Thinking Anglicans

Responses to yesterday's vote

Updated Friday

Press reports are listed here.

Inclusive Church

Take Note Debate Voted Down

Inclusive Church in partnership with the General Synod Human Sexuality Group shares this press release in response to the General Synod vote in February 2017.

“We are pleased and relieved that General Synod have heard our concerns, and voted NOT to Take Note. This means that we can now look at new ways of working together to produce a fresh approach to how we embrace and celebrate the lives and loves of LGBTI people. We hope that the Church of England will now be more honest about the diversity of views that are sincerely held on this issue, so that we can look at how we might best present an inclusive vision of the Body of Christ to the nation.

We are particularly grateful that both the Chair and the Vice Chair of the Bishops’ Reflections Group (the Rt Revd Graham James and the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent) have acknowledged and apologised for the pain that this report had caused so many of us.”

Jayne Ozanne and Giles Goddard, Chair of Human Sexuality Group

Alan Wilson Back to the Holy Drawing Board, with some relief

For a body as conventionally set up as the Church of England General Synod, all its structures loaded to express deference, yesterday’s result was something of a shock to the system.

Many episcopal colleagues could feel disappointed that the clergy did not buy a report that had already been announced to the rest of the Communion from the top as Church policy, before it had even been to synod.

This kind of bloody nose may stir memories of the Anglican Covenant project — another disastrous and ecclesiologically inept attempt to make doctrine through lawyers that backfired.

But every failure brings opportunity…

We now have a chance to following up the Shared Conversations, which were generally good and constructive, properly…

OneBodyOneFaith

Today’s events in the Church of England are unprecedented, with the refusal of the General Synod to take note of the Report of the House of Bishops’ reflection group, GS2055. Both the defeat of the motion by the House of Clergy and the rebellion against it in the House of Laity send an unequivocal message to the house of Bishops that their approach to human sexuality is lamentably out of step with membership of the Church of England and with the nation…

Modern Church responds to Synod vote on sexuality and marriage

Modern Church welcomes the result of the vote in General Synod this week not to ‘take note’ of the House of Bishops report on Marriage and Same Sex Partnerships after the Shared Conversations.

By rejecting the motion to take note of this report, the General Synod has sent the Bishops back to the drawing board.

Most telling among the many reflections leading up to and during this landmark debate were these:

  • the House of Bishops was attempting to manage the situation rather than leading.
  • the ‘roadmap’ their report offered was not a route toward ‘good disagreement’ for those putting the case for inclusion.
  • the bishops had not adequaltey heard the lived experience of LGBT+ people in the church, their families, friends and supporters, and had not catered for their aspirations for equality.
  • the report did not take account of different theological and biblical perspectives.

We are but a few years on from the defeat of the Anglican Covenant by the English Dioceses and the General Synod. This second major defeat can mean only one thing – it is time for the House of Bishops to bring forward legislation which will enable all LGBT+ Christians, whether single, in a civil partnership or married, to be treated with equality in the life of the church.

What might this look like?

Modern Church also welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement calling for:

a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church… founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology… based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and… a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We look forward to continuing to work to support the excellent and active work of LGBTI Mission, Inclusive Church and One Body One Faith, as they work with the whole church and with the Bishops to discern the way ahead.

Listening to the Synod debate, some of the parameters of a new settlement seem to be clear:

  • An authorised liturgy for the blessing of same sex relationships (civil partnerships and civil marriages).
  • The end of intrusive questioning for those in or aspiring to ministry who are in a civil partnership or are married to someone of the same gender.
  • A ‘mixed economy’ whereby no minister is expected or compelled to act beyond the limits of their own or their congregation’s conscience.

Anything short of this will not do. The road may be yet long but the destination is now in sight and it is time for the Bishops to offer a map to get us there.

Ian Paul Psephizo On Synod, sexuality, and not ‘Taking note’

Gafcon UK GAFCON UK responds to the Synod vote, and offers a new vision for faithful Anglicanism

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Chris A
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Chris A

That the Bishop of Coventry has had to release a humiliating apology shows that the bench of bishops are like North Korea on a bad day. Had they all been warned that there would be “consequences” if any of them had shown any independent thought?

ExRevd
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ExRevd

Simply: thank you for the consistently excellent coverage and labour of love that is this site.

James A
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James A

I can’t help asking how ordaining women as bishops (or priests for that matter) has made any of the long-promised difference to the way the church challenges the politburo politics of power games in the House of Bishops? If anything, it’s worse now. No wonder Lucy Winkett is still Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly. There’s no way she would collude with such a sham. At least we now know why we are ordaining women to the episcopate: so that that they can galvanise the centuries of male dominated control. Thank you, Rachel and Christine. You’re doing a super job!

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

To accuse another member of telling lies is a very serious. Quite upsetting to read Ian Paul’s analysis and, reflection. Clearly quite a lot of anger, whatever, he says about anger directed towards Simon, Bishop Paul and Archbishop Justin. Also a real irony in his criticism that in this era theology is being done through social media.

David Hunter
Guest
David Hunter

Simone Weil (of whom some bishops, surely, must have heard) once wrote that if it ever comes to a choice between Jesus and the truth, we must always opt for the truth because truth will always lead us back to Jesus. If it ever comes to a choice between unity and the truth, surely we have to choose truth because the truth will set us free and lead us to unity – unless, of course, you are the Church of England House of Bishops. This theologically dubious fiasco shows us exactly why there needs to be a complete rethink about… Read more »

Graham K Smith
Guest
Graham K Smith

Ian Paul writes, “Many who support the Church’s current teaching, particularly those who are celibate as single and/or same-sex attracted, were fearful of speaking because of the atmosphere of intimidation, manipulation and even bullying. The response of one campaigner to this? ‘Now you know how we have been feeling.’” Instead of reflecting on the feelings of frustration and (hopefully) becoming a more gracious and open individual, I was disappointed to read his forecast that, should a bishop take a different theological stance to his own, “…evangelicals will start to withdraw both cooperation and funding—so keep an eye out for the… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Real difficulty with Ian Paul’s thesis that the church cannot bless what God does not bless. There is so much underlying premise here that it is difficult to see where he gets the idea about what God blesses or not, or what criteria he uses to determine if God has blessed something or not. So let’s address the thesis itself. To what end did Christ commit the keys to the church if not to allow the church to use them? Which is to say, is this simply an exercise in redundancy, or an actual commission to be able to make… Read more »

John Wallace
Guest
John Wallace

Re David Hunter’s comment, it’s virtually impossible under the present system of 2/3 of 14 to get anyone ‘outside the box’. I’m not sure that the damper is the diocesan reps, rather the central 2:2:2 (roughly, (trad) catholic, liberal,evangelical, admittedly a very rough categorisation) can effectively block any diocesan desire to be radical. Still amazed that +Nick got Salisbury. We need to get prophetic vision rather than the Diocesan CEO model into our bishops.
But prophets are always dangerous and tend to get stoned – these days by the Daily Mail.

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

I found David Hunter’s comment very helpful, thoughtful, perceptive and true.

And yes, his evocation of David Jenkins, John V Taylor, John Robinson and David Sheppard is touching. To whom I would like to add Michael Ramsay.

Shall we see their like again in our lifetimes ?

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

‘ fearful of speaking because of the atmosphere of intimidation, manipulation and even bullying.’

I have known this since I attended Salisbury Theological College with my then partner (now husband) in 1975 and onwards into ordained ministry. The then principal forced upon us the rubric of ‘celibacy’ while we, in our twenties were driven close to breakdown.

I can well believe that Evangelicals who are trying to be ‘celibate’, rather than being themselves, are coerced to toe the line -at least publicly, by various means, none humane or ethical, and some possibly nefarious.

Jeremy Fagan
Guest
Jeremy Fagan

Modern Church repeat the tired old distinction between leadership and management, described by John Adair as the Zaleznik Error. The bishops were trying to lead, but in order to lead, you need followers, and given that the church is full of people determined not to follow anywhere but where they already want to go, the bishops are in a difficult leadership position. The sooner they create the space for divergent practice, as we have on so many other issues, the better. We know where the end point on this will be – the question is, how long will it take,… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

I find Dr Paul’s finely written essay illuminating, and disturbing. There is the customarily compulsive tendency to preach and to underpin his perception of morality by recurrent appeals to Scripture – a game which everyone can play. Then, as Graham K Smith has noted, the mask slips: “It is difficult to see how the position of the bishops will change; if some break ranks, many will respond ‘Why didn’t you speak up earlier?’ It might lead to a fracture in the House of Bishops, as some clearly hope—which will mean dioceses diverging in their teaching and policies. If so, evangelicals… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Ian Paul’s blog post shows that compromise on this is likely impossible. Paul’s as “open” as evangelicals get before they head off down the Steve Chalke path of radically reconsidering every core evangelical doctrine from penal substitution to biblical authority. He’s against any kind of compromise on this (and I’ve suggested hypothetical compromises to him on his blog that, in all honesty, gave up so much that they’d cause me to go against my own conscience if they were ever put into practice). Yet after this debate, and this vote, he’s as resolute as ever that even “good disagreement” is… Read more »

Marian
Guest
Marian

One aspect of this that I would not want to go unnoticed relates to the Anglican Communion. Perhaps unlike some other correspondents on this site I do believe profoundly in the Anglican Communion, and in the particular responsibility that the Church of England, partly for historic reasons, bears in relation to it. The Communion may be a result in part of flawed colonial history, but the word and concept ‘Communion’ speaks to me of being bound together, weaker and stronger, to support each other as part of the Body of Christ. However one thing that grieves me about the life… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Jeremy Fagan: “The sooner they create the space for divergent practice, as we have on so many other issues, the better.” Correct – the Unity in Diversity model. James: “Unless Paul and the other leading open evangelicals can somehow be persuaded to at least tolerate people in gay relationships having an equal place in the church, the only solution now is for the CoE enact some kind of divorce.” I refer you, James, to the top quote. The Unity in Diversity option isn’t even mentioned in the Bishops’ Report. Why not? Are people on both sides so embedded that they… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“the dioceses are dependent upon a few relatively wealthy evangelical parishes in each diocese to prevent financial collapse” Is there any data on this? I know it’s what conservatives want us to believe, but is it true? Reactionary parishes may be big payers but do people seriously believe they’re bankrolling the whole show? Wasn’t the diocese which most recently came close to financial collapse that well known hotbed of woolly liberalism, Rochester? I’m sure I can be proved wrong, but without good evidence, I think this is yet another alternative fact like ‘conservative parishes are growing’. Abusers always want you… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

In response to Froghole and others…. The position of evangelicals is interesting and key I think. 1. We heard in this debate that there are a number of evangelicals who would support some provision of blessing same-sex partnerships – look at Nikki Groarke’s opening speech. 2. There has been little space for discussion amongst evangelicals as any dissent from the conservative line is ignored or rebutted as ‘unscriptural’. Hence some of us subscribed to Accepting Evangelicals ( http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/) to have a place where that conversation could happen. I have ceased to attend meetings of the evangelical group on GS (EGGS)… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Fr Andrew: Many thanks. I don’t think they are, of course, bankrolling everything. However, I suspect that they are probably a critical factor in many places, though I agree with you that this warrants further research. However, if many dioceses are treading a very fine line between solvency and collapse the withdrawal of support by one or two hitherto reliable parishes could make all the difference. Moreover, the problem (i.e., dependency on ‘successful’ parishes) is liable to increase over time as the pension burden magnifies the further we get from 1998, especially if interest rates remain near zero, life expectancies… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Susannah, I’ve suggested the unity in diversity model to Ian Paul several times, and in several different forms: he’s been clear that it’d only be acceptable to him if this were an adiaphoron (indifferent matter); since he considers this a salvation issue, he’s unable to support it. I expect that he speaks for most leading evangelicals. As for my own position: full equality, including equal marriage, with no compulsion for individual rectors, provided they have the support of their congregations. Froghole, good to see that others share my belief that liberals need to modernize our services! This doesn’t have to… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“since he considers this a salvation issue….”

Does he have a good explanation for why his salvation depends on other people not marrying?

Susannah Clark
Guest

James, I agree that at the evangelical end of the spectrum occupied by people like Ian (and one of the bishops I’ve corresponded with) the problem with a two integrities approach is that marriage is regarded as a different order of issue to, say, women priests and bishops. Having said that, my case is that as long as the Church of England retains ownership and stewardship of their churches across the country, then yes, some priests and a smallish number of evangelical Christians may ‘walk’, but I believe the number would be relatively small (and their own choice not to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

What Anglicans who are ‘liberal’ in their views on human sexuality should NOT do, is threaten to leave the Church. That simply hands the control of the national Church to conservative Christians, and in any case is the same kind of blackmail that is played out by GAFCON on the wider stage. The Church of England, rooted around its local churches and communities, is going nowhere, and for the sake of all people – LGBT included – it must not be liberal-minded Christians who threaten to leave. In the end, the vast majority of Anglicans do not want to leave… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

There might even be unity in diversity evangelicals/catholics who didn’t refer to the category ‘salvation issue’ but who simply do not believe marriage is extendable to LGBTI.

That is my understanding of many people, including Rowan Williams and most of the HOB.

Liberals do not need to accept the position to understand what it in fact is.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Susannah, I agree that many people in evangelical congregations, perhaps a majority, would stay put. Throughout the West, there’s plenty churches that’re nominally “evangelical,” but they’re attracted primarily by the modern worship and social activities in which evangelicalism excels, not doctrine. For them, evangelical means a church with guitars and youth work, not penal substitution. However, there’s a core of evangelical heavy-hitters who’d up sticks, and take a lot of money and members with them. TEC had hundreds of thousands leave over affirming gay relationships, leading to years of painful lawsuits. Due to the way England’s finances are structured, it… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Cseitz, since homosexuality allegedly being a “salvation issue” is the stumbling block to toleration, there’s a lot more to work with among those who don’t believe that marriage can be extended to same-sex couples. It doesn’t appear different in principle to Anglo-Cathoics who don’t believe that women can be validly ordained. As for Williams, so far as I can tell, he’s long since returned to a conservative position on human sexuality, but regardless, he puts the unity of the Anglican Communion above all other considerations. If a majority of English diocesans agree with him, and refuse to budge, then England… Read more »

Blair
Guest
Blair

To cseitz: Rowan Williams supports committed same sex unions, if not SS marriage. Are you saying that many of the current HoB have a similar position? If so couldn’t Susannah’s idea have a chance of working as long as committed SS relationships aren’t called marriage? That may be merely naive….but I’m not sure I fully understand your previous comment.
In friendship, Blair

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Not extendable?

There are civil marriages happening every day that prove that position, as stated, wrong. Not to mention religious marriages in many denominations around the world, including Anglican provinces.

If anti-marriage bishops want their view to command any respect, they will have to give a better explanation than that.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

The simple point being made it that certain conservatives may have various attitudes toward the LGBTI position/s, including full support, but simply do not believe Christian marriage is open to re-packaging.

You can pull the ‘Renault’ sign off and replace with ‘VW’ but that doesn’t make it ‘VW.’

You don’t have to agree with the position in order to understand it. Obviously you don’t agree with it.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I think we all understand it, cseitz. The problem is why one position should oppress the other? People who are against gay marriage are free not to marry someone of their gender. Why should their view prevail and oppress those who are called to the sacrament of marriage? In TEC, inclusive marriage has not caused a ruckus, that ship sailed with WO and +Gene. Ultimately, it seems to come down to whether or not one believes in continuing revelation, and whether or not one believes that the Incarnation did in fact come here to be the “Good News for all… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Regarding unity, Cynthia, lots of it’s hardheaded realpolitik, rooted in the fear that evangelicals could walk and bankrupt the church. There’s also the post-colonial aspect. English bishops are, in the main, members of the English elite, private schooled in institutions created to train young men for Empire. That toxic ethos lingers. Via the Communion, they get to bask in the afterglow of the time when Great Britain painted the map (oh irony) pink. In England, the twin planks of change are getting a majority of evangelicals onside, and introducing elections for bishops, so that, at long last, the upper class… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“In TEC, inclusive marriage has not caused a ruckus.”

The mantra of the true-believer.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“The mantra of the true-believer.” In the US, could you name places where there’s a ruckus? There are a handful of dioceses where the local bishop won’t allow inclusive marriage. The liberal churches there have not gone with schism. The liberal parishes are not seeing anymore conservative parishes leave over the issue. In the Anglican Communion, some of the primates made a ruckus, but the ACC chose not to. 38 primates vs. hundreds or thousands of ACC representatives. That is not a ruckus, in my view. Even if it qualified as a ruckus, it is self made by people self… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Neither the “extendable” metaphor nor the “re-packaging” metaphor stands up to much scrutiny. “Not extendable” suggests that there’s only so much of this thing called marriage to go around. That’s ridiculous. Marriage is not a finite good; we are not going to run out of marriage if we give some marriage to LGBTI people. Marriage is not like a too-small tent or a too-narrow blanket. More marriage for some does not mean less marriage for others. More marriage for some means more marriage for all. Marriage, in that sense, is infinitely extendable. It is a well that can never run… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“Marriage, in that sense, is infinitely extendable.” Perhaps in Outer Space. Here is yet another place where people hold diametrically opposed views. I accept that. It strikes me that you and others do not. Your great confidence “this will too” is predicated on a wish you have, and not reality. I suspect that is what many find so troubling, who have in fact reckoned with and come to terms with entrenched irreconcilables. Cynthia: for you to say there has been no ruckus in the TEC context, given the demolitions of the past decade+, is, to repeat, the mantra of the… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Cseitz, I said in the US that there hasn’t been a ruckus since the decision to go ahead with inclusive marriage in June 2014. I had acknowledged that the ruckus had played itself out over WO and +Gene. Internationally, there’s a ruckus amongst the primates (January 2016), but the ACC chose not to enter into the ruckus. I do not regard the primates as having spiritual authority over me or my church. I love the mutuality of the ACC. To me, that is the church. We picked our leader and it is +Michael Curry, not Justin, not the primates from… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Cynthia, thanks for your fruit salad of strongly held opinions parading as facts and done-deals. The fallout has been, is, and will continue to be considerable. Next in line appears to be the C of E. It is much harder to over-speak the conservatives in that Province and see to their silencing and withdrawal. TEC has become a party-line liberal american denomination now really only ruckus prone in 815 Second Avenue.