Tuesday, 22 May 2018

TEC proposals for same-sex marriage


Following up on the letter from William Nye to TEC, the actual proposals to come before the General Convention in July were the subject of analysis by Andrew Goddard, earlier this month (I had missed his article until today).

“Communion Partners” and Marriage Doctrine and Liturgy in The Episcopal Church (USA)

An article, written from the perspective of one of the TEC bishops opposed to these changes, can be found here: Reconstructive Surgery on the Prayer Book? by Bishop Dan Martins.

And yesterday, there was This Source of Doctrine and Unity Requires Our Care by Bishop John Bauerschmidt.


Scott Gunn has also written about this proposal: Study of Marriage.

Bishop George Sumner has issued a pastoral letter on the same subject.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 May 2018 at 5:00pm BST
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Church of England opposes end to civil partnerships

The British government has reported that previous consultations on the future of civil partnerships were inconclusive. It has therefore issued this: The Future Operation of Civil Partnership: Gathering Further Information.

This raises the possibility of opening civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples or of abolishing civil partnerships for the future. Here’s how the document begins:

  1. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enabled same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship by registering a civil partnership at a time when marriage for same-sex couples was not available. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allowed same-sex couples to enter a marriage from 29 March 2014, or convert their civil partnership into a marriage from 10 December 2014.
  2. The Government has consulted twice on the continued operation of civil partnerships: in 2012 during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, and again in 2014. In those consultations, we invited views on three possible options; whether civil partnerships should be:
    - abolished
    - closed to new registrations
    - extended to allow opposite-sex couples to register a civil partnership
  3. Taken together, there was no consensus about how civil partnerships should change. Due to the lack of available evidence in support of any of the above options, and the lack of consensus on a particular change, the Government decided not to make any changes to civil partnerships at the time.
  4. This policy paper sets out how the Government will gather additional information. When this work is completed, the Government should have the information it needs to bring forward proposals for the future of civil partnerships.

The Church Times reports (scroll down) that:

Support for civil partnerships. Civil partnerships should not be abolished, the Church’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs, the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown said this week, after the Government’s Equalities Office suggested that their future was uncertain.

In a paper published last week, the Office says that, if demand for civil partnerships remains low, “this might suggest that same-sex couples no longer see this as a relevant way of recognising their relationships, and that the Government should consider abolishing or phasing out civil partnerships entirely.”

There were 890 civil partnerships registered in 2016 in England and Wales, down from an average of 6305 from 2007 to 2013. The paper says that, by September 2019, a “proportionate amount of evidence” will have been gathered to enable the Office “to be confident in the ongoing level of demand”.

“We believe that Civil Partnerships still have a place, including for some Christian LGBTI couples who see them as a way of gaining legal recognition of their relationship,” Dr Brown said. “We hope [they] will remain an option.”

We recently published an article reporting on how civil partnerships had been viewed in 2007: Civil Partnerships: a look back at 2007.

Michael Sadgrove has drawn attention to an even earlier article we published, in 2006: civil partnerships: another bishop’s view.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 19 May 2018 at 3:33pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Opinion - 19 May 2018

Hayley Matthews ViaMedia.News Royal Weddings & Lady Bishops – Time for Change?

Harry Farley Christian Today Michael Curry: Who is the Royal wedding preacher who backs gay marriage and opposes Trump?

Lucy Winkett Church Times What is the significance of Pentecost? A test of spirit, and the challenge of bearing witness

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Institutions defend themselves – Barrow Hospital and C/E compared

Harriet Sherwood interviews the Archbishop of Canterbury for The Guardian Justin Welby: ‘I’m nervous about dropping the rings at the royal wedding’

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 May 2018 at 11:00am BST
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 18 May 2018

Bishops and Safeguarding

There are two items in today’s Church Times that relate to this subject.

Letter to the editor (scroll down)
The House of Bishops and abuse survivors

From Mr Andrew Graystone

Sir, — At the General Synod in February, the House of Bishops once again promised a “new culture” in the way that the Church relates to victims of its abuse (News, 16 February). Since then, there has been no indication of what that new culture might look like, or how or when it will be realised. Indeed, since February there has been minimal contact between the bishops and victims.

The suggestion in a private letter that the National Safeguarding Team is “in the process of developing the terms of reference for a Working Group on Cultural Change” caused hearty laughter among weary victims.

When pressed, individual bishops have dropped hints that “something is being worked out” and will be revealed in due course. This is inadequate for at least two reasons.

The first is that it fails to recognise that the climate of nods and winks, secrecy, and fixing things up in private, is precisely the environment in which abuse thrives. Bishops working things out behind closed doors is the problem; it cannot also be the solution.

The second is that the bishops have yet to face the fact that they are neither qualified nor equipped to fix the Church’s problems in this area. By definition, many have risen to the top through abusive cultures. They are unable to recognise their own privilege and are unwilling to admit their own victimhood. They are horses trying to muck out their own stable.

Until the Bishops admit their inadequacy in this area and call on victims and independent experts to advise, all they will succeed in doing is spreading the muck around.

17 Rushford Avenue
Manchester M19 2HG

And there is a brief news item headed Welby ‘will take no further action’ against Croft over abuse case (scroll down)

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has declined to discipline the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, over alleged failings to handle properly a disclosure of abuse. The Revd Matthew Ineson, who says that he was raped while a child by another cleric, the late Trevor Devamanikkam (News, 16 March), made a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against Dr Croft. Mr Ineson said that Dr Croft did not take any action after being told about the alleged abuse. Mr Ineson said that he had received a letter from Archbishop Welby which said that he “will take no further action”. The Archbishop said, however, that he would ensure that Dr Croft undertook further safeguarding training and understood his responsibilities as a diocesan bishop. Mr Ineson said that he was prepar­ing to appeal against Archbishop Welby’s decision not to discipline Dr Croft.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 May 2018 at 2:00pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Bishop of Huntingdon to retire

David Thomson, the suffragan Bishop of Huntingdon in the Diocese of Ely, has announced that he will retire in autumn 2018.

Retirement Announcement: The Rt Revd Dr David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 May 2018 at 10:00am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | News

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Opinion - 16 May 2018

Craig D’Alton humane catholic An alternate statement on marriage equality, which could have been made by the Anglican bishops of Australia, but wasn’t …

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau New directions for the church 1: whose kingdom come?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Bishops as Managers – Empathy begins to die

David Walker ViaMedia.News Lost in Translation – Speaking in Differing Tongues

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 11:00am BST
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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Lichfield diocese seeks to welcome LGBT+ people

The four bishops of the Diocese of Lichfield have issued an ad clerum letter on this subject.

Here is the press release: Welcoming and honouring LGBT+ people

The bishops of Lichfield Diocese are calling for a Church where LGBT+ people feel welcomed and honoured.

In a letter sent to all clergy and lay ministers in the diocese, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave; the Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Geoff Annas; the Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory; and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, emphasise that “everyone has a place at the table.”

The letter updates clergy on discussions underway in the national Church on the ‘radical Christian inclusion’ called for by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and draws attention to the work being done on a major new Teaching Document…

Here is the full text of the letter: To all clergy and licensed lay ministers in the Diocese of Lichfield. Part of this is copied below the fold. But do read the entire letter.

There was also an earlier press release: ‘Safe Space’ for LGBT Christians

OneBodyOneFaith has issued a statement: OneBody welcomes letter from Lichfield bishops.

Tracey Byrne said:

“…Much of what the bishops say, shouldn’t really need saying, but sadly it does. Only this week we heard from a gay couple in another part of the country whose vicar has told them they can’t serve on any church committee, and we know too of couples whose vicar has refused to baptise their children. The kind of intrusive and abusive questioning of individuals condemned in the letter really does happen. People feel ashamed, hurt and confused when they encounter this kind of behaviour from people in positions of power and authority. It’s an affront to the gospel, and deeply damaging of individuals.”

Peter Leonard said:

“It’s my hope that the work being undertaken by Lichfield diocese, and this clear statement, will send a very strong signal – to LGBT+ people that they’re welcomed and valued on equal terms with our brothers and sisters. And to those who seek to treat us as a problem, to harm and dismiss us and deny our gifts and callings – that their behaviour will no longer be tolerated. What we need to see now is other bishops issuing similar guidance. But this first step by Lichfield is very much welcomed.”

Continue reading "Lichfield diocese seeks to welcome LGBT+ people"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 5:20pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Vivienne Faull to be next Bishop of Bristol

Press release from Number 10

Queen appoints new Bishop of Bristol
The Queen has approved the appointment of a new Bishop of Bristol.

Published 15 May 2018
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Vivienne Frances Faull, MA, Dean of York, in the diocese of York, for election as Bishop of Bristol in succession to the Right Reverend Michael Arthur Hill, on his resignation on the 30th September 2017.

There are more details on the Bristol diocesan website: Very Revd Vivienne Faull announced as the next Bishop of Bristol.
Her consecration is scheduled for 3 July 2018.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 10:05am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Monday, 14 May 2018

Church Commissioners results for 2017

The Church Commissioners have released their annual report for 2017 this morning, along with this press release:

Church Commissioners for England announce return of 7.1% on investments for 2017 and forecast muted earnings in medium term

The full press release is copied below the fold, but it starts with these highlights:

  • Investable assets increase in 2017 to £8.3bn from £7.9bn in 2016.
  • Financial support by the Commissioners totalled (excluding pensions) £144 million with Commissioners continuing to account for approximately 15% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs.
  • Church Commissioners prepare for outlook of higher interest rates, higher volatility and lower returns than recent years.

Hattie Williams has written in detail about the report for Church Times: Church Commissioners remain bountiful despite large drop in investment returns

The full report, and a summary review, are available for download.
Church Commissioners Annual Report 2017
Church Commissioners Annual Review 2017

Continue reading "Church Commissioners results for 2017"
Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 14 May 2018 at 10:17am BST
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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Bishop Sarah Mullally installed in London

From the website of the diocese:

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE has been installed as the 133rd Bishop of London at St Paul’s Cathedral. The service coincided with International Nurses Day, Florence Nightingale’s birthday, echoing Bishop Sarah’s own former career in the NHS as a nurse, including as Chief Nursing Officer, before her ordination.

Clergy, staff and friends, from across the Diocese of London, the wider capital, and the Church of England, came together as Bishop Sarah followed the tradition of knocking three times on the Cathedral’s Great West Door with her pastoral staff, marking the beginning of the installation. The full-service sheet can be accessed here [below].

Bishop Sarah’s sermon, on the theme of ‘being subversive for Christ’, remarked that 105 years ago this week, suffragettes placed a bomb under the same seat in which she had just been enthroned as the first woman to be Bishop of London. She also spoke of the need to challenge injustice and inequality, and of the pivotal role the Church has to play across London.

Order of Service for the Installation

Sermon by Bishop Sarah at her Installation in St Paul’s Cathedral

Her biography and links to some other news articles

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 7:35am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Opinion - 12 May 2018

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of ‘thy kingdom come.’

Meg Warner ViaMedia.News Trauma, Churches & People’s Rites

Richard Kellow Church Times Questions for Fresh Expressions
“The closure of a pioneer ministry prompts searching observations from Richard Kellow”

Malcolm Brown Church Times Society needs us to be Anglican, not sectarian
“The C of E’s ability to hold together different points of view has much to teach politicians, says Malcolm Brown”

Peter Hitchens First Things Latimer and Ridley are forgotten
“A Protestant understanding of England’s Martyrs”

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 11:07am BST
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 11 May 2018

Australia: House of Bishops agreement on same-sex marriage

Updated Saturday

Muriel Porter reports in the Church Times Setback to same-sex weddings in Australia.

BISHOPS in Australia have declared that it is not “appropriate” for same-sex weddings to take place in Anglican churches or halls, or the chapels of Anglican schools or other Anglican organisations, given the Church’s doctrine of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

They will give “further consideration” to the appropriate content of informal prayer for same-sex couples outside a public service, as well as to the difference between blessing and solemnising a marriage, and the issues involved in Anglican officials’ being present at a same-sex marriage or blessing.

The Anglican Church’s response to the passing of same-sex marriage legislation in Australia late last year (News, 15 December) was decided at the Bishops’ annual meeting, held in March, in Canberra…

The full text of the document is now available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 May 2018 at 6:36pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Church of Australia

Ireland: House of Bishops statement on Sexuality

from a press release:

House of Bishops Issue Statement to General Synod on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief

The Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman, the House of Bishops said today in a statement to General Synod in Armagh.

Their statement on human sexuality in the context of Christian belief was read by the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the Most Revd Pat Storey, on behalf of the House of Bishops. It noted that the issue had been passed to the House of Bishops following the conclusion of the work of the Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief at General Synod last year.

The archbishops and bishops said that it had been noted that following the production of the Guide to Human Sexuality, there was little appetite to discuss further these issues in parishes.

“It would seem that there is no consensus in General Synod, the House of Bishops, or in the church island–wide to change the Canons of the Church of Ireland on the matter of marriage. Thus the Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman. No liturgy or authorised service is provided therefore for any other situation. As the archbishops and bishops have already made clear to the clergy of the Church of Ireland, it is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, but if clergy are invited to offer prayer after a same sex marriage, any such prayer must remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of Ireland,” the statement reads.

The statement concludes: “It is widely recognised that there is no simple solution for these and other issues of human sexuality; but with compassion, humility and concern, we offer our continued commitment to attentive listening and to respectful discussion. We ask that all members of Synod who continue to hold strong opinions do so with integrity and compassion, and to also hold in prayer before God the challenging diversity that exists within the Church of Ireland”.

The full text of the statement is available here as a PDF.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 May 2018 at 5:03pm BST
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Nigerian primate calls for Nigeria to leave the Commonwealth

A report in the Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian, is headlined Britain urges Nigeria, others to legalise same-sex marriage.

British reports of the speech by Theresa May contain no mention of same-sex marriage, but refer only to laws criminalising same-sex relationships across the Commonwealth.

See for example these reports:

BBC Theresa May ‘deeply regrets’ UK’s colonial anti-gay laws

Guardian [UK newspaper] Theresa May says she deeply regrets Britain’s legacy of anti-gay laws

Nevertheless, the Nigerian report continues:

…In swift reactions, some leading Nigerian religious leaders rejected the call for same-sex marriage.

The Primate, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, who was bitter with May’s call, said Nigeria should pull out of the Commonwealth.

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who spoke to The Guardian on phone from Rome, said: “In my church, we condemn same-sex marriage. The National Assembly has clearly taken a position that is very much in line with that. It is also against our culture, which considers it as an abomination.

“Theresa May can say whatever she likes, but I hope that our own leaders know what is good for our people. I think she should also think of releasing the looted funds in their banks if she really wants to help us. The era of imperialism is over. I don’t know whether the Commonwealth has now become a legislative assembly. It is not a place where you legislate for everybody. We should let her know that we do not want it.”

“This is Nigeria, we have our values. I am sure our president understands that. Our relationship with the Commonwealth does not cause us to sell out our values.”

And there are further quotes from other Christian and Muslim leaders.

Another report: Disregard Teresa May’s counsel on same-sex marriage, CAN tells Buhari

Hat tip to George Conger, who recently reported on this: Okoh urges Nigeria quit the Commonwealth. He also noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury had described the Commonwealth as a “blessing to the world”. And also here.

The Anglican Communion News Service reports today that the Archbishop of Canterbury urges African Anglican leaders to shape the world

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told African Anglican leaders that the strength of the Church on the continent is a gift to the world and that is has the ability to shape the globe – but it must move forward. Speaking at a regional primates meeting of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) in Kenya, Archbishop Justin Welby said the Church in the region was full of life and energy. It had grown and had enormous power even though Africa had often struggled economically.

In a wide ranging address, Archbishop Justin urged CAPA leaders to learn from the mistakes of the Global North – to be wary of individualism and not to be complacent about the numbers of young people currently in churches across the continent…

It seems he did not mention decriminalisation.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 May 2018 at 3:15pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

New Zealand approves same-sex blessings

Updated Saturday

Anglican Taonga reports: Yes to blessings

…The Anglican Church this morning has paved the way for the blessing of same gender relationships.

At 11:20 this morning, by majority vote, General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui passed Motion No 7 – which is the motion which accepts the report and recommendations of the Motion 29 small working group.

That acceptance is subject to the appointment of a select committee which will consider and report back to General Synod – before it finishes today – on a range of detail which the Synod must be sorted before the passage of the constitutional and canonical changes necessary to give the decision effect.

The decision, nonetheless, is clear – after almost 50 years of debate about human sexuality, the Anglican Church has created a pathway for the blessing of same-gender couples…

The report that was adopted is a lengthy document which can be found here.

The Polynesian component of the church, Tikanga Pasifika, will not be changing its practice, but has not exercised its right to veto the proposal. See explanation here.

See also Slow start. Big finish.


FCANZ response to General Synod Decision to Bless Same Sex Relationships, downloadable copy here.

Gafcon UK offers support to FCA New Zealand after same sex blessings vote

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 May 2018 at 2:22pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | New Zealand