Queen addresses post-Christendom - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
November 16, 2005

Queen addresses post-Christendom

-16/11/05

The Queen opened the Church of England's General Synod yesterday by addressing the post-Christendom context in which both church and state find themselves, suggesting the situation presented new opportunities for the church.

In a speech, the 'supreme governor' of the Church of England contrasted the enduring nature of Christianity with the rapid changes in society.

"For Christians, this pace of change represents an opportunity," she told a packed hall in Church House, Westminster. "When so much is in flux, when limitless amounts of information, much of it ephemeral, are instantly accessible on demand, there is a renewed hunger for that which endures and gives meaning.

"The Christian Church can speak uniquely to that need, for at the heart of our faith stands the conviction that all people, irrespective of race, background or circumstances, can find lasting significance and purpose in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Her words come at a time when both church and government are facing up to the implications of religious pluralism, declining church attendance, the loss of the church's privileges and religious fundamentalism.

Church leaders have recently intensified their attempts to promote inter-faith dialogue to demonstrate solidarity with Muslim communities.

In a Synod debate on terrorism yesterday, one speaker called for Muslims to be invited to sit on the Synod as a gesture of reconciliation. The church was also urged to show its distinctiveness by forgiving suicide bombers.

The Queen's speech however will raise further questions about the desirability of a close relationship between church and government. Many Christians will suggest that the church is the best position to demonstrate its uniqueness by rejecting the privileges of establishment, and taking up a position more in keeping with the gospel of justice it proclaims.

The alignment in many people's minds of the nation with the Christian religion is also problematic in the context of religious extremism and terrorism. The Queen's speech, in which she formally inaugurated the eighth Synod, the Church's "parliament", comes shortly after a attack on her by al-Qa'eda.

She was recently denounced in a video by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-in-command to Osama bin Laden, as "one of the severest enemies of Islam" who was responsible for Britain's "crusader laws".

Al-Zawahiri also threatened British Islamic leaders who "work for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who was known to be uneasy about the church's established status when he took up his post, thanked the Queen, saying: "In the face of all that we now confront, the unchanging truth of God's revelation in Christ is a rock that must remain the foundation and inspiration of all that we do."

Queen addresses post-Christendom

-16/11/05

The Queen opened the Church of England's General Synod yesterday by addressing the post-Christendom context in which both church and state find themselves, suggesting the situation presented new opportunities for the church.

In a speech, the 'supreme governor' of the Church of England contrasted the enduring nature of Christianity with the rapid changes in society.

"For Christians, this pace of change represents an opportunity," she told a packed hall in Church House, Westminster. "When so much is in flux, when limitless amounts of information, much of it ephemeral, are instantly accessible on demand, there is a renewed hunger for that which endures and gives meaning.

"The Christian Church can speak uniquely to that need, for at the heart of our faith stands the conviction that all people, irrespective of race, background or circumstances, can find lasting significance and purpose in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Her words come at a time when both church and government are facing up to the implications of religious pluralism, declining church attendance, the loss of the church's privileges and religious fundamentalism.

Church leaders have recently intensified their attempts to promote inter-faith dialogue to demonstrate solidarity with Muslim communities.

In a Synod debate on terrorism yesterday, one speaker called for Muslims to be invited to sit on the Synod as a gesture of reconciliation. The church was also urged to show its distinctiveness by forgiving suicide bombers.

The Queen's speech however will raise further questions about the desirability of a close relationship between church and government. Many Christians will suggest that the church is the best position to demonstrate its uniqueness by rejecting the privileges of establishment, and taking up a position more in keeping with the gospel of justice it proclaims.

The alignment in many people's minds of the nation with the Christian religion is also problematic in the context of religious extremism and terrorism. The Queen's speech, in which she formally inaugurated the eighth Synod, the Church's "parliament", comes shortly after a attack on her by al-Qa'eda.

She was recently denounced in a video by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-in-command to Osama bin Laden, as "one of the severest enemies of Islam" who was responsible for Britain's "crusader laws".

Al-Zawahiri also threatened British Islamic leaders who "work for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who was known to be uneasy about the church's established status when he took up his post, thanked the Queen, saying: "In the face of all that we now confront, the unchanging truth of God's revelation in Christ is a rock that must remain the foundation and inspiration of all that we do."

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