Support the Café

Search our Site

No more Muslim prayer services in CoE church

No more Muslim prayer services in CoE church

There’ll be no more Muslim prayer services at St. John’s, Waterloo according to this statement from the Bishop of Southwark (Church of England):

‘The Bishop of Kingston has, at my request, now met with the Vicar of St John, Waterloo to discuss the Inclusive Mosque event which took place at St John, Waterloo on 6 March.  Whilst it is very important to build good interfaith relations, it is clear that an act of worship from a non-Christian faith tradition is not permitted within a consecrated Church of England building. The Vicar has issued a statement expressing his sorrow at the offence this has caused and any infringement of Church of England guidelines.  He has assured me of his intention to work within these guidelines in the future’.

The statement from the Vicar of St John, Waterloo can be found here.


That statement from the Vicar of St John, Waterloo, Giles Goddard, follows:

The Inclusive Mosque Initiative event hosted by St John’s Church, Waterloo, for International Women’s Day has given rise to great consternation, and I am sorry for the offence caused and any infringement of Church of England’s framework and guidelines.

I am, by faith and tradition, a Christian. I stand by the Church of England’s Declaration of Assent: The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.

It is in that context that I have tried to build a better understanding between faiths.  The Church of England is in an especially responsible position as the established church, with a duty to try to engage with all the people of England.

Now, more than ever, it is essential that we are able to meet in friendship across the boundaries of faith, and the event at St John’s was part of attempts to enable that to happen. I remain committed to finding ways for Christians and Muslims to acknowledge our shared heritage and history, without minimising the uniqueness of both our traditions.  I have assured the Bishop of Southwark of my commitment to work to build good interfaith relations, but to do so within the teaching and guidelines of the Church of England:

Canon Giles Goddard

St John’s w. St Andrew’s, Waterloo

Prior to this development, Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow wrote on the kerfuffle over the prayer service:

I’ve heard on the grapevine that a mixed group of young people, Muslim and Christian was present in Liverpool Cathedral one year on Ash Wednesday when Justin Welby was the Dean. To some surprise, the Muslim young people came forward to receive the ashes on their foreheads along with everyone else.

I believe that the quick thinking Dean (now the Archbishop of Canterbury) said something like: “May the God of Abraham which is both my God and yours bless you and keep you safe this day” and firmly put the ash on all their heads. Such things are the everyday stuff of ministry. Entirely uncontroversial and a delight and a parable of the way things should be, to all involved.

Anyone wanting to throw stones at Giles Goddard over this might find that they bounce off and hit the Archbishop of Canterbury instead.

And those who want to stir up trouble between faiths, motivated by latent homophobia, should look deep into their souls before they next try to look the God of love in the eye.

The patrons of St John, Waterloo are the Archbishop of Canterbury and the (evangelical) Church Pastoral Aid Society.

Our report from March 13 is here.

This past November a Muslim prayer service was held at the National Cathedral. The usual suspects made their usual objections to inclusion of others.

Posted by John B. Chilton


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tim Wooley

Rev Andrew Gentry,
We’re called upon to do as we would be done to, not as others do to us.
In parallel with your example, there are Christian ministers calling for war against Muslims, both are wrong.

Fr. John A. Boylan, OEF

THE temple is the body of each and every human being. Each is the indwelling of God/Allah/YHWH whether recognized as such or not. Ultimately God fills in the gaps. ALL are simply ONE. We, and we alone, in our inability and unwillingness to recognize that core truth make the false separations THE gap that God will fill in. We must know and strive to live out of this core Truth, without which ALL theology simply crumbles into the self-created abyss: “Being and Goodness are exactly the same thing.” In spite of other differences, both Bonaventure and Aquinas agreed on that. Over the centuries, that understanding probably would have taken hold better if Bonaventure “won” the debates. His “rest of the story” was far more incarnational instead of top head-heavy theology, at least in the way that Aquinas had been misappropriated. Duns Scotus, would most certainly find this “debate” on the use of a building downright silly.

Rev Andrew Gentry

A quote from a Saudi Moslem cleric. “Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim cleric called on Tuesday for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula after legislators in the Gulf state of Kuwait moved to pass laws banning the construction of religious sites associated with Christianity.”

Fr. John A. Boylan, OEF

By that criterion, wouldn’t a quote from Pat Robertson be the stamp of authority for Christianity? What constitutes “top cleric”? Few have the “ratings” of Robertson. But a rabbi once said, “The first will be last.” Thank all that is True, Good, and Beautiful for that! The Saudi “powers” are far more concerned with monarchy and oil than they are with Islam. Mecca is just a tourist destination for them. I value the authentic spirituality of a single Sufi more than a million “Prosperity Gospel” so-called Christians like Pat Robertson.

Paul Woodrum

Samaritans and Jews were sort of first cousins, Samaritans being the offspring of inter-ethnic marriages following the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel. Samaritans were actually the more conservative accepting only the five books of Moses as having authority. The comparison might hold if one were talking about Baptists and Roman Catholics but, even as a liberal, I question whether Jesus and Allah are the same god or that Jesus, like Mohammed, is simply one more prophet.

JC Fisher

“I question whether Jesus and Allah are the same god”

They certainly are for Arabic-speaking Christians! Do you get that “Allah” is just the Arabic *word* for “God”, not a proper name (like “Yahweh”…or “Krishna” for that matter). For Arabic-speaking Christians, Jesus (or “Issa”) is the 2nd Person of the Triune Allah.

JC Fisher

I can’t help thinking about the Good Samaritan in this. Do we not offer hospitality to The Other? Do we not accept it from The Other? Do we believe that God-in-Christ becomes confused, if the God-Whose-Final-Prophet-Is-Muhammad worship there? Do we believe that those worshippers of God-in-Christ have such paper-thin faith, that THEY become confused?

I just don’t understand the controversy—and I don’t really want to.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Our ethos calls for hospitality. Neither God nor parishioners are in any way harmed by offering hospitality to Muslims or other religions. The idea that Muslims worshiping in churches in some way “desecrates” the churches crosses a line from religion into superstition for me.

Church of England is being held hostage by a handful of conservatives utilizing really bad, medieval, and hurtful, theology.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café