Thinking Anglicans

Next Steps on Human Sexuality – 1

On Saturday morning at York, the General Synod will have a “Presentation from the House of Bishops on the Proposals for the Pastoral Advisory Group on Human Sexuality and the development of the Teaching Document.”

Note that this is not a debate, but a Presentation followed by a Question and Answer session. The relevant background document is GS Misc 1158 Next Steps on Human Sexuality. One hour has been allocated for this item.

The Proposals for the Pastoral Advisory Group (note the title change from Pastoral Oversight group) are quite brief, and are copied in full below the fold. About this aspect, para 3 of GS Misc 1158 says:

..in our letter of 16th February we committed ourselves, and the whole House of Bishops, to two actions. The first of these was the creation of a group, chaired by the Bishop of Newcastle, to advise dioceses on pastoral issues concerning human sexuality so that we can make explicit our commitment to show the love of Christ to all people, regardless of sexual or gender identity. Good progress has been made in establishing the new Pastoral Advisory Group, as reported below, which is now embarking on its work.

All the rest of the document is concerned with the development of the Teaching Document, and that will be covered here in a separate article, to follow shortly. This will enable discussion in the Comments below to focus specifically on the Pastoral Advisory group proposal.

Pastoral Advisory Group

1. As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.

Archbishops’ letter, February 16th 2017

Aim
2. Supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions, i.e. engagement, inclusion, and pastoral care, with regard to the current pastoral approach of the Church to human sexuality, with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on same-sex couples.

Responsibilities
3. Reviewing, and as needed revising, advice provided by the House of Bishops on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples in Church of England congregations, such ministry being understood to include prayer offered by clergy and licensed lay minsters.

4. Offering advice when requested to bishops regarding specific cases they are dealing with in the areas of both pastoral care and discipline involving clergy in same-sex relationships, and clergy responding to lay people in same-sex relationships, to assist the sharing of knowledge and an appropriate level of national consistency in approach.

5. Supporting the Church of England’s communication of its approach to this area in the media and in other public fora.

6. Exploring together, and hearing from others, what radical Christian Inclusion, ‘founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it.’ [From the Archbishops’ Letter, 16th February 2017] means in the life and mission of the Church: sharing and disseminating examples of good practice in terms of pastoral care of and engagement with those who identify as LGBTI.

Key tasks
7. To bring draft advice on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples in Church of England congregations for initial consideration by the House of Bishops, having reflected on how pastoral practices might develop within current teaching.

8. To review the advice provided in due course in the light of the emerging teaching document.

Way of working
9. Requests from other bishops for advice on named cases with regard to area of responsibility (2) above will need to be dealt with as reserved business by the bishops within the group. The bishops will however report to other group members that such reserved business has been discussed and will review with them any general issues arising from the review of particular cases.

Time scale
10.The advice on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples will need to be undertaken in careful liaison with work on the teaching document (as set out below). It is therefore difficult to give a precise timescale for the groups work.

11.Members will be appointed initially to serve on the group until the end of 2019.

Membership

Chair: The Bishop of Newcastle, The Rt Revd Christine Hardman

Other Episcopal Members: The Bishop of Willesden, The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent
The Bishop of Grantham, The Rt Revd Dr Nicholas Chamberlain
The Bishop of Exeter, The Rt Revd Robert Atwell
The Bishop of Repton, The Rt Revd Jan McFarlane

Members: The Revd Sam Allberry
Dr Jamie Harrison
The Ven Cherry Vann
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett

Staff support: The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown
The Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen
The Legal Office.

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Tobias HallercrsSusannah ClarkcrsFlora Alexander Recent comment authors
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Susannah Clark
Guest

Yes, well as half the Church affirms lesbian and gay sex, in contrast to “current arrangements” and “the current pastoral approach of the Church to human sexuality” – and the current approach was what was basically “not taken note of” at the last Synod – pastoral advice (or is that enforcement?) based on these current principles is arguably problematic. There still seems to be a Justinian instinct for enforcing uniformity with a “national consistency of approach”. The Anglican Covenant, the Pastoral Letter, the Primates’ Statement. Uniformity and control. The key issue is deferred in this announcement: how you resolve the… Read more »

Victoriana
Guest
Victoriana

Y’know, this group’s work could be done in under a week.

Step 1: read the Osborne Report

Step 2: discuss the Osborne Report

Step 3: Propose the Osborne Report for endorsement as the new Teaching Document

crs
Guest
crs

As “pastoral ministry to same-sex couples” is not what is desired — this is marriage in the CofE — and since the archbishops likely know this, and the Group itself, one wonders what this trajectory amounts to?

Another way to put it, what percentage of LGBTQI people look forward to what the Group appears to be contemplating? There are probably couples in this grouping that do not want marriage in the CofE, but one does not hear much from them at a site like this; or in general.

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

“…one wonders what this trajectory amounts to?” Christopher: if you have been following this matter for some time (as I’m sure you have) I’m not quite sure why this question is needed. The trajectory is about finding a way for opposing views within the Church of England to both find a home. The bishops thought they had found a solution at the February synod, but synod refused to take note of their document. For many of us there was no surprise about that and some of us urged some of the bishops to withdraw the document before it ever got… Read more »

Ann Reddecliffe
Guest
Ann Reddecliffe

The aim of this document is far too narrow. The bishops do need to understand that they need to take a broader approach and would do well to read the document of questions from LGBTI Mission and take more of those issues on board.

In this document, the Bishops seem to be repeating some of the mistakes from February’s GS2055. What might be helpful is if they invited Tina Beardsley and Jayne Ozanne to join the group.

badman
Guest
badman

The composition of the Pastoral Advisory Group is interesting. From Who’s Who and the internet, I have come up with this: Chair: Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman. Age 65, married 46 years. Suffragan Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent. Age 64, married 43 years. Suffragan Bishop of Grantham, Dr Nicholas Chamberlain. Age 53, in celibate same sex relationship. Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell. Age 62, unmarried, former monk. Bishop of Repton, Jan McFarlane. Age 52, married 13 years. Graduate in Medical Science. Rev Sam Allberry. Age not known to me. Celibate, reported in 2017 as saying “I now feel I’m being… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“That’s the trajectory isn’t it?” It warms my heart to know that someone understands what this is about. In your own case, it doesn’t sound like theology but polity; maybe that is a good idea, but I wouldn’t have thought it the remit for a Group with this title. If I understand you, what is being sought is a polity solution that enables everyone to have what they want, by means of varieagation: “The trajectory is about finding a way for opposing views within the Church of England to both find a home.” I wonder, if this is indeed the… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

“it doesn’t sound like theology but polity”…..
Christopher: it’s both, surely. There are different theologies within the same church. That’s been true of the Church of England since its foundation. Why would this subject be any different?

crs
Guest
crs

Mr G. You seem very confident about what this Group will do, viz., work-arounds via geography. It does not sound like that is their remit, but rather “pastoral ministry to same sex couples.”

My point was not complicated. I believe you can follow it. This does not sound like something being requested: same sex marriage.

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Christopher: I have no idea what ‘work-arounds via geography’ means so perhaps you could kindly explain that.

I think the remit of the group is very clear from the aims, responsibility and key tasks of the group. You asked about trajectory. That’s a different matter and I offered an opinion.

Pastoral practice for the Church of England has always involved theology and polity. I see no reason why it would be different in this case.

Jayne Ozanne
Guest
Jayne Ozanne

I am deeply disappointed by this group’s remit and membership. It shows that yet again the House of Bishops have failed to hear what they’ve supposedly been listening to. The greatest pastoral need in our church at the moment is to stop abuse – and in this case it is the abuse of LGBTI Christians in churches who take abusive action against them. A prime example is set out in the ‘EA Affirmations’, which many evangelical churches have adopted. This leads to many LGBTI Christians who find the courage to come out in their home church find themselves being asked… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Here’s the link to the EA Affirmations mentioned above.
The last two are the most relevant.

http://www.eauk.org/church/resources/theological-articles/resources-for-church-leaders-biblical-and-pastoral-responses-to-homosexuality.cfm

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

In response to Dr Seitz.

The issue of marriage is by no means the only concern. Might I suggest you review the LGBTI Mission Statement which lists out a whole range of other issues which it would, in my opinion, be appropriate for the Pastoral Advisory Group to consider and, in due course, take action upon.

https://lgbtimissiondotorgdotuk.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lgbti-mission-final1.pdf

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Thank you Mr Sarmiento, my point was simply that the LGBTQI concern is for marriage. Marriage.

I was pointing out that the materials we are reading speak of “pastoral ministry to same-sex couples,” not marriage. My further point was that I have never seen any significant portion of said grouping focus on “pastoral ministry” as a desideratum.

Have a good day.

Bernard Silverman
Guest
Bernard Silverman

To have any credibility this group needs a much lower average age. It also needs more than token representation of gay people who are not “celibate”. And of those who have contracted same sex marriages.

it needs to be said loud and clear that unless it has that kind of membership, its work is pretty much a waste of time from the getgo. Or would be in any other walk of life. But, I forgot, this is the church.

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

There is one glaring absence on this panel. There is NO INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL THEOLOGIAN from a recognised academic institution. Bernard Silverman is quite right about average age and range of life experience. But, for heaven’s sake, when is the message going to finally sink in at Lambeth and Bishopthorpe? You cannot produce a credible report, outlining a Christian/Anglican response to the issues under discussion, and treat the necessary theological rooting as some kind of second-level bolt-on.

Bernard
Guest
Bernard

I totally agree. And given the highly contentious nature of this issue, maybe more than one.

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

Bernard Silverman is quite right. And Jayne Ozanne should be included.

crs
Guest
crs

Simon R, If Oliver O’Donovan FBA (Edinburgh; former Regius Oxford) or Markus Bockmuehl (Oxford NT Chair) were on this committee, they would be your category: INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL THEOLOGIAN. But they would not professionally, theologically, independently hold the views you are looking for. So maybe it would be more accurate to speak of an advocate for your views who in addition holds an academic post.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Simon R and Dr Seitz

I assume that both these comments relate to the Pastoral Advisory Group and not to the Episcopal Teaching Document Group. If that is not the case, then really they should have appeared on the thread attached to the next TA article, not here.

The whole point here is that the two groups are complementary, and there is little point in duplicating membership between them. I am sure that ETDG will be chock full of professionals of various kinds, including theologians.

This PAG is specifically intended to deal with practical considerations.

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

“[Oliver O’Donovan and Markus Bockmeuhl] would not professionally, theologically, independently hold the views [I am] looking for” claims @crs. How does s/he know? Where have I stated either my view or a preferred outcome?

This is why we need professional theologians in the room, precisely because too many conclusions on this question are being reached on the basis of guesswork, hearsay and second-level evidence.

I may believe that Welby’s phobia of theologians is eroding the Church’s capacity to contribute positively and distinctively to public discourse. But that is quite different from prejudging the outcome of this process.

crs
Guest
crs

Simon R, then by all means call on professional theologians as mentioned by name. Objectivity is much to be desired.

Sadly, however, this requires agreement about the character of authority and the way one reaches wise decisions. This is lacking in our late modern period.

Those of us who write books, direct PhDs, have inhabited academic environments for the course of our professional lives have had to accept for some time the character of the politicisation of ideas and scholarship.

kind regards.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

At the risk of appearing curmudgeonly, I repeat my comment that if you are discussing the Teaching document, as I think you must be, then this thread is the wrong place.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Can someone explain to me how a professional theologian can be ‘objective’? Since all theology is a matter of opinion, as opposed to verifiable fact, one man’s theological ‘fact’ is another man’s subjective opinion.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Father David, “objectivity” you might take a look at, Lonergan and Historiography by Thomas J McPartland (University of Missouri Press, 2010). See especially pages 21 and following and McPartland’s discussion there of objectivity, not as a “correct look” at what is “out there” but as fidelity to the pure desire to know. The discussion also includes what McPartland describes as a consideration of “…objectivity as the fruit of authentic subjectivity, the quality of one’s attention, insight, discrimination, judgement with moral objectivity as fidelity of intention to the good….” One could also harken back to Lonergan’s work in Inisght, Chapter… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

“Those of us who write books, direct PhDs, have inhabited academic environments for the course of our professional lives have had to accept for some time the character of the politicisation of ideas and scholarship.”

How amusing! Christopher are you somehow suggesting that organisations like the Anglican Communion Institute, and those who ‘staff’ and write for it have not contributed to the politicisation that you seem to deride?

Who would you propose as an ‘objective’ scholar in the area of pastoral theology who might address the aims and purposes of this distinct group?

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

@Simon Sarmiento, I’m not thinking about the Teaching Document, I am clearly thinking of the Pastoral Advisory Group. I thought we had fully critiqued the 1960s dysfunction, where it was believed that pastoral care could be ‘value free.’ Elaine Graham here in Britain (and people like William Willimon in the States) have made the compelling case for making the theological dimension central. The C of E’s central bureaucracy – and the Archbishops, perhaps – need to come up to speed.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Thank you Mr Gillis for pointing me in that direction. I fear that if such an attempt were made to establish an authentic subjectivity, it would still fail to convince those who believe God’s Word Written to be ‘objective’ and who will condemn anyone who claims otherwise.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Fr. David, “…it would still fail to convince those who believe God’s Word Written to be ‘objective’ and who will condemn anyone who claims otherwise.” I would concur with that observation as a description the parameters of our situation. Yet one still has to look for ways to move beyond the impasse. Lonergan and contemporary scholars contend that our various traditions are inherited but conflict with one another, a situation which gives rise to the need for a methodical approach to resolution. It is a very long game. With regard to the pastoral advisory group and pastoral strategy, it… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Mr Godsall You struggle with reading comprehension! You could try again. 1 We have someone asking for objectivity and academic credentials 2 Another saying theologians are by definition opinion mongers 3 Another promoting Lonergan’s species of objectivity 4 A response from #2 saying there are however competing objectivities, so #3 can’t shake his concerns And into this brew you wade in with a footnote off the subject! I am a professional academic who has had tenure at major international universities and was speaking of the character of those places for the past 35 years. Compare Julius Wellhausen’s scientism (and the… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Simon R
I apologise for failing to grasp that you were really talking about the Pastoral Advisory Group. Do please therefore continue to make your argument on this thread.

But I remain unconvinced of your argument, in this particular case. The two groups that the archbishops have now established are clearly intended to work in close connection, and there are scarcely enough theologians in the CofE as it is to contemplate competing teams thereof.

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Christopher: I’d prefer that you didn’t make comments about other people’s ability to read and understand when you seem to struggle with answering quite simple questions. So let me put them again.

1. I have no idea what ‘work-arounds via geography’ means so perhaps you could kindly explain that?

2. are you somehow suggesting that organisations like the Anglican Communion Institute, and those who ‘staff’ and write for it have not contributed to the politicisation that you seem to deride?

Thank you so much.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

To continue with the metaphor of “the brew”, one also has to contend with more than a hint of conservative trolling of a GLBTQ freindly website like TA. Strange brew indeed, eh. (My apologies to comedians Bob and Doug McKenzie).

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

This post seems to have descended to a series of ad hominem remarks which are scarcely helpful. They also seem to involve conservative academics who are understandably concerned about the possibility (probability in my view) of the church changing its doctrine on marriage. The fact is we have done theology to death on this. There is no new ‘teaching’ to be developed. Call it polity or ecclesiology, that is where the focus needs to be, not binary theological viewpoints. The smarter conservative theologians cloak some of this in the language of pastoral accommodation, which although not going far enough for… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

1 soi disant ‘local option’
2 Yes; and irrelevant re: academia and objectivity — or as they say ‘get over it’

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Thanks Christopher. But

1. This is no explanation of what you had in mind at all. Please show your workings out.
2. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

Since it appears to be accepted, more or less, that some churches are relaxed about remarriage after divorce, and others are not, I find it hard to understand why the same situation can’t exist for equal marriage. I know the notion of ‘complementarity’ will be brought out, but really you can’t take that concept seriously.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Anthony Archer, “The fact is we have done theology to death on this.” Oui et non. It depends on what one means by theology, where it has been “done”, and who has been “doing” it. Theology is not the exclsuive domain of theoretical academics nor of church staffers for that matter. One may ask how good a job we have done evaluating the “theology” of the church where it has caused so much pastoral and social damage. With regard to theological reflection, we have a lot remaining to mine from a theoria and praxis model. Such is especially the… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Mr Archer “They also seem to involve conservative academics who are understandably concerned about the possibility (probability in my view) of the church changing its doctrine on marriage.” What I am often probing about for is how this is intended to be worked out on the ground in the CofE, given what we can observe in TEC, ACoC and SEC, contexts in whuch I have lived and worked. I do not believe the account of marriage that obtains at present should be altered. Surely no one here would view my position otherwise! I am not ‘concerned’ about something happening. The… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“that some churches are relaxed about remarriage after divorce, and others are not”

I believe where the analogy comes to grief is that the CofE has an actual teaching/canons governing this matter. There is not ‘local option’ in the strict sense of dioceses having different canonical views or even parishes. They latter may have predilections and will choose M over Z but still within the bounds of a common set of working assumptions.

The same-sex marriage issue will create more difficult ‘single teaching’ comparable to the agreement within the CofE at large on marriage and divorce.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Information about how “local option” in the case of marriage after divorce works in the C of E can be obtained here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/1162432/leafletforenquirers.pdf

The decision to officiate is left to the local Vicar. if anything, The Episcopal Church has a less “local” position in that all such cases must be reviewed by the bishop.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

CRS shouldn’t worry. Some clergy will marry same-sex couples, while others won’t. It’s the same with divorce and re-marriage. Some will. Some won’t. Easy.

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

I’m grateful to crs for his point about church teaching/canons. But – and I genuinely don’t know, having a slightly irregular church background – I have a question. What does it take for a church to change its teaching and its canons, when they are found to be less than adequate?

crs
Guest
crs

Dear FrDavidH, sleep well then, as your happy ending will surely win the day!

No one needs to worry about CofE canons on divorce at all. With same sex marriage all will be what anyone wants to do.

What a great idea and why hasn’t anyone come up with this before? So simple.

I have no worries at all. This fight has moved well beyond me. My interest is in following the logic, canons, theology that will have to be deployed.

crs
Guest
crs

Fr Haller, of course once a canon acceptable to all and duly passed is in place, local options are possible. At issue is not that, but the achievement of the canon as such, finding the necessary plenary consent. This will not be remotely easy in the CofE as it appeared to be in TEC. Surely you do not doubt that? TEC is resolutely progressive and has no conservative wing on this issue to bring under a common canon, as does the CofE. I am happy to have CofE folk–where I am a PTO holder–tell me otherwise, and that what TEC… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dr Seitz, I have no doubt that change to the C of E canon law may be more difficult than it was in TEC, in part due to the failure of English leadership to involve those best informed on the subject in the theological and pastoral work required. My earlier comment was intended to note that the concept of “local option” is not unknown in the Church of England, and that in the case of the marriage of a divorced persons the option is as local as possible, every vicar having the right to decline to officiate, or to approve.… Read more »

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

It is interesting that the Episcopal Church in Scotland has managed to move to making same sex marriage possible. I know it’s a tiny church, but it is serious and thoughtful. I was once, a long time ago, a member of it, and back then I would not have imagined that this move could ever happen.

crs
Guest
crs

“and that in the case of the marriage of a divorced persons the option is as local as possible, every vicar having the right to decline to officiate, or to approve.” That is because the canon was written and passed with a single position on divorce all agreed. After that, what you call “local option” would be enabled. The analogy would be a BCP regulating worship, but with freedom to use Rite I or II etc locally. All well and good. But what is needed is the single canon that would allow this kind of local optioning. This is not… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dr Seitz, it is good to take the opportunity to agree. The Church of England is in a different position to SEC or TEC for a number of reasons, not least the Establishment as national church. Unlike the US, where there was no pressure against the proliferation of churches with varying theological positions, and all were free to function — in England, prior to acts of toleration, the C of E was the only “church” in town. Even after toleration, this means that as a body it perforce contains a range of views that in the US have tended to… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“I would be very surprised if we see [same sex]marriage in the CofE within five years, but would be equally surprised if it didn’t come about within fifty.”

Quoting you, “it is good to take the opportunity to agree.” On your statement above, yes indeed.

And within fifty years who knows what will have transpired? Soi disant progressives will not wait 1 year leaving aside 50.

amitiés en Christ