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Andrew Williams

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We need Local Hustings not National Debates [29 Apr 2017|12:23pm]
With a surprise General Election coming upon us there has been discussions of whether or not to have national televised debates ...

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My Blog [29 Apr 2017|11:56am]
Recently I've been double posting my blog here and on blogger. However from now on I'll be stooping this. To continue reading my blog please go to http://blog.andrew-williams.com/.

The House of Lords and EU Citizens [05 Mar 2017|09:04pm]
The House of Lords has recently voted to amend the Brexit bill to guarantee the right of EU nationals to remaining the UK continued residency.

While some may say this is a good thing and the Lords are doing their job, let's actually stop and think about this.

If the House of Lords is to do their job as a revising chamber properly, why are they passing amendments supporting the rights of the EU citizens in Europe to remain in Britain, but saying nothing about British Citizens in EU?

In actual fact of course both sets of people should have their existing rights grandfathered.

So why has this not been done? Well the EU does not wish to discuss anything before Article 50 is triggered. They say they can not discuss anything until then. This is sheer hypocrisy. If Donald Tusk and the European Council were prepared to, they could easily come to an agreement with the UK government to allow those people who already are living across the forthcoming EU / UK to remain with grandfathered rights in their current country of residence.

It is right and proper that EU citizens in the UK should be allowed to stay post Brexit. However this can only be guaranteed if the UK citizens elsewhere in the EU have the same right. This could be sorted now if the EU were prepared to discuss this now ahead of the main Brexit negotiations. They won't do this for dogmatic reasons. It's the EU that is stopping a clarification of expats status. This is an example of what's wrong with the EU. They are more interested in their processes and dogma than real people with their concerns. This just shows that we are right to leave.

Disappointed the Bishop of Coventry admits voted in error [16 Feb 2017|10:07am]
Disappointed that the Bishop of Coventry admitted his vote against was accidental.

I had hoped that the Spirit had moved him to listen to those who called upon Synod to vote against.

The Diocese of Coventry, the Laity of which I represent on the General Synod, has always been at the forefront of reconciliation, led by Coventry Cathedral. It is a shame Bishop Christopher had missed such an opportunity for reconciliation with LGBT people within the dioocese and indeed throughout the whole church.

I look forward to my home diocese through the work of cathedral, where I worship every Sunday, taking a lead in the radical inclusion the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke about yesterday.

General Synod - Speech for take not debate on the shared conversations. [15 Feb 2017|06:54pm]
Disappointed not to be called to speak at synod this evening.

Here is what I would have said :-

Mr Chairman,
Thank you for inviting me to speak on this item.

Last weekend when talking to my Scots Presbyterian mother and told her that I was here at Synod this week, she asked me "Are you talking about sex again?"

She then proceeded to tell me that the problem was due to bishops and she didn't believe in bishops. For once I almost had sympathy with her.

Seriously though her response to hearing I was going to Synod undlerlines the problem we have as a church, people think the Church of England is against the inclusion of gay people.

This is a major challange to mission. Why do we allow interest in people's intimate relationships get in the way of the people about Christ's incarnation, death and resurrection?

How many people have been put off from attending church because of a perceived over interest in the fact that they were built in a way that meant they came into a loving relationship with someone of their own sex.

This report will do nothing to change this. People have told me it puts them off attending church again, or makes them consider why they do come. It could be the last straw for many people who were looking for a better outcome from the shared conversations.

I urge Synod not to take note to send a message that they are welcome.

Finally let us remember, we are warned in the scriptures that if you turn people away from Christ it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.

With this report we are in danger of doing just that.

Why a Nave Altar does not work at Coventry Cathedral [09 Oct 2016|06:50pm]
This morning, as often happens on Sundays, I served Mass at Coventry Cathedral. The service went really well unlike last week.

Last week we used a nave Altar.

Now in some cathedrals such as Peterborough Cathedral, where I was a server for a year in 1997-98 during my industrial placement year at Perkins Engines (Peterborough) Ltd, you need a nave Altar as due to distance and architecture since you can't actually see the High Altar.

However in Coventry there are no thick pillars, there is no rood screen. The High Altar can be easily seen from anywhere in the nave.

In actual fact a nave Altar is harder to see as it is on the same level as the nave so if you are not sitting at the front your sight line is blocked. Do people not realise that the High Altar, being raised several steps above the floor is designed to be seen from the back of nave.

It is therefore clear that, in Coventry's case anyway, there is no architectural need for a nave Altar.

So why use one?

Clearly it can only be for theological reasons.

So therefore, having established there is no architectural reasons for a nave Altar at Coventry we need to consider what theological point those clergy who support a nave Altar are trying to push.

The general theory seems to be that bringing the "action" closer to the people is a good thing. However as we have established above the use of the nave Altar actually blocks sight lines and therefore moves the "action" away from the people.

Therefore we must ignore the reason stated and look for the real reason.

Unfortunately we must then consider the only reason is because people are wishing to downgrade what we actually do.

Let's stop a moment consider what we do in Eucharist.

Bread and Wine becomes the actual and real Body and Blood of Christ to us. So therefore then just standing around a nave Altar rather than kneeling at an Altar rail means we are not considering what we are doing. We should kneel. This is Christ himself we are receiving. As Cardinal Arinze said with regards to receiving the Eucharist kneeling. "If we believe, if we truly believe that it is Jesus, the Son of God, then why don't we kneel, why don't we crawl?"

This is God himself we receive. Ignoring our architecture, standing around a small table that is hard to see apart from the first few rows at the front, is this really a foretaste of the heavenly banquet? Is this really the House of God? Is this really the Gate of Heaven?

Now some people might say, it's only planned for a couple of times a term, why not be flexible. That is fair point. But are the cathedral being flexible or are they pushing an agenda? If they truly believe that this is about being flexible in our worship, then I would hope to match the twice a term nave Altar that twice a term we have the Eucharist celebrated at the High Altar with the celebrant facing east.

Yes that's right, not a service with clergy behind the altar looking out over the congregation, making the Mass look like a coffee shop, but the Mass being celebrated by a priest facing the same way as the people. A priest leading his/her people to God not being the star of show. Or, as I fear, is all the flexibility just one way?

General Synod, York, July 2016 [03 Aug 2016|09:23pm]
At the start of July I headed up to my first York General Synod group of sessions.

[ York General Synod ]

I was able to share a taxi from the station to the University of York (where the General Synod takes place) as I heard the person behind me in the queue saying "Convocation of the Province Canterbury" so I was sure we were there for the same reason!

We were all staying in Halls of Residence at the university and I was really surprised with my room - it was even en-suite - much different to Coventry's Priory Hall where I spent 2 years.

[ York Hall of Residence Room ]

The first item on the agenda was a debate on Brexit. I was hoping to speak in this debate, as someone who voted to leave in the referendum I felt it was important to make it clear that it was OK to be Christian and believe in leaving the European Union. Unfortunately I was not called to speak Jayne Ozanne (Laity, Oxford) covered most of the points I wanted to make.

After a good debate both those for and against the EU in chamber voted for unanimously for the following motion :-

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task.

There was a request that a recorded vote be taken, but a number of people (including me) had voting machines that were displaying the wrong name. Rather than vote the old way (by walking through doors just like parliament still do) the request for a recorded vote was withdrawn.

There were various other technical debates and items discussed a full set of decisions made cane be found at https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2547456/bd_july_2016.pdf

The next day they had been fixed and were back in operation.

[ Synod voting device ]

There were various other technical debates and items discussed

One interesting debate was on moving legislation forward to the next stage. This covered two items a change in the (ecclesiastical) law to remove any remaining restrictions on church burials for those who commit suicide and a change regarding the rules of vesture for Divine Service. As I support the former but not the latter I and many others did not understand what these had to be taken together. After these have been through a revision committee they will of course come separately.

It was a curtailed synod due to the Shared Conversations on Human Sexuality which were held in private from, Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning. (On Sunday morning there was an opportunity to attend Mass at York Minster. I enjoyed the service and was particularly pleased to see that York have a number of children servers. This is something I have been pushing for at Coventry Cathedral and we have just starting doing.)

I was a bit unsure about the shared conversations (or as I heard some people refer to them as “The dreaded shared conversations”) But I think they went reasonably well, probably helped by the fact I appeared to have a reasonable group. I don't know how the other groups were.

I can't really say anymore about the shared conversations as what was said was confidential.
Following the end of the synod I travelled back to Coventry on the train Tuesday evening and then started a new job on the Wednesday!

General Synod November 2015 [02 Dec 2015|09:39pm]
Papers relating to the November Group of Sessions are available on The Church of England Website.

Tuesday 24th November

Tuesday started with the official inauguration of the General Synod with a Mass in Westminster Abbey and the official opening speech afterwards by Her Majesty the Queen in the Assembly Hall

As the Queen was going to be present the security a Church House was tighter with a bag search on entry.

As synod members we all had to gather in cloisters of Westminster Abbey to form up in our dioceses to process into the abbey.

The Coventry Representatives on The General Synod
The Coventry Representatives on The General Synod

The Eucharist was celebrated by The Archbishop of Canterbury and the sermon was preached by the Preacher to the Papal Household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa.

Following the services we all trooped back to the Assembly Hall to hear Her Majesty's speech officially opening the synod.

After lunch in the afternoon the main work of synod began.

It kicked off with a presidential address to the synod from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Following this there was a report of the Business Committee.

This was followed by a report on the Reform and Renewal programme. This is a far reaching plan to shape the Church of England for the future. It will impact on areas of the church, and will no doubt for a large amount of the business over the next few years at synod. The timescale is for scrutiny by Synod of the Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education changes will take place in February 2016. Also in February Synod is expected to receive the legislative proposals for Simplification. As part of the process of legislative simplification consultation document on a new enabling measure was brought forward.

Finally supplementary questions to those previously submitted were asked.

Wednesday 24th November

After starting the day with worship the first item of the day was a motion to present a loyal address to the Queen.

This was followed by presentation from the Archbishop of York and Margaret Sentamu on Global Warming.

The assembly hall then filled for a debate debate on the migrant crisis.

What was of particular note was the Archbishop of Canterbury stating that the motion (as outlined on the order paper) could commit the Synod to supporting the use of force to protect migrants (and presumably potential migrants.)

The motion was passed with 333 in favour, none against and 3 abstentions.

Next the discussion turned to legislation with Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 which helpfully came with an explanatory memorandum. Although this sort of work is not what comes to mind when you think of General Synod (if you have only seen the big debates on the TV or read about them in press) it is important work as part of the synod's legislative role.

This was followed by two reports on Public Perceptions of Jesus report (and booklet) and secondly the report of the Church Buildings review group.

Finally the Archbishop of Canterbury said farewell to William Fittall, Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, who was attending his last meeting of the Synod and then progued the synod until the February group of sessions.

One last thing to do before heading to catch the train back to Coventry was a meeting of the House of Laity on it's own to hear from those wishing to stand as Chairman or Vice Chairman of the House and those standing for the Archbishops Council.

Such was my first group of sessions for General Synod. I very deliberately did not speak as I wanted to see how everything works first and get a feel for it. I will probably be making my maiden speech at the February sessions, but of course it depends on the debates, as there is not guarantee you will be called to speak on any debate, but on your maiden speech it is quite likely you will.

General Synod Induction [23 Nov 2015|06:06pm]
Today I had my induction as a new member of the General Synod.

This mornings train was only five minutes late, but it reminded me of all the years I spent commuting to jobs in Northampton and Milton Keynes - so glad I don't have to do that anymore!

Got to Church House no problem at all, it wasn't my first visit as I was there some 16 years ago for the Archbishop of Canterbury's Millennium Youth Event "The Time of our Lives"

After getting my id badge and voting card (more on voting later) I went to the cloakroom to deposit coats and bags. Just like primary school I have my own hook in the cloakroom. Unlike primary school however it has a label with my synod number rather than a picture of a key!

Church House is a bit of a rabbit warren but is pretty well sign posted and there are also loss of people around to point out the right directions (and also scrutinising your I'd badge to check that you are a synod member and are allowed through that does!)

In the morning session, after starting with a short service of worship, we covered the role of General Synod, including the fact that as The Church of England is an established church we are the only body other than parliament that can make laws of the land (though I should point out that this is only in relation to the Church of England not secular matters!) We looked at the main roles of the Synod - as a legislative body, a deliberative body and holding the various church commissions and boards to account.

We got to try out the voting machines, very flash have an individual smart card which goes in a handheld device that looks a bit like a BlackBerry, then hit the appropriator button 1 for yes, 2 for no or 3 for with abstain.

Apparently if the electronic system ever fails we will to go back to the original system of voting by walking through doors.

Finally we ended the morning's session with a briefing from the Met Police on security matters at the Synod.

The afternoons session we had a dramatised example of (curtailed) debates / motions / questions / points of order with a running commentary just to give us a flavour of how it all hangs together. As sometime who was a local councillor for 14 years it all sounds straight forward.

Also in the afternoon we had presentations on the shared conversations on human sexuality from Canon David Porter whom I am used to hearing back home in Coventry Cathedral!

We also had a presentation on the reform and renewal programme from John Spense.

And that was induction. Tomorrow we have the inauguration with a service at Westminster Abbey and a speach by HM The Queen in the Assembly Hall before starting the season properly in the afternoon.

First General Synod Meeting Approaches [22 Nov 2015|05:12pm]
Following my election last month as one of the three lay members from the Diocese of Coventry to Church of England's General Synod (on my second attempt I stood five years ago and was not successful), I'll be heading down to London tomorrow for my first sessions.

It feels a bit like a cross between my first day at university (got an induction session on Monday, where we get ID cards, told about how the synod works and no doubt get told where the Church House loos are too!) and my time on the council (all the paperwork to read!)

Please remember all the General Synod members in your prayers especially us new ones!

Almighty God,
you have given your
Holy Spirit to the Church
to lead us into all truth:
bless with the Spirit's grace and presence
the members of the General Synod;
keep them steadfast in faith and united in love,
that they may manifest your glory
and prepare the way of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Petition calls for all 54 Coventry City Councillors to resign [26 Jul 2015|02:11pm]
A petition has been created by a resident of Tile Hill, Robin Elms, calling on all the city's councillors to resign.

Clearly this is not going to happen and Mr Elms would be better using his energies to run a campaign to get himself elected to the council.

This story has been making think about whether the current council setup is the best for purpose.

At the moment there is are 18 wards each with three councillors. Each ward has around 12,000 electors. This means that the electoral wards do not necessarily match local self identified communities. I represented Bablake ward from 2000 (when I was the youngest councillor) until 2014 and my former constituents didn't think of themselves as Bablake residents, but instead residents of Allesley or Keresley or Whitmore Park or Coundon. Indeed some of these areas are split between wards!

Also at the moment the council is elected by thirds so rather the whole council being up, one councillor in ward ward is up for election over a three year cycle with no elections in the fourth year. This can mean that it is impossible for the political control of the council to change before a vote has been cast!

I think the structure of the council needs to change to allow a greater connection between councillors and their communities and also to allow the chance of changing the council at every election (albeit at the cost of one election every four years rather than three every four)

So in summary the council should change to 54 single member wards of 4,000 people each rather than the current 3 member wards of 12,000. This would allow wards to match local communities better and also allow councillors to connect with their residents better. The council should also switch to all out elections every four years rather than the current election by thirds.

Greece, the Euro and Sovereignty [25 Jul 2015|12:50pm]
It looks like the terms required for the Greek bailout have passed in their parliament. This of course happened after the Greeks had rejected similar terms in a referendum.

This has resulted in questions about where sovereignty lies and tweets with the hash tag #ThisIsACoup

While it is not a coup it does show that joining a currency union does have an impact on a nations sovereignty and underlines why a country needs it's own currency. It demonstrates the wisdom of the UK in keeping the pound, and it's good to note it appears to have stopped the argument about joining.

The other thing to note is the reaction that Greece might leave the euro generated. It clearly showed that there are those in EU who believe as an article of faith that there can be no moves away from European Integration. In February 2015 Jean-Claude Junker saidsaid (in French) "Il ne peut y avoir de choix démocratique contre les traités européens" or in English "There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties" By putting their articles of faith of European integration above democratic choices and economic facts they are just like flat earthers or young earth creationists who not only put their faith above recognised facts but reject generally accepted scientific fact in favour of pseudoscience. We listen to the pseudoscience of the European federalists at our peril.

Coventry Healthy Churches and Same Sex Relationships [27 Jun 2015|11:41pm]
I have just had an interesting twitter exchange with Fr Martin Saxby the Healthy Churches Development Mentor in the Diocese of Coventry.

It started when he posted a link to an evangelical news site that appeared to compare euthanasia with homosexuality. When I called him out on this he said

@a_j_williams Turning away from God in any form, particularly by institutions, is a sign of a decaying society.

I asked him to clarify yes or no whether he thought homosexuality was a sign of a decaying society. His response :-

@a_j_williams My last tweet to you tonight: are you usually so aggressive? Yes or No?

Ignoring the fact this a standard response from somebody who does not want to justify themselves so prefers to attack their opponent (I believe the traditional version of this question is "When did you stop beating your wife") it is interesting that Fr Saxby refuses to respond to me despite the fact I am both Lay Chairman of a Deanery Synod and a member of the House of Laity of the Coventry Dioscean Synod.

While we all know there are bigoted priests out there what is particularly concerning about Fr Saxby is not only did he refuse to give me, a deanery lay chair and diocesan synod rep answer, his substantive post is Healthy Churches Development Mentor. Presumably Fr Saxby does not think gay and lesbian people belong in a healthy church.

I do not believe that people who are born with attraction to the same sex as themselves are sinners. I do not believe that someone who finds their life partner and enters into a life long relationship with someone who just so happens to be the same sex are sinners.

I believe a healthy church includes and celebrates the relationships of everyone, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and celibate. If Fr Martin Saxby, the Diocese of Coventry Healthy Churches Development Mentor does not support this he should resign.

Happy St George's Day [23 Apr 2015|09:09am]

St George was probably a soldier living in Palestine at the beginning of the fourth century. He was martyred at Lydda in about the year 304, the beginning of the Diocletian persecution, and became known throughout the East as 'The Great Martyr'. There were churches in England dedicated to St George before the Norman conquest. The story of his slaying the dragon is probably due to his being mistaken in iconography for St Michael, himself usually depicted wearing armour; or it may again be a mistaken identity representing Perseus's slaying of the sea monster, a myth also associated with the area of Lydda. George replaced Edward the Confessor as Patron Saint of England following the Crusades, when returning soldiers brought back with them a renewed cult of St George. Edward III made St George patron of the Order of the Garter, which seems finally to have confirmed his position.


God of hosts,
who so kindled the flame of love
in the heart of your servant George
that he bore witness to the risen Lord
by his life and by his death:
give us the same faith and power of love
that we who rejoice in his triumphs
may come to share with him the fullness of the resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Readings for today :

1 Maccabees 2. 59-64
2 Timothy 2. 3-13
John 15. 18-21

Taken from Exciting Holiness Collects & Readings for the Festivals & Lesser Festivals of the Calendar of the Church of England

1000 Years of Annoying the French [04 Jun 2011|12:40pm]
I have just read an excellent book 1000 Years of Annoying the French.

Highly recommended.

Was the Battle of Hastings a French victory? Non! William the Conqueror was Norman and hated the French. Were the Brits really responsible for the death of Joan of Arc? Non! The French sentenced her to death for wearing trousers. Was the guillotine a French invention? Non! It was invented in Yorkshire. Ten centuries’ worth of French historical ‘facts’ bite the dust as Stephen Clarke looks at what has really been going on since 1066.

Council Meeting Go Hi-Tech! [11 Aug 2010|09:24pm]
Last nights council meeting was the first to be streamed live to web.

It can be seen here.

My speech is at the 1 hour 10 minute mark.

Jane Preaching Again - All Welcome [29 Jan 2010|09:42am]
Jane (orinocco) will be preaching at St Mary Magdalen, Corner of Hearsall Lane and Sir Thomas White's Road on this Sunday 31st January. All Welcome.

Bishop's Visitation [04 Jun 2009|11:13pm]
This evening I served at the Bishops Visitation at the Cathedral. This is the services where all the newly elected Church Wardens are formally admitted to office.

The service was very well done bringing together a mix of traditions in Anglicanism we had everything from a praise band though to Faure.

What I liked about the service was that it did have traditional elements, we had an anthem by Faure, we had incense being burnt, we had a Magnificat chanted, we had three decent hymns and we had sung prayers. In addition the two "praise band" songs we had, although not to my personal taste, were at least not heretical. One of my major problems with "praise songs" when chosen at the Cathedral is we often sing (well I don't because it is heretical) the song In Christ alone my hope is found had often been the one of choice.

This song, which I believe originally came from NFI a "restorationist" denomination is heretical due to the second verse :-

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live

Specifically the problem with this is that it refers to PSA (Penal Substitutionary Atonement) which is contrary to the teachings and doctrines of The Church of England.

A belief in PSA would mean a belief in a blood thirsty God who was only interested in revenge. That's not the God I worship. In addition PSA would mean that there was no need for a resurrection of Christ - the work would have been completed on Good Friday. The resurrection is not an afterthought - it is the centrality of the Christian Faith. Our salvation comes from not just Christ's death on the first Good Friday, but also from Christ's victory over death and his glorious resurrection on the first Easter Day.

National Tackling Drugs Week [04 Jun 2009|03:08pm]
An exhibition of photos by some of the city's drug users will take centre-place at Coventry's Tackling Drugs Week celebrations in the city centre.

The exhibition will be held at the Tackling Drugs Week shop in City Arcade from June 8 – 12. The shop will be open to anyone who wants to find out more about what agencies – and communities - are doing to tackle drug misuse.

Drug workers will also be on hand to offer advice and information on any aspect of drug misuse and the support available to help users.

During the week, a number of events are being held around the city for members of the public, drug users, families of drug users and frontline workers to raise awareness of treatment services.

Cllr Andrew Williams, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: "Drugs is a major issue for all our communities and we want to take part in National Tackling Drugs Week to highlight the work we're doing to help reduce the harm that drugs cause to individuals, families and communities.

"The work we are doing to tackle drug misuse is a mix of work to help ensure today's young people don't become tomorrow's addicts, treatment to help users control and stop drug misuse and enforcement action against drug dealers and those committing crime to fuel addictions.

"Everyone can help in our work to tackle drugs – either by promoting drug treatment to any users they know or by reporting drug dealing and drug use to help the police build watertight cases against criminals."

Events held throughout the week include:

  • A talk to parents of drug users by Elizabeth Burton-Phillips, author of "Mum, can you lend me twenty quid?"
  • The launch of two new drug services – to help more addicts become drug free and to give extra support for families of drug users
  • Presentations of 12-step programmes to former and current drug users
  • A community consultation event in Foleshill dedicated to bust cultural myths surround drugs

US Researchers Say "Weekly curry may fight dementia" [03 Jun 2009|04:03pm]
According to BBC News a researcher at Duke University in the USA has suggested that eating curry may reduce the chance of dementia.

It seems to me that every so often these stories come along, which have a nice soundbite like this. In reality though this is just a hypothesis without any firm evidence to back it up. We will have to wait and see what the outcome of any in depth study is.

Then of course the question will be, "What about the beer that goes with a night at the curry house?"


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