T A

Statement from the English College of Bishops

Church of England press release

Statement from the College of Bishops
15 September 2016

The College of Bishops of the Church of England met in Oxford from 12-15 September 2016.

As is the usual pattern of meetings of the College every third year the College of Bishops are joined for part of their meeting by bishops from the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church of Ireland and Church in Wales. Representatives from each of the sister churches made presentations to the college and engaged fully in discussions during the first days of the meeting.

A wide ranging agenda included presentations and discussions on Safeguarding, the Renewal and Reform programme, the post-Brexit political landscape, clergywomen in leadership, clergy wellbeing and issues of sexuality.

Discussions on issues of sexuality took place as part of a new process of episcopal discernment which will continue during the meetings of the House of Bishops in November and December of this year and in January next year at the next meeting of the College of Bishops. These discussions were undertaken by the College of Bishops alone.

Whilst the process of episcopal discernment is in the public domain the Bishops agreed that the contents of their discussion should not be shared in public during the process so as to enable those discussions to be conducted freely and in a spirit of full collegiality. Consequently the contents of the conversations will remain private and participants have agreed not to comment on the contents of the discussions beyond their own views.

Following the conclusion of the shared conversations process the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited some bishops to take forward work on sexuality to assist the episcopal discernment process. The Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality will be chaired by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich. The full membership of the group and its terms of reference will be published in due course.

24
Leave a Reply

avatar
24 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
Susannah ClarkKateFather DavidS CooperCynthia Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

I think that it is surprising that this communication does not mention gay people (or lesbian people, bi people or trans people) once.

I wonder what issues of sexuality they are talking about.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

I hope it is ok to post this in this thread.

It shows a couple in an Irish RC church being actively supported by their congregation and pastors.
Aand touching and encouraging it is too.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/athy-lesbian-couple-return-to-packed-church-to-retake-roles-1.2788134

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

I wonder if the people in the pews of the Church of England get tired of the bishops making all of the decisions for them behind closed doors.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

I enclose a link which seems to show a different approach from the RC bishops of England & Wales (to that of the anglican bishops).

Or should that be attitide and approach TO them, from pro-gay activists within the Church ?

http://questgaycatholic.org.uk/year-of-mercy-mass-for-lgbt-catholics-nottingham-cathedral/

Averil Cameron
Guest
Averil Cameron

What does episcopal discernment mean? I’m afraid this does read like an in-group trying to preserve its own exclusivity.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“The full membership of the group and its terms of reference will be published in due course.”

First it was the Pilling Review and no Bishop could say anything and nothing was going to happen until that was published. Then it was the shared conversations and no Bishop could say anything and nothing was going to happen until that process was finished. Now it’ll be “we’re waiting for the Bishops’ Reflection Group to report.”

Looks like this is just going to go on and on forever.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

I’m a bit foxed. Having had two years of not talking to anyone because all the rest of us were talking to each other, now the bishops are going to talk to each other some more about issues in sexuality. But they won’t talk openly about it because if they did we all might talk about it some more. So we will have to wait until they have talked about it enough – probably by next spring. And the point of all this talking is for episcopal discernment. But no out LGBTI people will be part of this except possibly… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

So we are now to have a period of ‘episcopal discernment’. Is it impolite to ask what they have been doing for the past 20 years or more?

Father David
Guest
Father David

I think “episcopal discernment” is a euphemism for hitting the ball into the long grass. Just as the bishops haven’t got a notion on how to proceed with this contentious issue – so the vicar’s daughter – Theresa May hasn’t got a Scooby about how to make progress over the disastrous referendum result apart from uttering her mantra “Brexit means Brexit” which is, in itself, a euphemism for “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue”. At least Mrs. May has thrown the bringing back of Grammar Schools into the ring as a diversionary tactic but the prelates don’t seem to have… Read more »

aic
Guest
aic

We have had ‘shared conversations’ for a small invited group and now it seems for Bishops. The next step forward is surely to keep up the praying and take the discussions to the other 99% of the church.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

At least Bishop Graham will understand the need for openness to LGBTQI people in the Church. A good Pastor and Teacher who knows his onions.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

Oh good! More discernment, possibly with shared conversations, breaking into small groups, and perhaps just a sprinkling of compassionate listening… and more years for the locusts to eat.

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

To my brothers and sisters in England: Obviously the English bishops are quite willing to talk and talk ad infinitum rather than actually lead and make any decisions. We faced the same situation here in Canada. Last January, our House of Bishops came out of their winter meeting with a statement that the requisite majority was not there to pass the amendment to the marriage canon that would come before General Synod, and suggesting Synod look for alternatives. In between that letter and Synod in July, a grass-roots lobbying movement arose. Faithful LGTBQ members engaged (even bombarded) the bishops with… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Discernment is actively listening to the Spirit. Terms of Reference is a secular device to indicate what should be considered and, more pertinently, what should not. There is a clear discord between the two. If the Bishops are genuinely interested in hearing the Spirit they would not be saying to the Spirit please talk to us, but please keep to these terms of reference. If you suggest things outside the terms of reference, we will ignore you. Any Christian who has struggled with guidance, which is the individual form of discernment, will have learnt that guidance can be corrupted if… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

A touching story from Laurence. So the takeaway is that a Catholic congregation in Co Kildare is more accepting, more welcoming and more loving of gay people than Justin Welby (who hates treating gay people badly, until it actually comes to stopping treating gay people badly, at which point he just can’t stop himself)? So if you want a progressive, modern, accepting church, try a Catholic Church in a town of 10000 people in Ireland, but if you want to find old men making excuses, try the bishops of the Church of England.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

This process is too removed from the lives of real people. God works through people, so sequestering themselves is not really conducive to the movement of the Spirit of Love and Wisdom.

This could not possible be more different from TEC. We discussed these things openly for decades, with task forces of diverse people, including LGBTQI people. The mind of the church moved together. Yes, we had our schisms over WO and +Gene, but not since SSM was voted in with something like 90 percent affirmation. (And schismatic laity have been trickling back).

Susannah Clark
Guest

My opinion is that many of our bishops are sincere and dedicated, and its reasonable for them to have private discourse. What interests me is the outcome. Having said that, as a person who falls under the LGBT+ umbrella, it doesn’t feel very marvellous to be ‘talked over’ and ‘talked about’, and I would welcome a consultation mechanism so that all members of the Church of England were able to contribute views and proposals, as part of the Bishops’ deliberations and prayers. Anyway, may God be with the Reflection Group and the Bishops generally. In the end, this is a… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Archbishop: I hate how the church treats black people. I know, let’s set up a working party of white bishops to advise the House of Bishops on racial issues. We can then offer leadership to the church – including our BME members – on this important issue. Journalist: Your Grace, don’t you think only having white bishops on the working party might affect its legitimacy, even its actual ability to examine the issues? Archbishop: well, we only have one black bishop… Journalist (interrupting): so why wasn’t he appointed to the working party? Archbishop: I have every confidence in the bishops… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Can ….kick…..road….long grass….

Father David
Guest
Father David

“Well we only have one black bishop” – how shameful is that! Women bishops now vastly outnumber bishops from ethnic minorities – isn’t it about time we appointed more Black and Asian bishops? It would seem that Coronation Street is well ahead of the Established Church as the bishop who is currently interviewing the Reverend Billy about his relationship with Todd Grimshaw is definitely black. I’m a little anxious about the smallness of his pectoral cross but at least he wears it in the correct position – on his chest rather than on his belly. Poor Billy after dumping Shaun… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

@FatherDavid – I was speaking allegorically not literally but you are, of course, right to raise that facet of diversity – or rather the lack of it – too https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/13/church-of-england-failing-to-promote-minority-ethnic-clergy-says-bishop

Kate
Guest
Kate

“The outcome that I hope for is one where each PCC can have the right to decide its position on the affirmation of gay relationships; where priests can exercise the conscience to bless them or not to; where individuals have right of access to their local churches for such blessings (with a different priest if necessary); and where ‘unity in diversity’ means loving and respecting each other, even if we hold different views.” – Susannah Well some progress as you now recognise that LGBTI people have a right to blessing or marriage in their own parish, which is great, but… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Kate, you’re simply not getting what you ask for. Even my own conciliatory approach is possibly unlikely – see my overview of the Vice-Chair (Pete Broadbent)’s history of comments in my next post. But ‘good disagreement’ and ‘unity in diversity’ might – just might – be embraced (by most)… in which case, over a period of further time, I suspect more and more church communities would come to accept gay blessings, and even marriage, as normal. But unless Bishop Pete has changed his views following the Shared Conversations, he seems very sceptical about the ‘two integrities’ and ‘unity in diversity’… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Taking the record of one of the more forthright bishops on that list (Pete Broadbent), liberal change cannot be assumed: BISHOPS SHOULD NOT PROMOTE REVISIONIST POSITIONS ON HOMOSEXUALITY Re: Jeffrey John at Reading: “I was one of those who advocated that the appointment should not be made…” (3rd Dec 2005) because he “teaches a revisionist position on homosexuality in the Church, and has published writings which can be adduced to prove that this is his position.” Indeed, Pete was one of the signatories to the letter protesting against the appointment. In contrast, 7 years later, Nicholas Holtam is expressly voicing… Read more »