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Minister claims religion is no more

Roberto Pravisani : All round good egg

Religion is dead - so says Britain's self-proclaimed independent minister.

Alternative ceremonies

SIR - Re: 'Meet the freelance man of cloth' (The Advertiser 1517/99). My thanks to The Advertiser for the article about my 'freelance' ministry. However, I would like to clarify some points where your readers could have been misled.
I do not celebrate masses. If any of your readers feel the need for a mass let me say that there is no better place for this than a church. I am not in competition with any church. Indeed those who ask for my services do so because they do not want 'church services': I do not 'marry people in a pub'.
Marriages can only be solemnised in licensed places - ie churches, registry office, some town halls, some hotels.
I stated I am available to prepare and officiate at ceremonies to celebrate a couple's love. The services I offer replace the traditional church ceremony. They have no legal validity and therefore can be held anywhere. - I do not conduct funerals in pubs. I suggested that a Last Farewell does not have to be limited to a crematorium.
There could be times and occasions when a short service of remembrance, or memorial service, could be held anywhere, even at the: local pub. In my services I do not aim to be 'unconventional'. It is a fact that more than 80 per cent of people do not go to church. I offer people alternative ways to celebrate the rites of passage in a way which is more fitting with their beliefs.
Rev Roberto Pravisani,
Independent (progressive) christian minister and spiritual advisor, Hyde.

The Rev Roberto Pravisani is even giving the last rites to the church, pointing to how few people flock to the steeple. His views follows a report which admits only 7.5 per cent of people attend church. The Hyde reverend (pictured above) is no stranger to controversy, having been sent into the wilderness by the Bishop of Manchester over the ex-deacon's own views on human sexuality.

But rather than give up, he elected to become a freelance man of cloth. The Rev Pravisani said: "Yes, religion is dead, thank God, but spirituality is alive and well and will carry on into the next millennium. "The church is about power and money. Even the so-called alternatives, the Humanists and New Age sects are becoming religions in their own right. He claims the church pockets 'millions' from non-attenders for funerals, weddings and baptisms. The Rev Pravisani says he offers a true alternative of personalised services which celebrate life's milestones.

Nobody from the Church of England was available for comment. If you want to hear more about the Rev Pravisani's services, call him on 0161 366 7614. What do you think about the Reverend Pravisani's views on religion? Write to Readers' views, The Tameside Advertiser, 35-37 Booth Street, Ashton OL6 7LB

Times are a-changing for funerals

A Hyde minister has attracted worldwide attention for his views on funeral services.
Freelance man of the cloth,Rev Roberto Pravisani was invited to speak at the International conference death,dying,disposal in London.
Rev Pravisani told academics he believes traditional funerals fail to meet the needs of the bereaved.
"We must respond to changing times by offering a new breed of independent ministers," he said.
[The Advertiser 5 October]

Minister backs gay marriage

BRITAIN'S first professional Celebrant Minister, has defended the gay community after politicians have criticised homosexual relationships. Rev Roberto Pravisani spoke out after Conservative shadow cabinet minister, Anne Widdecombe, was reported as saying she didn't class gay relationships as valid or on par with heterosexual ones. The Hyde based minister, has slammed these remarks as a basic infringement of human rights.
He said: "Marriage is a public declaration of commitment, it is a social contract which aims to stabilise society. "Lesbians, gays and transgendered people are human beings. "I am in favour of gay marriage and believe the government should legalise "In my view the two main political parties seem quite out of touch." Celebrant ministers practise all over the world and Rev Pravisani is the first member of the International Federation of Celebrants.
[The Advertiser 19 October 2000]

Church goers fight in favour of discrimination

ASHTON church goers are seeking support - AGAINST a new European bill aimed at eliminating discrimination in employment.
Directive number 565 outlines a proposal to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of  'racial or ethnic origin. religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation'.

Pint and a prayer at pub session!

Fisher man drops into the Pike
  • THE pub really is a heavenly place to be for those in search of religious guidance.
  • St John's Evangelist church in Ashton, has come up with the novel idea of holding a religious question time.
  • But for one night only, the flock will be swapping the altar for The Turnpike pub nearby.
  • The Rev Ian Fisher (above) said: "I find visiting people that I get asked so many questions - like is there really life after death and do Christians believe in evolution?"
  • "We also find that there are people who are put off going into a church."
  • "So we decided to hold a religious question time in a setting suitable for all - although I don't normally need an excuse to go the pub," he jokingly added.
  • Making up the question time panel is Rev Fisher, joined by Bishop of Middleton Michael Lewis and parishioner Cllr Margaret Sidebottom.
  • The church question time at the Lees Road pub starts at 7.30pm on September 19.

Much of the bill has been welcomed in principle, but the section relating to 'religion or belief' has caused discontent from members of Ashton Church of the Nazarene, in Stamford Street. "Christians are the first to argue against discrimination" one church member said. "However, if we are stopped from employing other Christians, it could seriously affect our ability to carry on." [Good! -LB]

A provision has been made within the directive for organisations to argue that belief constitutes a genuine occupational requirement. But Phil Dobson, a board member of the Ashton Church says this may cover only teaching and preaching posts.

"Much of the work of religious organisations comes outside this scope - caring for the homeless, helping the terminally ill. "

Keith Porteous Wood, of, the National Secular Society, said: "Some 89 per cent of people in Greater Manchester are non churchgoers. "Where religious organisations employ a large number of lay people it is important they should not be allowed to discriminate, particularly in state funded jobs, such as teaching."

Government ministers have said they will try and ensure churches can remain selective on grounds of belief, but some people fear pressure from other governments. Christians from the Tameside area can support this campaign by writing to their MPs. Voting on the directive takes place in October.
[Is any more proof needed that religion separates people into like-minded sheep who do not wish to associate with others who may not hold their beliefs? And Rev Fisher- does not the bible suggest the perils of alcohol? Only today I saw an orthodox Russian Jew saving his fellow man by "cleansing him of the vodka demon".The priest or "magician" as he said he was said he was from a family of healers,he claimed that his powers were "hereditary".That's news to me,I didn't know that there was a "magic" gene that was passed through families. Perhaps this is a consequence of religion's ignorance of evolution,and thus perhaps Rev Fisher would be better explaining some science to those in the pub as this is what they fail to understand. I find it "offensive" that clerics should be plying their wares in public places and when people are most vulnerable (ie drunk) and open to suggestion. But then perhaps this is indicative of how few people turn up to their place of habitation!-LB]

Trinity of churches pray for a new start

Worshippers from three Droylsden churches could be congregating under one brand new roof if the prayers of ministers are answered.
St Andrew's, in Merton Drive, was facing major problems with the poor state of its building - hut that could all be about to change. Plans have been suggested for the church to merge with neighbouring Edge Lane Methodist Church and St Matthew's United Reformed Church.

The Reverend Ian Blay, from St Andrew's, said the new facility would be 'fantastic' for the community.
"We are looking at a major sports facility with community uses such as parents and toddlers groups. "We would have a room with special floor surfaces and walls that would he safe for the children, worship space and two meeting rooms," said Rev Blay.

Ian Blay : 3 into 1 won't go
Threatened: Rev Ian Blay outside St Andrews, one of three churches under discussion.

The minister said that, although not unique, it would be the first development of its kind in the area. "It's not unusual by any stroke of the imagination but it is unusual for this area. There aren't any similar projects around here," he said.
The three churches have spent the last year weighing up their own needs and the needs of the community. Together with two other churches in Droylsden - Clayton Methodist Church and Wheler Street Moravian Church they make up the Churches On The Edge Forum.

[Going off Rev Pravisani's comments,they have so few members that they can all fit in one church and "Churches on the edge" means on the edge of being none existent, hopefully -LB]

And these other two churches have given their full support to the new venture. The Rev Blay explained the current situation: "Reports are being drawn up by architects to see if it would make more sense to refurbish the present building or start from scratch."
The buildings of the two churches moving into St Andrew's are likely to be sold off and the money put into the new development.

But plans will be submitted to the diocese and the council before any decision is made.
"The building has served us well but has now come to the end of its life. It's 53 and we're beginning to find a number of problems which because of its size are very expensive to repair," he said. He hopes to have 'a new plant in whichever form in the next two to three years'.
by Emma Fitzgerald [The Advertiser 7/9/2000]


His parish is the right place to come but he comes too quickly,and God tells him to do it all the time.But what is he referring to?

Report by Mark Travis
A MARRIED Reverend has quit a Hyde church after just five weeks following an affair. The Rev Thomas McCabe departed when news of his relationship with an unnamed woman broke among St George's parishioners.
Father-of-two, the Rev McCabe has now separated from his wife, Sue, and left their home in Bramhall, Stockport. The Bishop of Chester has already an emergency visit to the parish of St George's to take the Sunday service.
It is believed the Rev McCabe, who is originally from Belfast and only arrived in Hyde in July, is taking a break in his native country while a stand-in minister is at the Edna Street church.

The Advertiser spoke to a number of the Rev McCabe's parishioners who didn't wish to comment publicly after being asked not to discuss the matter. However, most echoed the view he was 'a likeable man who came and went too quickly'.
The Bishop, Dr Peter Forster said in a statement: "It is with great regret that I have to announce that the Rev Thomas McCabe has resigned as vicar of St George's, Hyde, following an improper relationship with a woman who is not his wife."
He added the couple have separated, while support and prayers are being offered to the family. A former engineer, the Rev McCabe became a full-time clergyman following a calling from God and has expressed his liking for 'the colourful' town of Hyde in The Advertiser previously when we featured a 'welcome' article and picture (left). "When I looked at this parish it seemed the right place to come, particularly with the church community and the church school - it's a great opportunity for me," he said back in July. "I've always been active in the church. I used to be involved in my spare time and although I enjoyed' engineering I felt as though God was calling me to do it full- time." Second minister quits town - p28.

Church anger at virgin Mary rape claims

TV row:    Mary and Jesus A TV documentary which claimed Mary might have conceived Jesus after being raped by a Roman soldier has been branded offensive by church leaders.
The theory challenging the Biblical Immaculate conception was just one forwarded by a BBC1 programme The Virgin Mary, screened last might. But it was condemned by Catholic bishop the Rt Rev Crispian Hollis as crude and offensive' guesswork.
The programme repeated a second century historian's claim that Mary was raped But it also branded the theory a ploy to discredit the early Christian church. Mary was portrayed as uneducated, simple and likely to have had an arranged marriage with Joseph when she was 13. However, the Rt Rev Hollis, the Bishop of Portsmouth, said the documentary sparked 'serious alarm'. The 'offensive speculation misrepresented a figure respected by millions', he added.
But the film's producer, Alan Bookbinder, said it gave a 'sense of wonder at her miraculous story'. He added: 'Above all, it shows a respect for the special place that Mary has in the hearts of believers.'
Pope John Paul II urged people to reject the mindless consumerism of Christmas and celebrate its true meaning yesterday in his weekly address in St Peter's Square.

A quarter of priests 'do not believe Virgin Birth story'

MORE than a quarter of Anglican clergy do not believe in the Virgin Birth, a poll revealed yesterday. One vicar said: 'There was nothing special about it - it was Christ's adult life that was extraordinary.' Many said the story resulted from poor Biblical translation and a literary tradition which made up stories about a person's early life to emphasise their importance.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has distanced himself from the issue of gay priests. The married 52-year-old, who supports homosexuals in the church, said yesterday the topic was not on his agenda but he hoped it would be considered 'without too much prejudice'. Metro Dec23 2002

Criticism : Dr Rowan Williams Archbishop attacks our image culture
THE Archbishop of Canterbury criticised the commercial world's preoccupation with makeovers and rebranding as he delivered his first New Year message. Dr Rowan Williams said it was creating 'permanent, restless concern' about outward appearances. 'We are in the world not of make-believe but of makeovers,' he said. 'Walk down almost any street and you'll see banks, businesses, cafes and bars busy reinventing themselves. I suppose behind all this is an anxiety. What do people really think of us, of me?' He said God was not 'constantly reinventing himself'.[God has constantly been reinvented and marketed-LB]
Metro Jan2,2002





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