Why your church needs to know about Pokémon GO

The Church of England has written a very helpful blog post on what your church needs to know about Pokémon GO:

The NSPCC has issued advice to parents of those children playing Pokémon GO in the UK. Whilst we would encourage churches to engage with those playing the game, be they adults or children, we also understand the concerns that the NSPCC have raised with regards to keeping children safe. Our first priority as a church should be to provide a safe place for children and vulnerable adults with regards to Pokémon GO.

Please make sure you read the advice on the NSPCC’s website here:https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/pokemon-go-parents-guide/

If you have any concerns in relation to those playing Pokémon GO, please feel free to talk to your Safeguarding Officer.

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First of all, what is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a mobile and tablet app game which lets players find Pokémon (Animated creatures, first created in the 90′s, which players have to catch, train and battle with). The game takes place in augmented reality (meaning the game combines real life action with virtual gaming) by using GPS as you walk around towns, cities and other locations to find the Pokémon.

The game has been an overnight sensation with millions playing it around the world.

Why does your church need to know?
Your church might be a ‘PokéStop’ – real life buildings and landmarks that players have to visit to get certain items they need to play the game. Your church could also be a ‘Gym’ where players can battle their Pokémon. (Being Gym means people spend significantly more time battling Pokémon.)

Pokémon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church. However, we all need to be aware that this game means that children under the age of 18 may come into contact with people who may present a risk.

How do you know if your church is a Pokestop or a Gym?
Download Pokémon Go on your mobile or tablet. Through the game you will be able to see if your church is a PokéStop or a gym.

You might also spot people standing outside the church on their phones who may be playing the game and at your ‘PokéStop’.

What can your church to do get involved?

  • Place welcome signs outside: encourage them to come inside and offer them drinks and snacks. The game also uses a lot of battery so why not create a battery charging station? If you’ve got it, let them connect to the church’s wifi

  • Speak to players about the game: learn how to play it yourself, it’s a good way to start a conversation that may lead on to other things.

  • Hold a Pokeparty like Christ Church Stonehttps://www.facebook.com/events/246500169067368/

  • Tweet about it: Just like St Stephens Rednal and Hope Church Islington did. Don’t forget to use #PokemonGo

CofE Communications update – August 2016

The latest editions of InReview and InFocus are now available to download

Their aim is to keep people in touch with the activities of the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners, Pensions Board and other bodies which serve the Church at national level.

 

York General SynodInReview

August’s edition of InReview, including news about York General Synod, The Church of England Vision for Education and more is available here.

Pupil Premium awards 2016InFocus

August’s edition of InFocus, including resources for safeguarding, Renewal and Reform and more, is available here (4-page version here).

Origins prayer course

Over the last two months I’ve been running the Origins prayer course with a group of 11-14 year olds in our local church.

The resource has been developed by 24-7 Prayer, and describes itself as

a tool to help you teach young people to pray … our aim is that the outcome of this course will be young people developing healthy spiritual lives, equipped with tools to help them grow in prayer throughout their lives.

The 7 sessions are:

  • What is prayer?
  • Why do we pray?
  • Who do we pray to?
  • How do we talk to God (Part 1)
  • How do we talk to God (Part 2)
  • How to listen to God
  • Keep growing

OriginsSpreadWe have found the resource to be helpful.  Each session includes an icebreaker, food, game, talk, response, discussion and a challenge.  Within our context we did not do the meals – that isn’t something we would currently be able to do, but everything else was easily adaptable to fit to our context without much preparation.

The course whilst aimed at those with some faith is easily accessible for those with little or no faith.  Our particular group has a number of youngsters who would be unsure of whether or not they have a faith, but they thoroughly enjoyed these sessions.

Priced at just £5.00 for a leaders manual this really does work for all types of churches.  Do go and order yourself a copy here.

 

Reflections on an EastEnders funeral

Rev Canon Dr Sandra Millar who leads work on funerals for the Church of England has written a great blog post reflecting on Peggy Mitchell’s funeral:

This week the funeral of the great pub landlady, Peggy Mitchell, took place in Albert Square. It was full of wonderful East End traditions, like the horse drawn bier led by the funeral conductor and the people standing by in respect. There were hints that Peggy had specified what kind of funeral she wanted – and it was certainly a very traditional, even old-fashioned,  affair in the local church.

But these days a Church of England led funeral needn’t be traditional, whether it takes place in the local church or elsewhere. People can wear brightly coloured clothes, the coffin might be wicker or felt or hand-decorated, it could be draped with a favourite sports shirt, balloons might be released – whatever reflect that unique life and the love of God within a framework of reflection, prayer, thanks and commendation into God’s care. The EastEnders funeral reminded me of the time I took the funeral of a pub landlord – there were nearly 1,000 people present, a wicker coffin, the singing of Waltzing Matilda and lots and lots of tributes. I spent a lot of time with the family discovering what would make this funeral helpful, and to this day I remember them and pray for them.

Whatever the circumstances, the vicar talks with the family beforehand, finding out key family contacts and tensions (that would have been interesting in the Mitchell clan!) discovering what made this person uniquely loved and special to those around him or her.  The vicar may encourage the family to make a tribute, talking about their own personal memories, and will be there alongside on the day, ready to offer a steadying arm or even take over if emotions became too much.  Together with the Funeral Director the minister is responsible for the service, making sure it all works smoothly, offering care and support as needed – and should something go wrong, the vicar will be there.

Christians believe in a God who made every human being uniquely, who knows every step we take, walks with us through our journey in life, so celebrating and giving thanks is a central part of every Church of England led funeral. The camera cut away from the funeral service, but I do hope someone spoke about Peggy with affection. If I’d have been taking her funeral I would definitely have used the line ‘Get out of my pub!” somewhere in the service!  But funerals are more than just thanksgiving: there is grief and loss, sometimes anger or regret, and a church service will also make space for holding those emotions, letting go where appropriate and finding comfort to face the future.

Above all a Church led funeral offers a message of hope – a hope that death is not the end and that both we who have to carry on living and those whom we love but see no longer are all held in the great love of God. Our recent research around Church of England led funerals showed that the timeless words ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life’ have a powerful resonance with people, even though their full meaning will take us all a lifetime to grasp.

A good vicar – and there are many like Revd Juliet Stephenson from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the current Funeral Celebrant of the Year – will offer pastoral care before, during and long after the funeral. Sometimes that’s the space to light a candle, sometimes the space to remember and sometimes a listening ear.  I know EastEnders isn’t real [it isn’t is it?] but I hope that all who are faced with organising a funeral will know that the Church of England is there for them, meeting their needs with compassion, humour, love and grace.

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Angel mosaic revealed at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity

Angel mosaic portraitThe BBC have recently done a video report that Italian restoration workers at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem have been showing off a stunning mosaic of an angel that was previously hidden beneath plaster.

Tensions between different Christian denominations have long delayed the repairs at the church.

But the Palestinian Authority brokered a deal between them enabling restoration work to start three years ago.

Children and Holy Communion

Recently I have been doing some reading about children and Holy Communion.  One of the most helpful things I read was this blog by Margaret Pritchard Houston:

As we were preparing to admit six children to Holy Communion before Confirmation, our curate turned to me and said, ‘So we admit them at age 7? Explain this to me theologically.’

And I had to explain that I couldn’t – that the only reason we do admission to Holy Communion at 7 is that we’re not allowed to do it from baptism, that our policy is more a compromise than a coherent theological principle.

She goes on to answer the following questions:

  • If we admit children to communion at baptism, then what is confirmation for?
  • Children are allowed to participate in other ways, aren’t they? They can come to Jesus through Sunday School and worship without receiving communion until they’re older.
  • Wanting it doesn’t mean they should have it. They don’t understand what it means, and that’s crucial to receiving the sacrament.

Empowering Children as Ministers

Empowering Children as Ministers was a day conference organised by Gill Ambrose and Ally Barrett (Reverendally), with help from the Praxis East Committee.

The notes from the day show it to have been a rich and thought provoking day with a diverse group of ministers and church representatives reflecting together on how they might empower our churches’ children and young people as ministers, and the impact that this may have on the children and young people themselves (both now and into adulthood) and on the church itself.

At a time when the Church of England is actively promoting the nurturing of young vocations, why not start in childhood?  Click here to read a full report on the day, including the full text of the speech given by 11 year old Joanna about her own experiences as a minister.

Threads – Referendum reflections: we did this

Matt White has written a reflection on the referendum for Threads.  Here’s a snippet:

We. Did. This.

I’m not just talking about the mechanics of democracy. More people putting their cross in one box than another. It goes way beyond that.

Our actions of not just the last 24 hours have led us to this point. And if we don’t get to grips with that, then we can’t be surprised when it happens next time, or the next time, or the next time…

And as I take a long, hard, look at myself in that light this morning, some things are uncomfortably staring right back; if I choose to denigrate our politicians, labelling them all “dishonest” or “self-serving”, then I can’t be surprised when people don’t trust what is being said by them. Or refuse to take part in the process at all.

If I disengage from politics from election to election, headline to headline, only diving in a few hours before or after the next big thing, I’m not adding or shaping the discourse. I’m just clanging at the last minute in the hope my pithy tweet or couple of paragraphs on Facebook will really make a difference.

If I make villains out of those who stand up for what they believe in – even if I don’t share their belief – I push others away. Afraid to appear in agreement with those I so clearly find laughable. Making them too nervous to ask why, or start conversations that might help bring clarity to us both.

If I rush to caricature those in my communities who hold different opinions, I stop seeing them as my neighbours. I write them off with broad brushstrokes, and make it clear that my walls will always be built and my borders firmly in place.

And so today I, and we, get another choice. Not leave or remain. Not in or out – that ship has sailed.

Today I get the choice to act.

Do go read the rest of it to hear how Matt suggests we act.

EU referendum: Statement by Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop John Sentamu have issued this joint statement today after the UK voted to leave the European Union: 

On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

The referendum campaign has been vigorous and at times has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage – being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

As those who hope and trust in the living God, let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minister David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.

Youth pilgrimage to Taizé – God’s Presence

A brilliant update from Richard Nihill on the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust Pilgrimage to Taizé:

I am writing today’s blog sitting in the Church of Reconciliation rejoicing in the opportunity just to be. Surrounded by people waiting to worship, surrounded by young and old from around the world, and surrounded by God’s presence and love.

When I first arrived with our young people on Sunday I was concerned about several things: whether they would embrace or flee from the international character of Taize, how they would react having to attend three services a day, how they would cope with the silence, and how we might fill the rest of their time and occupy them.

From the first few hours of our pilgrimage here I have watched our young people worship in languages they’ve never spoken; greet like old friends students from America, from Sweden, from Italy; and share with depth and honesty in our international Bible study groups.

The services have become a perfect punctuation to the day. Often the young people are the ones who remind the leaders that it is time to be there. We have all loved the opportunity to sing the chants and let the music inspire us and the words take route within.

The silence at the heart of the services has been an element that we have all grown to appreciate. What started as daunting is now a source of nourishment. Just today one of the girls  remarked that at each service it seems to get shorter. A group of them discussed how Taizé was giving them a perspective of seeing silence as a blessing and that they wanted to prioritise more of it in their lives.

And finally, what of the question of how we might occupy our time here? Well that is most definitely filled, filled with the presence of God. Filled with God’s presence as we worship in the chapel, in both the silence and in the sound. Filled with God’s presence in our brothers and sisters as we discuss, as we socialise and as we learn from one another. Filled with God’s presence as the volunteers serve us and as we serve each other, with a smile or by kind words.

But I find myself left now with another concern  – how do we incorporate this experience into our daily lives? In the midst of a hectic existence how do we live the present moment? Perhaps the answer is in these words from today’s midday service; ‘as Peter writes; Above all, love each other deeply’.

 

Richard Nihill

Lay Chaplain, Archbishop Holgate’s

Want to help young people start work well?

Great news! Second round applications for September’s Changing Light are now open:

Changing Light is our new weekend experience for people in their first years of working life or preparing to start work.
At this vital life stage, it’s an opportunity to:

  • Experience God’s love as workers and catch his exciting vision for work.
  • Dose up on fellowship and prayer and be commissioned at the start of working life.
  • Hear stories of how others have done great things for Christ in their work and experienced the odd failure along the way too.
  • Receive input and encouragement from those further along similar career paths.
  • Prepare for and celebrate the start of this vocational life.

Many people have told us that they wish they’d had something to help them through the transition into work. Changing Light meets that need. Do you know someone who might benefit?

Where: Camping in the beautiful fields of Latimer Minster, Bucks, HP9 2XD

When: Friday 9 September to Sunday 11 September, 2016

How much:  £80 (including food)

There are just 50 places available so pass on this link licc.org.uk/changinglight for all the details and to register interest by 18th July.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions or would like a high quality version of the film below to show in your church.
Blessings,
Jen Logan

LICC Contemporary Projects Leader