View from the Vicarage - May 2015
To the people of St Andrew’s,
What is the future for Christianity in the world? It’s a big question and we can’t know the answer, but findings reported in The Telegraph last month make interesting reading.
The paper published research from The Pew Forum (www.pewforum.org) concluding that Christianity is set to remain the world’s biggest religion only until the year 2100, by which time (if current trends continue) Islam will have overtaken it.
Yet, although Islam is the worlds fastest growing religion, there is nothing to say that it might not yet suffer the same effect of disaffiliation that has plagued several large Christian populations (like ours). Equally, the remarkably rapid expansion of Christianity in China, for example, (see The Economist from 1 November last year) might delay or reverse the trend.
As an aside, I was interested to note that, according to The Pew Forum, the religiously unaffiliated - atheists, agnostics and others who don’t identify with a religion - are declining as a share of the world’s population.
Later this year I shall be attending the Annual Conference for The United Society (Us, previously known as USPG). I am privileged to be the Bishop’s nominee on the Council of this Anglican Mission Agency that operates in various countries across the world through and with the local Anglican Church leaders and congregations.
I have always found the news and insights from Us representatives at these conferences encouraging and stimulating, and I will report back from the conference in a future edition of The Fisherman.
If you would like to come for all or part of the conference, which is held at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesden, Herts, in mid July, then please let me know.
Next month, and a week before her ordination as deacon, Dominique Turnham will come to speak at our Outreach Sunday services about the year she spent in South Africa with Us and her passion for the work that the Society is doing around the world today. As a parish we have supported Us recently with two grants of £1,000. The latest edition of the Us magazine, Transmission, details their work in West Africa, Gaza, the Philippines, Pakistan and Lesotho. Here, as elsewhere, the Anglican church is standing as salt and light serving the local community after the example of Christ and helping people to live a full life.
It is through doing and supporting mission work like this that the church locally and globally will continue to grow and thrive.
What is the future for Christianity in the world? A prayer from Zimbabwe expresses it beautifully:
Open my eyes that they may see other people’s deepest needs;
move my hands that they may feed the hungry;
touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing;
teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers;
let me share my possessions to clothe the naked;
give me the care that strengthens the sick;
make me share in the quest to set the prisoners free;
for in sharing our anxieties and our love, our poverty and our prosperity, we partake of your divine presence.