Saturday, 27 April 2013

"Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop"

Updated Sunday afternoon

Edward Malnick and John Bingham in The Telegraph tonight report that Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop.

The Diocese of Manchester has instructed the official panel appointing its new bishop to select someone who can establish “positive relationships” with gay Anglicans and non-worshippers.

The panel, which met on Friday, was told that the successor to the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, who retired earlier this year, should build on “significant engagement” with “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities” in Manchester…

If the usual timetable has been followed, this week’s meeting of the CNC will have chosen a name to send to the Prime Minister, but we will have to wait for a month or so for the official announcement of who is to be the next Bishop of Manchester.

Manchester published its Profile and Statement of Needs of the Diocese of Manchester 2013 on 15 March 2013. It can be downloaded as a 26 page pdf.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 10:34pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

The comments below that Telegraph article are fabulously deranged. Apparently, the CofE can't set its own job descriptions, because Imans and Sharia won't permit it. And the CofE isn't actually Christian anyway.

And in the article itself, the fabulously deranged Anglican Mainstream (who may or may not actually be Anglicans, but certainly aren't Mainstream) witter on about the need for no one community to be "privileged" in the appointment of bishops; they would probably make an exception for a candidate who "privileged" the anti-gay bigot community.

With friends like that, Christianity doesn't really need enemies. Luckily, just how unrepresentative and marginal these factions are is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 10:48pm BST


Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 11:08pm BST

Some common sense at last! So the bishop appointed will not have to 'break ranks' with his timid fellows on the episcopal bench but will openly be able to enter into sensible dialogue and get more in line with where society actually is.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 11:43pm BST

It's great that they asked. It's unfortunate that they can't elect their own bishop. Do any Anglicans from Manchester sit on the CNC, representing Manchester in the deliberations? Who sits on the CNC? How are they selected? It seems so odd for so few to have so much power.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 12:13am BST

Establishing positive relationships with people like me means that you ought not pretend to be a better Christian than me, or millions of people like me (in any way)...there is much confusion to clear up and now seems like a good time to start at the diocese of Manchester, Church of England and, hopefully, later throughout the Anglican Communion.

Leonard Clark/Leonardo Ricardo

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 1:28am BST

I always thought the Northern Dioceses would be first to break the deadlock - of homophobia in the Church of England. May Manchester be blessed - and a blessing - for the Church of England.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 3:35am BST

Cynthia, the procedures for the choosing of Church of England bishops are set out here, as you will see the diocese concerned has a substantial number of seats on the CNC though not a majority.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 8:17am BST

That will Alan Wilson, currently Bishop of Buckingham. Sadly although he is excellent would probably be blocked by others for speaking the truth about God's inclusive line, and living in the reality of the world not the make belief work of the Church of England /House of Bishops!

Posted by: Fr Mike on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 11:21am BST

They should go ahead and appoint a woman as bishop.
(LGBT friendly too, of course).

Posted by: Keith Hebden on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 6:04pm BST

This is especially important. This request must be understood by the Archbishop of York (the same man who campaigned against the Very Reverend Jeffrey John during previous CNC confabs to elect bishops).

If the Archbishop of York has grown beyond campaigning to blackball Gay celibate qualified for Bishop candidates in the Mens room/toilet... or anywhere else at the Church of England ...perhaps ++Justin ought sit in instead of ++John to insure this Manchester diocese request is honored in full.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 6:10pm BST

Thank you for the link, Simon. I see that each diocese has representation. There also seems to be a lot of "supervision," for example by those 2 "secretaries for appointments."

In TEC, the diocese elects its bishops, but then there's a consent process that involves the broader church. To me, the 6 members of the Manchester diocese looks meager. The process also has ample opportunity for the hierarchy, such as a conservative archbishop or PM, or a Machiavellian appointments secretary, to utterly subvert the will of the diocese. I suspect this has happened, thus the huge disconnect between the hierarchy and the laity, let alone the public.

I hope for the best for Manchester, and CoE. Hope is great, but it's better to have a process that is inherently more respectful, and perhaps is more inviting of the Spirit.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 10:53pm BST


I think that, should Manchester now be given a bishop who is not "someone who can establish “positive relationships” with gay Anglicans and non-worshippers" there would be a huge rumpus over this.

What is significant about this is that this is the first time, as far as I am aware, that a diocese has asked for this to be taken into consideration by the CNC when selecting the next man (sic) to be the diocesan. It is that this request has been included at all that has so disturbed the likes of Anglican Mainstream.

It is indicative of a sea-change in diocesan attitudes to LGBT people that it is seen as necessary to ask for a bishop who can reach out to this section of the population positively - which, I suggest, will mean a great deal more than mouthing the anti-gay rhetoric of official church pronouncements all based on "Issues in Human Sexuality", which was published twenty-two years ago!

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 11:52pm BST

"It's unfortunate that they can't elect their own bishop."

Well, yes Cynthia. And I also think it's unfortunate Americans don't have a royal family. But that's how we do things. In every place, custom is king. (Except, of course, in places where we have a Queen).

Posted by: rjb on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 7:32am BST

in case anyone has trouble finding the bit which excited the Telegraph journalists, it's in the Statement of Need, on page 19, para number 3, and in the fifth bullet point of that.

As David Keen has pointed out elsewhere, it's not the main point of the Statement.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 9:45am BST

David Keen writes:
"'Establishing positive relationships with the LGBT community' is half of one of the 27 bullet points under these 6 headings. Forget being 'captivated by God', a high quality teacher, a leader in mission, a deliverer of change, an empowerer and motivater of other leaders, and all that other stuff."

Yes, but the other stuff is a bog standard wish list. Does it even have to be said that a bishops should have a personal faith? The rest of it can be found in every single parish profile of a PCC looking for a new priest.
It's about as meaningful as looking for someone with a GSOH in relationship adds.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 9:55am BST

Cynthia —
As someone who has served on the CNC (for our diocesan appointment a few years ago) I'm sorry about your rather cynical view of the process, which does not accord with my experience. The reality is that all members (the two archbishops, the six 'central' members and the six diocesan members) strive prayerfully to find the right person to recommend for appointment to fill the particular diocesan vacancy, taking into account the stated needs of the diocese.
In any event, the 'hierarchy' as you call them, cannot 'subvert' the will of the diocese. A two-thirds majority (i.e. 10 out of the 14 members—the two secretaries are non-voting) is required for any name to be submitted to the Prime Minister, so the diocesan members effectively have a veto over any candidate.

Posted by: David Lamming on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 1:13pm BST

It makes me laugh that conservatives are so often accused of being obsessed with sex.

As David Keen points out, this is one - only one - of twenty seven bullet points in a job description whose major concern is mission, mission, mission. To read the Telegraph headline, you'd think this one reference was the entire point of the document.

Personally, I think the outstanding feature of the document is that only the Archangel Gabriel could come anywhere close to achieving it. But then, I've thought for a long time that these 'job descriptions' have only a tenuous connection with reality!

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 3:11pm BST

For our last two or three vacancies, our statement of the "attributes and qualities that the PCC would wish to see in their new incumbent" has started --

"We take it for granted that any priest appointed in the Diocese will be faithful in prayer, spiritual development, and outreach. And we know that the Archangel Gabriel already has a job."

Posted by: John Roch on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 5:11pm BST

I am proud of my native diocese for this initiative.

As for the method of appointment it seems to be no worse and no better than the methods of other Provinces. Here in Wales we have a provincial electoral college. In England the Church appoints by the means of the national CNC. At least they do not seem to need to spend lots of time and money deposing bishops so maybe the system is as good as many.

Posted by: Lister Tonge on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 5:51pm BST

"It makes me laugh that conservatives are so often accused of being obsessed with sex."

I think the concern on my part is not with sex so much as with dignity and rights.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 6:39pm BST

I'm glad that some have had a good experience with the CNC. But clearly there is a disconnect between the hierarchy and laity. Huge. How did they get so divergent? Some one isn't listening.

My experience of ABC Rowan was disastrous. The CNC, PM, and Queen are just fine for picking the ABC for the CoE. But there's no international representation in the selection of ABC. Thus all the trauma and heartache that followed is not a confidence builder. Yes, I'm quite cynical. The CNC picked an ABC that twisted the arm of TEC to throw our LGBT people, including me, under a bus. Yes, cynical is the word.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 3:15am BST

Cynthia - There is international representation in the selection of the ABC.

The Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Consultative Council elects a primate to be a voting member of the CNC. In the most recent case this was the Archbishop of Wales.

In addition the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion is invited to be a non-voting member.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 10:13am BST

"international representation ... Wales" Peter Owen

Pleased to see there was global input.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 12:10pm BST

I was quite deliberate in excluding Wales as international representation on the CNC. I don't mean to disrespect the Welsh, I love their country and wish them well with their Parliament and all. But Wales is still part of Great Britain, no? The idea that Wales can represent the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the rest of the Anglican Communion, etc. is a bit silly.

I'm sorry, but the CNC is a UK organization selecting the ABC for the UK, needing approval by a PM and a Queen that have no sovereignty any where else. And then there's this huge pretense about the ABC being the leader of the Anglican Communion. Sorry, those colonial days are over. The only powers the ABC has beyond the island are those of the Spirit and persuasion. All the machinations, like the covenant, of Rowan's tenure proves my point.

I listen to Archbishop Tutu, and he has no "authority" at all in TEC. Why do I listen to him? Because he is someone who is deeply moved by the Spirit and who knows how to communicate it lovingly.

We elect our bishops and call our rectors. It may be more democracy than many can stand. We believe the Spirit is heard through the voices of the many. But it solves some problems, for example moderately conservative parishes and dioceses can pick clergy who can meet them where they are. Ditto liberal ones. Did it leave us more open to schismatics? It's hard to say. We're a free country (more or less) with no established church.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 7:34pm BST

Laurence and others who might be tempted ........ Be careful, be VERY careful ................

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 8:57pm BST

No Cynthia, the CNC is not a UK organisation, it is an English organisation. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is not to be confused with one of its constituent countries, England. The ABC is not selected for the UK, but for England.

The Scottish, Welsh, and Irish Anglican churches are each quite separate autonomous organisations, operating within the boundaries of the United Kingdom (and beyond in Ireland, not to mention beyond in the CofE Diocese in Europe, and also in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 11:05pm BST

Thanks Simon. I knew they were separate countries, but I was decidedly unclear about the relationship of the churches to one another. It does prove my point more strongly. The lack of meaningful international representation in the election of the ABC is highly problematic, especially during the time Rowan was trying to thrust the covenant on everyone. (I'm aware that England didn't buy it either.) The ABC is an English appointment.

It's a hard sell to convince people that Wales, Ireland, or Scotland represents international diversity. It may not be fair or technically accurate, but perception matters.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 3:58am BST

The Statement of Need does indeed ask for a Bishop who can reach out to the LGBT community but prefaces that with someone who needs to be family friendly, like the LGBT community doesn't also have families?!

Posted by: Catherine Shelley on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 9:02am BST

Cynthia, I sympathise with how badly rowan treated TEC, but careful what you wish for. How thrilled would you be if there was increased representation from Nigeria or Kenya on the CNC? I certainly wouldn't be thrilled.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 3:25pm BST

Simon is of course right. But that then begs the question of whether anyone outside the English Church was asked about who was to represent the majority of the Anglican COmmunion. And whether the others, including Canada, Nigeria, New Zealand and TEC (for example), were asked whether they approved or supported the Archbishop of Wales as "their" representative. Were they, in fact, even told in advance that he was "their" representative, or did they find out by press release when the rest of the world did?

In what real sense, was the Archbishop a representative of churches that I suspect -- but am willing to be corrected -- had nothing to do with his nomination, and nothing to do with the processes by which he was named or in which he participated "on their behalf".

Posted by: John Holding on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 3:52pm BST

Concerning international representation on the CNC:

Cynthia: perhaps you need to make your complaints to the Primates' Meeting which elected the Archbishop of Wales to represent them. Those who understand how the churches of the Communion relate to one another clearly did not think their choice 'highly problematic'. You have admitted you do not understand how these churches relate to on another so I don't think your point is proven at all more strongly.

Perhaps more importantly, before the appointment of the ABC these columns contained many customarily acerbic comments about why there should NOT be international representation. 'How dare people think the ABC is some sort of Patriarch? He has no right to be considered leader of our Province', was the general tone. The C of E had been seeking include voting opinion from outside itself and thus be more inclusive within the limitations of our system. Such negative reactions were points that had never occurred to me but which I felt had some weight.

But it often looks in these liberal columns as though the C of E is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. Writers from some Provinces do seem to suggest that their electoral method alone is acceptable for all situations.

I write from the Church in Wales and with a license [sic] in TEC, btw. (We'll be electing our new bishop here in the summer without any representation from outside the Province.)

Posted by: Lister Tonge on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 4:58pm BST

@Cynthia: Actually HM The Queen has sovereignty over Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

We Canadians are (mostly) quite proud of that, thanks to the little skirmish of 1812 :)

Posted by: Clive on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 7:00pm BST

Cynthia, The Queen does in fact have technial sovereignty as head of state over, off the top of my head, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Tuvalu, etc, 14 nations in total I think excluding the remaining official overseas territories (another 14 nations which boosts the total further). To say nothing of the independent nations for which the UK Supreme Court, Privy Council, etc, remain points of last appeal - at least some of which are I believe republics. So to say Parliament, and certainly at the least the monarch, have no rights outside the UK just isn't true. Semantics I know, but....

Posted by: Primroseleague on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 7:30pm BST

The official announcement that the Archbishop of Wales had been elected to represent the Anglican Communion on the CNC is here:

This confirms that he was elected by the Standing Committee (as I posted in a comment here two days ago) and not imposed on the Communion in some underhand way. If anybody thinks that the committee made the wrong decision then please blame them and not the Church of England.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 1 May 2013 at 11:21pm BST

OK, I get it. Many of you believe that Wales was adequate international representation. In your views, one member is adequate to represent all 60-70 million in xx number of diverse countries. After all, a standing committee believed one was enough and Wales was the one, so it must be jolly good. (Yes, I'm teasing you).

I think that's crazy. The CNC is a very small committee that is lacking in diversity. This seems to contribute to problematic results, including a hierarchy out of touch with their own, and a former ABC with delusions of international grandeur.

Have it your way, of course. But you can see that to us in TEC, the ABC does not have strong legitimacy.

A lot of Episcopalians stopped caring about the Anglican Communion with Rowan's machinations. I hope that Justin doesn't follow that path. It could make a seriously ruptured relationship more permanently so. That would be unfortunate.

I'm glad you like your process. Just tell your ABC to keep his agenda out of our backyards. Unless, of course, he engages us and our cooperation through respectful engagement, decency, and the movement of the Spirit.

Does the Queen approve the bishops and primates for Canada, New Zealand, etc.? And are the Anglican Churches "established churches" in those countries?

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 2 May 2013 at 7:09am BST

rjb wrote:
"It's unfortunate that they can't elect their own bishop."

Well, yes Cynthia. And I also think it's unfortunate Americans don't have a royal family. But that's how we do things. In every place, custom is king. (Except, of course, in places where we have a Queen).

Cynthia writes:
I didn't say that at all. Your "quote" didn't come from my laptop, you invented it so that you could indulge in Guardianesque anti-Americanism. Duly noted. Yawn.

What I actually said was that the representation seemed meager. I gave the example of the TEC, but I most certainly did not say that that is exactly how CoE should do it. I don't know how CoE should do it. But thoughts about representation, diversity, and listening (rather than presenting that obnoxious and patronizing "We Know Best" attitude) would clearly be a breath of fresh air in CoE's obtuse hierarchy. However that looks for CoE.

I've noticed that English culture does seem to be more bureaucratic than ours - and more respectful of hierarchy. In TEC "church speak" we might say that each version, more democratic vs. more hierarchical, each has it's set of "costs" and "promises" (some say benefits). What I see is a church that can't seem to get it together on misogyny and homophobia. Human existence and the journey to justice and liberation is messy, hierarchies like order.

I'm just making observations. Ultimately, I dearly hope that Manchester gets the right bishop for them. Good on 'em for including relationship with the LGBT community as an important facet.

So Go in Peace and don't put words in my mouth/laptop.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 2 May 2013 at 7:38am BST

I'm sorry Cynthia, your quote did come from your own laptop see this copy of the entry on the 28th April:

"It's great that they asked. It's unfortunate that they can't elect their own bishop. Do any Anglicans from Manchester sit on the CNC, representing Manchester in the deliberations? Who sits on the CNC? How are they selected? It seems so odd for so few to have so much power.
Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 28 April 2013 at 12:13am BST"

Perhaps you should pay much more attention to what you actually say and remember it when you are pulled up on it?

Posted by: Anon1 on Thursday, 2 May 2013 at 12:23pm BST

I think the crux of the matter is that the ABC is the Archbishop of England's main Diocese as well as the figurehead of the Anglican Communion.

The way our political understanding has developed and the AC member countries have developed, this is anachronistic.

There is no reason why we should have international representation to elect an English Archbishop for an English Diocese.

Rather, what should happen, I think, is that the office of Head of the Anglican Communion should be separated from that and that it should be given to a representative of each of the member churches of the Anglican Communion in rotation.

That would be the only way you would get some genuine fair representation.

And it would help the CoE a lot too, because the one thing that has destroyed Rowan Williams more than anything is that the needs of the CoE are quite different from the needs of the Communion as a whole.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 2 May 2013 at 1:42pm BST

Does the communion need a head? Can't we simply be in communion without feeling the need for an English bureaucrat in robes? I'd be perfectly happy for the Episcopal Church to have no voice in the arcane process for picking the ABC, as long as whatever public school boy they select can keep his nose out of our back yard. We will be nice and pretend to honor him and he can try to be nice, too, and do his best to remember the conclusive results of the battle of Yorktown and the Treaty of Paris. That way the English are free to pick whomever they like and we can still have a communion. Not a federation, but a communion.

Otherwise, we should have a place on those committees.

Posted by: Dennis in Chicago on Thursday, 2 May 2013 at 10:08pm BST

Dennis in Chicago no doubt speaks for other Americans, but there are large numbers of people who feel equally alienated by the CofE and the former ABC who are not in the least trying to invoke the battle of Yorktown and the Treaty of Paris. He does his position no good at all by trying to present the political results of one war two centuries ago as in some way relevant to relations between his church and the CofE.

If he wants to isolate TEC from its allies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Wales and Scotland, he's doing the right thing. Because our beef is with the theology and practice of the CofE, and we don't confuse the extremely varied political histories of our countries with that theology and that practice. Unless he wants to make this difference of opinion on theological issues into a US versus England political battle.

Honestly, as a Canadian, nothing is more likely to put me into the anti-TEC corner (in which I would be highly uncomfortable) than to hear that the pro-TEC corner has to buy into the US's history -- most of us, after all, were on the other side in 1776-1783. We benefited immensely from the skills and talents of the people the US evicted without compensation for their lost money, confiscated possessions and annexed land.

Posted by: John Holding on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 1:13am BST

Right on, Dennis! That way it would be impossible for the ABC to stall on same-sex marriage legislation in the UK by claiming he had '80 million other Anglicans to consider.' That always sounded very much like going the way of his predecessor and dragging in the 'anglican communion' whenever any LGBT issue that needs opposing arises!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 8:11am BST

but the reason he says he has millions of other Anglicans to consider is not because he has been elected without international representation but because he is straddling two offices that can no longer be combined.

International representation would also mean voting rights for African countries - precisely the kind of thing the Covenant was aimed at and that TEC as well as the CoE comprehensively rejected.

You can either dismantle the AC, or you can keep its structure more or less as it is but make sure that every Province gets a turn at electing the ABC. To do that, the office of figurehead of the Communion would have to be completely separated from the office of Archbishop of the English Diocese of Canterbury.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 9:30am BST

Getting back to the news item, it is interesting to see that no mention is made of 'Issues' in the statement of need. It was there in the Chichester Diocese document ( the diocese with thehighest concentration of gtb people outside London) but it is good to see its absence in Manchester. Maybe this is at least some indication that this pernicious document is at last being laid to rest.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 10:06am BST

Writing as one in the UK but in an autonomous province I have less than no desire to see an international head of the Anglican communion.

I have no more desire to be under the rule (for that is what it would be) of a conservative than conservative churches have to be under the rule of a liberal. But there are other more serious grounds to reject such a move.

The amount of politicking in the run up to an election would be intolerable.

Such a figure would tend to polarise, and to cause minds to focus on dissent as everybody tried to persuade the Anglican Pope round to their point of view.

Such a move, by increasing the power in one place, would correspondingly tend to infantalise others in the church. Each province would lose authority and with it a sense of responsibility.

No, the way forward is for the ABC to lose power abroad, and increasingly become a dispassionate chairman, not a leader.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 10:09am BST

I think the resentment in the USA has less to do with any lingering triumphalism over the Revolution of 1776, and more to do with the very clumsy and high-handed treatment of the American church by English bishops, and by other foreign bishops. This tone deaf unwillingness to take seriously the recent historical experience of the Episcopal Church, together with intrusions into our church (which would never be tolerated in any other country), create very strong feelings of resentment. One of our bishops suggested (with tongue in cheek) that the ABC and a few other hostile English bishops should come to the USA and do a speaking tour to make their case. English bishops (and others) do not help their cause by addressing Americans with the tone of irritated schoolmasters dressing down students.

While relations between the English hierarchy and our church are very strained, we continue to enjoy very warm and close relations with the clergy and laity of the C of E. Those relations are mostly informal, but they are not without consequence. My own parish enjoys formal and informal ties with a couple of London parishes, as well as with some South African parishes.

I worry less about a reaction of flag-waving chauvinism on our part than a reaction of isolationism. We Yanks have a very bad habit of pulling up the drawbridges and hiding behind the Atlantic and Pacific when relations with the rest of the world become difficult. Our ties to our English brothers and sisters, as well as to all of our international kindred, mean a lot to us. We've enjoyed their very heartening support in the face of those who would make us a pariah church. Many, especially those who find themselves part of embattled minorities in their home countries, count on us. And we count on them for solidarity and help in our struggles.

The Episcopal Church should not be confused with the American government (many of whose policies it has criticized and opposed). The Episcopal Church does represent its members in all our inwardly conflicted complexity.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 1:49pm BST

In response to FD Blanchard:

This is not a US-UK forum but an international forum. You simply can't talk about the substantive issues between the CofE and several other branches of the Anglican COmmunion as if the only thing that mattered is how the CofE treats TEC.

It isn't all about you.

You aren't the only branch of the church that has issues with the CofE. And while it is relevant how you perceive you have been treated by the CofE, it is no more relevant to the rest of us than how the CofE has treated or ignored us.

Please try not to discuss as if the only experience that matters is that of TEC.

Posted by: John Holding on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 7:11pm BST

John, what is the cause of the anger here? If we (non-English westerners) have all been targets of the Church of England can none of us raise our voices and so "no more"? Does our sharing our irritation and anger toward the leadership of the Church of England harm you in some way? I am having trouble understanding your anger here. No one has said that -only- the experience of the Episcopal Church matters. But it does matter to us. I understand that there is some (often valid, sometimes not) irritation by Canadians (in and out of the church) toward America and Americans. Let's not go there today. This isn't an England v. America v. Canada issue. Many of us are upset by and a bit angry over the way our church has been treated by the leaders of the English Church. (It is hard to forget Rowan's downright rude appearance at the meeting in New Orleans, his lecture at General Convention, his summer in Washington DC where he stayed with Jesuits and had no contact -at all- with the Episcopal Church, his rude and unChristian treatment of Gene Robinson, forbidding our Presiding Bishop to wear her mitre while in England as if she isn't even a bishop, his fight against marriage equality, etc.) Many of us feel that we have good grounds for not being too happy with the Church of England, and her leadership. I'm not sure why sharing our current thoughts and feelings about the Church of England angers you, but I would be happy to hear your reasons.

Posted by: Dennis in Chicago on Saturday, 4 May 2013 at 1:07am BST

Dennis -- As I understand it, a large number of branches of the Anglican Communion have theological issues with the way the CofE and the last ABC behaved towards them, both individually and as a group. Fair enough. You in TEC have some specific issues to raise with the CofE. Again, fair enough.

But to raise the events of the American Revolution (which you did) as being relevant to general theological issues today struck me as being somewhat perverse -- in the context of a discussion general to the global Anglican Communion on an international forum.

The rest of us have more than enough to deal with in our relationships with the ABC and the CofE -- we don't want to have to carry as well those of your burdens that are not about theology. They're your carry them. That's fine and proper.

But don't generalize from your experience to implicitly claim that the rest of us share your issues and your history. Especially when you drag in political and historical issues when some of us at least don't agree with you in the least.

Posted by: John Holding on Saturday, 4 May 2013 at 4:02pm BST

Eating crow for breakfast this morning. My mistake on the "ought" statement. I typically avoid those like the plague because they inevitably "oughts" and "shoulds" cause trouble and detract from the larger point.

I apologize profusely.

The larger point is that somehow, the CoE has leadership that is out-of-touch. Disconnected enough to release that insanely misguided paper on marriage. Disconnected enough to produce an ABC with delusions of international power. And seemingly disconnected from real life.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 4 May 2013 at 4:41pm BST

John, I for one am very uncomfortable speaking for the Canadian Church, as if the Americans and Canadians speak as one. You'd certainly hate that. Many people, including me, have noted CoE is out of step with the churches of Canada, New Zealand, the US, etc. But that's as far as I'll go.

I would welcome Canadians and New Zealanders and others to also come forward to Witness to the harm done by the CoE. I don't know the extent of Rowan's machinations in Canada. Please tell us. Don't get angry because the Americans are venting our anger. We can't vent yours as well. Speak for yourself!!!

Rowan tried to coerce TEC to throw our women and LGBT persons under a bus. I'm a woman and I'm gay. I also spend a fair amount of time in the UK and have noticed first hand that enormous disconnect between CoE leaders and their own members!

I think Erika is on to something when she says the ABC has to focus on the English Church. I think others have nailed it in saying that the Communion should be a Communion, without a head.

John, you're looking a bit stereotypical in attacking the Americans. Speak for yourself instead of being aggressive against us. We aren't speaking to anyone's exclusion.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 4 May 2013 at 4:54pm BST

I don't understand the anger towards American history, per se. That seems rather odd to me. Of course I am rather proud of my country for doing the right thing and kicking out the English, and of my ancestors who participated in that, but it is hardly relevant today other than as a conversational tool to say that many of us don't exactly take well to English orders and commands.

Of course there was that little matter of the war in 1812 (which most Americans don't know much about) which perhaps the Canadians are as apt to think of when Americans try to issue our own orders and commands.

These things certainly color our relations. Faulkner wrote that the past is never dead. And Henry Ford famously said that history is bunk. Hard to tell which one it is, sometimes.

You and all of the Canadians here certainly have your own relationship with England, which we can't attempt to understand. You speak up for your issues, and let us speak up for ours, and I suspect that things will work out better in the end.

Posted by: Dennis in Chicago on Saturday, 4 May 2013 at 9:16pm BST


I wasn't attacking "all Americans" -- I was responding to specific comments by Dennis. He specifically linked his theological issues to the political history of the US.

For the rest of us, the two are not linked. WHen he chose to link them, he chose to exclude all the rest of us from ownership of the very real theological issues in question.

Posted by: John Holding on Sunday, 5 May 2013 at 11:01pm BST

John Holding: 'to raise the events of the American Revolution (which you did) as being relevant to general theological issues today struck me as being somewhat perverse'

The American Revolution is not wholly irrelevant, because it led to a constitutional separation of church and state, which is responsible for one of the key differences between TEC's ecclesiology and our ecclesiology here in the CofE - namely that we are established and they are not. That means that we are not "episcopally led" in the way that TEC is: our episcopacy is subject to a higher (earthly) authority, namely the Queen-in-Parliament. So if sections of our episcopacy issue homophobic pastoral letters, or if they create a perception that they have tried to impose homophobia and sexism on other provinces, then we can have hope that that is not the final word on our position - because we know that the higher earthly authority, understandably reluctant as it may be to intervene, does not endorse homophobia or sexism.

Posted by: Feria on Monday, 6 May 2013 at 12:30am BST

I get it John. But the US had a bad history of British colonialism. Some of us see Rowan as acting as if we were still a colony! How I would love to discuss theology, but Rowan's hateful actions were imperial politics, not theology. He needed to be reminded that the colonial history is often a nasty one. And his side lost.

I hope that Manchester is well represented and that they get the bishop they need. I dearly hope that the next crop of bishops is not as obtuse as the batch that issued the marriage report. And I hope that Justin will tread lightly in the international arena. (And stop saying that he has to think about the "80 million Anglicans" when he advocates for violating human rights in England.)

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 6 May 2013 at 7:08am BST

The Anglican Communion is a family of autonomous churches. Nothing more.

Of course each of those churches will regard its relationship with the parent church through a lens colored by the autonomous church's history. This means that London faces some obstacles in the US, South Africa, India, and elsewhere that it might not face in Canada.

The Anglican Church of Canada, with other Canadians, must be content with some vestiges of Empire. Other churches are in nations and cultures that are happy to have left all vestiges behind.

Canterbury, the Standing Committee, the Anglican Communion Office, and Lambeth staff would do well to remember this, going forward.

The Lambeth Conference is a family reunion. It is not an occasion for legislating.

Don't try to control the Communion. Just convene it.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 8 May 2013 at 1:03am BST
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