Ecumenical group call churches to a new heart for mission

 Churches throughout Britain and Ireland are asked to look harder at how they communicate the Christian message in a changing world in a new report published today. Presence and Prophecy: a heart for mission in theological education is the work of the ecumenical Mission Theological Advisory Group (MTAG) chaired by the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Anglican Bishop of Rochester. It says that re-examining the way lay people, ordinands and clergy are taught is vital if the Gospel is to connect with everyday life. "Christianity is not 'vanquished' or irrelevant", says the Bishop of Rochester. Presence and Prophecy shows that "we can use everything that we learn to help others recognise that Christianity is a living faith." It is "capable of challenging us to think about our faith and also about how we lead our lives in today's world." The Rev Marjory MacLean, Acting Principal Clerk of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said that her Church is already taking bold steps to make sure that it can connect with "a 24 hour a day, seven day a week world." Citing a new congregation in Aberdeen that meets in a primary school she said: "Presence and Prophecy can underline our message and help those who want to make it work." The Rev Gethin Abraham Williams, a Baptist who is General Secretary of the ecumenical body Churches Together in Wales, is commending Presence and Prophecy for study in all the Welsh churches. Together with the concrete measures the Welsh churches are taking to reform the way they train and equip "pastors, priests and people in the pews", he says the report can help overcome "the loss of the Christian memory" in Wales today, and points towards a positive response to "the quest for spirituality, which is as undiminished today as it was at the time of the sixth century saints." Presence and Prophecy, which comes with a Study Guide and some Christian reflections on modern culture, Transparencies, is jointly published by the Archbishops' Council of the Church of England and by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), the official ecumenical coordinating body for the main denominations. CTBI General Secretary Dr David Goodbourn, welcoming the work of the Mission Theological Advisory Group (MTAG) stressed that it is a report to the churches, not yet of the churches. "Like all useful thinking Presence and Prophecy is constructively provocative", he said. "Not all will agree with it, but it creates a fresh opportunity for the churches to think and work together in the area of theological education." The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, has also welcomed Presence and Prophecy. He describes it as "weighty" and "insightful". source: Church of England Media Office

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