Stephen has spoken at the launch a new report about the impact of London's megachurches.
The report, Megachurches and Social Engagement in London, is an initial policy document from research at the University of Birmingham aimed at investigating the contribution of these churches to London's spiritual and social well-being. It found that many churches in the capital are growing rapidly because of their "deep and passionate commitment to prioritising what they see as a universal need for relationship with God above all other concerns."
There are fewer than a dozen megachurches in England's capital but the biggest have more than 2,000 worshippers every Sunday. Some have thousands more than that. The report found that "...Megachurch leaders and members believe wholeheartedly in the existence of a God who wishes to engage with the world and see their reason for existence as being to testify to that world of God's existence by representing his presence."
Speaking at the launch, Stephen said megachurches were a “remarkable phenomena.” He added: "We are forever hearing reports of church attendance falling but in London church attendance is not declining it is going up. The Church of England is having to build its first new churches in London since the 1950s. My guess is we are going to see more and more of this growth going on outside London as well."
The report’s co-author, Dr Andrew Davies of the University of Birmingham also spoke at the launch. He said: "For these and many other large and growing British churches, Christianity is about relationship with God and is not reducible to a set of beliefs, rituals or values or to historic institutional culture…Christians believe that putting God into the picture is a fundamental part of the solution. One of the things we found quite remarkable about the megachurch approach is the breadth of offerings they have available."
The policy document can be read here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/ptr/departments/theologyandreligion/research/projects/megachurches/publications.aspx
Jeremy Corbyn has today wished Sikh's in the UK - and across the world - a Happy Vaisakhi. In a message release earlier today, Jeremy said: "We can learn much from the Sikh way of life. Gurdwaras are impressive places of worship in the way that they serve free food to everyone, be they a worshipper or just somebody in need of a hot meal."
"The Gurus fought against social inequality, fought against injustice, and helped the most vulnerable in society to live their lives with dignity and pride. The creation of the Khalsa by the tenth Sikh Guru, in a ceremony underpinned by personal sacrifice, gave Sikhs a visible identity that ensured they would stand out and that they wouldn’t walk by when they saw injustice or somebody in need. These are values that we in the Labour Party also share."