TRENDS & Watch this music video to see fresh expressions of the Church (and be blessed by the singing too).

From the UK, a praise video of the diverse young people choosing to follow Jesus.

CRISES & British public turn to prayer as one in four tune in to religious services. Young people lead resurgence of faith, and Vicar of Dibley tops a poll as the best screen priest to lead nation through the crisis. #UKGuardian

by , The UK Guardian Newspaper, May 5, 2020.

A quarter of adults in the UK have watched or listened to a religious service since the coronavirus lockdown began, and one in 20 have started praying during the crisis, according to a new survey.

The findings of the poll reinforce indications of an increase in the numbers of people turning to faith for succour amid uncertainty and despair.

The Church of England has said that unexpectedly high numbers of people are tuning into online or broadcast services, and 6,000 people phoned a prayer hotline in its first 48 hours of operation. Other faiths have also reported surges in people engaging with online religious activities as places of worship have been closed during the lockdown.

The survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the Christian aid agency Tearfund and carried out last weekend, found that a third of young adults aged between 18 and 34 had watched or listened to an online or broadcast religious service, compared with one in five adults over the age of 55.

One in five of those who have tuned into services in the past few weeks say they have never gone to church.

The most frequent subjects of prayers since the lockdown has been family (53%), friends (34%), thanking God (24%), the person praying (28%), frontline services (27%), someone unwell with Covid-19 (20%), and other countries with Covid-19 (15%).

A separate poll, commissioned by Christian Aid, found that The Vicar of Dibley, the Rev Geraldine Granger, the BBC TV character played by Dawn French, would be the public’s choice of screen priest to lead the UK through the coronavirus crisis. In second place was Sister Evangelina, played by Pam Ferris, from Call the Midwife … with Father Ted Crilly, played by Dermot Morgan, from Father Ted taking third place.

Read more at … https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/03/british-public-turn-to-prayer-as-one-in-four-tune-in-to-religious-services

God & Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Like many people at Christmas, I’m fond of Charles Dickens’ stories, especially “A Christmas Carol.” I even adapted Dickens’ story for a Christmas production that ran for over 10 years, involved over 20 churches and raised money for a Christian retreat center.

I knew that Dickens had a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and that he often referred to “real Christianity” as those who modeled Jesus’ life. 

A helpful, scholarly book has come out describing how Dickens faith contributed to the long lasting message of his books. It is titled, ”God and Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author” and available from the usual online sources.

Below is an interview with the author. I found especially memorable the following paragraphs:

Scholar and author Dr. Gary Colledge has studied the legendary 19th century English writer extensively. The Akron, Ohio, native even studied in the United Kingdom, earning a Ph.D. at the prestigious University of St. Andrews for his work on the faith of Dickens.

“That’s what’s going to be prevalent in anything we read by Dickens — that idea that ‘real Christianity,’ and Dickens uses that term ‘real Christianity’ a number of times in letters and in his writing,” Colledge told CBN News. “‘Real Christianity’ is being like Jesus.”

God and Scrooge: Finding the Faith of Charles Dickens

By Mark Martin, CBN News, 12/24/19.

…Scholar and author Dr. Gary Colledge has studied the legendary 19th century English writer extensively. The Akron, Ohio, native even studied in the United Kingdom, earning a Ph.D. at the prestigious University of St. Andrews for his work on the faith of Dickens.

“That’s what’s going to be prevalent in anything we read by Dickens — that idea that ‘real Christianity,’ and Dickens uses that term ‘real Christianity’ a number of times in letters and in his writing,” Colledge told CBN News. “‘Real Christianity’ is being like Jesus.”

Lessons from Scrooge

During his research, Colledge discovered that Dickens was a Christian and his faith in Jesus Christ surfaces throughout his works — in the themes and characters.

Colledge read a letter from Dickens to one of his critics:

“‘All my strongest illustrations are derived from the New Testament. All my social abuses are shown as departures from its Spirit. All my good people are humble, charitable, faithful, forgiving, over and over again. I claim them in expressed words as disciples of the Founder of our religion.'”

Read the full interview here… https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2012/december/god-and-scrooge-finding-the-faith-of-charles-dickens

SECULARISM & Church of England has ‘swallowed political correctness wholesale’, Queen’s former chaplain says, as he converts to Catholicism.

by Izzy Lyons, The UK telegraph Newspaper, 12/22/19.

Dr Gavin Ashenden, who served the Queen from 2008 to 2017, said that the Church is increasingly bowing to the “non-negotiable demands of secular culture” and has remained “astonishingly silent” when it comes to defending Christian values…

He has now chosen to convert to Catholicism because he believes it has the “courage, integrity and conviction to hold the Christian ground”…

“Freedom of speech is slowly being eroded; those who refuse to be ‘politically correct’ risk accusations of thought crime and Christians are being unfairly persecuted,” he wrote in the Mail on Sunday. “And where is the Church of England in this crucial culture war? Is it on the front line? Not that I can see. If anything, it has switched sides.

“This isn’t just a shame, it’s a calamity…

“In each generation, Christianity has a choice: convert its surroundings or be converted by it. Regrettably, I have come to believe that the Church of England has given up on the essentials of the faith at points where it really matters,” he added. 

Read more at … https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/22/church-englandhas-swallowed-political-correctness-wholesale/

POVERTY & What one pastoral couple did to address the problem.

by The Highbury Centre, Islington, London, 8/13/19.

In 19th century London, the gap between the very richest and the poorest of the poor seemed unbridgeable. Aristocratic families flitted between their country estates and their town houses, enjoying the very best that society had to offer, while the newly wealthy middle classes flocked to the West End’s department stores to fill their houses with the latest must-have artefacts. In stark contrast to this conspicuous consumption, poor and working-class people lived crowded together in the most abject poverty, with no sanitation, in crumbling and dangerous housing.

Poor children were fortunate to live until their fifth birthday. Cholera, typhus, dysentery, smallpox and TB were all killers. Their parents fared no better, often dying from over-work or disease.

In 1865, a married couple, William and Catherine Booth, both ardent Methodists, felt called to take the good news out on the streets. They offered practical support to those who needed it most, “soup, soap and salvation.” By 1878, they were known as the Salvation Army and became a familiar sight in the poorest districts of London.

By 1893, the year of the foundation of the Foreign Missions Club in Highbury New Park, the Salvation Army had expanded hugely, taking the news of God’s love out on the streets to thousands. Extreme poverty and its related issues, addiction, hunger, malnutrition, desperation and crime was rife in the capital, leading William Booth to deliver passionate speeches to his growing ranks about the need for help. “While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end!”

The work of the Salvation Army, started over 150 years ago, still goes on worldwide. William and Catherine Booth are buried at Abney Park in Stoke Newington, just over 1.5 miles from The Highbury Centre. Their legacy of love, practical care and salvation for all lives on in our century, where sadly want and poverty are still very much a part of our society.

At The Highbury Centre, our heart has always been to offer Christian accommodation, rest and relaxation to missionaries, workers for the Lord and anyone in need of a comfortable bed for the night. A great deal of things have changed since we first opened our doors in 1893, but much remains the same. We are proud to offer good value, welcoming and accessible accommodation in the heart of North London.

If reading this has interested you, you can find out more about the work of the Salvation Army by clicking on this link: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/

Find out more about the Highbury Centre, an affordable guest house in London, at https://www.thehighburycentre.org

ENGLAND & My Pre-arrival Hacks for Travelers to London & the United Kingdom

by Bob Whitesel DMin PhD, 7/5/19.

Before you arrive in England (and if you haven’t traveled here before or in a while) here are a few hints.

Contact your mobile phone company and see if it makes financial sense to get an international phone plan. I have one that costs $10 a day but it allows me to use the minutes I typically use in America.

If you have an unlocked cell phone you can inexpensively buy a replacement Sim card in England once you arrive. However in that case you will have an English number and it will cost you extra to call any phone registered in the US.

Don’t forget to purchase and print out any hard copies of tickets you need while you’re here.

Be sure to keep your passport safe and out of sight. The same goes for your wallet. London is like any big city, it has its share of pickpockets.

Don’t worry about exchanging US dollars for English £ until you arrive. There are change shops at the airport, but you probably will get a better exchange rate at one of the local Post Office stores.

If you’re planning on taking the subway, known as the “tubes,” then you’ll have to carry your suitcase up and down stairs in most locations. There are some public transportation locations that are handicapped accessible and you can check a map for those if you need that. But traveling light is always better when using public transportation.

The English cabbies are not only colorful, but they also know a great deal about the area. They can give you fantastic insights on where you’re traveling. But, they are not as cheap as using Uber of Lyft. So depending upon whether you want to save some money or learn more about the sites you’ll be passing, will depend upon which you pick.

Download a few helpful applications. I utilize Google maps because they let me create an accurate route based upon public transportation. Also a good exchange application that lets you figure out how much something costs can be helpful. Uber has drivers almost everywhere, so that’s another good application to download.

Finally, I want to strongly urge everyone to be extra, extra cautious while walking in England. Remember the English drive on the left-hand side of the road. This means before you cross any roadway you must “look right then left.” I always tell friends that at every street – look both ways before crossing any curb. Remember always look both ways.

Those are just some initial hints.

From Wesley’s England,

Dr. Bob and Rebecca

ENGLAND & Churches Outnumber Pubs in the UK

This is effectively the principle first enunciated by Donald McGavran, the church growth guru, who said, “People like to stay with their own people,” the so-called homogeneous unit principle.”

by Peter Brierley, Christianity Today, 5/31/19.

Every village in the United Kingdom used to have a pub, a church, and a general store. Today, pubs (short for “public houses”) have become iconic, a popular destination for visitors to try drinks, traditional pub meals, and the cultural ambiance.

But these local landmarks are closing quickly; only 39,000 are left in England, down a quarter from 20 or so years ago. There are now more church buildings than pubs, according to recent figures announced last month by the National Churches Trust.

But the number of churches overall is falling too, just not as fast. The share of Christians in the UK is declining, as in America and other parts of the Western world. Total secularization isn’t inevitably around the corner for at least two reasons. First, surveys show that many who say they have “no religion” still believe in God, pray, say they have a soul, or even read the Bible. Second, there is actually substantial growth among certain types of churches in the UK, all in the context of God’s promise to build his church.

2017 p.1 WHITESEL WESLEY LAND & LEADERSHIP TOUR

The three biggest UK denominations—Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Presbyterians—are all declining quite quickly. Overall, their numbers have gone down 16 percent in just the last five years, Presbyterians the fastest (down 19%). Two other major groups are also declining, Baptists and Methodists, but they are much smaller in size.

The three major denominations form 60 percent of church members, and the smaller two another 16 percent. The remaining members often belong to the types of churches that are seeing the most growth right now—many of which have a Pentecostal bent, ranging from immigrant-founded denominations to Hillsong campuses.

Their increase, although significant, is unfortunately not enough to compensate for the drop among the bigger churches, but has moderated the overall decline. I’ll share below which kinds of churches are growing the fastest amid demographic shifts in the UK.

Immigrant churches, black majority churches, and reverse mission churches

London is the epicenter for growing churches. Between 2005 and 2012, overall church attendance (not membership) in London went from 620,000 people to 720,000, a 16 percent increase. The number of churches increased by two a week, from 4,100 to 4,800. During this time, the city welcomed immigrants both from Europe and the rest of the world, its population growing from 7 million to 8 million in 10 years.

Many of those newcomers were Christians and sought a church that spoke their language. More than 50 different languages are spoken in London’s churches; 14 percent of all the services held in the city are not in English.

The trend has since spread into other major urban areas, where churches draw in fellow believers who share the same language, outlook, culture, and so on. This is effectively the principle first enunciated by Donald McGavran, the church growth guru, who said, “People like to stay with their own people,” the so-called homogeneous unit principle.

Many of these churches conducting worship in other languages are Roman Catholic. Others are “black” churches, also called Black Majority Churches (BMCs). They too are immigrants but have been in the UK for much longer, often now in their third or fourth generation.

They first came as part of the Windrush generation, named for the ship that berthed in 1948 with many from the West Indies (the Caribbean). Rejected initially by the native white churches, they formed their own groups, like the New Testament Church of God, Elim Pentecostal Church, Apostolic Church, Assemblies of God, and others.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/may/churches-outnumber-pubs-in-uk-london-attendance-pentecostal.html

BRITISH METHODISTS & How they open doors to stay relevant. #FreshExpressions #SideDoorEvangelism #WesleyChapel

by Linda Bloom, UMNS, Feb. 20, 2018

Bermondsey Central Hall no longer has its grand 2,000-seat sanctuary… Bermondsey is not a Methodist tourist mecca like Wesley’s Chapel, built by Methodism’s founder John Wesley as his London base, or Methodist Central Hall Westminster, across from Westminster Abbey.

But their congregations are all growing, filled with Methodists who have come to London from many other countries, mostly from Africa. And all three are trying to respond to the communities around them, to be relevant — both spiritually and socially — in today’s London.

Such growth is not the norm for many other congregations in the Methodist Church in Britain. A report released during the 2017 British Methodist Conference last June showed that membership had dropped significantly below 200,000 — to 188,000.

The silver lining to this cloud: churches reach an estimated half a million people weekly through cafés, youth clubs and alternative forms of church…

“At the heart of this report, there is a challenge,” the Rev. Gareth J Powell, secretary of the conference, said after the Statistics for Mission report was received. “…that we must take seriously our responsibility for being an evangelistic community of love which leads people to Christ.”

…What does it really take to grow the British Methodist Church?

The Rev. Martyn Atkins, former top executive of the British Methodist Conference and current superintendent minister at Westminster, said the church’s experiment over the past 14 years with what it is called “Fresh Expressions,” has demonstrated that making new disciples is just plain hard work.

Successful ministries take longer and cost more than expected “and whatever you think you’re going to do, you’ve got to do it twice as zealously or twice as creatively to get what you thought was the answer you were going to get,” added Atkins, who is chairperson of the Fresh Expressions board.

Winnie Baffoe is one of the Fresh Expressions pioneer workers employed by the church who is encouraged to think out of the box. She describes her position as “a holy risk.”

She has created “Mummies Republic” at the South London Mission, teaming up with government and social agencies to address the mental health issues and physical and social needs of vulnerable mothers with children aged 5 and under.

“My thing has always been to create a fresh expression of church so that I feel Jesus is walking in the neighborhood,” she declared…

For the Rev. Jennifer Smith, who became the superintendent minister of Wesley’s Chapel last September, the concept of taking Jesus outside the church building is crucial.

“When we are working so hard to keep the doors open…it can be easy to forget that we too can walk out,” she noted. “We do need to move beyond what I would call an attractive model of mission — you come to my house where I can host you and welcome you. Actually, that’s not how Jesus worked.”

Read more at … http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/british-methodists-open-doors-to-stay-relevant?

ENGLAND & After 20 Years: My Tips For Fun, Inexpensive & Family Experiences That Locals Know

Tips for London travelers (and free things to do and see) by Bob and Rebecca Whitesel, 7/11/17.

TRAVELING AROUND LONDON

During my research trips to England, I’ve discovered a few tips that can make life easier. Mostly about London but also including Cambridge/Oxford/Peak District/etc., I hope these insights help you more fully experience the wonders of England.

Get an Oyster Card (you can order it before you go) which allows you contact-less payment on the subways and buses. It depends on how much you travel but Rebecca and I are very active and thus usually go through about 40 pounds a week. Each person (except for the very youngest) must have an Oyster Card (you cannot swipe in another person.)

The tubes (subways) are fast but can be crowded. Avoid the tubes during rush hours especially if you have luggage. Remember, rush hour on London public transportation (private cars are not advised) such as the London tube (subway) is M-F 7:30-9:30 am and 4:30 – 6:30 pm.

During the day, I travel by bus. If you’re staying in Islington, a number 4 will get you to St. Paul’s Cathedral and a number 19 will get you to Green Park and Regent Street.

Go up to the top of the bus and wait until the front seats are available. Then sit in the front which is like having a tour bus ride through English streets.

Once you get on the bus hang on. It seems as if most bus drivers are retired Formula One drivers. Hang on every single second you are in a bus.

When approaching your stop, ring the bell. Then, to keep from being thrown around as you approach your bus stop, look for a stoplight where the bus might stop so you can go down to the exit (while the bus is not moving).

WEATHER & CLIMATE

If you’re going in the summer it stays light till about 10 o’clock. So, you can stay out later. But the sun rises at 4:30 am, so close the blinds if you want to sleep past 5 am.

England is an island, so there will be short showers (some longer) and temps in the 60s and 70s. So bring a light raincoat with a hood. But, it can also get hot (81 degrees in 2017 in Oxford).

There usually aren’t any mosquitoes, so people will sleep with their windows open. And, because of the island climate there is rarely a need for air conditioning. But, if you need it please respect their culture and just bear a little heat (it will be short lived and rare).

DINING OUT & CREDIT-CARDS

When you eat at restaurants, they will not bring you the bill until you request it. They usually don’t mind people staying around a while in the restaurant. So don’t expect the waiter to bring the bill until you requested.

Apple Pay is taken in most places and seems to be me more secure than using a chip or a magnetic swipe card. Most restaurants will not take swipe cards, so make sure your credit and debit cards have a chip if you want to use them. Also make sure you have a pin number associated with a credit card, because many restaurants want a “chip and pin “rather than a “chip and signature,” the latter is more common in the states.

CULTURAL RESPECT

Remember, Americans are perceived as loud and boisterous. The English speak in more muted tones (unless there’s a football [i.e. soccer] game going on). Please keep your voice down and respect their culture.

FREE THINGS TO DO

As noted above, ride upstairs in the front of a double-decker bus for a tour-bus like view of London. (You also might want to pray for bicyclists in front of the bus, which the bus drivers follow much too closely :-O

Go to the Horse Guards stable/museum in the morning and watch the horse guards from just a few feet away. They will go through their changing of the guard right in front of you. This is different than the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (where you will probably be over 100 yards away and several rows deep). At the aforementioned Horse Guards stable/museum you will be just a few feet from the majestic horses and the young 20-something soldiers riding them. It’s a great experience for kids and it’s free every day.

The museums are mostly free and one of my favorites, of course, is the British Museum. Be sure to see the Rosetta Stone and explain it’s significance. Also see the winged bull statues from the Ancient Near East and the Elgin Marbles. When you are ready for something to eat go back to the front of the museum and walk through the gift shop. In the back of the gift shop is a pizzeria which also sells sandwiches and is usually never busy.

Victoria and Albert Museum has a great amount of historical artifacts. And it is right behind Holy Trinity Brompton church if you want to go to church there on Sunday mornings. It is at this church that the Alpha Program began and Nicky Gumbel is the pastor. If you go to the Victoria and Albert Museum after church (which as I mentioned is right behind the church) you can have lunch in the very ornate cafeteria. Just cross through the outdoor courtyard and you’ll find a large café on the north side of the courtyard.

It is always great fun to take a “river boat bus” and visit Greenwich where the Maritime Museum is housed (another free museum). The most enjoyable way to Greenwich the is to catch a river bus from Tower Bridge or even further upstream at the Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theatre. Walk around Greenwich and then walk up the hill to overlook London and Greenwich. You can even stand on the Greenwich Mean Time.

Visit Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theatre and catch a Shakespearean play for only 5 pounds. Yes that’s right, if you want to sit it may cost you 40-50 pounds. But if you’re willing to stand in front of the stage and have the best view in the house, you can do so as a “groundling.” This is a tradition that dates back to 1599. Peasants were welcome to come watch the plays but had to stand, so aristocrats could sit in the seats. It’s still only 5 pounds to stand and even these sell out. People bring their raincoats (with a hood) in case it starts to rain (and no one ever leaves when it starts raining – this is England after all). As a groundling you can’t sit down (some kids might get antsy) but adults would love it. If you don’t get tickets, but still want to go, arrive early at the Globe Theatre and lineup at the box office door. People who can’t use their tickets will sell them to you. Bring cash because you are purchasing tickets from individuals, but this is sponsored by the theatre and you can find good seats. Try and get there about an hour before the show because there are usually 15-20 people in line for returned tickets.

A beautiful view and inexpensive dining is available on the six floor of the Tate Modern museum (free again). You can’t miss the museum because it’s right across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s. It was formerly a power station and is noticeable because it still has a giant smokestack. But now it’s a gallery for the modern art run by the British government. On the six floor you can get snacks while overlooking the Thames and there is a dining room with good, yet reasonably priced food (and amazing views).

A great option for lunch nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral is the 101 café at the Salvation Army building. Just use your Google map to find the Salvation Army international headquarters. You can go for a nice lunch and also support the Salvation Army. It’s never too crowded, though there is usually a few people that know about this hidden gem in the city.

Go to “evensong” at St. Paul’s Cathedral for a wonderful experience (just like John Wesley did on the night his heart was changed). Rather than having to pay for tickets to tour Saint Paul’s you can go to evensong at 5 PMmost nights. Go up to the front desk and ask them about entrance to evensong and ask to be seated in the “choir.” If you’re lucky they will put you in the choir section, where you will sit where kings and queens sit.

GETTING AROUND (and back home):

If you are staying in Islington and riding a tube to Heathrow it will take (if it is not rush-hour) a minimum of 2 hours and 15 minutes to get through security and then to terminal three at Delta.

When returning to the US, utilize the mobile passport app and usually you will be allowed to go through an expedited US Customs line:https://www.mobilepassport.us

BEFORE YOU GO TO ENGLAND

Contact your mobile phone company and see if it makes financial sense to get an international phone plan. I have one that costs $10 a day but it allows me to use the minutes I typically use in America.

If you have an unlocked cell phone you can inexpensively buy a replacement Sim card in England once you arrive. However in that case you will have an English number and it will cost you extra to call any phone registered in the US.

Don’t forget to purchase and print out any hard copies of train tickets you may need while you’re here.

Be sure to keep your passport safe and out of sight. The same goes for your wallet. London is like any big city, it has its share of pickpockets.

Don’t worry about exchanging US dollars for English £ until you arrive. There are change shops at the airport, but you probably will get a better exchange rate at one of the local Post Office stores.

If you’re planning on taking the subway, known as the “tube,” then you’ll usually have to carry your suitcase up and down stairs in most locations. There are some elevator locations that are handicapped accessible and you can check a map for them. But traveling light is always better when using public transportation.

The English cabbies are not only colorful, but they also know a great deal about the area. They can give you fantastic insights on where you’re traveling. But, they are not as cheap as using Uber. So depending upon whether you want to save some money or learn more about the sites you’ll be passing, will depend upon which you pick.

DOWNLOAD A FEW HELPFUL APPLICATIONS

I utilize Google maps because they let me create an accurate route based upon public transportation. Also a good exchange application that lets you figure out how much something costs can be helpful. Uber has drivers almost everywhere, so that’s another good application to download.

Finally, I want to strongly urge everyone to be extra, extra cautious while walking in England. Remember the English drive on the left-hand side of the road (please don’t call it the “wrong-side of the road). This means before you cross any roadway you must “look right, then left.” I always tell students that at every street – “look both ways before crossing any curb.” Remember always look both ways.

OUTSIDE LONDON

Oxford:

BUS:

The OxfordTube http://www.oxfordtube.com/ (a bus, sometimes called a coach) leaves from nearby London’s Victoria Tube Station every 15-20 minutes. You can buy your tickets online and it might be a good idea to do so before you leave, since you may have to print them out. They “will send a PDF to you in an email. Please print the PDF as your proof of purchase and exchange it for a ticket with your driver.” Also remember, that rush hour on the London Tube (subway) is M-F 7:30-9:30 amand 4:30 – 6:30 am. The Oxford Tube and the X90 both leave London’s Victoria Station every 12-20 minutes, making stops at Marble Arch, Baker Street, Notting Hill Gate, and Shepherd’s Bush before heading to Oxford. Tickets cost £17 if you’re returning the next day, or £20 if you’re returning within 3 months. Travel time is approximately 100 minutes during off-peak times. The Oxford Tube: 01865 772250. X90: 01865 785400

From Oxford colleague Peter Forsaith: “The X90 is a parallel/competing service to the Oxford Tube. Same prices etc.. They run slightly different routes out of central London; the Oxford Tube via Notting Hill Gate/Shepherds Bush, the X90 via (near) Baker Street. Little advantage in paying in advance really… Students going to Christ Church should get off in St. Aldates (make sure to tell the driver), which is directly outside. For Lincoln College get off in High Street (Queen’s Lane), walk up High St to opposite The Mitre, then up Turl St. (5 minutes).”

TRAIN:

Trains from London leave Paddington every half hour, costing around £20 for a single trip, and takes approximately one hour. For national rail inquiries, call 08457 48 49 50 or visit their website. Note: cheap tickets can be purchased in advance for as little as £10 return. Check the website of contact National Rail for details. From Peter Forsaith, “Trains, there is now a regular train service from London Marylebone station (200 yds from Baker St.) as well as Paddington. Similar frequency. The return tickets can be used for either. This may be easier depending on where your students are located in London. Journey times both about 1 hour (incidentally, advise them not to catch a stopping train ie stops all stations) to Oxford from Paddington, these take for ever!)”

(Prof. B’s NOTE: It is a long walk from the train station to the center of Oxford. If you travel by train, plan on hailing a taxi to and from the train station. However, if you travel by bus they can deliver you to the center of Oxford.)

THINGS TO DO IN OXFORD

Tour Christ Church, St. Aldate’s Street, Oxford, Oxford OX1 1DP. http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/visiting/timesandprices.

“Christ Church is both Oxford University’s largest College and the Cathedral Church for the Anglican Diocese of Oxford. Visitors are welcomed throughout the year to enjoy Christ Church’s beauty and fascinating history. However, please note that Christ Church is a working academic and religious institution and some areas, including the Hall and the Cathedral, may close, occasionally without notice… The visitor entrance is through the large gate in Christ Church’s Meadow Building.” http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/christchurchcollege.htm. Here you will a ee the seminary [Christ
Church College] where John and Charles attended. Also look for his painting in the dining room [a very famous dining room, often used in movies to represent Oxford].

Lunch Option A: Cafe of St. Mary Church, University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, High Street, Oxford OX1 4BJ,http://www.university-church.ox.ac.uk/contact.html.

Lunch Option B: The Eagle & Child, 49 St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LU, 01865 302925,http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/theeagleandchildoxford/findus/This is where the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others) gathered on Tuesdays to read and comment on each other’s writings.

Enjoy the ambiance of Oxford. Perhaps you will climb to the top of St. Mary’s Church’s spire for a bird’s eye view of the “city of spires” (be forewarned, small stairs and cramped).

Cambridge:

Punt (boat) the Cam. The Cam is the river that runs through town he whose bridge over the Cam gives Cambridge its name. Planting the Cam will allow you to have the best views of the oldest colleges. You will also see the Bridge of Sighs which was informally named because it resembles a similarly named bridge in Italy (though it really is quite different). Nonetheless it is a landmark and only visible from a punting boat. You can even rent a boat yourself and try punting. However don’t do this in lieu of having a guide take you up the Cam too. The guide will take you past most of the colleges. If you punt yourself you’ll probably go around in circles for the first part of your rental period, while trying to get the hang of it. And if you don’t fall in the water, you will create a humorous experience for your companions and passerbys.

Also Cambridge seems to me to be more compact than Oxford that Cambridge. It feels less spread out and more easily navigable.

Bristol:

THINGS TO DO IN BRISTOL

See The New Room, the first purposely built preaching hall with designs ideas by John Wesley (notice the big clock donated by John to keep preachers short). Stand in the pulpit where John and Charles preached. Your Charles home. And don’t miss the new museum (with activities for the kids too) that is the best, most entertaining Wesley museum I have ever seen.

The New Room, 36 The Horsefair, Bristol, UK. BS1 3JE http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/thenewroom.htm
info Web: www.newroombristol.org.uk Facebook: The

New Room/John Wesley’s Chapel Twitter: @NewRoomBristol

TRAIN

“There is a regular train service from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads that takes 1 3⁄4 hours and then it’s a 20 minute walk to the New Room or there is a bus service or taxis are available. The cheaper alternative is coach and there is a National Express service from London Victoria to Bristol which takes 3 hours and then just a five minute walk from the coach station to the New Room. http://mailto:info, Telephone: +44 (0) 117 9264740. Dr. Whitesel’s notes: The National Express coach (long-range bus) service leaves Victoria Coach Station SW1W 9TP and you will want to book tickets to the Bristol Coach Station, Marlborough Street Bus Station, Bristol. BS1 3NU.

THE PEAK DISTRICT

This is the melt in this area between Scheffield in Manchester. Stay at a bed-and-breakfast in either Manchester or Scheffield and rent a car for daily excursions into the rolling peak district. You can also take buses from Scheffield to the center of the Peak District.

Go to Castleton in the middle of the peak district to begin your adventure. There is a park interpretive center there were you can get maps and information. Ask them about the hidden dale where scenes from “The Princess Bride” were filmed. There is a hiking trail through it just a quarter-mile from the interpretive center. But it has a Hidden entrance so be sure and ask how to get there and have them show you on a map. Then walk there from the interpretive center. If you’re driving by car there are parking spaces at the interpretive center.

If you’re driving by car leave town headed to the east towards Manchester and drive up one of the narrowest as most winding roads in the Peak District. When you get to the top drive a few more miles and you will find a parking lot and a trail head that leads to the Mam Tur. The Mam Tur is a high treeless peak with great views but also often howling winds. You can walk up there on an easy half mile hike: https://www.walkingenglishman.com/peakdistrict04.htm

When in the Peak District be sure and visit Chatsworth. This is one of England’s most magnificent manor homes and the scene of countless movies. Parking is free and you can visit the café without paying for the tour. You can also wander the grounds without paying for a tour, but in the tour is you see the inside of the house. This great home has been the backdrop for many movies and television shows. And, it’s a good way to understand how the aristocracy once lived.

There are many winding roads and hiking trails around the Peak District. Rebecca and I found that we can easily spend a week in the Peak District enjoying the many small towns and beautiful dales. Set aside enough time to explore and enjoy this English gem.

JOHN & CHARLES WESLEY SITES

Museum of Methodism and John Wesley’s House
49 City Road,
London EC1Y 1AU
Wesley Chapel, City Road, London.

Walk around Wesley Chapel and view Wesley’s grave behind the chapel. There are plenty of things to see in the area (Susanna’s grave across the street and a room with the benches from the Foundry). Also, a few blocks away is the “Charterhouse School” which John Wesley attended and often they have “Evensong” services led by the pensioners (much like in Wesley’s day). The chapel is beautiful.

WEBSITES: http://www.wesleyschapel.org.uk/house.htm, http:// www.wesleyschapel.org.uk/museum2.htm,

Go to Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral
and then walk down Aldersgate Street.
Arrive at the location of the Aldersgate Flame at the approximate time as Wesley arrived at this spot where his heart was strangely warmed. “At the approximate location of John Wesley’s conversion on 24 May 1738, a modern bronze sculpture erected in 1981 commemorates the event and features text from Wesley’s journal describing his conversion experience.” http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/aldersgateflame.htm. On the way stop by the location of John Bray’s house (Little Britain Street) where John and Charles often attended the Moravian small group meetings.

(Check back before you go … these tips are “to be continued.” 🙂

ATTENDANCE & Church of England decline heralds calls for innovative use of church buildings #TheUKGuardianNewspaper

by Esther Addley, The Guardian Newspaper, 6/8/15.

According to the annual British Social Attitudes survey, in just two years between 2012 and 2014, the number of people describing their beliefs as being Church of England or Anglican fell from 21% to 17%, a loss of 1.7 million people – leading the former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, to repeat warnings that the church is “a generation away from extinction”.

Britain is not necessarily becoming more godless – in the same period, the number of Muslims grew by a million, amounting to 2.4% of the population – just less the proportion of Anglicans. That has implications enough for the church in the inner city, but what are the ramifications in the countryside where, for a thousand years, the Church of England has often been the institution that holds rural communities together?..

Read more at … http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/07/church-of-england-decline-heralds-calls-for-innovative-use-of-church-buildings

WESLEY TOUR & The Pennine Way at 50: where to eat and stay along the route #WesleyTour

Read more at … http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/apr/24/pennine-way-50-where-to-eat-drink-stay

ANGLICANISM & What is Anglicanism? J.I. Packer & #ScotMcKnight Speak

by: Scot McKnight, 5/23/15.

Recently Michael Jensen, at TGC’s site, had a post about the nature of Anglicanism that focused quite rigorously on a conservative version of Reformed soteriology, and you can read his emphases at the link. I countered a bit by suggesting it was creedal to the core. But now another heavyweight, J.I. Packer, has weighed in on the nature of Anglicanism. And their perspectives, while they might agree on lots and lots theologically, reveal that Anglicanism can be approached from a number of angles. I have put in bold the operative emphases of Packer…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/03/23/what-is-anglicanism-j-i-packer-speaks/

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & UK Archbishop Welby says “The best decision anyone can ever make is to be a follower of Jesus Christ”

Revolutionary love: Archbishop Justin’s lecture on evangelism.

A transcript and an introduction, 3/5/15.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has set out his vision for a Church in which every Christian shares “the revolutionary love” of Jesus Christ.

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“The best decision anyone can ever make is to be a follower of Jesus Christ.” Archbishop Justin Welby, Lambeth Palace, 5 March 2015. (Photo: Lambeth Palace)

The Archbishop was giving the inaugural Lambeth Lecture, a new series of talks which will feature guest speakers addressing key issues for the Church.

Video of the Archbishop’s lecture will be available shortly. The full text follows below.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Lecture:

I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.

Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.

When I talk about making disciples as we go through, of course I’m not only talking about words; I’m also talking about actions, and we’ll come back to that in a little while.

The best decision anyone can ever make, at any point in life, in any circumstances, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they are, is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no better decision for a human being in this life, any human being…

Read more at … http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5515/revolutionary-love-archbishop-justins-lecture-on-evangelism

MULTICULTURAL & Churches are best social melting pots in modern Britain

Churches and sporting events as the last bastions of neighbourliness and integration in Britain By John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor, The UK Telegraph Newspaper, 07 Dec 2014

Churches and sporting events as the last bastions of neighbourliness and integration in Britain (Picture: Alamy)

Places of worship and sporting events lead the way as places modern Britons are most likely to mix with people of other races, classes and generations

They teach that people should love their neighbour but a major new study shows that churches are one of the few places most modern Britons might even meet them.

Ground-breaking new analysis of the friendship networks of almost 4,300 people aged from 13 to 80 has identified churches and sporting events as the last bastions of neighbourliness and integration in Britain.

Overall, it found that churches and other places of worship are more successful than any other social setting at bringing people of different backgrounds together, well ahead of gatherings such as parties, meetings, weddings or venues such as pubs and clubs.

But while places of worship proved most potent at mixing people from different social classes and races, spectator sports events were the most successful at bringing people of different ages together.

The conclusions emerge from new findings, seen by the Sunday Telegraph, from the Social Integration Commission, a unique social experiment which has attempted to map thousands of people’s social networks to determine how closely people of different classes and generations mix in modern Britain.

Initial findings published earlier this year analysed how closely different groups of people mixed.

They raised questions about whether decades of efforts to promote multiculturalism have gone into reverse, by showing teenagers are no more likely to meet people from other racial backgrounds in a social setting than those 40 years older suggests.

The study also suggested that class could be a more enduring source of division than race in the UK.

The latest findings analyse how or where people of different backgrounds meet.

Matthew Taylor, Chair of the Social Integration Commission, said:

“Institutions play a huge role in determining how and with whom we interact. Our research shows that, perhaps contrary to perceived wisdom, activities such as attending a place of worship or a sporting event can bring people from all sorts of backgrounds together.

“These institutions could play a leading role in promoting social integration. Sporting and religious bodies should explore what more they can do to help build a better integrated society.”

Using a technique developed by experimental psychologists at Oxford University, statisticians analysed information provided by a sample of 4,269 people about their own social lives.

Each person was interviewed by Ipsos MORI and asked to describe recent social gatherings they had attended and give detail about who else was there and how they knew them to build up a subjective picture of their friendship circles.

Statisticians then analysed the lists and compared them with the profile of the area in which they lived based on findings from the census to give each person a notional score, depending on how closely their networks matched the profile of their neighbourhood. The same process was then applied to different types of gatherings people attended.

The different settings were most successful at bringing people of different generations together. Sporting events led the way with an integration score of 59 per cent on this measure, just ahead of places of worship on 57 per cent. The other settings scored around 46 per cent for bringing generations together.

On ethnic lines, churches were given an integration score of 25 per cent – twice the average level and far ahead of sporting events which averaged just over seven per cent on the racial mixing measure.

Similarly on social background, churches led the way with a score of 27 per cent, well ahead of the average of 18 per cent.

A spokesman for the Church of England said: “There are no bars of entry into the family of faith.

“This heartening research reflects the reality of church life across the nation with people from all ages, races and backgrounds united by their faith into a wider welcoming family.”

Read more at … http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11276878/Churches-are-best-social-melting-pots-in-modern-Britain.html

New 2015 LAND & LEADERSHIP OF WESLEY TOUR w/ recreations of his conversion, letters and sermons in the UK!

Earn seminary credit … or just come and enjoy an immersive experience in the land and principles that changed Wesley!      

INCLUDES   >   airfare   >   transportation    >   hotels    >   most meals      >   And accommodations in The Close overlooking historic Salisbury Cathedral!

CLICK to download   >>   LAND & LEADERSHIP of WESLEY TOUR 2015   <<

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CHARLES WESLEY & His Early Life as Told by UK Historian Richard Cavendish

By Richard Cavendish | Published in History Today Volume: 57 Issue: 12 2007

Charles Wesley (1707-80)Charles Wesley (1707-80)

The man who wrote the words of ‘Hark! the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’, ‘Jesus Lover of My Soul’, and hundreds of other much-loved hymns was the sixteenth or seventeenth of eighteen children.

He was born in the rectory at Epworth in the Isle of Axholme in Lincolnshire, to parson Samuel Wesley and his wife Susanna. Born prematurely and seeming more dead than alive, the new baby was wrapped in wool for several weeks until he opened his eyes and cried. In 1709, when he was fourteen months old, the family almost burned to death when the rectory caught fire. Later there was a curious episode when the house was apparently haunted by a ghost which made dismal groaning noises and sounds of stamping about. Susanna Wesley, who never stood any nonsense, set out to drive it away by blowing a trumpet whenever the ghost ventured to make noises. After three months, it admitted defeat and departed, but the three Wesley brothers – Samuel, John and Charles – were fascinated by the haunting all their lives…

Read more at … http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/birth-charles-wesley

JOHN WESLEY & His Early Life as Told by UK Historian Richard Cavendish

By Richard Cavendish | Published in History Today Volume: 53 Issue: 6 2003

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, was born on June 17th, 1703. Richard Cavendish charts his early life.

John Wesley (US Library of Congress)John Wesley (US Library of Congress)

The founder of Methodism was brought up as a staunch Anglican, but cherished the dissenting traditions on both sides of his family. His grandfather, John Wesley or Westley, was a Puritan supporter of Parliament who was expelled from his Dorset living after the restoration of Charles II. This John’s son, Samuel, was educated as a nonconformist, but when he went up to Oxford, he explored his talent for writing and his misgivings about Dissenters. Surprisingly, he considered them unduly frivolous. He became a Church of England curate in London, where he met and married Susanna Annesley, one of the twenty-five children of a prominent Puritan divine, known as ‘the St Paul of Nonconformity’. Spirited and intellectual, she too had moved away from Dissent.

In 1695 Samuel became rector of Epworth, a remote little town in the Isle of Axholme in the flat country of northern Lincolnshire, windswept under a massive sky and so isolated among rivers and marshes that quite often it could be reached only by boat. It was a centre of Dissent and the inhabitants, who have been described by one biographer as ‘morose and in-bred’, were not all enthusiastic about their rector’s Tory politics, High Churchmanship and insistence that moral backslidings on their part required public confession and public acts of atonement…

Read more at … http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/birth-john-wesley

RENEWAL & “Fresh Expressions” of Church in the UK via @EdStetzer

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “After reading this well-written article by Ed Stetzer, learn more about the beginnings of this ‘fresh expression movement’ in the chapter on St. Thomas’ Church in Ryan Bolger’s book ‘Gospel after Christendom‘.”

“Fresh Expressions” of Church in the United Kingdom by Ed Stetzer

Christianity in the United Kingdom is not dead. In fact, it may have new life in “Fresh Expressions of Church.”

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Recently, there has been talk of the identity of the United Kingdom as a Christian nation. Prime Minister David Cameron first made mention of it a couple of weeks ago, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, agreed.

Faith expression in the U.K. is certainly in flux. Part of that is a decline, but part of that is reconfiguration. That’s where this research comes in.

Below is a summary of a study on “fresh expressions” (yes, that’s a thing) in the United Kingdom.

You can download the full report here.

Between January 2012 and October 2013,the Church of England’s Church Army‘s Research Unit studied over 1000 cases of church planting and church growth from 10 dioceses of the Church of England. They looked at data from 1992 – 2012. Of the 1000 cases studied, 518 met criteria necessary to be labeled as what they call a “Fresh Expression of Church.”

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/may/fresh-expressions-of-church-in-united-kingdom.html