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HEALING THE GREAT DIVIDE

Thank you for your article on ‘The great divide’ (March). I read it with interest but thought it a pity Justin Brierley was seemingly unaware of the work being done at Churches Together in England and the 45 national churches that work together there, including the 20 national Pentecostal and charismatic ones that spawns probably the widest spectrum of multicultural and multidenominational churchmanship in Britain.

Church congregations tend to be an expression of their cultural contexts and world views, so the idea that there will soon be no more black majority churches can only be true if there will be no more discernible black communities. History suggests this will continue in the same way that we still refer to Irish communities, Jewish communities, Chinese communities, etc. A preoccupation with ‘multicultural churches’ misses the point significantly and is, in my view, misplaced. We should build churches and build relationships across them like one big diverse family living in different houses.

The majority of multicultural churches I know seem to necessitate a white leader, often with a black spouse;  Israel Olofinjana who you mention in the article, is one of few exceptions. Black people are more likely to accept white leadership than whites are to accept black leadership. This is an expression of historic racism in my view. Many inner-city mainstream churches are now black majority, often with white ministers: black body, white head.

Another point to mention is that black churches did not start in the 1940s and 50s simply because of racist rejection. The migrants did not only bring their faith, they also brought their denominational affiliations. Pentecostals like New Testament Church of God and Church of God of Prophecy were the ones that first established the churches towards which defecting Anglicans, Methodist, Baptist, etc were being pointed; “your people meet down the road”.

In the case of the Church of England, 97.5 per cent of its clergy is white. The Church of England simply has to appoint more black clergy.

Joe Aldred, Pentecostal and Multicultural Relations, Churches Together in England  

SINGING SECULAR SONGS

'6 lies our worship songs tell us' (February) was very thought-provoking.

At my current church, during informal services we have used secular songs to aid our confession to, and worship of, God. Examples include ‘From a distance’ by Julie Gold, ‘Harvest for the world’ by The Isleys, ‘Love will keep me alive’ by The Eagles, ‘Saltwater’ by Julian Lennon and ‘Shower the people’ by James Taylor.

God created each one of us in his image and knows the complexities of human emotions, relationships and heart desires. In anything that causes an emotional response, God has the ability to speak through it and that includes all types of music and songs. I think the more we look for him in all aspects of the experiences of life, the more fully Jesus will reveal himself in the hearts of all people.

Rev James Pickersgill

REFUGEES FINDING CHRIST

At Lockwood Baptist Church in Huddersfield we too have been receiving asylum seekers near the church (‘Seeking Asylum, Finding Christ’, March). First a group of Syrians, whose village had been attacked. Then some Iranians, of whom we've already baptised four. We too run a long course of preparation, finding that many have very little knowledge of the Christian faith, but do have a genuine encounter of Jesus, through seeing the Christian nature of a friend who turns out to be a “secret believer” or finding in others ways how Jesus makes a difference in a way that their nominal Islam did not.

Brian Davidson

UNHEALTHY VIEW OF WOMEN

I have read much recently on a Christian response to sexuality and gender issues. I was looking forward to seeing where Glynn Harrison took the debate in his Q&A in the March issue. However, I finished in despair due to the following statement: “A lot of married women in their 50s say, ‘I’ve had enough of him, the kids have grown up, I’m off.’” At best, this apparent blaming of women for the breakdown of marriages is unhelpful. At worst, I have to ask if such a statement is underpinned by a continuing unhealthy view of women found in the male leadership and congregations of some evangelical churches.

Neil Tansley

TOO HIGH

Dear Rev Roger, With reference to your recent letter, you missed one: “All modern worship songs must be published and performed in keys that are inaccessible to the average congregation. On no account should women especially be able to sing the entire song without having to switch  register. They should be forced to do this so frequently they give up.”

Redman, Tomlin, Wickham etc please take note – it’s getting tiresome.

Rachel Stacey  

GOD’S NOT SAFE

It was very thoughtprovoking (First word, March) to consider Donald Trump, safety and the Christian. It reminded me of CS Lewis’ words through Susan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: “Is Aslan quite safe? ‘Safe?’, said Mr Beaver, ‘Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he is good. He's the king.’”  Let’s have more teaching on surrendering safety in favour of goodness.

Alison Parr

 

Roger writes…

Dear editor,

I am often surprised by how little I am surprised. Why is it, for example, that there is an almost audible gasp in church whenever the next verse of the worship song doesn’t appear on the screen in time? It happens so often, I would be more surprised if we starting using hymn books again; a development which would fill me with infinite joy. At least we’d be made to sing the original words. If the word “thine” was good enough for the Wesleys, it’s good enough for me. I’m petitioning for it to be put into the youth service.

I am not surprised, therefore, to see your article on archaeological findings supporting the biblical record. Of course they do! It’s obvious! Whatever next in your magazine dedicated to Christianity? ‘EXCLUSIVE: The Bible Exists!’, ‘STOP THE PRESS: Jesus was a man!’, ‘BIG NEWS:  The King James Version is superior!’

I rather hope the rapture is imminent, otherwise I dread to think what future generations would make of archaeological discoveries dating back to our time. When future archaeologists find our places of worship, they won’t be digging up tombs and walls, but noisy amplifiers, brightly coloured carpet tiles and flappy fold-up chairs. It’ll be like discovering a teenager’s bedroom.  Did Jesus walk on luminous green flooring? Well, then.

Yours unsurprisingly,

Rev Roger D Votional


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