Thinking Anglicans

more on that church service

Updated again 11 pm Sunday

Further reports:

BBC Anger at Anglican gay ‘wedding’ and a full report on the radio programme Sunday. Interviewees include Martin Dudley, Colin Slee, and David Banting. Permanent URL now available: go here. (12.5 minutes)

Associated Press Anglican Church: Gay ‘wedding’ broke rules

Press Association Gay ‘marriage’ for Anglican priests

Reverend Martin Dudley, who led the ceremony, said he disagrees with the official guidance.

He added: “I was asked by a friend and colleague to bless their civil partnership. I said ‘of course I will’.

“Peter is a dear friend and I have gay friends and one respects them for who they are. It seemed perfectly reasonable.

“I certainly didn’t do it to defy my bishop or to make a statement, I did it as a matter of pastoral care for someone for whom I have a very high regard.”

Mr Dudley said the traditional marriage liturgy was significantly altered for the occasion, which he described as ‘glorious’.

There were around 300 guests, including a number of clergy and Cowell’s mother who read the lesson.

Dudley added: “I know about the bishops guidelines and I disagree with them. It just seems to me to be utter hypocrisy to deny the fact that there are significant numbers of gay men and women within the church and significant numbers of gay clergy.

“It seems to me that Jesus would have been sitting in the congregation.”
He said differing opinions in the church are fine as long as people disagree “in love and understanding”.

“You can’t allow the cultural and theological prejudices of the Bishop of Uganda for example, to govern how we are going to go forward in a very diverse community where the law and society accepts homosexual relationships in civil partnerships.”

From the comments on the Telegraph site:

19. Posted by The Revd Dr Martin Dudley on June 15, 2008 08:54 AM
As the Rector of St Bartholomew the Great, who officiated at this service, I would like to add a little clarity to the story.

First, it was not a wedding or a marriage but the blessing of a civil partnership. Mr Wynne-Jones was well aware of this from his conversation with me today. If others construe it as a wedding, than they do so deliberately in order to ferment division.

Second, it was not and was intended to be a provocative act. It was not undertaken in defiance of the Bishop of London and there was no plea from him that I should not officiate at the service.

Third, we should remember that this service celebrated the love that the two persons involved have for each other. I officiated at it because Fr Peter Cowell has been my friend and colleague for many years. 300 people joined in the service; nearly 200 received communion, and there were dozens of other clergy present. It was not a rally or a demonstration. If other people want to turn into a loveless battlefield for the future of the Church of England, then it is they who will carry responsibility for the consequences.

Fulcrum reports a communication from Lloyd Ashton, Media Officer to the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia which reads:

…News reports in the United Kingdom have described a London Anglican church blessing for two male Anglican clergy, one of whom is a New Zealander.

The New Zealand priest involved has felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy license, in the light of Anglican Communion processes and discussions in the area of same gender Blessings and ordination.

Both the bishops to whom the priests were licensed, one in New Zealand and the other in the United Kingdom, were not aware of the ceremony.

The Bishop of Waikato and the Waikato priest concerned have released this joint statement. They will make no further comment on this matter.

The Associated Press reports that:

London’s bishop said Sunday he would order an investigation into whether two gay priests exchanged rings and vows in a church ceremony, violating Anglican guidelines.

The priests walked down the aisle in a May 31 service at one of London’s oldest churches marked by a fanfare of trumpets and capped by a shower of confetti, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph reported.

The bishop, the Right Rev. Richard Chartres, said such services are not authorized in the Church of England. He said he would ask the archdeacon of London to investigate.

And also that:

Church of England spokesman Lou Henderson said the archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion’s spiritual leader, was unlikely to make any public comment about the controversy.

Channel 4 News had a report this evening, which you can watch by going here.

From New Zealand, the local angle in Anglicans incensed by gay ‘wedding’:

… The fallout for Dr Lord, who was ordained at Waikato Cathedral Church of St Peter in December last year, had been swift. In a joint statement with the Bishop of Waikato yesterday, he said he “felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy licence”. This means he is unable to work as an Anglican priest…

There are further stories on the newspaper websites:

The Times Anglican church in meltdown over gays and women
Daily Mail Rector faces the sack after holding Britain’s first gay ‘wedding’ in an Anglican church
Telegraph Controversial vicar investigated after Anglican church’s first gay ‘wedding’

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robroy
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robroy

Could someone help this poor yank? The timing of this “marriage” was clearly designed to force RW’s hand at a time where he doesn’t want to stir the pot. (Whether he ever wants to stir the pot is another matter.) If he does nothing, he is implicitly blessing the blessing. Now, one of the readers at Titus stated, “Let me say again there can be no disciplinary action unless there is a formal written complaint…Of course the Archbishop has absolutely no jurisdiction in such matters and is completely reliant on the Bishops enforcing their own agreed Guidelines.” I assume that… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

No, of course ++R has no jusidiction – he is the Bishop of Canterbury, not of London. There is a complaints procedure under the Clergy Discipline Measure, which can be set in motion by a formal written complaint to the diocesan bishop. It has fairly well-structured processes which are designed to make the whole thing fair, and to protect all parties. The whole Measure has only been in force for two years or so, so it is very new still, and has certainly not yet been tested in a case of this nature. It certainly is not like a trial… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

No Robroy, I am certain this wasn’t done as a political move to force anybody’s hand. The people involved are hardly campaigners but, all of them, kind and gentle souls. I think they probably thought if they were to have a blessing in church they would not be stingy and grudging about it – because God’s nature isn’t mean but generous. It was a lovely occasion, even if very odd. Despite hundreds of guests this happened two weeks ago and I cannot see anybody would have expected all this ridiculous fuss over what is after all, merely an unofficial act… Read more »

David G
Guest

Rowan is an idiot hiding behind,…broken down farm buildings, …that once fed his flock!!

Yes Rowan,…I’m an American Episcopalian Judging you ! ! !

No Covenant!!

Christ’s Light is OUR true COVENANT!!

Your ineptness is our folly!!

Tom Roberts
Guest
Tom Roberts

In England, the law allows civil partnerships and people have recognised this achievement. The church, which is in need of a complete overhaul as it’s size and structure is best suited to 17th century England, only shoots itself in the foot as the bad publicity and outrage in some quarters make it seem more bigoted than it is. I don’t go to church anymore and I feel much better as a result. I felt a shadow cross over people when they find out I went to church. Gay weddings aside, the real arguments here are about hypocrisy. Why deny the… Read more »

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

robroy, Your assumption that same sex weddings are not allowed is correct. They are not permitted by UK law. The couple concerned contracted, before the church service took place, a civil partnership before a civil registrar, in a civil building. Following this they attended a church service where their partnership was blessed. The form of service was adapted from (but closely followed) the marriage service in the CofE’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The CofE’s House of Bishops has issued *guidelines* to its clergy which state that such services *should* not be offered. Please note the use of the conditional… Read more »

Keith Kimber
Guest
Keith Kimber

Two Christian people openly profess their faith and life commitment to each other before their pastor and three hundred friends.
Such commonplace good news took two weeks to find the headlines, being converted en route into ‘bad’ news.
No matter what efforts the media make to raise controversy and fuel conflict, it’s those reacting so negatively to the event whose faith is in now the spotlight.
Condemnation and vilification for whatever reason, reveals the foundation of the detractors’ religion and values for what they are.
It was the same too when Jesus was tried.

Ian Pomeroy
Guest
Ian Pomeroy

How sad that the Church of England has become so ‘socially and politically correct’ This ‘blessing’ is one of the many times when the ‘church’ fails to acknowledge the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ. This ‘blessing’ also ignores the truth of scripture. The bible teaches clearly that sexual relationships should only be between a man and woman after marriage. Anything else is perversion of God’s teaching and is sin. Please love the sinner and hate the sin. Does the ‘Church of England’ not realise that judgement will begin at the house of God when it does I believe these men… Read more »

Steve Edwards
Guest
Steve Edwards

Why should people who disregard the will of God and the consensual view of Christians everywhere respect ecclesiastical guidelines?

Pluralist
Guest

I am favourable towards having this service, and indeed would have such as part of the range of services available to couples. But it is not a simple blessing. It used particular words that make it – let’s say – a binding. When a voluntary and privately understood Pagan wedding takes place, it is not simply a blessing but a wedding that is such understood, and deliberate wording of joining is used – one word being binding, and indeed a symbolism is tying a finger of one partner to the finger of another partner with cord. These words were used… Read more »

Wilf
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Wilf

Jeremy Pemberton points to the procedures under the Clergy Discipline Measure. This measure, however, excluded liturgical and doctrinal complaints, which are still subject to investigation by the old procedure and, I believe, decided in the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved. It is very unlikely that a complaint on this issue could be dealt with by the tribunal under the CDM.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

Not quite June brides – no Banns or Signing of the Register – but surely a day when ten thousand Magnificats should resound across the land. It won’t be too long before such occasions feature merely as announcements tucked away on the back pages of the Telegraph rather than as a front page splash. But we have a bit of a struggle in the meantime to get us to that point. There really is no argument anymore about “homosexuality”, or, as Anglicans euphemistically prefer, “human sexuality”; what matters for the C of E is the liturgical response to civil partnerships… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

Such blessings go on privately all the time, I imagine. Christians have to move forward with courage.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“… ecclesiastical guidelines?”

But the Bishops haven’t actually issued any, have they?

+London was, according to one of the articles, expressly asked to do so 18 monts ago and didn’t.

See what he got! 1662 BCP, consensus, promises, Mass, (pagan) rings…

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Thanks Wilf for that correction. I’m sure you are right. What astonishes me in the comments posted here is some of the very intemperate language used (David G) – I guess that comes from a transatlantic context? But I don’t really get what he is going on about? The C of E doesn’t feel like broken down farm buildings – there is much that is really good happening in parishes and cathedrals all over the land (unless we are to enter looking glass land and start to call good bad, because it doesn’t come with the right ethical/doctrinal knobs on).… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Please love the sinner and hate the sin.”

Indeed. Therefore, for the love of Christ, I love *you* IanP—while I hated your uncharitable, error-filled post.

***

While I understand the distinctions involved—this was not a “wedding”, but the blessing of a civil partnership—may our Merciful Lord SPEED the day when such distinctions fall away, and ALL God’s children are truly, equally, one in Christ! 😀

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Why should people who disregard the will of God and the consensual view of Christians everywhere respect ecclesiastical guidelines?”

Are you so certain YOU know the will of God in these matters? And not very long ago it was the consensual view of Christians everywhere that marriage of two people of differing colors was a crime against nature and an affront to the Almighty.

BillyD
Guest
BillyD

I’m a gay American Episcopalian, but I think the rector’s engaged in hair-splitting if he thinks this was not a wedding, but a simple blessing. It appeared to be the marriage service with a few words substituted here and there. I don’t think this sort of disingenuousness does the cause of gay rights any service.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

When is a wedding not a wedding?

This isn’t about Genesis, that’s true Billy, but about 1 Samuel 18, arguably more erotic than the story of Adam and Eve. 1 Corinthians 13 holds for both.

andrewdb
Guest
andrewdb

The BCP (1979) as used in the USA includes a service for The Blessing of a Civil Marriage. The language is “sexist” in that it contemplates a bride and a groom, and refers to a “marriage” not a “civil partnership,” however putting that aside for a moment, is there a similar rite in the CofE?

As was pointed out by Simon earlier, a civil marriage and a church wedding is the standard issue on the Continent.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

In the interviews this morning on the BBC ‘Sunday’ programme both Martin Dudley and Colin Slee mentioned Jesus’ prohibition of divorce. David Banting chose to ignore that point, prefering to call for discipline and adherence to Biblical standards. Why don’t those who are so outraged by this event express their rage everytime a divorcee is re-married or had their civil marriage blessed in church. After all this IS expressly condemed in the Gospels. So what’s all this about authority, or is it permitted to pick and choose what you want but I can’t? No one ever seems to answer this… Read more »

Dan Baynes
Guest
Dan Baynes

“Why don’t those who are so outraged by this event express their rage everytime a divorcee is re-married or had their civil marriage blessed in church.”

I think you’ll find Fred Phelps does 😉

But I also think Dudley and Slee are guilty of using a false comparison. Divorce was often allowed in the Bible; same-sex sex, never.

Brian Lewis
Guest
Brian Lewis

For the best comment I’ve seen on this whole issue recommend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rixkck8QnjY

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

andrewdb yes there is and it is titled
An Order for Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage
Notice that the word “Blessing” is avoided in this title.
The full text of the authorized rite is here:
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/marriage/civilmarriage.html

This is quite widely used in the CofE. Indeed at the last one I attended the officiant was none other than the Bp of London.

Craig Nelson
Guest

I can’t help having the sense that this has been blown out of all proportion. I am sure that this is the kind of service for prayer and dedication to God that you are minded to undertake if you are a believer, steeped in the traditions of the Church and have entered into a Civil Partnership. But still it’s interesting what makes people angry. Not sexual orientation, not Civil Partnerships (which are permitted), not even sexual acts, but a service of *prayer* using adapted words from the BCP. Oh well….. The reason people are fumbling around and trying to invent… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Repudium (which is not our Western divorce which is mutual) for “no cause” was permitted by some early Rabbis doing creative readings.

That is what the Pharisees refer to in Matt 19:3 when they ask: Is it allowed for men to loosen their wife katà pâsan aitían for any cause?

So we know Repudium was allowed by some contemporary Rabbis but rejected by Jesus.

As to same-sex we know that some Jewish Hellenists (Filon, Flavius Josephus) in intra-Testamental literature rejected it, but this was probably because they were Hellenists, not because they were Jews.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“This step has been carefully considered and is not enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.”

How many (couples or priests) can honestly say that?

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Thanks Brian the YouTube clip was priceless. The two lingering common sense questions a whole lotta folks might be asking – though naturally from a proper and respectful distance outside CoE climates of (parody on) utterly sensitive and utterly solemn pastoral guidance? (1) gee the guys love each other seriously and evidently were supported by enough people that a few hundred showed up to be community witnesses – no wonder they should be trash talked as much as possible since secular English law prohibits us from the utterly traditional and biblical stoning nowadays? (Just imagine how many straight CoE folks… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Good for them. As for the church, well , I expect nothing more than the usual homophobic bilge, reflecting the bigoted nature of traditional Christianity. The sooner it disappears from this country for good, the better. It is nothing but a cancer. At least some within are willing to challenge the prejudice – not enough of them though. We need more open defiance to ensure that a split happens sooner rather than later.

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

First to Jeremy: I believe that strong comments re: the “broken down” state of affairs in CofE are NOT due to some “transatlantic misunderstanding.” People all over the world, including in the UK are pretty sick of the wordplay and deception.

Second, to Billy: no, the blessing of a civil marriage is what is allowed in certain parts of ECUSA and the Anglican church of Canada. The civil law recognizes it as marriage but the church does not.

Melissa

Charles Perry
Guest
Charles Perry

Having again watched Alison Rouff enjoying her media role as tabloid CofE judge and jury and thus validating her use of oxygen whilst peddling her views which seem, in my opinion, based solely on ignorance, fear, insecurity and lack of tolerance – I am now moved to vent my disappointment in her, as a member of Synod, and in those who also support these views. Thankfully Brian Lewis’s posting (and those similar) makes the point quite well. Rev Martin Dudley along with like minded clergy and lay people also have my support for their common sense. I further extend this… Read more »

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

These wise words from Aotearoa / New Zealand Quakers may be somewhat timely :–

aotearoa/new zealand yearly meeting, questions & counsel, d7:

‘Each individual’s journey through life is unique. Some will make this journey alone. Some will share it in loving relationships. Some will make the commitment of marriage. Some will form loving relationships of other kinds. Ponder your own choices, and try to understand the choices of others. Are you inclined to make hasty judgements about other people’s relationships? Support others as they reach and test their decisions.’

MrsBarlow
Guest
MrsBarlow

Is there any difference between the Cowell-Lord ceremony and what Charles – the future Supreme Governor of the Church of England – and Camilla did at Windsor Registry Office and at St George’s Chapel Windsor?

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

Just realized that I shook Fr Dudley’s hand after a service in his church last year. It is a medieval enclave in the middle of a great 21st century city. He has helped bridge the gap between the two.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Divorce was often allowed in the Bible; same-sex sex, never.” – Posted by Dan Baynes

The latter is wholy an INVENTION of your narrow mind, Dan.

Lord have mercy!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Of course both “no cause” Repudium and intra-Testamental Apocrypha are o u t s i d e the Bible… They have never been kosher in Judaism, nor canonical in Christianity…

And they only became regarded as the standard, the tradition (of “2000 years”) under Dynamic Equivalence “translators” in late modernity, who adore Filon of Alexandria and pretend he is an extra Father of the Church, forgetful that Judaism doesn’t “do” heretics.

If it had, pro Philosophy, anti Jewish poor dear Filon would probably be an Arch Heretic.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

At least locally, all the spluttering conservatives are doing our job extremely well. Every time another instance of supporting lgbts and treating them like every other human being hits the headlines and conservatives are publicly apoplexic, hearts and minds are being changed.

I personally know of 3 clergy who have observed the “debate”, have discovered where love, patience and kindess are to be found and have changed their minds about homosexuality.

By their fruits… always ever by their fruits.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“People all over the world, including in the UK are pretty sick of the wordplay and deception.” Melissa has a point. It would have been much better to allow lgbts to marry instead of calling the arrangement a civil partnership, as though it meant something completely different. Pluralist is right when he comments on his blog http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/: “Why won’t people stop using weasle words and dodging around? If this form of service is right (which it was and is) then say so. Don’t make it into prayers and a sort of casual (?) blessing when the wording, as read out… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

It does seem that there need to be prophetic voices – and actions – to stir the Church to a proper understanding of the Gospel imperative – “Love one another, as I have loved you!” This present storm in a teacup needs to be put into perspective against actions of hatred and injustice – in Zimbabwe, for instance. Why is the Church wasting time on hypcritical action against the New Commandment? I’m only too sorry that the Head of the Church in New Zealand has demanded the sacrifice of a priestly ministry – in order to appease the lust for… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

“Divorce was often allowed in the Bible; same-sex sex, never.” – Posted by Dan Baynes Dan, I think your categorical “NEVER” to same-sex sex is too strong. This is open to debate, like all things, depending on how you interpret and contextualise certain passages. There has been a lot of Bible scholarship in this area recently, and whilst I think it unlikely I will change your mind, it might be worth sharing some of that scholarship. There is the centurion and his BOY, not servant, from Matthew (see http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.com/biblical_evidence/gay_couple.html for a good readable summary, Google will produce links to more… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

What is ‘allowed’ in the Bible merely reflects 1st century and before premodern mores.

They should be treated as nothing more significant

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Divorce was often allowed in the Bible; same-sex sex, never.” – Posted by Dan Baynes”

Do you really think this blessing was about sex? Isn’t it time you all got over this unhealthy obsession with sex, especially other people’s sex lives. Even my small childen don’t have such a one track mind, and with small children at least it would be understandable.
Grow up?

Michael Thompson
Guest
Michael Thompson

There are constant references to the 1662 Prayer Book in this context but I suggest the form of service seems more inspired by 1928 / Series 1 than the 1662

No brute beasts of the field with no understanding – they were left to comment later

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Two Christian people openly profess their faith and life commitment to each other before their pastor and three hundred friends.” Is this what sacramental marriage is? I don’t understand either the outward and physical sign, nor the inward and spiritual grace conferred by a public display of affection approved by a room full of people. It might go a long way to making gay people something other than semihumans of whom it is not murder to kill us outright, it might strengthen their relationship, since uniform public condemnation is not exactly helpful in strengthening the commitment of the couple, it… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I love today’s Times frontpage: Church in meltdown over gays and women.
That’s 55-60% of the population!

If the church cannot get to grips with the reality of the lives of the majority of the people maybe it deserves to meltdown.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Do you really think this blessing was about sex?” But, Erika, sex is an important part of a relationship. To bless a relationship, then, regardless of all the other things we are blessing, is to bless the sex that is an integral part of it. It is this sexual act that is at issue. I am still pondering Tobias’s point that it is not the procreative nature of the sexual act that is important, but you can’t deny the important role sex has in your relationship, or mine, or anyone else’s. I think the obsession isn’t with sex itself, but… Read more »

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Thanks for your gays and shamanism piece Simon Dawson –so informative and good humoured ! (It seems to tick my boxes!).

And Erika –Congratulations to you both ! How wonderful. Llongyfarchiadau !

PS
Glad to have heard of 3 ministers who have seen the light !

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford I’m not saying that sex doesn’t have any part to play, but I know too many marriages that no longer include it and haven’t for many years. They’re still valid marriages, and I doubt that anyone would look at these couples wondering secretly about their sex lives. It just doesn’t happen to straight people. When they marry you assume they will have sex, when they have children you have some kind of evidence. Beyond that, most minds don’t get exercised about it at all. As for the pressure to have children – I know it exists and I’ve had… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

A sad misconception amongst some is that the core purposes of marriage are sex and procreation. Personally, I think that reflects more souls cynicaly marrying simply for the sake of having children and leaving an earthly inheritance. The questions of companionship, love for love’s sake, for better or for worse, and acceptance of the Potter’s determinations are often glossed over. So much so that infertile women are simply shunted aside by some as “no longer worthy” of marriage – simply because they fail to offer up fecund wombs. Such paradigms also lead to trauma between couples who do desire children… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“completely unimportant if it’s right” But that’s the huge ‘if’, Erika. Regardless of what you, and more and more I as well, think of their position, in and of itself it is something to be debated and hammered out. For me, the issue is not so much their interpretation of Scripture on this issue, wrong though it may be. It is all the other things they do that clearly put the lie to their claims of faithfulness to the Gospel, and reveal their motives as something completely different from what they claim. You have, naturally, some very strong emotions about… Read more »