Thinking Anglicans

Bishops' Reflection Group on Sexuality

The following press release has been issued:

Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality

Following the statement from the College of Bishops issued on 15 September 2016, the Church of England has published the terms of reference of the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality and the membership of the group.

Terms of Reference

To assist the Bishops of the Church of England in their reflection on issues relating to human sexuality, in the light of theological, biblical, ecumenical, Anglican Communion, pastoral, missiological, historical and societal considerations bearing on these issues, and following experiences of the shared conversations held around the Church between 2014 and 2016.

To assist the House of Bishops in identifying questions in relation to human sexuality, with particular reference to same sex relationships. It will also develop possible answers to those questions for the House to consider, as a contribution to the leadership which the House provides to the Church on such issues.

To provide material to assist the House of Bishops in its reflections in November 2016, and subsequently as requested, and to assist the House in its development of any statements on these matters which it may provide to the wider Church.

To consider any matter which the Archbishops request that the group should have on its agenda.

Membership of Group:

Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Chair)
Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden (Vice-Chair)
Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford
Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Rt Revd Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport
Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton
Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Rt Revd Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone
Rt Revd Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking

Staff support:

Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director Mission & Public Affairs Division
Jonathan Neil-Smith, Central Secretariat (Secretary)
William Nye LVO, Secretary General
Canon David Porter, Chief of Staff and Strategy to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen, Theological Secretary and Secretary to the Council for Christian Unity

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Kate
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Kate

So the reference to episcopal discernment in the press release is simply PR spin which attempts to dress up a political / managerial process as something spiritual, which this is not. The term of reference talk of the House of Bishops offering leadership to the church. God has asked, Susannah, Cynthia, Jeremy, me and many others who post on TA and elsewhere to think deeply about how our sexual orientation interacts with our faith. Not a single member of the working group has admitted to being called by God to such deep and personal reflection. Who are best placed to… Read more »

sjh
Guest
sjh

Doubtless the bishops will recommend further discussion! If they ever decide to change anything, will anyone still be interested?

Fr. Andrew
Guest
Fr. Andrew

Question: In a group of 10 people called to reflect on human (=homo) sexuality, how many should be in a heterosexual marriage?

House of Bishops answer: 10.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Personally, I think there should be a consultation mechanism for members of the Church of England to submit views and proposals for consideration, between now and the end of October.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Fr. Andrew, “In a group of 10 people called to reflect on human (=homo) sexuality, how many should be in a heterosexual marriage?
House of Bishops answer: 10.”

I think it’s called catch-22

Father David
Guest
Father David

Might it not have been a good idea to have invited the Bishop of Grantham to join the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality? He interviewed extremely well on the SUNDAY programme the other week and his own personal experience would surely add valuable insights to the ongoing discussion.

Sister Mary
Guest
Sister Mary

The Church of England is not the only religious body wrapped in “Considerations.” Here’s an excerpt from the church bulletin of my local URC. “The next Church Meeting will be on Sunday 18th September after morning worship. It will include a discussion on the church’s response to the General Assembly of the URC’s decision to permit local churches to host same sex marriages. We need to decide whether to make a decision on this issue.” To be fair, knowing this group as I do, they will either vote in favour of SSM in in their church, or they’ll be evenly… Read more »

Jo
Guest
Jo

@Rod: should that not be “a reading from the book of Catches, chapter 22, beginning at the first verse”?

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Father David, forgive me if I sound rather cynical but I think that the reason that the Bishop of Grantham hasn’t been included in the group is precisely because he might add valuable insights to the discussion.

Looking at the membership of the group, it seems to me to be so “balanced” that it is destined to disagree on just about everything.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

The bishops are welcome to all the conversations they feel compelled to have.

Meanwhile, the ministry of reconciliation – the church’s primary vocation – continues with or without the active participation of any one or group of us–including those in Holy Orders.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Yes, too heterosexual and too fundamentalist by half.

Harder and harder to take C of E bishops too seriously.

Note to self :- increase ‘salt pinch’ to salt pack.

Health warning : excess salt hurts your heart.

Does that make you think / remind you of anything ?

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

All groupings that do not include homosexual persons should be boycotted forthwith.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

The group’s task is clearly stated in the terms of reference: to set down the questions the House of Bishops should be asking and to offer some answers. It is not rocket science. They may agree more easily on the questions than the answers, but they are not invited to second guess the House of Bishops. If they cannot agree on the answers then they can offer some options. Our prayer must be that they just get on with it, because if they do not the General Synod will be hit with a confetti of private member’s motions and the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

It’s easy to see that there is no such thing as ‘proportional representation’ in the Church of Englands’s ‘think-tanks’ – at least, not as far as the furthering of conversations about the inclusion of LGBTI people goes. Interestingly, while there were women clergy co-opted into meetings of the House of Bishops prior to the recent Women Bishops legislation, there has been no such inclusion of gay bishops into this group appointed to sort out the ‘problem’ of Gays in the Church. Despite the much-trumpeted ‘Conversation on Human Sexuality’ – which included voices from the actual minority of Church people involved… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“All groupings that do not include homosexual persons should be boycotted forthwith.”

Does that include—as far as we know—the Roman Curia RIW? >;-/ [But I do agree w you]

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

People – don’t waste time on fake unity.
Haven’t you wasted enough time already????

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’ “

Then he will say also to those on the left hand….break up into small groups!

Rod gillis
Guest
Rod gillis

@ Jo, Verily

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

I admit I’m taking a fiendish delight thinking about what’s going through the heads of the Ugandan and Nigerian bishops as they read about Toronto’s new male suffragan bishop.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear JCF. You are right to ask this counter-question of RIW. Because is that were to happen -according to Robert’s demand here; the Roman Church would probably collapse – very few left to survive.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

I suspect there are plenty of people in the Church of Rome with same sex attraction, but the C of E is open to debate…and if that is genuine should hear all sides.But it looks like a stage managed affair to an outsider..would you have a commission on women with no women?

NJW
Guest
NJW

Contrary to some views expressed here there does seem to be some balance. Of the four diocesans there seems to be a range of viewpoints present, and the same is true of the four suffragan bishops. The two bishops from catering to specific theological audiences will obviously have their own viewpoints. Beyond that the bench of bishops has an inbuilt bias – and it is possible that the Bishop of Grantham was telling the truth a couple of weeks ago and his sexuality is just a part of who he is and he would rather spend his time serving his… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Could you clarify this statement: “I admit I’m taking a fiendish delight thinking about what’s going through the heads of the Ugandan and Nigerian bishops as they read about Toronto’s new male suffragan bishop.” As I see it, what this does is widen the entire GS bloc to extend well beyond the two provinces you mention. Whatever divisions there may be within the GS as a whole, they are not divided on marriage. Is your point that this is a good outcome, indeed a fiendishly delightful one? I ask because as I read it, the progressives take different tacks on… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“All groupings that do not include homosexual persons should be boycotted forthwith.” Do you mean that, or do you mean all groupings which do not include OUT homosexual persons? At a very practical level, there are huge problems with your suggestion. The Bishops Reflection Group is different for two reasons: 1. The one bishop known to be gay was passed over 2. It has been suggested that all of the bishops chosen are in heterosexual marriages I think the BRG should equally be criticised for its lack of racial diversity. If you have done much LGBTI equality work you will… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“All groupings that do not include homosexual persons should be boycotted forthwith.”

By whom and how do they do this?

Kate
Guest
Kate

“The group’s task is clearly stated in the terms of reference: to set down the questions the House of Bishops should be asking and to offer some answers. It is not rocket science. They may agree more easily on the questions than the answers, but they are not invited to second guess the House of Bishops.” So do you believe that a group of married bishops will ask questions like: 1. Should the call for celibacy be extended from gay bishops to all bishops? 2. Is it OK for Christians to use birth control? 3. Why is it OK for… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Result: gracious restraint requested with the understanding that being dishonest is preferred to being open. Bad for everyone. Why can’t we just have a split and move on? Honest. Clear. Possible.

It doesn’t matter if the Church of England splits; but it does matter if it induces or forces dishonest behaviour in clergy.

john holding
Guest
john holding

re Daniel Berry’s post:

So everyone knows what he’s making reference to, on 17 September the Diocese of Toronto elected three new suffragans — two women and a partnered gay man with two children. It’s not clear whether he’s civilly married, though I would assume that, given the legal situation in Canada. And there’s no requirement to abstain from sexual relationships in a marriage for clergy or laity in the ACC.

I’m a good person, sometimes, so I won’t say: Take that, Justin Welby et al.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Last weekend I was an acolyte for a wedding where the guys had been together for decades. Joy and Spirit were very present, our cup runneth over. So far, the couples that I know who are getting married in the church are people of extraordinary faith and spiritual gifts. It seems like a terrible lack of faith to set up a “reflection” that so actively avoids having an inclusive conversation. There is an incredible need for the Good News in the world today. Exclusion is not the Good News, and all the time and energy going into exclusion could better… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Further proof of a split.

This is CofE and has nothing to do with TEC, which has moved on with the Holy Spirit’s business.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“As with the nature of biblical teaching, there appear to be two camps. The Bible is clear and it is wrong. The Bible can be read in such a way that traditional teaching is viewed as out of touch.”

There’s a third camp, Christopher. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for loving all our neighbors, including God’s LGBTQI children. It is a position held by many.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Cynthia, the loving our neighbours only gets us so far. The impression in the NT is very much of marriage as an indulgence for those who couldn’t live a single life. The loving our neighbours suggests that LGBTI people should not be separated from the comfort of that indulgence. I don’t see how though that argument extends to allowing gay clergy to marry for instance – their dedication to the Lord should be such that they don’t need the comfort of the indulgence. The indulgence (from loving neighbours) argument also doesn’t make same sex right. The loving our neighbours argument… Read more »

SMB
Guest
SMB

Good questions, Kate. If they’re discussing ‘sexuality’, I’d also like the bishops to consider (and/or answer) whether it is the official teaching of the Church of England that men and women’s sexuality is somehow ‘complementary’ – this was suggested in many of the discussions and documents around same-sex marriage (i.e. same-sex marriage is wrong because men and women each bring something ‘distinctive’ to a marriage and a marriage requires both those distinctive elements). If that is the church’s teaching, could they please specify what they think is distinctive about men and women, respectively, and how that can be ascertained (beyond… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

cseitz says: “I ask because as I read it, the progressives take different tacks on things. Some want a communion which holds different–even mutually corrosive–positions. Others want a break. If that is your fiendishly delightful hope, you are right this will likely move the matter down that road more rapidly.” Christopher: members of the Global South and their acolytes have been threatening a ‘break’ with others in the Anglican Communion for well over a decade. They/you keep saying it gets closer more rapidly but increasingly it feels like noise and static. Do you know the story about the boy who… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“Member of the GS” yes. Gafcon.

But the vast majority of the GS? That is what we will now likely see.

And, I was speaking about those who wanted to AC to be diverse but together, even if this meant corrosive positions.

Maybe a good reading course?

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

“But the vast majority of the GS? That is what we will now likely see.”

Something we have been hearing for many years. I won’t hold my breath Christopher.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Cynthia, the loving our neighbours only gets us so far.” Kate, it’s hard on a blog to flesh out all of the implications of one important commandment by Jesus. The example of Jesus is inclusion. His harsh words were for the Pharisees for misusing the Law to heap indignities upon people, typically people of lower status, outcasts. What He doesn’t say speaks volumes as well. He never addresses SSM (that divorce passage does not “define” marriage for all people for all time). What he addresses is compassion, justice, love, nurturing of body and soul. One can also look to Jesus… Read more »