Category Archives: Church of England

Christianity Explored in Arabic

Would you like to help make history? South Sudanese Christians have asked for our help to fund the translation of the Christianity Explored course into Arabic.

One of our partners I have worked with in Juba writes,

“there is urgent need to translate the CE material to Arabic to benefit mainly those South Sudanese Christians who came from Arabic background. They are taking their discipleship seriously and they have great impact on other believers in South Sudan.”

We need to raise $1,000 US Dollars to facilitate the translation of the course material by this Summer. In August we hope to return to South Sudan and continue to train church leaders to use the course. If you would like to help make this possible, we would be pleased to hear from you. We are working with the charity Fields of Life to make this happen.

Here are photos of some of our adventures introducing Christianity Explored in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan.

Ten Commandments for Worship

I modestly suggest ten rules for the introduction of new music without pain, if sensitivity and careful explanation are used in the exercise.

  1. The best in traditional hymnody should be preserved and used. Much modem worship may supplement the old, but it cannot possibly replace it.
  2. New songs should be biblical in emphasis and in actual wording.
  3. Heavy use should continue to be made of the Psalms (in one form or another). This is our only God-given hymn book.
  4. The music should be appropriate to the words. This is easier to feel than to define—but we all know when it happens, and when it doesn’t.
  5. There should be a judicious mixture of styles, age, rhythm, length of hymns, shortness of songs, etc.
  6. At least some of the hymns and songs should be credal, confessional and Christological (ie stating the great facts that we believe, especially about Jesus). Traditional examples are ‘At the name of Jesus.’ Splendid modern examples are ‘These are the facts as we have received them’, ‘Jesus is Lord! creation’s voice proclaims it’, and the more brief ‘God has highly exalted Jesus’.
  7. At least one hymn or song should be trinitarian (ie proclaiming the persons of the Godhead and what they mean to us). Traditional examples are ‘Thou whose almighty word’ and ‘God is in his temple’. It is significant that many of the modem songs are specifically trinitarian: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord’, ‘Father, we adore You’, and ‘Father, we love You’ to quote but a few.
  8. There should be a balanced mixture of the objective (what God is, whether anyone believes it or not) and the subjective (how we feel about it and what we experience when we believe it).
  9. Use the right instruments for the appropriate words.
  10. If you can’t find any modern hymns to fit your sermons, there’s probably something wrong with your sermons. If you have the same problem with traditional hymns, quit preaching.

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Richard Bewes Joins Christ Church Team

Richard_Pam_BewesWe are delighted to announce that Richard Bewes OBE, the former Rector of All Souls, Langham Place, will be joining the preaching team at Christ Church. Richard and his wife Pam, moved to Virginia Water in December and have joined Christ Church family.

Following the fruitful ministry of John Stott and Michael Baughen, as leader of All Souls, the international nature of the congregation (embracing some 70 nationalities) continued to develop with some 2,500 attending every Sunday. During Richard’s time, the facility to listen to sermons online was achieved, and a ‘virtual weekly global internet congregation’ stands as one of the many legacies of his time in post.

He chaired the Church of England Evangelical Council throughout the 1990s. Stepping down from All Souls in November 2004, Richard was awarded the OBE by the Queen in the New Year of 2005.

Richard has been strongly involved with the evangelistic and humanitarian work of African Enterprise, and is also on the British Board of The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and its sister work of Samaritan’s Purse.

Visit Richard’s website here and sermon website here

“Stephen is not anti-Semitic” The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis


My dear Bishop Christopher,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I am encouraged to write and share my heart with you because I know your graciousness, fairness and great pastoral heart so I am writing to you in support of my friend Revd Dr Stephen Sizer to express my concern that the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) complaint brought against him has not yet been resolved. I understand that this complaint, brought by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, has been hanging over Stephen for almost a year. This has undoubtedly caused him considerable stress, especially given the serious nature of the complaint, and he has also been obliged to cover legal fees running to several thousands of pounds. Justice would surely demand that this complaint is dealt with speedily and is not allowed to drag on any longer. Stephen shared with me that you have been pastorally very supportive of him.

I met Stephen in Egypt on several occasions. When I have heard him talk or translated for him on the subject of Christian Zionism he has always spoken with great Biblical insight and sensitivity on this important but controversial topic. Indeed, we are pleased to have been able to publish his books in Arabic through our Anglican Publishing House and make them more widely available in the Middle East.

I am quite clear in my own mind that Stephen is not anti-Semitic, nor has he said or written anything that could possibly be construed to be anti-Semitic. Thus the central thrust of the Board of Deputies’ complaint – that Stephen has made anti-Semitic statements and/or republished the anti-Semitic sentiment of others –simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

I would appeal to you to dismiss the CDM complaint, which from my perspective – and indeed the perspective of many others – has no basis whatsoever. This will allow Stephen to concentrate on his ministry in Virginia Water, where he is a much-loved pastor, and on his wider ministry, including his prophetic writings and balanced teaching on Christian Zionism and the biblical call to justice, peace and reconciliation, which we all work for in the Anglican Communion.

Please know that this letter comes with my heartfelt prayers that you will act wisely and choose the course of justice.

May the Lord bless you!
+ Mouneer Egypt

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis

Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
President Bishop of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

nb. This letter was written before the conciliation process was concluded and permission for its publication was given by both + Mouneer Anis and + Christopher Hill.

Conciliation with Board of Deputies of British Jews

I am very happy to announce that following meetings with conciliators appointed by the Bishop of Guildford, the complaint brought against me by the Board of Deputies of British Jews has been resolved on terms set out in the Conciliation Agreement.

Whilst pleased that this matter is now concluded, I am saddened that it has taken so long to reach this stage. Towards the end of 2011, concerns were raised about an article on my Facebook page which linked to a website named “the Ugly Truth.” In recognition of those concerns, I offered to meet leaders of the Jewish community but this offer was never taken up. Instead, in October 2012, Mr Arkush on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, made a formal complaint against me alleging “a clear and consistent pattern” of misconduct “unbecoming or inappropriate to the office a work of a clerk in Holy Orders”.

The Board of Deputies also took the unprecedented step of publishing it in full on their website. I refrained from publishing my formal Response until the complaint was resolved. I am therefore doing so today.

The complaint alleged that I had made anti-Semitic statements and had deliberately introduced my readers to anti-Semitic websites. I have always maintained that these allegations were untrue and am confident that I would have been vindicated had I been forced to contest them at a clergy disciplinary tribunal. That said, I am pleased that these issues have sensibly been resolved.

As many will be aware, I have long been an enthusiastic user of new media. The internet allows us to communicate with a mass audience at the press of a button, but with it comes the risk that we might publish our thoughts without adequately reflecting on our choice of words or how they might be interpreted. I will do all I can to guard against this risk in the future. Whilst the web is a rich source of reference, it also contains a great deal of material with which one would not wish to be associated. It is important that those using new media to conduct political debate ensure that they do not inadvertently associate them with such material.  It is for this reason that I have undertaken to take greater care over links in the future. In addition, my blog now contains a disclaimer identical to that which appears on the Board of Deputies’ Fair Play website.

It is my sincere wish that disputes such as this will be avoided in the future. The conciliation agreement includes a number of principles that we agree those engaged in political debate should follow. They emphasize that free speech does not cease to be legitimate simply because it might cause offence to some, whilst at the same time affirming that care and sensitivity should be employed in the use of language. As someone who has been virulently attacked in the past for my political and theological views, I will do my best to abide by these principles, but my hope is that my critics will do so too.

I care passionately about the safety of the Jewish people and the right of Israel to exist within internationally agreed borders. I have always opposed racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial as well as Islamophobia and the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination and will continue to do so.

Jesus calls his followers to be peacemakers and to fulfil a ministry of reconciliation. The New Testament reinforces the mandate of the Jewish prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

Revd Dr Stephen Sizer
Christ Church, Virginia Water

23rd October 2013

Form 2 Stephen Sizer
Response to the Complaint of Misconduct from Stephen Sizer
Letters of Support
Conciliation Agreement

Jeremy Moodey of Embrace the Middle East writes “Stephen … has an outstanding legal bill of almost £4,000 as he has sought to respond to the BoD’s bullying. The defence fund is in my name, audited by Steve Leah. Please give what you can to support the right of free speech.”

Sort Code: 08-93-00, account no 80407856.

For international money transfers, the additional details are:

Co-op Bank SWIFT number CP BK GB 22.
Bank’s head office address: The Co-operative Bank PLC, 1 Balloon Street, Manchester, M60 4EP.


Silver Surfing Down to the Good News Cafe

I was on the London underground recently. A strange thing happened to me. It was very embarrassing. It was the first time it has ever happened in my life. It took me completely by surprise. I didn’t know how to handle it. I was standing by the door as I usually do when out of the blue, a young Asian man got up out of his seat and offered it to me. I thought he had made a mistake. I embarrassed him as much as myself by refusing to sit in his place. So we both stood and looked pretty silly. It had not occurred to me that I looked like an elderly man. I smiled and thanked him. I suppose my real mistake was not colouring my hair when the first grey hairs began to appear.  Now it is too late. You would notice, and in any case I’ve been overruled at home.

You can mask the signs of aging and you can even lie about your age, but there are always consequences.  I had an elderly couple come to see me recently asking me to sign a new marriage certificate for them. One of them had lied about their age 40 years ago in order to get married. Now 40 years later it had created complications. Their pension was being queried. So the marriage certificate had to be amended to match their birth certificate.

This Summer I turned 60. It was a significant moment receiving my Senior’s Railpass.
I feel like a little boy again. Oliver Wendell Holmes said “People do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” And that’s the challenge, managing the tension and sometimes the aches and pains between how we feel on the inside and what we can do on the outside. Mark Twain once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Success truly knows no boundaries. Many people have achieved their dreams much later life. I was a slow developer at school, but do you know how old Harlan Sanders was when he opened his first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant? 65. How old was Ronald Reagan when he became President of the United States? 16 days before his 70th birthday.  How old was Golda Meir when she became Prime Minister of Israel? 70. How old was Nelson Mandela when he became President of South Africa? 74.

How old do you have to be to start living? That is your choice. The older I get, the more I want to get out of life. The greater the impact I want to have. Retire and play it safe? No! I want to live more dangerously, take more risks, learn new things, and make every day count.
I may be wearing out but I am not giving up. Hardening of the viewpoints is far more lethal than hardening of the arteries.

That is why I am really excited that the new Good News Café for Seniors (or Silver Surfers if you prefer) open every Thursday afternoon and not just monthly. We aim to host a growing number of events and activities that you want and that will motivate you to get the most out of the wonderful gift of life the Good Lord has given you. Every day is a gift from God. A new beginning. An exciting adventure, knowing we were created with meaning and with purpose. God’s plan? To know God, and serve him and enjoy him forever and ever. The Apostle Paul wrote about this,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

May God bless you and those you love.

Len Rogers on Vindication

Dear Stephen,

I await your vindication. You are a messenger just like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela. Unlike them you may find that in this life you will not be accepted except by a few but in years to come the world will realize you were a champion of justice and human rights. Do what is right in God’s eyes. May the Holy Spirit give you strength. Keep your roots and values in God’s word in a loving relationship with Jesus. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Your friend and brother in Christ,

Len Rodgers

Director Emeritus of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Founder/President-Emeritus Venture International
Founder of World Vision Middle East

And a few other friends

Guildford Diocesan Synod Celebration with Bishop Christopher Hill

On Saturday, the Guildford Diocesan Synod said its “goodbyes” to Bishop Christopher Hill who is retiring in September. The photos were taken at a service following the Synod meeting and at a “hog roast” lunch hosted by Bishop Christopher for Synod members at Willow Grange afterwards.

The Venerable Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking has been appointed the new Bishop of Blackburn and will be moving in the Autumn.

More photos can be seen here

Bishop John Gladwin Refutes Allegations of anti-Semitism

I understand that the Board of Deputies has made a complaint against Stephen under the Measure suggesting that he is guilty of anti-Semitism.

Not only did I get to know Stephen very well when I was in Guildford but Lydia and I spent time with him on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land during those years. At no time have I ever heard him engage in anti-Semitic language or opinions.  Our pilgrimage included meeting and encouraging a number of Jewish Israeli citizens working hard for peace across the divide with the Palestinian people.

Stephen has devoted a great deal of his intellectual and theological gifts to resisting every endeavour to provide a religious and specifically Biblical justification for Zionism.  Holding such a view is not and should not be treated as anti-Semitic.  His target includes those Christians who believe the Bible supports the Zionist vision.  Stephen has sought to de-construct any religious/theological wall preventing us facing the difficult questions of justice for Palestinian people in the Holy Land.  This important, if controversial work,  has the support of some key Jewish thinkers and activists.

These strongly held views have not prevented Stephen from a clear commitment to the peace and well-being of all the people in the Holy Land and of all whatever their ethnic and political identity.

He may be a controversial figure but he is a courageous and godly man.

+ John Gladwin

Retired Bishop of Guildford


Antisemitic? We don’t think so

Tanas Alqassis, Chairman, Arab Vision International
Revd Andrew Ashdown, Enham Team Rector and Trustee of Embrace the Middle East
Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Fr Robert Assaly, Priest in the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa
Dr Bishara Awad, Founder and President Emeritus, Bethlehem Bible College
Dr Mark Braverman,
Author of the Fatal Embrace
Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, former Academic Registrar, Oak Hill College
David Carter
, Director, Middle East Evangelical Concern
Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism, University of Wales
Michael Connarty MP, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Dr Martin Davie, Theological Advisor to the House of Bishops
Professor Philip Davies, Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Adam Estle, Executive Director of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Right Revd John Gladwin, former Bishop of Guildford and Chairman of Citizens Advice
Anthony Gratrex, member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of Wales
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Hank Hanegraaff, President, Christian Research Institute
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder, Amos Trust
Lawrence Jones, former member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Dr Ghada Karmi, Fellow of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University
Manfred W. Kohl, Ambassador, Overseas Council
Dr Attorney Jonathan Kuttab, Chairman of the Board, Bethlehem Bible College
Venerable Michael Lawson, Chairman, Church of England Evangelical Council
Anne Martin, member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Diana Neslen, Ex-officio, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Director, European Centre for Palestine Studies, Exeter University
Revd Chris Rose, Director of the Amos Trust
Canon John Salter, Vice Chair, Garden Tomb Association
Revd Jack Sara, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
David Toorawa, Chair, Friends of Sabeel UK
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, National Director, Friends of Sabeel North America
Revd John Woodger, Retired vicar, St Mary’s Watford

News Sources:

Church Times: Conciliators to work on complaint
Church Times: Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times: Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite’
Jewish Chronicle: Sizer: I am ready to meet the Board of Deputies any time
Jews for Justice for Palestinians Digging for dirt: the campaign against Stephen Sizer
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Jeremiah’s Underpants
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Dr Sizer is cleared
Craig Murray: Defend Stephen Sizer


“He has recently explained, however, that he ‘categorically reject[s] any position that threatens the territorial integrity of Israel as a sovereign nation…. Stephen Sizer’s work has the merit of clearly setting out the issues that divide the two sides, and furthermore doing so without the rancour or sheer nastiness of tone typical of the polemics in the conflict.” (p.571). Anthony Julius, Chairman of the London Consortium and a Visiting Professor at Birbeck College, University of London. His book Trials of the Diaspora, is a magisterial 800 page examination of the history of Anti-Semitism in England.

“I am glad to commend Stephen Sizer’s ground-breaking critique of Christian Zionism. His comprehensive overview of its roots, its theological basis and its political consequences is very timely. I myself believe that Zionism, both political and Christian, is incompatible with biblical faith. Stephen’s book has helped to reinforce this conviction.” Revd John Stott, Rector Emeritus, All Soul’s, Langham Place, London, the principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974) and founder of the Langham Partnership International. 
“This is a very fine and important book.  All Christians who believe that Jesus favoured peacemakers, should read it and realise what terrible harm is being done in the name of Christianity.  And all who are concerned about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict should read it to understand how Christian Zionism disables the US as fair minded mediator.  European foreign policy thinkers should read it,because this distortion of US political space, puts a greater responsibility on European governments to stand up for justice and international law” Clare Short, former British Secretary of State for International Development

More than sixty bishops, clergy, politicians and academics have endorsed my books Christian Zionism and Zion’s Christian Soldiers