Steve Chalke

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The Reverend
Steve Chalke
MBE
Senior Minister of
Oasis Church, London
Steve Chalke at -iofnc.jpg
Other posts United Nations special adviser
Orders
Ordination 1981 (Baptist)
Personal details
Birth name Stephen John Chalke
Born (1955-11-17) 17 November 1955 (age 58)
Croydon, London
Denomination Christian
Residence London
Spouse Cornelia née Reeves (m. 1980)
Children 2 sons, 2 daughters
Occupation Charity founder;
Baptist minister
Alma mater Spurgeon's College, London
MBE ribbon

Stephen John "Steve" Chalke MBE (born 17 November 1955) is a British Baptist minister, United Nations' GIFT special adviser on community action against human trafficking and a prominent, sometimes outspoken, Christian leader and social activist.

Chalke is the author of numerous books and articles as well as a regular presenter and contributor on television and radio programmes. He was appointed MBE in 2004 for his "services to social inclusion", an honour bestowed upon him by the Queen.[1] In the run up to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games he was chosen as one of the Olympic torchbearers for London 2012.[2]

In January 2013, Chalke sent what The Independent said would be "shockwaves through Britain’s evangelical community",[3] in which he is a leader, by stating, both on his Oasis Trust website[4] and in an article in Christianity magazine,[5] that he now supports monogamous same-sex relationships.

Early life and career[edit]

Chalke was born in Croydon, South London in 1955. As a teenager he became a Christian and decided to dedicate his life working to end poverty. He graduated from Spurgeon's College, was ordained a Baptist Minister in 1981, and served as a local minister for four years.[6] Then, in 1985, he founded the Oasis Trust to set up housing, healthcare and educational projects, including a hostel for the homeless in South London.[7]

Oasis has since developed into a group of charities working in 10 countries over four continents (Europe, Asia, Africa and North America) to deliver housing, training, youthwork, healthcare, family support and primary, secondary and higher education. It is a significant voluntary sector provider, delivering services for local authorities and national governments as well as self-funded initiatives providing opportunity to people across the globe. Oasis Trust has also set up Oasis Community Learning, the Faithworks Movement, Stop the Traffik and a growing network of Oasis churches. In the UK alone Oasis now employs over 2,000 staff as well as working with thousands more volunteers.

Educator[edit]

From its early days Oasis has been involved in the provision of education not only in the UK but also in Asia and Africa as well as America.

In the UK early in the 1990s, in the UK, Oasis began to develop professional training for youth workers. By 2009, this had grown into a range of academically and professionally validated short courses, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of study and the Oasis College for Higher Education was established in central London. Oasis College specialises in studies in children's work, youth work, family practice and community and now offers courses to over 250 students a year.

In 2004 Chalke set up Oasis Community Learning as part of the Oasis Group of charities in order to deliver secondary education through the UK Government’s Academies programme. Three Oasis academies, at Enfield Lock, Grimsby and Immingham, opened in September 2007. Oasis’ involvement with secondary education has since grown and, from 2009, it has also developed a focus on primary education. As of September 2012, Oasis is responsible for 10 secondary schools, two "all-through" schools (offering both primary and secondary education) and seven primary schools around the country. Other projects are planned for 2013.

Oasis Community Learning aims to serve its academy students as well as to provide a centre of lifelong learning for the entire community, including; adult learning courses, community workers, fitness suites, healthy living programmes, sports courts and out-of-hours youth activities.

Church leader[edit]

Chalke was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1981, after studying at Spurgeon's College in London. He was minister of Tonbridge Baptist Church in Kent for four years before setting up the Oasis Trust. He later formed a developing network of community churches around the UK which began with the foundation of Oasis Church Waterloo, London SE1, in 2003 and now includes churches in Salford, Enfield, Southampton, Croydon and Bristol as well as a growing number of other locations. Chalke remains senior minister of Oasis Church Waterloo, in the London Borough of Lambeth. He was appointed an Honorary Fellow of Sarum College, Salisbury in 2005.

Broadcaster[edit]

Chalke has hosted his own television series for ITV and BBC as well as presenting a regular show on BBC Radio 4 and currently contributing to Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2.

Guinness world record holder[edit]

In 2005 Chalke became the official holder of the Guinness World Record for the largest amount of sponsorship money ever raised by an individual through a single event. He broke this record by raising £1.25 million for Oasis' work with schools in disadvantaged communities, through running the London Marathon. His record was beaten at the following year's marathon by Sir Steve Redgrave who officially raised over £1.785 million. However, in April 2007, Chalke recaptured the title as well as becoming the fastest money-generating sports person in history, by raising over £1.855 million in 3 hours 58 minutes 40 seconds. When he crossed the finishing line at the 2011 London Marathon, after 4 hours 31 minutes, Chalke broke this record for a third time by raising £2.32 million.[8]

Activism[edit]

Chalke has taken-on many causes in his career, from working with vulnerable children on the African continent, to community learning through his Oasis Academies, to helping churches to realize their potential for helping people in their communities with such issues as poverty and homelesness, to stopping human trafficking, and a myriad of other things.

Faithworks[edit]

In 2001 Chalke founded The Faithworks Movement, along with a companion magazine, to raise awareness of the role the Church can play within their local communities. Faithworks's resources support churches of all denominations across the UK.[9][10] Chalke has become a spokesman for the church in the national debate about the provision of public services by faith-based groups.[11] Over 20,000 members—including individuals, churches and other not-for-profit organizations—count themselves as part of the Faithworks movement.[12]

Stop the Traffik[edit]

Chalke is the founder and chair of Stop the Traffik, a global coalition of over 1600 charities in 97 countries, which works to raise awareness of human trafficking in all countries and communities and to stop the buying and selling of people. He was appointed Special Advisor on Community Action to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT),[13] following the coalition's delivery of 1.5 million signatures in support of a global declaration against human trafficking at a UN conference in Vienna in February 2008.

March 2009 saw the publication of Stop The Traffick: People should not be Bought and Sold, co-authored by Chalke and Cherie Blair, which looks worldwide at the issue and responses to it.[14]

Chalke continues to work with Stop the Traffick campaigns, including "Start Freedom" and a Traffick-free chocolate campaign.[15] As a result of the latter, in:

  • July 2008, Verkade committed to 100% fairtrade cocoa and sugar in their chocolate bars in Netherlands from autumn 2008.
  • February 2009, Swiss Noir committed to fairtrade cocoa in their chocolate bars in Netherlands from March 2009.
  • March 2009, Cadbury committed to fairtrade Dairy Milk in the UK and Ireland from autumn 2009.
  • April 2009, Mars committed to Rainforest Alliance cocoa in Galaxy bars in the UK and Ireland from 2010 and across their whole product range globally by 2020.
  • December 2009, Nestle committed to a fairtrade four-finger Kit Kat from January 2010.
  • January 2010, Green & Black (owned by Cadbury) pledged to make their entire range, worldwide, fairtrade by the end of 2011. In the UK chocolate will be fairtrade from late 2010.
  • February 2011, Mars in Australia announced that, as of June 2011, Mars bars in Australia would be made from Rainforest Alliance cocoa.

Controversy[edit]

In 2003 Chalke co-authored The Lost Message of Jesus[16] with Alan Mann (Zondervan). This book provoked considerable controversy within evangelical Christian circles.[17] The debate arose mostly because of Chalke's rejection of a conventional evangelical theological understanding of the atonement known as penal substitution. Chalke's views drew much criticism as well as support, with numerous articles, blogs and books being written on both sides of the debate.

The continuing controversy led to the Evangelical Alliance organising a symposium in July 2005 to discuss the issue. A record of this symposium includes a chapter by Chalke and his views are also contained in "the atonement debate".[18][19][20] A group of three conservative evangelical theologians responded to Chalke with their book, Pierced for our Transgressions (Crossway Publishing, 2007), which strongly criticised Chalke's position as inconsistent with some evangelical confessions of faith.[21][22] However, the prominent Anglican Open Evangelical theologian and former Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, endorsed Chalke as a leading evangelical and spoke out against the latter book, commenting, for instance, that ‘despite the ringing endorsements of famous men, it [Pierced For Our Transgressions] is deeply, profoundly, and disturbingly unbiblical.’[23]

Support for social activism[edit]

Chalke is a prominent social activist and leading advocate of the role of Christian faith in public life and the delivery of public services including education, health care, youth services, etc. He has drawn strong criticism from leading atheists and secularists such as Polly Toynbee and Keith Porteous Wood,[24][25] with whom he has publicly debated, as well as Terry Sanderson[26] and others for his stance. "Most dangerous are the Christian global corporations such as Oasis headed up by Steve Chalke who have snatched growing numbers of academy contracts, also have ambitions to run hospitals too."[27]

However, Chalke maintains that though Christian faith is personal, it is never private, and has written extensively about Public Theology (see Intelligent Church).[28]

"There is a widespread, popular myth that unless faith is restricted to the private sphere, it will inevitably lead to intolerance and extremeism [sic]. But the reality could not be more different. Beneath the headlines of religious fanaticism and intolerance are the untold stories of countless individuals who, motivated by their personal faith, choose to work for the betterment of our society. For them, faith may be personal, but it is never private. Like the thousands of churches and other faith groups up and down the country that commit to improving the lives of society's most vulnerable - running homeless hostels, alcohol recovery programmes and youth mentoring schemes in response to the needs they see around them."[29]

Chalke claims that; "Intolerance and extremeism [sic] are more to do with fundamentalism, than faith. Indeed, the memory of the 20th century is forever scarred by the fundamentalism and intolerance of communism, whose regimes not only left millions dead, but impoverished and excluded many more." He maintains that, "Without public faith, there would not have been a civil rights movement in the US or a Jubilee debt cancellation amopaign [sic] in the UK. Both these movements were inspired and led by people of faith who decided that what they believed about God and humanity should impact on the world around them."[30]

Chalke contends that there are two elements to healthy democracy – representative and participatory. He and others[who?] have suggested: "Democracy used to be focused around participation as much as representation, two ideas which together created a balance." Whilst Chalke believes that the hallmark of any healthy democracy is that it gives expression to these two types of democracy, he suggests that, "In our modern society, the democratic process has become far more passive and is now dominated by the idea of representation, where elected representatives (e.g. MP's) are held responsible for delivering the needs of those who voted, or who did not vote, for them. Westminster is the seat of representative democracy. Our society needs to invent new forms and practices that combine representative with participative democracy. The two can and indeed must meet. And the crucial point regarding the relationship between the two - between representative and participative democracy - is that the activity of the second guarentees [sic] the quality of the first. Representative democracy needs to be held accountable by participative democracy. /about-us]."

Chalke developed the Charities Parliament, now known as the People's Parliament, in order to establish a stronger voice for third-sector organisations in public life. It is intended to enable debate and dialogue between churches, charities, faith groups and government and aims to increase participation by these groups in public life.[31]

The People's Parliament has received support from many parliamentarians and church leaders, including Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Revd James Jones, who endorsed it, saying: "This new initiative is based on the well established principles of Christ-centred vision, rigorous thinking, a depth of community engagement and a clear articulation of a biblical worldview, which are the foundations on which Oasis' work has been built."[32]

Support for monogamous same-sex relationships[edit]

In mid-January 2013, Chalke posted both abridged[33] and unabridged/extended [34] versions of his declaration that he will no longer oppose – and will now support – monogamous same-sex relationships. Characterized by The Independent as a "decision which will send shockwaves through Britain’s evangelical community",[3] the declaration came soon after the newspaper having reported a small but growing acceptance of homosexuality among at least "some" evangelicals.[35]

Chalke had been reflecting on the matter for a long time and his January 2013 declaration represents a completely opposite position from the one he had earlier when, in 2001, he wrote an article for Christianity (then known as Christianity and Renewal) entitled "What might Jesus say to Roy Clements about the Church and the Homosexual debate?" Clements had been a leader among Britain's evangelicals for many years when he suddenly revealed that he was gay, left his wife and began a relationship with a man.[36]

After performing his first same-sex couple blessing ceremony in his church in September 2012 and now offering a special same-sex couple blessing liturgy of his own creation on the Oasis website, Chalke explained that he was torn about the January 2013 declaration, writing that he was “[c]ompelled because, in my understanding, the principles of justice, reconciliation and inclusion sit at the heart of Jesus’s message. Afraid because I recognise the Bible is understood by many to teach that the practice of homosexuality, in any circumstance, is a sin or ‘less than God’s best’.”[37]

Because evangelical communities tend to place enormous importance on Biblical literalism, inerrancy and infallibility, the approximately 5,000-word extended version of Chalke's declaration provided theological and scriptural justifications for his new acceptance of committed homosexual relationships. Acknowledging that many of his fellow evangelicals will be upset by it, Chalke wrote that some would think that he strayed from scripture and is no longer an evangelical. “I have formed my view, however, not out of any disregard for the Bible's authority, but by way of grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously.”[34] Chalke insisted that it is only by scriptural misinterpretation that those who claim the Bible condemns all forms of homosexuality have arrived at such a position; and that this position will eventually become the minority view in the same way that those who cited Biblical justifications for slavery and a secondary role for women have also become minority views.[3]

Chalke criticised traditional Christianity's rejection of “faithful gay relationships”, saying that it has left far too many people feeling “vulnerable and isolated”. He also wrote that it has done genuine physical harm. “People’s lives are at stake”, he wrote. “Numerous studies show that suicide rates among gay people, especially young people, are comparatively high. Church leaders sometimes use this data to argue that homosexuality is unhealthy when tragically it's anti-gay stigma, propped up by Church attitudes, which, all too often, drives these statistics.”[3]

“When we refuse to make room for gay people to live in loving, stable relationships", he wrote, "we consign them to lives of loneness, secrecy and fear. It's one thing to be critical of a promiscuous lifestyle, but shouldn't the Church consider nurturing positive models for permanent and monogamous homosexual relationships?”[34]

Chalke is a member of Accepting Evangelicals[37] which describes itself as an "open network of Evangelical Christians who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."[38]

Rejection of biblical inerrancy/infallibility[edit]

In February 2014 Chalke published a paper on his website entitled "Restoring confidence in the bible" in which he states his rejection of the evangelical teaching that the bible is inerrant or infallible.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Chalke enjoys going to the gym, swimming and running.[40] He married Cornelia Reeves in 1980 and they have four children; Emily, Daniel, Abigail and Joshua.[6]

Writings[edit]

Chalke is the author of more than 40 books. He has also written monthly columns for Prima Baby on fatherhood and for Christianity magazine on church leadership. His writings include:

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Years Honours List 2004
  2. ^ http://www.london2012.com/torch-relay/torchbearers/torchbearers=stephen-chalke-128/
  3. ^ a b c d Taylor, Jerome (15 January 2013). "Prominent evangelical pastor Reverend Steve Chalke declares support for monogamous same sex relationships". The Independent newspaper website (London). Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Chalke, Steve. "http://www.oasisuk.org/article.aspx?menuId=31976". (The abridged and extended article versions). The Oasis Trust website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Chalke, Steve (The February 2013 issue). "The Bible and Homosexuality: Part One". Christianity Magazine. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Biography of Steve Chalke, MBE". The Oasis Trust website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Oasis Story". (the fourth paragraph on that web page). The Oasis Church website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  8. ^ http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/worldrecords/1000/most-money-raised-by-a-marathon-runner
  9. ^ http://www.inspiremagazine.org.uk/news?newsaction=view&newsid=1917 www.inspiremagazine.org.uk
  10. ^ www.churchtimes.co.uk
  11. ^ http://www.rhul.ac.uk/services/volunteering/volunteeringawards2007.html www.rhul.ac.uk
  12. ^ "The Oasis Family". (the "Faithworks" section. The Oasis Church website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  13. ^ UN.GIFT is a joint initiative of six UN bodies — the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNICEF, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
  14. ^ Chalke, Steve. Stop The Traffick. 
  15. ^ http://www.stopthetraffik.org/campaign/chocolate/what-you-can-do/17 www.stopthetraffik.org
  16. ^ Chalke, Steve. The Lost Message of Jesus. 
  17. ^ Ashworth, Pat. "Atonement row gets personal as Evangelical partnership splits", 'Church Times', 27 April 2007.
  18. ^ Derek Tidball, David Hilborn,, Justin Thacker. the atonement debate. p. 34 to 45. 
  19. ^ "Joint Evangelical Alliance – London School Of Theology Atonement Symposium". Evangelical Alliance. 2005-07-08. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  20. ^ Stephen, Jonathan (February 2005). "Chalkegate". Evangelical Times. Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  21. ^ Jeffery, Steve; Mike Ovey, Andrew Sach. Pierced for our Transgressions – Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution. Inter-Varsity Press. ISBN 1-84474-178-8. 
  22. ^ "Pierced for our Transgressions – Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution". Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  23. ^ Wright, NT (April 2007). "The Cross and the Caricatures – a response to Robert Jenson, Jeffrey John, and a new volume entitled Pierced for Our Transgressions". Fulcrum. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  24. ^ http://www.secularism.org.uk/nssindebatewithfaithworks.html
  25. ^ http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2012/02/religious-proselytisers-move-into-academy-school
  26. ^ http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Welcome-to-the-academy-for-Jesus-397779/
  27. ^ http://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/newsline-17-february-2012.pdf
  28. ^ Chalke, Steve. Intelligent Church, Zondervan 2006. 
  29. ^ . London http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005.nov/21/comment.comment1.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  30. ^ Chalke, Steve (21 November 2005). "Personal, but never private". The Guardian (London). 
  31. ^ http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/7786
  32. ^ http://www.faithworks.info/SubSection.asp?id=8849 Faithworks.info
  33. ^ Chalke, Steve. "A Matter of Integrity: The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation". (abridged version). The Oasis Church website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  34. ^ a b c Chalke, Steve. "A Matter of Integrity: The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation". (unabridged version). The Oasis Church website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  35. ^ Taylor, Jerome (3 January 2013). "Happy, clappy, and out of the closet: Evangelicals who say being gay is OK". The Independent newspaper website (London). Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  36. ^ "Steve Chalke urges evangelical rethink on same-sex relations". The Ekklesia website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  37. ^ a b Gledhill, Ruth (15 January 2013). "Evangelicals’ leader backs gay marriage". The Times of London. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  38. ^ "List of Open Members". (see Chalke's name on the list). The Accepting Evangelicals website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  39. ^ "VIDEO: Steve Chalke on Taking the Bible Beyond Fundamentalism and Atheism" Huffington Post: "We do not believe that the Bible is 'inerrant' or 'infallible' in any popular understanding of these terms. In truth, there is nothing in the biblical texts that is beyond debate and questioning, and healthy churches are ones that create an environment which welcomes just that. The biblical texts are not a 'divine monologue', where the solitary voice of God dictates a flawless and unified declaration of his character and will to their writers."
  40. ^ "Listing for The Rev Steve Chalke, MBE". The Debrett's website. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 

External links[edit]