A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
Climate Change Boat Relay; Faith and Football; Cult Survivor
What will you be doing on Sunday afternoon? You could look to Cornwall where the G7 will draw to a close and a group of young Christians will meet at Truro Cathedral. There they will bless a wicker boat to be carried in relay to Glasgow in time for the UN Climate Change Conference in October. Edward Stourton asks if they can really hope to change minds with the trip and finds out why they're carrying the boat.
Or maybe you'll spend your Sunday afternoon doing something else entirely. As England takes to the pitch for its first Euros encounter, Edward speaks to the Bishop of Willesden who includes Wembley in his diocese. How does this football loving cleric feel about the Euro's theme song which talks about broken churches and broken dreams. Is football the only answer?
Also in the programme, the race against time to save some extraordinary murals in a London Church. The now flaking paintings are by the German Jewish artist Hans Freibusch who was exhibited in Hitler's infamous "degenerate art" exhibition of 1937. As a refugee in the UK, he was commissioned by the Church of England and painted more murals than any other artist in the church's history.
And Edward hears from a survivor of the Children of God cult that began in the counter culture of late 1960s America but spread throughout the world. It came to be known as The Family and was dogged by allegations of child abuse and psychological manipulation. Followers believed that God was love and love was sex, so there should be no limits, regardless of age. Faith Morgan joins Edward to talk about her memoir of her upbringing in the sect and eventual escape at the age of 19.
A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
Cathedral Cycle Route; Gordon Browns Global Vaccine Plea and The Pagan Ceremony of 'Handfasting'
A new cycle network is being launched this morning linking all 42 English Cathedrals across a 2000 mile route. A group of cyclists are setting off from Newcastle Cathedral this morning. Clare MacLaren is the Canon for Music and Liturgy at Newcastle Cathedral and Sean Cutler from Northumbria University pulled the route together.
Gordon Brown leads a group of religious leaders asking for G7 leaders to prioritise vaccines for developing countries ahead of the G7 summit.
The Dalai Lama and Rowan Williams are among the other signatories to a letter asking the UK to use its chairing of G7 to make the difference on the global vaccine campaign.
The ancient marriage ceremony known as handfasting can be traced back to Celtic and Druid ceremonies. It may even be where the phrases ‘tying the knot’ and ‘bound for life’ originate. The Pagan Federation is campaigning for couples to be legally married by the Pagan ceremony. Sarah Kerr is President of the Pagan Federation.
The Church's Role Post Covid; Gaza Ceasefire; G7 Choir
What should the role of churches of all denominations be as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic? More than 5,500 people including non-church members, congregations and church leaders have provided their testimony on the human cost of the pandemic when places of worship were closed and unable to play their usual role as crisis centres and places of comfort. We hear how two people made a contribution to their communities and the leader of the research, Dr Dee Dyas from the University of York tells Edward that churches and other places of worship have a unique opportunity to play a key role in the nation's recovery.
As the Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire took hold on Friday, both Israel and Hamas declared victory. But continuing unrest at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday suggests that the underlying issues remain as unresolved as ever. We return to the region and hear from two Jerusalemites who have lived through these perilous past few days, Abeer Zayyed, a volunteer at the Al Aqsa mosque and Rabbi Ron Kronish, who also works in Jerusalem.
In June world leaders will gather in Cornwall for the G7 Summit. To mark the occasion, Truro Cathedral and local school choirs have released a song to send a message to them. Written by Sir Tim Rice and Peter Hobbs the lyrics ask the leaders to 'collaborate and take their responsibility seriously'. Now other singers from around the world can add their recordings to the performance. We hear from some of the Truro choristers and Esme Page, co-founder of the Sing2G7 initiative, explains how children can get involved.
You can listen to the song and find out more here: https://www.sing2g7.org/
Photo: © Mazur / cbcew.org.uk
Songs of Grief and Hope; Contested Monuments; Mayflower Legacy
In October 2019 the LA-based musician Natalie Bergman was about to go on stage at Radio City Music Hall New York for a career defining concert with her band Wild Belle. Then she took a call the San Francisco coroner - her father and stepmother had just been killed in California when a drunk driver crashed into their taxi. She cancelled the tour and went into a hibernation of grief that led her to rediscover her faith on a silent retreat at a monastery in New Mexico. Her album Mercy, tells the story of that time.
The Church of England has a long and sometimes complicated history. This year more than ever, church communities worried about memorials and statues with links to slavery or other distasteful events of the past. This week the Church of England published official guidance for parishes and cathedrals to help them deal with the problem. We hear from Novelette-Aldoni Stewart who worked on the new guidelines, from former Lord Mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake who has had to adjudicate on such issues in the past and from Val Potter, a church warden in Dorchester whose Parish has spent years trying to deal with a conspicuous memorial to a slaver-owner who brutally supressed a rebellion. Has your parish got a memorial or statue you are not sure how to deal with? Or have you found a good solution - tell us how you did that. Email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Arranged Marriages, Gavin Peacock, ‘Body and Soul’ workout with Mr Motivator
Can an arranged marriage be modern? How much of a say do the daughters and sons have? After 10 years of research, Raksha Pande from Newcastle University has discovered two new types of arranged marriage, distinct from those of previous generations. William Crawley explores a range of views and experiences among young British Asians.
In 2008, the former professional footballer and Match of the Day pundit Gavin Peacock gave up a thriving media career to become a church minister in Canada. It was the culmination of a faith journey that began in the 1990s as player for QPR, Newcastle and Chelsea. He tells his story in his new autobiography, ‘A Greater Glory: From Pitch To Pulpit’.
Thousands of school children across the country will be taking part in what is hoped to be a record for the greatest number of people participating in a simultaneous fitness workout. The ‘Body and Soul’ charity project, organised by the Reverend Steve Chalke and fitness instructor ‘Mr Motivator’ aims to encourage a reconnection of our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing as we emerge from the pandemic.
We would love to hear your experiences of where physical activity meets spirituality. How do you connect body and soul? You can contact us on Twitter: @BBCR4Sunday, or email: email@example.com.
Producers: Dan Tierney and David Cook
Editor: Tim Pemberton.
Good but often very late appearing
As I write it’s past midday but there’s no sign of today’s programme, which has been on BBC Sounds for hours. Why is the podcast almost invariably late??
I’m not sure why this Podcast is listed as ‘Spirituality’ or why some reviews refer to it as worship? It primarily highlights current news and views of religious and non religious issues. I’m not sure of anyone else doing this in the UK media which is why it is essential.
Atheist listening in
I listen as an atheist as I’m interested in pretty much anything. It shocks me the amount of indoctrination in the uk, and the horrible history of religion around the world and it’s religions actually being celebrated as something to see as a positive thing. I feel sad hearing that people that are just lovely people sucked in to believed they are good people because of a deity.
I think the bbc has done a good job making this podcast listenable to pretty much any one. It’s balanced and not at all evangelical like one would expect off American/African or Islamic radio stations.