The ‘common good’ and support for current and former soldiers are among the topics to be discussed at the Church of England’s general synod in July 2014. Savi Hensman suggests that the institutional Church of England in its current form may be too heavily compromised by its closeness to the “principalities and powers” to be fully effective in seeking justice and peace. She argues that it will have to face a death of sorts in order to be renewed in Christ.
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali has criticised a proposed alternative baptism service. This is being piloted in a number of churches before the Church of England decides whether to let it be used more widely. While the church should try to make worship widely accessible, changes that make getting baptised seem less meaningful should be avoided.
Media coverage of George Windsor's baptism gave the impression that baptism is about conformity. Baptism began in a far more radical way, before its domestication by the powerful. Since then, many people have rediscovered baptism's original subversive force, as a sign of dedication to the kingdom of God – and a rejection of the kingdoms of this world.
Baptism is much more than a comforting ritual, says Savi Hensman. It is to be marked with the sign of a condemned criminal, to refuse imprisoning and narrow identities, to face up to mortality, and to be immersed in a new world where justice and peace reign.
The Baptist Union of Great Britain has seen an increase in church attendance along with a decline in church membership. The figures are likely to fuel debate about the relationship between participation in a church and formal membership.