Category Archives: Persecution

Pure Joy in Trials of Many Kinds

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2)

In October 2018, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, made a formal complaint against me under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM). The then Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Timothy Dakin, referred the complaint to an Ecclesiastical Tribunal which was eventually held in May 2022. The Tribunal panel decision was handed down on 6 December 2022. If you wish to read my witness statement, the expert witness report, the statements of witnesses, the tribunal decision and my response to the Tribunal decision, please follow the hyperlinks below: 

My Witness Statement

Expert Witness Report: Antony Lerman

Antony Lerman is a Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna, Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton and Associate Editor of Patterns of Prejudice. He was founding director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (1996-99, and 2006-09), one of the founders of Independent Jewish Voices and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. He was founding editor of Antisemitism World Report (1992-98) and Editor of the Jewish Quarterly (1964-85). He is the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist: A Personal and Political Journey (London, 2012), editor of Do I Belong? Reflections from Europe (London, 2017), co-author of Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief (London, 2019) – and Whatever Happened to Antisemitism? Redefinition and the Myth of the ‘Collective Jew’ (London, 2022).

Tribunal Witnesses:

Tanas Alqassis, Regional Manager, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, CMS
Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, retired Principal of the St Albans & Oxford Ministry Course
Revd Colin Chapman former lecturer in Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut
Robert Cohen, author and trustee for Amos Trust and adviser to Sabeel-Kairos UK.
Professor Mary Grey, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham
Revd Canon Garth Hewitt, founder Amos Trust
Rt Revd Michael Langrish, retired Bishop of Exeter
Anne Martin, Secretary of Peacemaker Trust
Revd Jeremy Moodey, CEO, Clergy Support Trust
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe,  College of Social Sciences & International Studies, University of Exeter
Miranda Pinch, film producer, From Balfour to Banksy
Revd Canon John Salter, President, Garden Tomb Association
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism University of Wales
Professor Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, and Emeritus Professor of Geography, Royal Holloway

Additional Witnesses:

The Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Archbishop of Province of Alexandria
Rt Revd Riah Abu El Assal,retired Bishop of Jerusalem
Revd Alex Awad, Director, Shepherds Society
Amos Trust Trustees (Revd Chris Rose, Director Amos Trust)
Revd Dr Andrew Ashdown, Partnership Coordinator for Africa, Methodist Church
Dr Mark Braverman, Executive Director of Kairos USA
Dr Gary Burge, Professor, Calvin Theological Seminary, USA
Ian Curtis, former VP World Vision International and chair International Needs Australia
Professor Scott Elias, retired professor, Royal Holloway University 
Rt Revd John Ellison, former bishop of Paraguay (deceased)
Tony Gratrex, former member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Tony Greenstein, co-founder of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Steven Haas, former VP World Vision USA
Ibrahim Hewitt, Director, Interpal
Revd Philip Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Revd Dr Manfred Kohl, Ambassador for Overseas Council International 
Revd Canon David MacInnes, retired Rector St Aldates, Oxford
Revd Dr Duncan Macpherson, retired Lecturer in Theology, Saint Mary’s University
Rt Revd Bill Musk, retired Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Egypt & North Africa
Ismail Patel, Founder Friends of Al Aqsa & Visiting Research Fellow, Leeds University
Revd David Smith, former Vicar of Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill, Sydney, Australia 
Revd Dr Jozef Strengholt, former dean of East Cairo & Director of Nile Valley Project 
Revd Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans 
Dr David Toorawa, Trustee, Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, Former director, Middle East Studies, North Park University
Revd John Woodger, retired vicar of St Mary’s Watford

Tribunal Decision

Tribunal Decision

Statement by Stephen Sizer on the Tribunal Decision

Statement by Stephen Sizer

The Lord’s Prayer in Time of War

Our Father, who art in heaven,
slow to anger, and of great mercy, lover of all peoples of the earth,

Hallowed be thy Name.
Remind us that “all the nations are as nothing before thee,”
their governments but a shadow of passing age;

Thy kingdom come on earth.
Grant to thy children throughout the world,
and especially to the leaders of the nations,
the gift of prayerful thought and thoughtful prayer;
that following the example of our Lord,
we may discern what is right, and do it;

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Help us to protect and to provide for all who are hungry and homeless,
especially those who are deprived of food and shelter,
family and friends, by the tragedy of war;

Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us for neglecting to “seek peace and pursue it,”
and finding ourselves in each new crisis,
more ready to make war than to make peace.
“We have not loved thee with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves”;

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Let us not seek revenge, but reconciliation;
Let us not delight in victory, but in justice;
Let us not give ourselves up to pride, but to prayer;

Lead us not into temptation.
Be present to all thy children ravaged by war:
Be present to those who are killing and to those who are being killed;
Be present to the loved ones of those who are killing
and to the loved ones of those who are being killed;

Deliver us from evil.
Subdue our selfish desires to possess and to dominate,
and forbid us arrogance in victory;

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

~ written by Wendy Lyons

A Biblical Response to Israeli Apartheid: A Reflection based on Isaiah 56

You may also download a pdf of a longer briefing paper on a Biblical Response to Israeli Apartheid as well as a Bible study for personal reflection or group discussion.

Although the term apartheid emerged in the 20th Century, supremacism, and racial prejudice can be traced back to biblical times – and sadly, as prevalent even among God’s people, as it is now. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says,

“Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.” …And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants… and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain… for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:3, 6-7)

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The Greatest Threat to Ministry

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23)

What poses the greatest threat to the work of any Christian ministry involved in a contested field or controversial subject? I believe the answer is in John 20:19. Most versions translate the sentence as “fear of the Jews”. A few like the NIV translate the sentence “fear of the Jewish leaders” which is probably more accurate. How might we apply that today? I believe we are mistaken if we focus on the “who” instead of the “what”.  Then what is it? Look at the text again. It was not the Jews, or the Jewish leaders. What does the text say? It was fear. Why do I say that? Well look at the context. What do the preceding verses say? 

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Can Religion and Politics be Separated in the Middle East Today?

A presentation by Colin Chapman
Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide Seminar
9 October, 2018

 Introduction

Let me begin with a one-sentence answer: it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to separate religion and politics in the Middle East today; and the future is bleak unless we can find ways of separating religion and politics and allowing religion to support an international order that is based on the rule of law.

This presentation is very much a ‘big picture’ exercise, an attempt to put some of the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle together. As a Christian who is interested in the role of religion and the interaction of religion with politics, I’m trying to make sense of the history that is being played out before us in the Middle East at the present time.

I probably need to explain my credentials. I’m not a historian or a political scientist. I happen to have worked with a mission agency, the Church Mission Society (CMS), in the Middle East for 18 years and have been engaged in theological education of different kinds both there and in the UK, specialising in recent years in Islamic studies. Continue reading

The Christian Jihad (Struggle)

As a young man I once visited an American friend serving with the US military on Lakenheath Airbase.  As I left the base, on the perimeter wall, hidden from the main road and the gaze of British civilians, I saw a large sign, about 40 feet long with lettering two feet high. Intended for US military personnel only, it read “Danger – you are now entering a war zone.” It was probably intended to improve their survival rates driving on the wrong side of British roads,

I’ve thought a lot about that message.  “Danger – you are now entering a war zone.” I would be tempted to hand a similar sign over the entrance to a Church. I just can’t decide whether to put it on the inside for those leaving or the outside for those…
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Feeling God’s Pleasure

In 1943, Li Airui found himself  imprisoned by the Japanese in the Weihsien internment camp in Shandong, Northern China. Li quickly emerged as a leader among the 1800 internees.
Life in the camp was hard, under a brutal regime. Some oil company executives, managed to bribe the guards into receiving extra rations and luxuries. Li shamed them into sharing these with the other prisoners.  Without the benefit of equipment or supplies, Li taught science to the children in a makeshift school. He led Bible studies, taught Sunday school and cared for the sick and elderly. Li organized games to promote fitness and boost morale. That is perhaps not surprising because Li was the first Chinese person ever to win a gold medal in the Olympics.

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I Have a Dream: Al Quds Day 2018

I have a dream. I have a dream. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

It was August 1963. At the height of the civil rights protests in the USA. Dr Martin Luther King gave a speech in Washington.  A powerful speech against hatred, against racism, against segregation, for justice, for equality, for integration.   A speech that has inspired millions of people all over the world. To dream of a different future. And not just to dream. But to strive to make that future a reality.

Imagine if Martin Luther King had been a Palestinian. Imagine he was speaking here this afternoon. What would Dr King say? I believe his speech would be very similar. Let me quote a few sentences from his speech in 1963. Notice how prophetic it is today. I have simply substituted the word Palestinian for Negro.  Continue reading