Thinking Anglicans

On the Archbishop’s Reflections

On the Archbishop’s Reflections

4th August 2009

A joint statement by 13 groups working together in the Church of England

We have read and reflected upon the Archbishop’s response to the Episcopal Church of the USA “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” and have a number of questions about the consequences of his response. We question whether the voices of those within the Church of England who are or who walk alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have been adequately heard within the recent discussions. These discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion, and we believe it is important in this context that the LGBT faithful and those who work alongside us speak as well.

We wish to reaffirm our loyalty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures, our commitment to the Anglican way, and our celebration of and thanksgiving for the tradition and life of the Church of England. Above all, our concern is for the mission of the Church in our world. We have no doubt that the Church of England is called to live out the Gospel values of love and justice in the whole of its life; these values are intrinsic to the calling of Jesus Christ to follow him and it is out of this context that we speak.

While we acknowledge the intention of the Archbishop of Canterbury to seek a way forward for the Anglican Communion, we have grave concerns about the implications of his reflections in “Covenant, Communion and the Anglican Future.” For example, we consider that references to same-sex unions as a “chosen life-style”, and assertions that those who have made such a commitment are analogous to “a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond” to be inconsistent with the Archbishop’s previous statements on committed and faithful same sex relationships (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4473814.ece) and are at odds with our reading of the message of the gospel. Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual.

We acknowledge, once again, that there are and always have been many loyal, committed and faithful bishops, priests and deacons – properly selected and ordained – and many lay people who are LGBT or who work alongside LGBT people with delight and thanksgiving. We know ourselves to be part of the church of God in England and we work, together, to bring about the reign of God in this part of God’s creation. We pray earnestly that the Church of England will continue to select, train, ordain and deploy LGBT people and enable them to exercise their calling from God in the Church of England.

Together, we reaffirm our commitment to working for the full inclusion of all people at all levels of ministry. We will continue to work towards liturgical and sacramental recognition of the God-given love which enables many LGBT couples to thrive. We will seek to strengthen the bonds of affection which exist between those in all the Churches of the Anglican Communion who share our commitment to the full inclusion of all of God’s faithful. We will also continue to work closely with our brother and sister churches, especially those with whom we have mutual recognition of orders such as the Nordic churches.

We will work to ensure that if the Church of England is to sign up to the Covenant, it has potential for rapid progress on this and other issues. We find the notion of a “two track communion” flawed in the way that the Act of Synod is flawed, and we commit ourselves to continuing the effort to find ways forward through which those who disagree profoundly on this and on other issues can continue to celebrate their common membership of the Church of England and unity in Christ.

Signed by representatives of the following groups working together in the Church of England

Accepting Evangelicals

Changing Attitude

The Clergy Consultation

Courage

Ekklesia

Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Anglicans

General Synod Human Sexuality Group

Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod

Inclusive Church

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (Anglican Matters)

Modern Churchpeople’s Union

Sibyls

WATCH National Committee

www.inclusivechurch2.net

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toby forward
12 years ago

Thank God for this outburst of sanity, reason, spiritual maturity and intelligence. Please make sure it is followed up by practical action inside Synod and in the other deliberative and legislative bodies in the Church. Too often such good words bear no fruit because they are crushed under by the momentum of the fanatics.

Charlotte
Charlotte
12 years ago

Heartfelt thanks for this statement and for the work of these groups.

john
john
12 years ago

Difficult to read this without feeling an answering throb in one’s bosom, a tear (or two) in one’s eye.

But it seems (to me) very well calibrated: loyal -but independent; cooperative and respectful – but defiant; discreet – but intimating realities of which all are aware.

It’s also well written – far superior to the flabby banalities of Wright-speak.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
12 years ago

It is good to see this statement. It is spot on, and I wish the signatories and the people they represent all the best.

What is the Act of Synod and why is it flawed? Thanks from a clueless Yank.

drdanfee
drdanfee
12 years ago

This statement is over due and highly welcome. Many thanks to all who helped bring it into existence, now, not a moment too soon.

I note that USAs StandFirm is already trash talking the statement, surely a good sign so far. They allege that the same two hundred activists are running all the multiple signatories. Well, one would have to be a stellar activist, to constantly make all those rounds on time?

Really ought not to be controversial, really.

Gerry Lynch
12 years ago

No Affirming Catholicism?

susan hedges
susan hedges
12 years ago

“These discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion,” I would only add ‘for years.’

Richard Helmer
12 years ago

Wow! New spin on “The truth will out!”

Song
12 years ago

I am so very glad to read this.

Is there a way for more groups (or individuals, for that matter) to add their support to this statement?

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

Very good. Now for the follow up!

“”These discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion,” I would only add ‘for years.'”

I would add: and have been conspicuously lacking in some…

Wayne Bunny
Wayne Bunny
12 years ago

I agreed with the comments made by the group.
However I believe even more firmly that the way forward for the whole Commumion is to understand that thw Anglican Communion is not The Church of England.
It includes the CofE but is not just the CofE. When this is understood we will have a much firmer ground to move on to.
Wayne

Tobias Haller
Tobias Haller
12 years ago

Well done. Now for some active “listening” in certain places….

canon k f king
canon k f king
12 years ago

Somewhere it is lost that without the initial move of the C of E folk who eventually made up the Episcopal Church in the States, there was no other expression of Anglicanism outside the motherland. Where was all the need for “defining” Anglicanism then? Just because the American Church, in the American setting – so unlike the British — makes faithful moves within its own environment, why all the fuss? The American Church is not one to fuss about the C of E and its overseas versions making decisions consistent with their respective national needs. There seems to be no… Read more »

David Malloch
David Malloch
12 years ago

Cynthia – the Act of Synod was an attempt to make the church of england truly inclusive by making provision for those opposed to WO to exist alongside those who accept it. There is a growing band of illiberal liberals for whom iclusivity only extends to those with whom they agree – hence the attempt to rescind it.

Neil
Neil
12 years ago

‘We will work to ensure that if the Church of England is to sign up to the Covenant, it has potential for rapid progress on this and other issues.’

NO…no….NOOOOOO!!! No ifs or buts re the Covenant. It was flawed in its beginnings…its continuings…and in any possible ending. Stop being so bloomin’ polite about the wretched thing and ditch it immediately. How very silly to indulge the horrible thing in any way at all.

Fr David Heron
12 years ago

Thank goodness for a bit of Christian sanity. Being taken over by evangelical zealots meant that liberals seemed to have lost their voice. I have recently been threatened with legal action for writing against an ex-gay evangelical, who thinks they own the Church, and doesn’t want liberals to say anything against them. This posting is most encouraging!

Merseymike
Merseymike
12 years ago

It is ever more clear that some sort of split will emerge at the end of this process – and disestablishment too, if the CofE insists on travelling further down the anti-gay path.

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
12 years ago

What a good effort from the groups who had the intestinal fortitude to put out this statement, assuring the ABC and others in the C. of E. that the LGBT community already in the Church is ready to contest the present negativity regarding their Christian integrity and sense of mission in the spirit of the Gospel. Also, As someone else has said, what the ABC and others need to understand is that we who are not part of the C.of E., but who consider ourselves intrinsically Anglican in ethos, are reluctant to be subject to foreign primates in our pursuit… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
12 years ago

“Cynthia – the Act of Synod was an attempt to make the church of england truly inclusive by making provision for those opposed to WO to exist alongside those who accept it. There is a growing band of illiberal liberals for whom iclusivity only extends to those with whom they agree – hence the attempt to rescind it.”

Sounds like separate but equal water fountains to me.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

“Cynthia – the Act of Synod was an attempt to make the church of england truly inclusive by making provision for those opposed to WO to exist alongside those who accept it. There is a growing band of illiberal liberals for whom iclusivity only extends to those with whom they agree – hence the attempt to rescind it.” And why could those opposed to WO NOT exist alongside those who accept it without such an act? Was anyone forcing you to go to a service presided over by a woman? Was anyone forcing you to accept the Eucharist from a… Read more »

JCF
JCF
12 years ago

“making provision for those opposed to WO”

Euphemism for “Building a Man-Lace Curtain where the priesthood—and most of all, episcopacy!—of the Imago-Dei-made-female is walled OUT” (w/ the intention, of course, to expand that wall wherever/whenever possible)

Pluralist
12 years ago

Well a note of dissent here. It is too hazy by far about the Covenant.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/08/thirteen-unsure.html

Curtis
Curtis
12 years ago

What if this falls on deaf ears? I mean really, after all this time, if the ABC is still using language like “chosen lifestyle” what’s to say he’s going to suddenly come around?

UnaKroll
12 years ago

Thank you for saying this as a group. If the eventual Covenant suggests two track membership, then I am opposed to it, as I am opposed to the Act of Synod. If it does not, what is the difference between what the Communion has always stood for? The answer is millions of words and money to find yourself having gone full circle.

If you are not able to be ‘representative’, then neither am I. Una

Jeremy
Jeremy
12 years ago

At last! makes me glad to be alive this morning and part of the Church of England.

Now all we need are some decent right-thinking bishops who will ignore the pretended “collegiality” of the House of Bishops (or at least observe it in the way that the Bishop of Rochester does!) to get behind this statement and say they agree with it and welcome it and will work with it.

Geoffrey Hoare
12 years ago

Well done on all levels. It is one thing for the ABC to disagree with the anthropological claims of those who seek full inclusion of GLBT people and another for him (and others) to keep (mis)characterizing that position as ‘lifestyle choice’ etc. An acknowledgement of the seriousness of the argument as one between faithful biblical Christians would be a start to acknowledging that we have been ‘heard’. That kind of leadership would go along way toward obviating his perceived need for a covenant at all.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
12 years ago

The question is not whether the ABC’s present statements are at odds with his former ones:
(1) Even if they are, that does not establish which of the two (if either) is closer to the truth of the matter;
(2) To object to such inconsistency is to say that people are not allowed to change their minds ever in their lives. Yet it is precisely those who research most and read most who will be most in a position to adjust/modify/change their views; and it is precisely those who are most dogmatic and closed-minded who will not change them.

Commentator
Commentator
12 years ago

The absence of signatories such as Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests is to be deplored. Surely, having close ties with Inclusive Church, these groups have been consulted. The fact that they have chosen NOT to sign must raise questions in the minds of many of their members as to whether or not they could/should continue to offer their support.

David Malloch
David Malloch
12 years ago

Is Rowan still the Patron of SCP?

Tobias Haller
Tobias Haller
12 years ago

Christopher, I do not think the Archbishop has changed his personal views on the theological issues. He has changed his behavior (or, would that be behaviour) because he believes the role of Primate requires him so to do. This is one of the things he has made clear. It is also one of the reasons he (and Windsor) cast things in terms of openness to change of consensus. Were this a closed issue, there would be no talk of moratoria, but of prohibition.

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

“… is to say that people are not allowed to change their minds ever in their lives. Yet it is precisely those who research most and read most who will be most in a position to adjust/modify/change their views; and it is precisely those who are most dogmatic and closed-minded who will not change them.”

Doesn’t explain the case of Dr Rowan, though.

William
William
12 years ago

Tobias Haller is correct. ++Rowan has adopted his position as a lifestyle choice.

peterpi
peterpi
12 years ago

What a wonderful statement by those groups. I choked up while reading it. These groups are saying they want to live in faith as Anglicans, but that it’s also long past time that others get over their hangups about GLBT people. I’m not a member, but I wonder if it is possible for USA groups like Integrity to sign on as well? canon k f king at 10:08pm 2009/08/04 BST: Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! TEC doesn’t tell other provinces how to preach the Gospel or carry out their mission, yet other provinces feel free to tell TEC “Our… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Tobias Haller
12 years ago

William, thanks for catching the tongue in cheek.
Peterpi, I think all of the moratoria are window dressing. Change is happening, slow but sure, and this wonderful letter is just one more step in the working out of the process by which Anglicanism will reform itself as one of the few intellectually and morally honest traditions for the 21st Century.

drdanfee
drdanfee
12 years ago

Theoretically (especially if we are loaded on something at the moment) we can dimly imagine a church where everybody somehow came to believe in a Copernican Solar System, but meanwhile we must police and punish everybody who reads about it, speaks about it, and investigates it. Such immorality and apostasy cannot go unremarked. If, when church ever changes as one then; we’ll do whatever we do. Meanwhile, I’m bringing you up on charges because you were seen by a neighbor reading the Journal of Homosexuality or some such. Clearly a thing forbidden and out of bounds to Anglican believers newly… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
12 years ago

“… demanding that the leaders at the top get dumber and dumber…”

Haven’t we seen this strategy in the USA? culminating in the grassroots (Birthers… ;=)

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
12 years ago

Recalling the success of the MOW brand during the 1980s, there are advantages in having a single campaign under one banner whose aims are simple, specific and achievable:

Request Parliament to:

1) Amend the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples;
2) Repeal the exemptions to the Sexual Orientation Regulations (Employment) for organised religion.

It should be attempted in General Synod every Quinquennial until passed.

Simon Sarmiento
12 years ago

Hugh If the objective is to amend legislation approved by Parliament, then why bother using General Synod as a vehicle? Why not just lobby Parliament directly? But, the second item you list is currently being re-enacted within the Equality Bill. There will be an opportunity to amend, or repeal, the clauses to which you refer when that is debated in the Commons and then the Lords this Autumn. The CofE and RC authorities are already seeking amendments, because they believe the bill as drafted, alters the status quo. The government believes that its wording preserves the status quo. This dispute… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
12 years ago

“Yet it is precisely those who research most and read most who will be most in a position to adjust/modify/change their views; and it is precisely those who are most dogmatic and closed-minded who will not change them.”

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 1:04pm BST

There can be no doubt at all, then, Christopher, as to which group you belong to.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

“If the objective is to amend legislation approved by Parliament, then why bother using General Synod as a vehicle? Why not just lobby Parliament directly”

I think it would be very symbolic if Christians asked their Synod representatives to actively support such a legislation.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
12 years ago

Hi Fr Ron- Don’t you realise that comments like yours play into the hands of those who would rightly point out that we live in a soundbite/twitter society where (even on ‘The Big Questions’, ‘Question Time’ or a radio phone-in) the idea is to make your point in a few sceonds otherwise you are doomed. Today’s post about the quality of public debate is important because it makes this point. You know as well as I do that anyone can make throwaway remarks; and you also know that such remarks are the least important of all in determining the outcome… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
12 years ago

Simon, I had the Quakers in mind with their recent request to Government to allow their officials to perform same-sex marriages, after a long process of dialogue within the Society of Friends. As Erika said, it would be good if Synod took that step for the C of E. Parliament seems to want to take a blanket approach – what’s good for one denomination or religion is good for all. We’ll see. As to the Equalities Bill, I think it is imperative that they seek to protect minorities within religions. The attempt to clarify the exemptions has had the opposite… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
12 years ago

Cynthia, The 1993 Act of Synod followed the vote to ordain women to the priesthood in 1992, which had already made generous provision for the opponents of WO. It is worth noting that the 1992 Measure was the result of nearly 20 years of a synodical process with extensive referral to diocesan and deanery synods – the Act was pushed through after the successful vote in under a year with no referral to grassroots church bodies. Never say the Church of England can’t act quickly! What the Act did was create three Provincial Episcopal Visitors, quickly dubbed Flying Bishops. These… Read more »

Neil
Neil
12 years ago

‘It is worth noting that the 1992 Measure was the result of nearly 20 years of a synodical process with extensive referral to diocesan and deanery synods – the Act was pushed through after the successful vote in under a year with no referral to grassroots church bodies. Never say the Church of England can’t act quickly!’ Yes – but do remember many Diocesan and Deanery Synods had rejected the 1992 measure, and I presume you would not have wished to see any ‘no-go’ Dioceses? The Act of Synod was as much to open up the possibility of women’s ordination… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
12 years ago

I’m not sure about the word ‘many’. Apologies for being a boring historian but 38 out of 44 dioceses voted for the 1992 Measure (that’s 86%) and though I do not have the deanery statistics to hand, my memory is that the more local the level of synodical government, by and large, the better the 1992 Measure did. Perhaps someone else recalls. The fact is we do have ‘no-go’ areas in the Church of England – they are Resolution parishes. I willingly supported the generous provision of Resolutions A&B in the 1992 Measure on pastoral grounds. But I would have… Read more »

Neil
Neil
12 years ago

Fair enough re no-go Dioceses which then would have included London, Chichester, Portsmouth, Blackburn, Winchester (Exeter, Newcastle as well? I cannot recall). Re the Act of Synod, I doubt you’ll find anyone defending the process or theology – just the pragmatism which means whilst there are no-go parishes (which presumably you allow even without an Act of Synod) all authority for their Bishops derives from the Diocesan.

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
12 years ago

Yes, I supported the 1992 Measure, which created A and B parishes, so yes, I supported ‘no-go’ parishes on pastoral grounds. Neil, you say no one will defend the Act of Synod on ‘process or theology’. I couldn’t agree with you more.

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
12 years ago

“Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual.” – Joint Statement to the ABC – This is a sad reflection on the effects of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s published remarks about TEC’s General Convention’s decision to include the LBGT community in ministry and mission in the Anglican Communion. TEC’s prophetic movement towards total inclusivity should really be an occasion of joy and thanksgiving… Read more »

Paul Gibson
Paul Gibson
12 years ago

Anglicans have reversed their deeply-committed traditional positions on two major issues in my lifetime: re-marriage after divorce and the ordination of women. Such changes have not been simultaneous in all parts of the Communion and may still not be embraced everywhere, but we have lived and are still living with the tension created by new and unexpected insights and challenges. This untidiness is part of our history on these and many other issues. If we abandon it we lose something of our nature and gift.

John Buckles Lester
John Buckles Lester
12 years ago

I am a Reconciling United Methodist in the U.S. The Church of England is our mother church. We have 300 Reconciling Congregations and as many who are “Welcoming”.

The “Welcoming” congregations are friendly and inquisitive about LGBT people, but they are afraid to invite us to join the herd. They say the time is not right.

When this comment is received in Britain it will be Sept 11th. Is the time ever “right”? If inclusiveness doesn’t occur before the Reckoning, then it is a bit too late.

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