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Church of England row as cathedral opens doors to tarot card readers and crystal healers in ‘new age’ festival

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:37 AM on 28th March 2011 

New age: Manchester Cathedral is to hold a new age festival to celebrate 'all forms of spirituality'New age: Manchester Cathedral is to hold a new age festival to celebrate ‘all forms of spirituality’

The Church of England was braced for a fresh row today after a cathedral announced plans to host a ‘new age’ festival.

The event – featuring tarot card readers, crystal healers, dream interpretation, and a fire-breathing vicar – is to be held in Manchester Cathedral in May.

But the move is certain to anger traditionalists, who feel the Church has already strayed too far from tradition.

Hundreds have already defected to the Roman Catholic Church after deep splits over the ordination of gay and women priests.

Anglican leaders in Manchester decided to hold the festival in the historic cathedral in a bid to embrace alternative forms of Christianity.

Fortune tellers, meditation experts and traditional healers will fill the pews during the day-long festival. The Bishop of Manchester, Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, said he wanted to celebrate ‘all forms of spirituality’.

The Church is in trouble. Attendances have fallen for the sixth year in a row, according to official figures that also showed it holding fewer marriages, baptisms and funerals.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Vatican boasted that 900 disaffected Anglicans have left their parishes to become Roman Catholics. Many are believed to have felt alienated by the Church’s 1992 decision to allow women to be ordained as priests.

Holy ground: Fortune tellers, meditation experts, traditional healers and a fire-breathing vicar will fill the pews of the ancient Cathedral for the eventHoly ground: Fortune tellers, meditation experts, traditional healers and a fire-breathing vicar will fill the pews of the ancient Cathedral for the event

But Bishop Nigel insisted the unconventional activities due to take place in Manchester Cathedral were not incompatible with Christian belief.

He said: ‘The event is a chance to discover and explore old and new Christian spiritual traditions from living in a community to praying with icons, from healing to bead-making, from Franciscan spirituality to contemporary music and movement.

‘Practitioners from all over the country will be on hand to offer their experience of how God speaks to us today through the cultural language and practices so common in mind, body, spirit fairs.’

The Spirit of Life festival on May 2 will also feature stalls and workshops on angels, prayer bead-making and massage.

Fire-breathing vicar Rev Andy Salmon, of Sacred Trinity Church and St Philip with St Stephen in Salford, will also perform.

The event will cost £5 with children under 12 free when accompanied by an adult.

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PRESS RELEASE: One Year On From Windsor: an important new report

November 6, 2010:



A year ago this week, ARC and UNDP joined together to create an extraordinary event. The celebration, which we called Many Heavens, One Earth at Windsor Castle in November 2009 launched 31 long-term commitments to environmental action by nine major faiths worldwide.

These faith commitments were made in the presence of HRH Prince Philip, and HE Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations.

A further 18 commitments were made by major secular groups to work with the faiths on the environment, while other faiths, including the Mongolian Buddhists, started the journey of creating their own long-term commitments, some of which are almost starting.

The Celebration was also an occasion for consolidation of two major programmes – Religious Forestry and Water Schools – as well as marking the birth of two other important new project areas: Faith in Food and a Green Pilgrim City Network were both brought into being at Windsor.

“The potential revealed by the Windsor Process for faith groups to lead civil society in tackling our environmental crisis has been widely recognised – especially in the light of the collapse of the 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009. Given that organised religions make up the largest group in civil society – 80 percent of the world’s population ascribe to a faith – that pivotal role is now being acknowledged by major environmental organisations and secular institutions worldwide who are keen to engage with the faiths in this innovative and vital work,” ARC’s director Martin Palmer said.

Building on the programmes, ideas and energy

Funded by the Norwegian Government, the World Bank, British Council, MOA and others, ARC began in February 2010 to build seriously on some of the programmes, ideas, energy and projects that emerged from Windsor.

Windsor inspired a DVD Teacher’s pack

And at the Windsor event itself – which you can learn more about from our dedicated Windsor website, containing hundreds of photos, hours of audio including an hour long BBC Radio programme on the event and even details of the first all-vegan banquet ever held at the Castle – the vast Waterloo Chamber was transformed for the day into a theatre, with performances from great artistes and singers from within the faiths. We have made part of the film footage into a DVD Teacher’s pack on Environment and Religion (funded by the Ashden Trust), launched last month, which is already getting some wonderful feedback from teachers.

To celebrate the extraordinary things that have been happening in our world in the past year, we have created a formal document of events and goals and achievements. How each of the 31 faith commitments, 18 secular commitments, two expanded and two new programme areas is doing, and what it will achieve in the near future.

The Hindu delegation at Windsor

We hope, soon, to create a less formal document, full of photos and anecdotes, which will tell readers more about things like:

* the astonishing logistics of planting millions of trees

* the challenges and rewards of helping Pilgrim Cities around the world turn themselves green

* the moving and inspiring stories of how faiths are increasingly realising that what they eat should be kind to the earth, not destroy it

But meanwhile please read our report here. It is one of the most important documents we have ever produced, as it shows how, just in the past few years, an area of engagement that was seen by so many as marginal is in fact one of the best hopes that this planet has for being populated by people who care for it and look after it.

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