Rev Paul Williamson, A Reminder of What Is Not Found in The Bible

Rev Paul Williamson has made a last ditch attempt to halt the consecration of the Church of England’s first female bishop, by shouting during Rev Libby Lane’s ordination: “A female bishop is not found in the Bible”.

Here is Rev Paul Williamson thoughts about women bishops on Sky News.

Well, Sofa would like to remind Rev Paul Williamson of a few other things that aren’t in the Bible:

  1. Dog Collars! Get that thing off your neck!
  2. The “Arch” Deacon.
  3. A Whale swallowing up Jonah.
  4. Nuns… and Monks
  5. Three Kings.
  6. Non alcoholic communion wine.
  7. English people.
  8. A Donkey taking Mary to Bethlehem.
  9. Massive churches to be “filled”.
  10. The Church of England…

Some of these are presumptions, so please feel free to school me on any of the above.

Please feel free to add to the above list below:

Where’s The Love?

Update: World Vision president Rich Stearns has spoken to the Huffington Post giving insight into what the staff at World Vision have been through over the last week.

I feel sorry for World Vision.

On Monday 24th March, Christianity Today reported the following about World Vision:

World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

Abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. But a policy change announced Monday [March 24] will now permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian charities.

Judging from the comments on line, it looks like the American branch of World Vision was besieged by angry Christians armed to the teeth with pitchforks and flaming arrows. Judging from the tweets from people talking about pulling their child sponsorship, I think its fair to say that people weren’t happy.

Forty Eight hours later, the following statement is released by World Vision:

 “The board acknowledged it made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. … We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority.”

Prompting what is currently a small flurry of negative comments about World Vision from people who supported their original decision.

Not a good time to be working for World Visions PR. Cant help but feel sorry for those guys. Hopefully by this time next week the storm will have passed for them. If nothing else positive has come from this, hopefully some new people have signed up to sponsor a kid over the last couple of days. Then at least there would have been some love shown in this situation.

Read More


The Rt Revd Robert Atwell – New Bishop of Exeter

In keeping with being culturally relevant, the Devon Church of England Diocese has announced their own football style transfer with the following tweet:

  For the curious the Chester diocese website had the following information about Exeters new bishop:

pictureThe Bishop of Stockport- The Rt Revd Robert Atwell I was born and brought up in Ilford, Essex, on the east side of London. After school I read theology at St John’s College, Durham, and trained for the ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. During training I was privileged to be sent to study at the Venerable English College in Rome. Attending lectures with seminarians from around the world and exploring the Eternal City was an education in itself. After ordination and a curacy in north London I was appointed Chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge. From there I took the unusual step of becoming a Benedictine monk at Burford Priory in the Cotswolds. My ten years in monastic life gave me an abiding love of contemplative prayer. Although no longer a monk I maintain my Benedictine vocation as an oblate of the Abbey of Le Bec in Normandy where I try to make an annual retreat. Before coming to Stockport I was for nine years Vicar of St Mary’s in Primrose Hill, north London.

The announcement was made on the website via the following youtube video:

The tweet following the above announcement is probably also worth noting

  Does this suggest a continued focus from the Exeter Diocese on social action issues? Hopefully so, but lets get him out of Plymouth soon shall we?*  

Update. For those paying attention, the above tweet has been corrected:

*Dear Plymouth, only joking we love you really.

Archbishop Justin Welby Quote on The Credit Crunch

Great quote from Archbishop Justin Welby on The Credit Crunch:

“A society which has built its life on the material will sooner or later be deceived by the gods in whose hands it has put itself. That’s what we did.”

From a great interview in The Telegraph.

Weekly Roundup – The Extra Reading Material Edition

Well, in case you missed it. At the start of this week, the Huffington Post, published the following little story:

A university’s Christian society has banned women from speaking at events and teaching at meetings, unless they are accompanied by their husband, it has been revealed.

The Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) had originally decided women would be allowed to teach at meetings after their international secretary resigned in protest, but the group has since changed its policy.

Read more on Huffington Post.

The resulting “upset” in the news and on Twitter prompted the following strongly worded press release from Bristol CU via UCCF:

Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) deplores the recent exaggerations and misrepresentations in some parts of the media of its position on women’s ministry in the church.

It is well known that Christian churches differ on this question. BUCU is not a church, but a student society, so it has never had a formal policy on women’s ministry.

In recent months, the Executive Committee have been exploring ways in which BUCU can best accommodate members with divergent and strongly held convictions, while expressing our unity as Christian believers. In line with our basic position throughout that process, which has not been widely publicised, the Executive Committee now wish to make clear that we will extend speaker invitations to both women and men, to all BUCU events, without exception.

BUCU is utterly committed to reflecting the core biblical truth of the fundamental equality of women and men.

Well. The story seemed to calm down after that. Then an interesting little article appeared on the Guardian:

Continue reading “Weekly Roundup – The Extra Reading Material Edition”

The “Burn The Heathens”* Checklist

So. The Huffington Post have published the follow this evening: Bristol University’s Christian Union Bans Women From Speaking At Meetings, which includes the following:

The Huffington Post UK has seen the email sent out by president Matt Oliver to all BUCU members which said: “It is ok for women to teach in any CU setting… However we understand that this is a difficult issue for some and so decided that women would not teach on their own at our weekly CU meetings, as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away, or as our main speaker for mission weeks.

“But a husband and wife can teach together in these.”

In the light of a few of the debates, and upset that has erupted, I’d like to offer the following checklist, of equipment and attitudes, to anyone thinking about staying in and “Burning The Heathens*” via Twitter / Facebook.

  1. Pitchfork (Sharpened)
  2. Axes
  3. Burning torches
  4. Bible Teaching from someone you agree with.
  5. Lack of patience.
  6. Lack of willingness to discuss.
  7. Don’t ask why
  8. Fuel for the fire.
  9. Don’t check if this happening elsewhere.
  10. Acceptance.

With thanks to @SeanUSX for the inspiration.

Please remember this list can be useful for any time we need to go out and burn people*.

Interested in the Bristol CU situation? Here is some further reading:

*No one involved with The Church Sofa website supports the idea of actually burning people. Thats not nice, and you would deserve the full force of the law on you if you were to do sometime like that.

10 great things about the Church of England

During a week where everyone and their cat seems to be having a pop at the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance has tried to calm everyone with a well timed list of things that the good old C of E… is actually ok at:

10 great things about the Church of England

10 great things about the Church of England

 The Guardian described the General Synod as “a long and boring suicide note”. But before declaring the Church of England dead, here’s a quick review of a few of the things the Church has done, is doing and is planning to do…

1.    International development

The Church of England continues to be a voice against injustice and for the people around the world living in poverty. They continue to try and influence governments, work with churches here in the UK and overseas and with charities. With seats in the House of Lords, bishops continue to question the government about development, and stand up for the UK’s aid budget. Not to mention the numerous charities that individual Anglican churches are committed to supporting.

2.    Paying a living wage

Yesterday’s General Synod voted in favour of ensuring that all church employees are paid a living wage. The living wage is higher than the minimum wage, which at the moment stands at £6.19, outside London. By supporting the living wage, the Church of England is encouraging individual churches, diocese etc. to pay their employees £7.45 around the UK and £8.55 in London.

3.    Women’s rights

The news from the General Synod may have created controversy concerning the role of women in the Church of England, but it was only at the end of October that bishops in the House of Lords were lobbying the government to fulfil its and the UN’s commitment to strive for gender equality around the world and to place women at the centre of international development and the fight against poverty. Historically too, the Church has stood up for women, providing some of the first free schools for girls and supporting Josephine Butler’s campaign against the Contagious Diseases Act.

4.    Education

One in five primary school children are educated by Church of England primary schools, and there are 190 Church of England secondary schools in England. This makes the Church of England the largest provider of schools in the country.

5.    Abolition

In 1807 the Slave Trade Act was passed largely due to the efforts of William Wilberforce, who was supported and backed by John Newton, a Church of England clergyman. But the fight against slavery is something the Church of England has continued to be a part of; as the Church and the individuals within it campaign against human trafficking.

Read Further at 

Do any of the list particularly stand out for you?

Who Am I? : An open letter to female clergy in the Church of England

Unless you’ve had your head in the Sunday school sand pit, there may have been some church related news over the last week, in that the Church of England synod debated changing the rules over the question of Women Bishops… and decided not to.

Well in the light of this, I’m please to present an open letter from Lorraine, to female clergy in the Church of England

I have spent most of my life very confused about who I am. You see, my natural talents,
giftings you might call them, do not conform to what others believe they should be.

At the age of seven, when one of my classmates answered a question wrongly during an
assembly, the headmaster remarked that “Girls are not very good at maths”, allowing about
200 boys to laugh at her. The remark was puzzling, because I knew maths was my strongest
and favourite subject. Was I not really a girl then? By the age of eleven, that same man had
included me in the handful of pupils he considered gifted enough to have extra lessons in
mental arithmetic techniques, because “they would have fun doing it”! Had I changed? No.
In the intervening time, he had recognised those talents, and sought to nurture them,
despite my being “just a girl”.By the time I left secondary education I had four good A levels
Maths, Further Maths, Physics, and Chemistry – oh, and S level Maths too.

At the age of eighteen, my father told me that he didn’t understand why I was applying for
university, because: it would be a waste as I would get married and stay at home; and, girls
that did degrees couldn’t cope and burnt out. I worshipped the ground my father stood on,
so was dismayed. Did I really have no other future? I had no idea what I wanted to do, but
knew I hadn’t reached my potential yet. Choosing what to study and where was tricky;
there was no-one in my family with experience to advise me, and it was made all the harder
by the nagging doubt that my father might be right. Possibly the most poignant memory I
have of my father is his tears of pride at my Graduation.

At the age of seventeen, careers advisers dismissed engineering as an option, despite my
skill-set, “because it’s dirty, and un-ladylike, dear, and you will find it hard to get a job”, i.e.
nice girls don’t do engineering, and even if they do, no-one will take them seriously. So
what was it to be: Maths or Physics? I liked both. Astronomy/Astrophysics used both, but
the post-grad job market was extremely small and very competitive. Engineering used both,
and appeared to have good job prospects, questions of gender aside. So could I be an
Engineer and female? At the age of twenty-five, having graduated with an upper-second in
Engineering, and having been employed nearly four years at an industry’s research centre
learning my profession, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers saw fit to make me a
Corporate Member, and consequently I became Chartered.

While people were telling me what I could and could not be, to the point that I didn’t know
who I was, I was slowly developing according to my talents – despite what other people
thought, said and did. Sometimes, they changed their minds as a result.What if my natural talents,
“God-given” you might say, had lain in helping people to discover that there is a God who loves them?
What if I were a good listener, and that same God of love had a habit of working through me
to heal their inmost hurts? What if I could explain the Christian faith to people in a language
they could understand? What if I had a knack of keeping people of different viewpoints together,
encouraging them when times got tough, restoring them when they strayed? At the same time that
I was being told I was “just a girl”, that “girls can’t do maths”, that “girls burn out if they
have higher education”, that “women in engineering are only good enough to make the tea and look
pretty on recruitment brochures”, other girls who felt called to the Ministry were being
laughed at “because only men can be ordained”. Those just a few years older than me, if
they pushed (because they had no choice – it was after all who they were), became deaconesses
– to be shunted off with the laity while the Clergy considered what was best for them. In
part, this has been remedied – many now serve the church as priests…

Today I cried for my sisters-in-Christ.

However, it is my strongly held view that the God of Love, who sent his Son to redeem a
fallen world, and who works mightily by His Spirit through the hearts and hands of those
who love Him, will not let today be the end of the story, any more than Good Friday was.
That same God has a habit of changing people from the inside, restoring them to His
likeness, conforming them to His plan – frequently through their own actions to the contrary
(eg. Jonah and Paul)! My sisters, please hold on to who you are in Him; no-one can take
that away from you, even if they deny you the means to express it. Allow Him to continue
to nurture you. Continue to do things His way. The miracle will happen.

In any case, Synod have only said “Not this way”. Who is to say that God does not have
better in store?

But then, what do I know? I’m an Engineer, not a Theologian; and when all’s said and done,
I’m “just a girl”.


What do you think?

Exeter Good Friday Walk of Witness 2012

Exeter Walk of Witness 2012 - Good Friday April 6th
Exeter Walk of Witness 2012 - Good Friday April 6th
Available at:

We interrupt the normal madness for the following advert from Exeter Diocese:

THOUSANDS of people are expected to line Exeter’s street for a dramatised account of the death of Jesus this Good Friday.

Last year over 1,200 people attended a short service in Exeter Cathedral and several thousand watched the drama unfold on the streets.

Organised by Christians Together across Exeter (CTaX), the play, which ends in a silent walk behind the cross through the city centre, have become a highlight of the Easter weekend…

The key points of the morning will be:

• 10am – worship in the Cathedral before the walk. The service will be led by Revd Simon Taylor of South Street Baptist Church and the speaker will be Revd Canon Anna Norman-Walker
• 10.30am – the play starts with the first scene on Cathedral Green, progressing to further scenes in Princesshay Square and Bedford Square
• From Bedford Square the walk will continue in silence as Jesus carries the cross down the high street, ending back on Cathedral Green with the crucifixion scene
• After the final scene, the Right Reverend Jonathan Draper, the Dean of Exeter Cathedral, will reflect on Good Friday and Jesus’ resurrection which is celebrated on Easter Day, and give a blessing on the Cathedral Green.
• After that, hot cross buns will be distributed and the Cathedral doors opened for all who wish to come in for prayer and reflection.

Further details available on The Exeter Diocese website.

While Team Sofa still doesn’t think that “The Walk of Witness” is the most catchy name ever, its always been worth going along to, and taking part in.