What the free churches can teach civil society

posted by Kaihsu Tai on September 21st, 2009

Here are some notes written in preparation for the panel discussion about the history and future of free churches in England, held at Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford, on 1 July 2009. This is just a sketch, to be further developed, and these are not polished conclusions. However, they have been published in Saint Columba’s church newsletter. Incidentally, today the Bishop of Reading echoed my earlier comparison between churches and supermarkets; I insist our (free) churches should be like co-operatives.

To set the background: Gordon Brown in late June announced more of his ‘choice’ agenda, which now has the added flavour of ‘rights and entitlements’. Unlike its namesake and predecessor, which ‘owed more to Methodism than Marx’, New Labour’s agenda is to turn citizens into consumers, but then the market-oriented ‘society’ is one without social coherence. All of a sudden, the Government needed to introduce tests for Britishness and Armed Forces Day, measures that paper over the symptom but not the problem. On the other hand, Michael Sandel’s Reith Lectures, broadcast in the same month, advocated a society of citizens, not consumers. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Oxford, Religion | on September 21st, 2009 | Permanent Link to “What the free churches can teach civil society” | Comments Off on What the free churches can teach civil society

Praying for the elections, seriously

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 3rd, 2009

Over the year, we prayed for people and places around the world.
Today we pray for our own land and nations.
In particular, we pray for the elections upcoming:
the Oxfordshire County Council elections
and elections to the European Parliament.

Will you pray with me? Let us pray.
Read the rest of this entry »

Prayers for Zimbabwe and Israel/Palestine

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 15th, 2009

Commitment for Life is a network within the United Reformed Church committed to praying, giving, and campaigning for better lives all over the world. My church, Saint Columba’s, is a Commitment for Life congregation. As part of this network, we take action, pray, and give for people across the world. Particularly, we support partners in four countries: Bangladesh, Israel/Palestine, Jamaica, and Zimbabwe.

Seventy-five percent of the money we raise through Commitment for Life goes to Christian Aid. In this way, the United Reformed Church raised more than half a million pounds for Christian Aid last year. A tenth of the money goes to World Development Movement, a radical campaigning organization tackling the underlying causes of poverty. There is more information on the Commitment for Life website.


The United Reformed Church, through the Commitment for Life programme, supports partners in four countries: Bangladesh, Israel/Palestine, Jamaica, and Zimbabwe. Today we pray for two of these, Israel/Palestine and Zimbabwe. Will you pray with me. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Itinerant Communicant, Oxford, Prayer | on February 15th, 2009 | Permanent Link to “Prayers for Zimbabwe and Israel/Palestine” | Comments Off on Prayers for Zimbabwe and Israel/Palestine

Kyrie of the recycling centre

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 7th, 2008

At the risk of obsessively praying about waste and recycling, I have this prayer to offer, which I trust to be sensibly Trinitarian.

(John Calvin was wrong. The Purgatory does exist. I have seen it with my own eyes, at the Redbridge recycling station.)recycling symbol

God our Creator, in your mercy:
Help us to learn how to live in Paradise, where nothing is wasted,
where we walk or cycle with you as you intended.
Bless the workers who sort our recycling,
who, as befit people created in your image, re-create order out of chaos.

Kyrie eleison.

Christ our Saviour, in your mercy:
Remove us from the flashy sports cars and the 4×4s (SUVs)
which only speed us to the incinerating Armageddon.
Remind us of your crown, when we see the thornbushes growing over the landfill.
Remind us of your Cross, whenever we see smokestacks or wind turbines on the hill.
Remind us of your Passion and your Resurrection.

Christe eleison.

Holy Spirit our Advocate and Comforter, in your mercy:
Guard us on our bus route for the recycling centre.
Purge us of our sins of pride and greed.
Blow your wind on us and drive us in your dynamic,
as on the wind turbines, and as on Pentecost.
Bless with your wordless prayer
everything that has a recycling symbol.

Kyrie eleison.

Amen.

(By the way, Chris Goodall’s second book is out: Ten Technologies to Save the Planet.)

Prayers (freegans)

posted by Kaihsu Tai on November 23rd, 2008

Will you pray with me?
Let us pray.

1

God, we pray for the world.

The prayer cycle of the World Council of Churches
reminds us to pray today for the peoples of
Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

We thank you for
the freedom for Christians to worship in Mauritania
even though it is an Islamic country.
We thank you for
those who depend on nomadic ways of life and
continue to retain their ethnic heritage.
We thank you for
those who plant trees to counter the spread of the desert.

We pray for stability in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
We pray for an end to slavery in Mauritania.
We pray for an end to civil war in Chad.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Environment, Oxford, Prayer | on November 23rd, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Prayers (freegans)” | 1 Comment »

Prayers (bailiffs)

posted by Kaihsu Tai on November 16th, 2008

Will you pray with me?
Let us pray.

1

God, we pray for the world.

The prayer cycle of the World Council of Churches
reminds us to pray today for the peoples of
Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea.
We also pray at this time
for the Democratic Republic of Congo and for Rwanda,
for those people displaced from their homes due to the conflict,
for the peacekeepers and diplomats
working in a difficult situation.

Today we remember all the road traffic victims,
on the day designated for this remembrance.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Oxford, Prayer | on November 16th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Prayers (bailiffs)” | Comments Off on Prayers (bailiffs)

Homily on the parable of the talents

posted by Kaihsu Tai on November 16th, 2008

Matthew 25:14–30 (≈ Luke 19:12–27)

I walk down High Street and I see a sign: ‘Good news! Your debts paid – free of charge.’ If I see it in a bank window, I might well think of alerting the Financial Services Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority. But if it says ‘Jesus pays for my debt, and yours too! Come in for the Good News!’ in a church window like ours, I might not think twice. Well, maybe it is time to think twice! Maybe such statements need to be considered not just metaphorically, but literally. Read the rest of this entry »

Encountering a Georgian Baptist archbishop

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 8th, 2008

Recently the Archbishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, Malkhaz Songulashvili, came to Oxford for a study-leave. By Georgia, I mean the one with Saakashvili and Stalin (alas), rather than the one with Jimmy Carter and CNN. That might answer your obvious question…. Further, as to why there is an Archbishop in a Baptist church, please read the church’s website. As to how to address a Baptist Archbishop in the correct style: pass. In any case: sadly, it was during his visit that the Russia–Georgia conflict broke out.
Read the rest of this entry »

Entryism into Britain from Barack Obama’s church

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 8th, 2008

Gentle readers will recall that about half a year ago, Barack Obama got into some trouble because of his pastor from a congregation of the United Church of Christ. (Around the same time I also visited a United Church of Christ congregation which was “more liberal than I”.)

Since then, I have attended the United Reformed Church’s General Assembly in which the Reverend Roberta Rominger was inducted as General Secretary of the Britain-wide denomination. I have also attended two induction services (on neighbouring Saturdays): of the Reverend Tanya Stormo Rasmussen to the chaplaincy of Mansfield College, Oxford, a college historically related to the United Reformed Church; and of the Reverend Carla Grosch-Miller to my own church Saint Columba’s. A pattern emerged: all three of them are from the United Church of Christ!

So, gentle readers west of the Atlantic: if in a month’s time you feel an eerie urge to move hitherward, you know where you are sure to find a welcome. But for now, work hard to make yourself comfortable at home for the next few years!

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Heresy, Itinerant Communicant, Oxford | on October 8th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Entryism into Britain from Barack Obama’s church” | Comments Off on Entryism into Britain from Barack Obama’s church

Navel-gazing

posted by Kaihsu Tai on September 7th, 2008

On Saturday, I went to the autumn conference of the Green Party of England and Wales. Not as many hugs as previous ones, but after 35 years, we finally elected our first leader, Caroline Lucas: yay! I also got my copy of the new book Making poverty: a history signed by the author, my friend Tom Lines.

I saw there fellow blogger Jim Jepps of The Daily (Maybe), who (gentle readers will recall) not only mentioned this blog in the Guide to Political Blogging in the UK last year, but also said that we were “extra-respectable”. (Thanks, Jim!) This year we were not mentioned in the text, but remain in the listing of political blogs.

In other news, thanks to the efforts of Jim and other Green blogging-activists, a Green Party bloggers home was launched at the conference! My little bit of contribution was to buy the domain name….

Non-political news: If our gentle western-Atlantic readers ever visit our humble town of Oxford, be sure to visit the café Vaults and Gardens next to the University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, run by local entrepreneur Will Pouget of French aristocratic stock. Most of the food there is local, organic, and/or Fairtrade, and there will always be a vegetarian/vegan option. His newest venture is a healthy “kebab van”, which has already been reported locally in the Oxford Times and nationally in the Daily Telegraph.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Green Party, Oxford | on September 7th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Navel-gazing” | 1 Comment »