acts are taken up with the question of how much of the Jewish law should Gentile Christians be forced to observe, and how much the Jewish Christians themselves should hold on to (See particularly Acts 15). It is easy to work out from some of Paul’s writings that there was a tension between these two groups over this matter, although it seems to me that the New Testament writers

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The community of the Church: Sacred spaces

The issue of church buildings has become a difficult one in recent years, particularly for those of us in small country churches and chapels where incomes are usually small, upkeep remains important and safety legislation imposes an ever-increasing list of duties and restrictions. The closure of such buildings has been a characterising feature of the rural church, giving the impression of a people without hope and a God looking the other way. Yet the community

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