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04 July 2012

Religious Websites and the Diamond Jubilee

The following is an edited version of two posts on Peter Webster's blog: one in March before the main Jubilee weekend, and a second in June. They are mainly concerned with sites relating to the Jubilee produced by or in connection with the mainline Christian denominations in the UK.

Although we are still a couple of months away from the event itself, I thought it would be worth starting to pull together some of the various sites for the Queen's jubilee that come from within or relate to the Christian churches. This will include press sources that the UKWA don't ordinarily take. I thought I'd make a start with some of the more predictable and national ones.

Official church resources

As you would expect, the several denominations have made various preliminary statements. The Church of England's site refers to several linked ventures: the Big Jubilee Lunch, with a specially composed grace; there will also be a special service at St Paul's on June 5th, and also the Big Jubilee Thankyou, where Anglicans are invited to sign a copy letter displayed in churches, all of which will then be combined and presented to the Queen - a petition, as it were, without demands. The lunch is being coordinated by HOPE, a pan-church organisation which is evangelical in origin, but has partnerships in place with most of the Protestant denominations in the UK.

See also the Bishop of London's sermon on the accession (Feb 6) in his role as Dean of the Chapels' Royal.

The Catholic bishops in England and Wales have urged parishes to pray for the Queen on Sunday June 3 (which is also Trinity Sunday), as reported in the Catholic Herald. (The press release is here.)

Churches Together in England are assembling resources as they appear here, and there is a joint presidential statement from Canterbury, Westminster, the Free Churches Group, and the Lutheran church, although it is rather lost amongst references to the Olympics.

The Jubilee Churches Festival is looking to co-ordinate celebrations at a local level.

Oppositional voices

One has to dig quite deep to find many Christians voicing opinions critical of either the event or the monarchy itself. Ekklesia noted the beginnings of the campaign of protest by Republic, and complaints about the BBC's coverage, but refrained from comment. (Incidentally, Republic's position on the established church is also interesting.) However, one would expect this type of comment to appear more reactively, and nearer the event; and so watch this space for later posts.

My earlier post looked at some of the preparatory statements from official church sources, and some very early oppositional voices. Here are some examples of reportage and comment after the event.

Rowan Williams' sermon at St Paul's

Perhaps predictably, the archbishop did not allow the pieties of the situation to restrict his thinking on the subject, making some robust comments about aspects of current economic life. See the full text, and the reactions of the Daily Mail (negative) and the Guardian and Nelson Jones in the New Statesman (rather more positive).

Local events

The Church Times gave a useful digest of local events, including a street party in the nave of Ripon Cathedral and various sermons, including that of the Dean of Belfast.  Events in local communities includes an inter-faith Family Fun Day in Tooting, south London.

The 'real meaning' of Jubilee

A good few campaigning sites sought to draw a distinction between the biblical concept of jubilee and the pattern of the celebrations, often making a more or less explicit connection with the current climate of austerity. See Christianity Uncut, Ekklesia and Symon Hill. The work of the Jubilee Debt Campaign predates this year's events, although their site did draw attention to the connection.

Dr Peter Webster


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