March #ThemeOfTheMonth: Unity in Diversity

Added about 4 months ago by Sacristy Press

How can we as the Church hold the tension between seeking unity and celebrating our diversity? Is it possible to find unity and connection in the midst of diversity and difference? How should the Church navigate the complexity of our modern, divided world? This month we’re asking two of our authors to help us dive deeper into these questions as part of our #ThemeOfTheMonth

John Barnett served as Interfaith Officer for the Wolverhampton area of Lichfield Diocese. He advised the Bishops of Wolverhampton and Lichfield on interfaith matters and had oversight of Black Country Near Neighbours, a government-funded community cohesion programme which was rolled out across four metropolitan boroughs. For a number of years, he regularly worshipped at GKN Sikh gurdwara alongside his continuing Christian ministry until both were disrupted by COVID-19 regulations. His book, Christian and Sikh: A Practical Theology of Multiple Religious Participation, gives unprecedented practical content to the reality of multiple religious participation.

Drawing from deep wells of experience and scholarship, John offers a fresh theological approach of friendship and friendliness as he explores his time of multi-religious participation. This book adds a personal and pastoral perspective on the practice of interfaith engagement and will be a helpful guide for those wishing to connect more deeply with people from different faith traditions.

Jessica Foster, Tutor in Interfaith Engagement, Queen’s Foundation

Barnett, a priest in an area with a Sikh community, was drawn to participate in their worship. He sees such participation as a significant gift to the church because it changes the emphasis from dogma to the experiential, especially prayer and community. He chronicles the effects on his family, colleagues, his parish. His clerical collar/ turban combination, the adjustment to new rituals, his absence from Sunday family lunch, the support of both communities in illness, his exploration of a new world and what he found there – these form the fascinating core of this book.

Rosie Budd, Transforming Ministry Magazine

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David Newman is a former warden of Launde Abbey, the retreat house for the dioceses of Leicester and Peterborough, where he led retreats and conferences, offered spiritual direction and sought to be a prophetic voice in an often anxious church. His book, Growing Up into the Children of God: Exploring the Paradoxes of Christian Maturity, provides a dialogue between different groups in the Church—liberal and evangelical, old and young, inherited and new church—such that the energy and wisdom of each might benefit the other and the whole. At a time when the Church struggles with demarcations and even divisions by age, theological outlook and styles of worship, it invites Christians to develop frameworks of united diversity that enable the Church to have a credible witness in today’s complex and fragmented world.  

This is a useful and intriguing little book, which speaks to one of the greatest dilemmas facing the contemporary Church: how is the Church to grow while retaining its increasingly elderly core? … There are useful insights here, not least that a genuine interdependence between youth and experience is not only possible, but also necessary and creative. … This would be a good volume for informal study, especially in church communities that are seeking a new way to handle challenges from the past and future. Each chapter ends with probing questions for further thought and discussion.

The Revd Angela Tilby, Church Times

Growing doesn't happen by accident. To be truly, deeply and faithfully alive takes time, honesty and attentiveness. David Newman offers a book of profound and gentle wisdom for this task. He writes as a fellow traveller who knows the terrain, can guide through bewilderment and who traces the elusive pathways that lead to life. Here is a companion and guide for those who know their need in distracting and confusing times.

David Runcorn, Spiritual Dierctor and Writer

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Keep your eye on our blog and social media through out the month to see what these two authors have to say on our #ThemeOfTheMonth: Unity in Diversity and pick up your copies of their books here.

Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

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