Madeleine Davies

Church Times

I’ve been working on the news team at Church Times since 2012. I write about current affairs, here and abroad, developments in the Church of England, and brilliant people like the guy who licked every Cathedral in the UK.

Examples

Struggling to blot out our transgressions

My interview with Eric Fair, who has written a confessional book, about his time as an interrogator in Iraq

How churches and charities are riding to the rescue

I spent a day in Coventry, with the energetic founder of the city’s foodbank

Crisis cash goes to church projects

After the abolition of the Social Fund, local authorities had discretion about how to support those in crisis. Many decided to give funding to church groups. I surveyed every local authority under the Freedom of Information Act to find out where the cash was going, and spoke to church groups about how they were spending it. This story was picked up in the Guardian’s Cuts blog.

A grander music, but she was still ‘one of us’

I attended the funeral of Lady Thatcher at St Paul’s Cathedral – my report from the press gallery

Clergy flock to fill posts in ‘wealth’ south-east

My investigation into claims that clergy are reluctant to take jobs in the North. It was picked up in the Guardian, Times, Independent, Evening Standard and on Radio Four

Feeling the rough edge of his tongue

Interview with Lawrence Edmonds, who, for a bet, licked every Cathedral in the UK

Olympics spur many messengers

My encounters with street evangelists staking out Stratford Bus Station during the 2012 Olympics

Off to ‘church’ with the godless

Report from the inaugural meeting of the Sunday Assembly – billed as church without God

Fracking dispute lands Church in hot water

I interviewed the Priest in a small West Sussex village that was suddenly home to a hoard of anti-fracking protesters

Tony Benn leaves life to spend less time on politics

Looking back on the life of Tony Benn, with help from the Church Times archives

The Dr, the TARDIS and the Trinity

I watched a LOT of Dr Who episodes to find out about how Christianity has influenced the programme…

Writer recommends ‘happy pills’

I interviewed Dr Mark Walker, a philosopher, who believes that pills should be prescribed to make people happier. I don’t agree. But a great chat.

Four million in four years: reflections from the region

I wrote a piece about the Syrian refugees struggling in neighbouring countries, after visiting Jordan

The grey ghost town and the camp in search of a soul

My report from Jordan and Lebanon based on interviews with Syrian refugees

Bethlehem wall is erected in Piccadilly

In the run-up to Christmas in 2013 I saw a replica of the Separation Wall in Bethlehem unveiled at St James’s, Piccadilly

Organists confess to tune-smuggling

How church organists sneak power balls and kids’ TV themes into their performances

Muslims put on the spot over marriage

I attended a fascinating roundtable on the challenges of interfaith marriage, at Westminster Abbey

Megachurches: ‘Upbeat, but untaxing’

I explored new research into the phenomenon of ‘megachurches’ in the United States, entitled ‘God is like a drug…’

Intersex bodies brought into the ordination debate

Interview with Dr Susannah Cornwall of the University of Manchester, on her research into intersex conditions and what it means for theology

Interviews

Recriminations for St Paul’s after City clears Occupy tents

The morning after police cleared the Occupy protest camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, I went to interview those still present

Bishops’ same-sex marriage statement provokes anger and defiance

Interview with a gay priest who has vowed to defy official guidance and marry his partner of 14 years

Religion does cause violence, but also heals, argues Sacks

I spoke to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks about his new book: “Not in God’s Name”

If your face doesn’t fit

My interview with the Revd Joanna Jepson, about surgery for her cleft palate, her campaign to change abortion policy, and leaving behind a fundamentalist faith

Soup, but glorious soup

A valedictory interview with the Bishop of London

Bishops start quizzing their clergy

Interviews with gay clergy on the impact of the House of Bishops’ ban on same-sex marriage for priests

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman

I spoke to Rachel Held Evans about the year she spent trying to follow the Bible’s instructions for women

‘We face attacks if CofE marriage policy changes’

In April 2014, the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed that changing the Church’s policy on same-sex marriage could put African Christians at risk of violence. I asked bishops in South Sudan if he was right.

Leaving the Qur’an for the Gospels

I interviewed Dr David Garrison, a missionary pioneer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, who wrote a book documenting a global Muslim “movement to Christ”

Faith panel discusses mental health

I spoke to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, about Christianity and depression

Memorial held for Srebrenica

I interviewed Hasan Nuhanović on the anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica, in which he lost his parents and brother

Farmer defends private property rights

Interview with Ben Freeth, who has challenged the Zimbabwean Government’s attempts to seize his land. He had just released a book entitled When Governments Stumble and had an interesting take on the Biblical account of private property

Buskers get holy to avoid ban

I spoke to Jonny Walker, founder of the Church of the Holy Kazoo, about his campaign to challenge Camden Council’s restrictions on busking

‘We failed ’60s immigrants’

Interview with Dr Elizabeth Henry, the national adviser for the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, on the Church’s failure to embrace immigrants

Nigerian violence is chiefly about religion, says Kwashi

Interview with the Bishop of Jos, a state in Nigeria plagued by violent attacks on churches

Israel has image problem, says tourism minister

I spoke to the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, who suggested that tourism provided an opportunity to build the peace process. And to a Bethlehem resident who painted a different picture

Reports from abroad

Snowed in, under canvas in Lebanon

My report from the Bekaa Valley, home to 400,000 Syrian refugees, looking at the lives of children

From an olive farm to a metal shed

I travelled to Jordan with World Vision. In this piece I describe my visits to two refugee camps and share interviews with several Syrian refugee families

Syrian refugees find compassion in Jordan

My report on life for Syrian refugees living in Jordan’s towns and the impact on the indigenous communities

When a child is born…

I met Maasai women in Kenya and asked them about attitudes to child birth and attempts to encourage more pregnant women to go to hospital

The Maasai – a tradition in transition

Christian influence and changes in Kenyan law are challenging long-held tribal traditions such as female genital mutilation

Colombian journalist refuses to be silenced by rape

I travelled to Colombia with Christian Aid, and met Jineth Bedoya Lima, a journalist who uses her own experience to challenge the silence around sexual violence in her country

Waiting for the promised land

In Colombia, I travelled to three humanitarian zones where families displaced by the civil conflict have gathered.  I spoke to them, and to the human rights defenders working with them, about the fight to return to their land

Christians facing uncertain future

My report from visits to Christians in Egypt, shortly before a deadly bomb in Cairo

Film reviews

Struggle to save Tibet

When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun: documentary about the fight for autonomy in Tibet

Swazi film depicts corruption

The King and the People: documentary screened shortly before elections in the last remaining absolute monarchy in Africa

Other half of Mandela

The Long Walk to Freedom: a biopic of Nelson Mandela, whose death was announced during the London premiere

Church and Society

Synod delivers a confident vote for women bishops

I report from York on a historic vote opening up the episcopate to women

Westminster Abbey remembers the start of the Battle of the Somme with poetry and prayer

A moving service at the Abbey

Tottenham forges friendships, five years on from the riots

I spoke to people in Tottenham about how the area had changed since the riots of 2011

‘C of E’ gives an opinion on same-sex marriage

I attended a briefing by senior Church officials on the highly contentious response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage. The response provoked strong feeling within theh Church and was front-page news in the national press

Safeguards only work if used, say vulnerable adults

This news feature took months of research and interviews. I wanted to explore whether the Church is a safe place for vulnerable adults and what could be done to protect those at risk of abuse or exploitation

UK should resettle more Syrian refugees, bishops argue

I contacted the Church of England’s bishops to record their stance on the resettlement of Syrian refugees, during the build-up to a UN conference seeking to gather pledges

MPs ‘take up the fight’ over women bishops

I listened to a Parliamentary debate in the wake of the fall of the Church’s attempt to enable women to become bishops

Church investments undermine Welby’s tilt at Wonga

In July 2013 the Archbishop said he wanted to compete Wonga out of business. A few days later it was pointed out to him that the Church had investments in Wonga…

Welby optimistic about Church: ‘The tide of events is turning’

Justin Welby was named as the new Archbishop of Canterbury in 2012 – I attended the press conference where he was “unveiled”

Banks ‘need fear of hell and hope of heaven’, says Welby 

I went to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury talk on what makes a good bank, the day that the CEO of RBS stepped down…

Workless defended by Packer

Report on a debate on welfare reform, featuring Hazel Blears MP & the Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer

Same-sex therapist loses appeal against ruling

Report on decision by British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy  to uphold disciplinary action against a Christian psychotherapist who counsels people with “unwanted same-sex attraction”

Criminalise witch label, says activist

I interviewed a children’s rights campaigner, a criminologist and a safeguarding expert on the best way to protect children accused of witchcraft

‘Great issues of the day’ debated under dome of St Paul’s

I went to watch Question Time being filmed at St Paul’s Cathedral

Safeguarding reforms need to go further, says critic

I’ve followed closely developments in the Church’s safeguarding law and policy. I’ve been helped by Anne Lawrence, a barrister who represents survivors

Black churches’ rapid growth is causing ‘growing pains’

There are 25 black majority churches on the Old Kent Road alone. My look at a new report into the challenges of explosive growth

Parliament

Party leaders vie for black votes

I followed Cameron and Miliband on church stops during the May 2015 campaign

Message from on high: bishops favour staying in UK

I spoke to bishops and Christian MPs after the announcement of an EU referendum date

Bishops win Lords victory on benefit for ‘voteless’ children

Report on a successful attempt by bishops to thwart the Government’s welfare reforms…

Commons overturns Lords’ amendments on welfare

…Until the Government overturned it

Ministers back asylum-seeker policy

I listened to a hearing of the Parliamentary Education Committee exploring the experiences of young people in the asylum system

Doctors criticise religious parents for prolonging treatment

Report on a paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics which suggested that religious parents of seriously ill children who expect miraculous intervention are challenging the withdrawal of therapies that medical professionals consider to be “aggressive”, “futile and burdensome”

Christians not being persecuted in the UK, report concludes

Analysis of report from MPs which countered headlines in the press about persecution of Christians

Inquiry hears Iranian stories

I attended a hearing of evidence to an inquiry into the per­secuted Church in Iran

International reports

Bishops hang on to hope in ‘shameful’ South Sudan

I heard back from many of South Sudan’s Anglican Bishops when I asked about their take on the crisis pulling the country apart

Church sources fear Burundi genocide

Clergy in Burundi spoke to me, anonymously, amid political turmoil and a brutal crackdown

Syrian refugees pour into Kurdistan

Interviews with aid workers supporting Syrian refugees in Iraq and Lebanon

Bishops call for action to protect India’s Christians

I investigated whether the security of India’s religious minorities had declined under the leadership of Modi

Afghan women fear losing rights

Interview with Zahra Hasanpur, an activist from Afghanistan, about the future of women’s rights after NATO’s withdrawal from her country

Western air strikes not the answer, say Syrian clerics

In the wake of the Parliamentary vote against military intervention in Syria, I analysed the response from Syrian priests

Death toll rises after attack on Pakistan church

Report on a suicide bombing in Peshawar, believed to be the deadliest such attack in Pakistan’s history

Nigeria’s anti-gay law spreads fear

I interviewed a gay Nigerian Anglican about the impact of “draconian” legislation passed in his home country

Christians in north of Mali flee Tuareg rebels’ control

Report on the start of civil conflict in Mali

Back Syrian peace-plan, not military force, say bishops

Report on reaction to the massacre of 108 people in Houla, Syria

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