Back on 10 October, I reported on the feature that the Church Times carried before the special primates meeting. The following additional articles from that issue are now available online:
The scriptural view, and interpretations an extract from the Doctrine Commission’s recent book Being Human
Africa, too, has sexual truths to confront by Kevin Ward
‘The unity of a community of friends’ by Bishop Peter J Lee of Virginia
Carry on in conversation by David L Edwards
The price of living a lie by Sarah Hill
The Guardian has The Guardian profile: Gene Robinson by their religious affairs correspondent Stephen Bates. Warning: this article will offend conservatives.
The Church of England Newspaper has surveyed about one-fifth of the General Synod members (that would mean around 120 people) and found that Synod members support Archbishop’s tough line and provides more details at Survey results examined.
This survey shows that, although rather few respondents are supportive of the consecration of Gene Robinson, neither is there any consenus in favour of the CofE taking action to distance itself from ECUSA.
On 29 October the Archbishop of Canterbury named a group appointed to discuss issues of homosexuality. The day, marked in the Anglican calendar by the martyrdom of Bishop James Hannington, seems singularly appropriate. He was sent by the Church Missionary Society to Uganda in 1884. Exciting Holiness gives the following details of his fate: ‘The King of the Buganda, Mwanga, who despised Christians because they refused to condone his moral turpitude, seized the whole party, tortured them for several days and then had them butchered to death on this day in 1885.’
Rulers with absolute power have always felt free to indulge their sexual appetites, usually taking many wives and ‘concubines’ irrespective of the wishes of the women concerned. But Mwanga was interested in young men, and his committing of homosexual rape was considered shocking. Those who were killed for refusing his advances have been regarded as Christian martyrs. Many African men suffered the fate of James Hannington.
With such a history, it is easy to see how Christians in Uganda would find all homosexuality utterly repugnant, as they continue to venerate the memory of their first Bishop and all who died at the orders of King Mwanga.
Had the King abducted and raped young women, far less would have been said. Indeed, those who introduced the Christian faith had to come to an accommodation with polygamy of various kinds in Africa. To some extent it still continues, and in many parts of the world women are still ‘married’ against their will.
Sexual union should be based on mutual love, care and respect. Christianity has always recognised this as being best exemplified within freely chosen monogamous marriage.
However many people have come to recognise that for those whose desire is for someone of their own sex, the same qualities of mutual love, care and respect can be exhibited. The love the couple have for each other can make them more able to share love, expressed other than in sexual ways, with many others.
This kind of relationship has nothing to do with homosexual rape, just as Christian marriage is not expressed in forcible abduction of young women for sexual purposes.
Today we need to redefine what the issues are. At the moment we risk ignoring the capacity for good in loving homosexual relationships, and also turning our backs on women who are forced into sexual relationships and ‘marriage’ against their will.
One of our hopes when we began ‘Thinking Anglicans’ was that it would include news, comment and reflections on a range of topics. We wrote of a spirituality ‘in which justice is central to the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God’. Now that the website has established itself as a centre for up to date news, we intend to expand the amount of comment and reflection.
Beginning tomorrow, we will add a weekly feature called ‘Just Thinking’. Each week one of our writers will share their thoughts with us and remind us of the spiritual nature of our task. The title ‘just thinking’ indicates both the desire to think about our Christian faith, and also alludes to the justice to be found in the Christian message — we must think justly. We hope that these thoughts will help provide us with a more rounded picture, a glimpse of God’s kingdom which we are trying to work towards and proclaim in our different ways.
The Australian ABC Radio National programme The Religion Report has this interview with a former Assistant Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Andrew St John, now serving in New York City, about current events in ECUSA.
National Public Radio in the USA has a report Episcopal Church at a Crossroads. (You will need Real Audio to listen.)
There are various reports on the appointment of the new Eames commission.
In The Times, under the seriously misleading headline Eames to head Church inquiry into gay priests, Ruth Gledhill notes that Professor Norman Doe is a member. He wrote “an influential study into Anglican ius commune, or common law, which was presented to a meeting of the primates in Kanuga, North Carolina, in 2001 and published recently in the _Ecclesiastical Law Journal_.”
In his paper Professor Doe wrote: “There is no formal Anglican canon law globally applicable to and binding upon member churches of the Communion. No central institution exists with competence to create such a body of laws.”
As Ruth reports, “In the study he outlined a way of drawing up an understanding of Anglican common law dealing with inter- Anglican relations and looks at how this overarching common law could be incorporated into each individual Church’s canonical structure. This would, he predicted, vastly reduce the likelihood of disagreements between provinces.”
The Herald has some helpful information about Anne McGavin in Scotland to have voice in Anglican debate on gays.
The BBC had Church team to tackle gay crisis.
The Independent has Archbishop names group to tackle gay bishop crisis but this turns out to be pnly part of the full PA report, here in the Scotsman.
The Telegraph and Guardian do not report this story.
Some other stuff from earlier:
Telegraph Gay bishop kept under 24-hour FBI guard.
William Rees-Mogg, who was many years ago the Editor of The Times, had an opinion column which in part discusses Rowan Williams (the other parts concerned Ian Duncan Smith and the Prince of Wales): Britain, a society so sick that it cannot be led. On RW, some of what he said is this:
…This has revealed an ethnic as well as a sexual division, with the Anglican Church in Africa and the Caribbean taking a conservative line. Yet it all goes beyond sexual or racial politics. I was impressed by the addendum to the judgment of the primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez. He says his Church is only in “technical” communion with that of Canon Robinson, the elected gay bishop, in New Hampshire. But he adds that the situation “has risen not because we have differences about sexuality but rather because what was once a consensual view of Christianity … is no longer the case”.
Modern history has been eroding the Christian consensus, but it has also been eroding the British cultural consensus. We think that we share certain assumptions, but we do not. These divisions do not necessarily follow sexual or ethnic lines, nor do they seem to me to follow political lines. It is almost an accident that it is at present the Conservative Party, the monarchy and the Anglican Church which are the institutions immediately under threat. It could just as well be the Labour Party, the Army, and the Roman Catholic Church - which would possibly be even more dangerous. Après Tony, le déluge.
This column provoked a raft of online responses.
The Anglican-Methodist Covenant in England will be signed at a national celebration on Saturday 1 November 2003 in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. Earlier this year the Covenant was strongly endorsed by the Methodist Conference of Great Britain and the General Synod of the Church of England.
The event will begin at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, at 11.00 am when the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the President, Vice-President and Secretary of the Methodist Conference will sign the Covenant on behalf of their churches before an invited assembly. The ceremony will continue at Westminster Abbey with a short service of thanksgiving and dedication.
Thirty years ago a unity scheme between the Church of England and the Methodist Church failed at the last stage. Formal conversations between the two churches began in 1999 and produced a Common Statement which proposed a Covenant between the two churches as the first stage on the road to unity.
Unfortunately the Common Statement is not available online. It contains much important information, particularly on those matters where there is general agreement between the two churches and those where there is not. It must however be said that there is often as much disagreement within each church as there is between the two.
The full text of the Covenant, and its accompanying Affirmations and Commitments, can be found here and here. The second of these links also lists all the resources that are available for purchase. One of these, a theological workbook, can be downloaded from here as a Word document.
Robin Eames delivered his presidential address to the synod of the Diocese of Amargh today. You can read the full text of it here. The section on Anglican Communion issues is essential reading. (Would that English dioceses had such good websites.)
Meanwhile the Belfast Telegraph speculated that Robin Eames would be chosen to chair the proposed new commission that the primates meeting asked the ABC to set up. Of course the Telegraph has mis-described it as the “Gay Clergy Commission” but never mind.
The Belfast Telegraph was right, here is the official announcement of the appointment of the commission on ACNS, Anglican Communion - Commission announced.
In New Westminster diocese, it is reported that seven priests, who oppose the actions of the diocesan synod in authorising those parishes who wish to do so to conduct same-sex blessings, have been charged with eccclesiastical offences.
The charges, identical for all seven clergy, include disobedience to the bishop, contemptuous or disrespectful conduct towards the bishop, schism, conduct causing scandal, and “otherwise offences against the lawful authority of the bishop.”
The row in Canada is a little complicated.
As this report on ACNS originally in the Anglican Journal of 8 October shows, Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan of British Columbia and the Yukon has intervened in the dispute over which other bishop should be allowed to provide extended episcopal care to the dissenters. (Both New Westminster and Yukon dioceses fall within his province. Canada has five internal provinces.)
Bishop Ingham’s choice of a bishop to do this was rejected by those who formed the Anglican Communion in New Westminster whose own website gives the dissenters views on all of this.
As reported on the New Westminster diocesan site, “All five of the Anglican Church of Canada’s senior bishops have backed Archbishop David Crawley’s criticism of Bishop Terry Buckle of the Diocese of Yukon for interfering in the life of the Diocese of New Westminster.”
Here is David Crawley’s Letter to Anglicans in British Columbia and the Yukon.
And here is the letter from all the metropolitans.
At the time of the New Westminster decision in June 2002, the Primate of Canada, Michael Peers, issued this statement.
This item appears in The Times at the end of an article about something else.
Leaders of the evangelical wing of the Church of England yesterday took the first steps towards schism by officially downgrading their relationships with supporters of homosexual ordinations and same-sex blessings (Ruth Gledhill writes). The councils of Reform, the Church Society and the Fellowship of Word and Spirit, three of the most influential evangelical organisations in England, said they were in “impaired communion” with any Anglican bishop who fails to uphold the traditional line on homosexuality. This means they will not grant full recognition to Canon Gene Robinson, the gay bishop-elect of New Hampshire, to the bishops who elected him there nor to the Right Rev Michael Ingham, whose diocese of New Westminster in Canada has authorised a rite for same-sex blessings. Provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion are expected to make similar declarations after Canon Robinson’s ordination as bishop on Sunday.
Here is the press release from the Church Society website.
Monday’s British newspapers all report on Gene Robinson in various ways.
The Independent not only reports Gay pastor employs bodyguards after threats but also features an interview with him, Gene Robinson: ‘Is the issue of my sexuality bigger than everything that holds us together?’.
The Telegraph has Gay bishop kept under 24-hour FBI guard.
The Times has two stories. From New York, Church begins property wrangle as schism looms reports the Pittsburgh lawsuit mentioned here yesterday, and in Gays are like wilderness Israelites, says bishop Ruth Gledhill reports on yesterday’s LGCM conference service in Manchester.
In the Guardian, Gay bishop vows to accept US post.
The Bishop of Washington, John B Chane has published a strong attack on the American Anglican Council in this letter to his diocese.
There is a report in Canadian newspapers, here in the Toronto Star, that disputes in the New Westminster diocese are wider than just 11 parishes.
The BBC radio programme Sunday interviewed both Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh and Bishop Ingham of New Westminster this morning. Listen here (Real Audio required). This contains some fascinating statements.
Bishop Duncan gave no indication that I could detect that American conservative bishops intend working within ECUSA structures, but clearly intend to ignore existing diocesan boundaries. Bishop Ingham said that alternative oversight arrangements set up by him, and endorsed by the Canadian House of Bishops had been offered but rejected by New Westminster conservatives. He also noted that Bishop Duncan had visited New Westminster without permission and accused him of “cross-border raiding”.
In other news today:
A separate feature on the programme concerns the LGCM conference (Real Audio required).
Christopher Morgan in the Sunday Times asserts that Jeffrey John will shortly be appointed to a cathedral deanery in England, No 10 set to appoint gay dean. The article suggests the preferred deanery is Norwich.
Another report in the same paper says that Anglican bishop grabs white farm in Zimbabwe which refers to “Nolbert Kunonga, the Bishop of Harare and a close associate of President Robert Mugabe”. This article also available here, from Zimbabwe.
“The Anglican Church is going to be compromised by this action. It will debilitate our authority,” said a source close to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. “Dr Williams is determined Anglicans should provide a solution and not a problem to the crisis in Zimbabwe.”
The Telegraph seems to be the only Sunday to bother mentioning again yesterday’s top story, I can’t wait to be bishop, says gay cleric.
I missed the Independent, which has Church ‘to split in a week’ over gay bishop.
The Church Times:
Primates teeter on brink of split
Dr Williams encourages ‘extended oversight’
The six conservatives who met RW “… were encouraged to consider the question of oversight as part of developing their relationship with ECUSA. The Archbishop was keen that they should work as closely as possible with the Presiding Bishop in developing the issue along these lines,” [Jonathan Jennings] said, … “encouragement” for the “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes” should not be interpreted as the Archbishop’s seeking a relationship outside ECUSA.”
Comment: Is the American Anglican Council seriously listening to RW? See this new item on their website, American Anglican Council Begins Preparations for Realignment of Anglicanism in America.
Most disturbingly, the Primates wander into the minefield of schism and then content themselves with describing the scenery. It is common knowledge that the issue of homosexuality causes “profound pain and uncertainty”. If the perspective of “small and struggling Churches in the developing world”, as Dr Williams put it, is widely known, how did that come about?
Through engagement, not separation. How can the Primates best fulfil the promise made at the Lambeth Conference about listening to the experiences of homosexual people? By continued communion with those provinces in which homosexual people have the freedom to speak without fear of victimisation.
We are all liberals now column by Giles Fraser
Not on the web yet, but very well worth reading in the paper edition of the Church Times are four articles by Barry Morgan Archbishop of Wales, Michael Nazir-Ali Bishop of Rochester, Philip Giddings, and Michael Ingham Bishop of New Westminster. Also an article by John Rees, Provincial Registrar of Canterbury. And a lot of letters.
Update The Philip Giddings article has been posted on the blog of Kendall Harmon, link here.
The Church of England Newspaper:
Archbishop says a ‘great crisis’ is looming
Church of England to debate ECUSA links
Battle for the Church: behind the scenes at the Primates’ Meeting
This reads more like a screenplay for a TV soap opera than a church meeting report.
On course for schism column by Andrew Carey
The BBC has this story on Gene Robinson’s presentation, which links to a video 26 minutes long of his remarks (Real Player required).
The Press Assocation report is here.
ACNS has published the text of Michael Ingham’s presentation, and also has this news story.
More material can be found at the conference website and specifically here.
Update BBC report of church service here.
Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times that David Hope will delay his retirement “to help the Archbishop of Canterbury through the Anglican Church’s troubles over homosexuality”, Archbishop sticks with job to halt a gay sex schism.
The Bishop of Oxford has written a letter to The Times, Dispute on gay canon, complaining that the paper misrepresented his views in reporting his recent diocesan newspaper article.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Calvary Episcopal Church has sued Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr., his assistant bishop and the Pittsburgh Diocese’s board of trustees to prevent them from transferring ownership of any church property, Episcopal property lawsuit filed here.
The Guardian reports on the non-attendance of Rowan Williams at the LGCM Manchester conference, Williams pulls out of gay meeting.
The Telegraph also reports on this, Williams sparks fury among gays and there are BBC, Reuters and Press Association reports on the conference. So also does the Manchester Evening News.
The Church of Ireland Gazette has printed an editorial, ANGLICAN REALIGNMENT APPROACHES which concludes
We have urged, and continue to urge, forbearance in this crisis. Furthermore, well as maintaining as high a degree of communion as possible among Anglican churches, there needs to be a serious and continuing discussion of the issues at the heart of this crisis, even after any possible realignment within the Anglican Communion.
The Washington Post has published a report Conservatives Funding Opposition, Priest Says which contains charges that the American Anglican Council is closely linked to another right-wing lobby the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), “a think tank that tries to counter what it sees as left-wing activism in mainline Protestant churches”.
Some extracts from the Post article:
The AAC’s tax filings do not disclose the names of its donors. But a spokesman, Bruce Mason, said that it receives at least $200,000 annually from Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., much of it in matching grants to encourage other contributors. Ahmanson, who lives in Newport Beach, Calif., has been among the largest donors to California Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock and to the Chalcedon Foundation, a California-based religious movement that calls for a theocratic state enforcing biblical law.
Scaife and Ahmanson did not respond yesterday to requests for comment through their foundations. Knippers said she did not know Scaife’s religious affiliation. Ahmanson is an Episcopalian whose former pastor in California was the Rev. David C. Anderson, president of the AAC.
In some years, Ahmanson’s grants to the AAC have amounted to nearly a third of its total funding. Ahmanson’s wife, Roberta, also sits on the IRD’s board of directors. The Ahmanson family has donated $50,000 to $100,000 a year to IRD, which has an annual budget of about $1 million, according to Knippers.
The Today radio programme broadcast an interview with Canon Gene Robinson this morning. You can hear the full interview here (Real Audio required).
Other reports this morning:
The Press Association reminds us that this weekend the LGCM conference will be addressed by Michael Ingham, Bishop of New Westminster and others, including Gene Robinson by a satellite video link, American Bishop to Address Gay Christians which is a slightly confusing headline (OK Canada is in North America, but Robinson is not a bishop yet). The BBC also has a story on this, Gay bishop-elect makes address.
The New York Times has published With Conservative Episcopalians Making Plans to Separate, Gay Bishop-Elect Stands Firm.
The Spectator this week has an opinion article by Andrew Gimson The Church hesitant.
Meanwhile in Sweden, Reuters reports that Swedish church takes step towards gay marriages.
This evening, Frank Griswold has issued a document For the Primates of the Anglican Communion. Earlier, he had issued this A Word to the Church addressed to ECUSA members.
In tonight’s document he says
As I promised you, upon my return to the United States I spoke with Canon Robinson and shared with him the deep concern that so many of you expressed and the gravity of what may lie ahead. In my conversation with him, and in public comments, he has expressed both his anguish and his continuing sense that he is called to go forward.
I must tell you that at this point there is every reason to believe the consecration will take place on November 2 as scheduled. I appreciate that when the consecration takes place, as we said in our statement: “…we will have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion.” As much as this is true, the prediction made in the statement that the Communion’s future “will be put in jeopardy” will not, I pray, come to pass. I believe it is for us to live into this unknown future in faith knowing that, as we declared in our statement, “…what we hold in common is much greater than that which divides us…” It is my hope and my prayer that the Spirit of truth, who makes known to us the mind of Christ, will be our guide as each of us in our own context seeks to embody and proclaim the gospel of the One who is our Truth.
In the earlier document he said, among other things:
One paragraph of the statement reads as follows: Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates. On this coming Monday I will be meeting with the Pastoral Development Committee of the House of Bishops to begin to consider how best we can honor this concern, building on the already expressed willingness of our bishops to make provision for extended episcopal ministry in particular circumstances.
I have collected a number of reports from around the world, relating to the primates meeting and the events which precipitated it. These show a variety of views.
On Wednesday Australian radio station ABC National broadcast part of the RW/Humphrys BBC Today interview in their programme The Religion Report and followed it by their own interview with David Jenkins. Here is a transcript.
Peter Jensen said this to his diocesan synod on Monday, about the Primates’ statement.
In Edmonton Canada, Bishop Victoria Matthews issued this pastoral letter to her diocese.
In the Nassau Guardian in the Bahamas, Drexel Gomez “reported on the primates meeting to a packed cathedral” on Monday night: Gay bishop appointment ‘unacceptable’ to Anglican Communion.
From the Cape Times, Cape Town South Africa, this opinion column Sex and sexuality held ransom to cultural prejudice … always the last refuge of the scoundrel.
Friday’s newspaper, the Nation (Nairobi, Kenya) contains Split imminent in the Anglican Church and a letter to the editor, Gay bishop saga a great outrage.
The Bishop of Oxford has published an article, Why Jeffrey was the right man for Reading in the Oxford diocesan magazine, The Door, which also carries a news story about the article.
This article has generated considerable publicity elsewhere, on the BBC, in The Times, in the Guardian, and in the Telegraph.
Here is the BBC Radio interview with Richard Harries on the Today programme (Real Audio required).
The bishop says this about Jeffrey John:
Jeffrey has publicly said that he has been celibate for “A considerable time”. Critics called on him to publicly repent of the sexual dimension to his relationship in earlier years. But it is not the practice of the Church of England to call for public repentance. Jeffrey has always bought that relationship to his confessor and what other bishop has been asked to publicly repent of anything before being nominated? There are other Bishops, some Diocesan, who hold the same views as Jeffrey. The arguments against his appointment do not stand up to Christian or rational scrutiny.
…It seemed to me quite wrong to discriminate against him just because he is gay if he was willing to subscribe to the present practice and teaching of the Church of England, which he was. So, despite the division his appointment caused, this was and remains a profound issue of principle for me. In any secular job anyone who discriminated against someone on the grounds that Jeffrey was opposed, would have been in found in breach of the Human Rights Act.
Jeffrey’s nomination aroused distress and anger in some quarters. His withdrawal has certainly aroused a very great deal of distress and questioning about the kind of church the Church of England now is. Speaking with the Area Deans of the Episcopal Area of Reading and going round to clergy chapters in that Episcopal Area, however, has brought home to me how constructively people are working at maintaining relationships and moving on. One of the good features about this whole passionate difference of view has been that it has not degenerated into personal animosity. Good relationships have been maintained throughout, both between myself and my critics and in the fierce disagreements that have occurred in deaneries.
According to this article, Canon Gene Robinson, Bishop Coadjutor-elect of New Hampshire, has been invited to Lambeth Palace for discussions with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The same source is now saying “Spokespersons for both bishop-elect Gene Robinson and the Archbishop of Canterbury Wednesday denied British press reports that the two would meet in a final effort by the world leader of the Anglican faith to convince Robinson to step down.”
I’ve been looking at the websites of conservative lobbying organizations, and I am confused as to how many separate bodies there really are.
The Anglican Communion Institute which despite its name has no official status but appears to be based in Colorado, USA has published this statement and this brief analysis. This is the body which lists George Carey as a director. Then there is also the Anglican Institute also based in Colorado, and seems to overlap the above. And then there is Communion Parishes which clearly has close links with the first of these at least.
The American Anglican Council, which organised the recent Texas meeting has published this interview [sorry, broken link] with Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop of Rwanda. And then there is this letter from David Anderson and David Roseberry.
Anglican Mainstream seems to have mostly repeats of AAC statements about the primates meeting, apart from this one.
Maybe someone closer to these groups can explain to us.
This morning’s Press Association report is Only God Can Make Me Quit, Says Gay Bishop-Elect.
On Monday, the Telegraph carried a signed opinion column by the new editor Martin Newland, The Church’s unity is more important than sexuality along with a news story, God urging me on, says gay bishop. The next day, they published this letter from Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes.
The Times on Monday had It may be messy, says gay canon, but I’m following God’s calling.
The Guardian had Gay canon feels ‘God approved’ promotion.
On Sunday night, the BBC had Gay bishop reaffirms role which includes a link to a video clip including part of an interview with Gene Robinson. On Monday morning, the BBC had Gay US bishop-elect replies to critics. There is a radio interview here (Real Audio required).
Turning to reports from elsewhere, in addition to those already reported here…
This report from Nigeria does little to cool the temperature Anglican Bishop Denounces Gay Colleagues.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Monday that Most Episcopalians accept gay rights and says that the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania (which covers Philadelphia and nearby towns) has at least 27 openly gay active or retired priests.
The Boston Globe had an opinion column headed The Anglicans’ uncharacteristic civil war by David C. Steinmetz of Duke Divinity School.
Christianity Today tried very hard to analyse the primates statement in Translating the Anglican Primates.
From Canada Archbishop Michael Peers issued a statement on Tuesday Church’s acceptance of gays and lesbians has not changed, Anglican Primate says (scroll down for text).
Meanwhile in Australia on Tuesday, Sydney’s diocesan synod unsurprisingly voted to dissociate itself from Developments in the Anglican Communion but note the comment of a Sydney Anglican reported in this Wednesday ABC radio interview :
On the streets of Redfern and in the bars of Redfern I am asked again and again by ordinary people ‘why does the Church hate gays?’ There are people who when they hear these words that we speak now as a church, no matter what our intention is and no matter how much we may say there is love in our hearts, they will hear these words, on the one hand, if they are gay or lesbian, as condemnation, and on the other hand, if they are people who, and they do, regularly bash gays and lesbians, as authority to continue to do that. I am fearful of passing this motion because, apart from any of our intentions or our desires, I am fearful that we will have blood on our hands.
I reproduce below, with the author’s permission, the whole of a note which he has prepared as an eyewitness to the Pittsburgh meeting at which Robert Duncan spoke on Sunday.
4. The “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes” has Archbishop Rowan’s encouragement.
“Some of you heard me talk about a network of confessing Dioceses and parishes in the remarks that I made at Plano. I can now attribute them: that’s a direct quotation from Archbishop Rowan. It was at Plano I knew that, but now he’s prepared to talk about that network of confessing Dioceses and Parishes. … This has Archbishop Rowan’s encouragement. He said clearly to the four of us Bishops who were there that the details of that would have to be developed Stateside in each Province in which it is developed.”
I have some trouble understanding this, since Duncan’s speech at Plano does not, as far as I can tell, contain any unattributed quotations. My suspicion is that Duncan is back-projecting, and what happened at Friday’s meeting is that RW used the phrase quoting Duncan. But we await any comment from Lambeth about this meeting.
BRIEFING BY BISHOP DUNCAN (PITTSBURGH) ON PRIMATES’ MEETING AND MEETING WITH ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Recorded below are some of the points made in the briefing on Sunday, October 19th, 2003 by Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh concerning the previous week’s meeting of all the Anglican Primates at Lambeth Palace, and also concerning his meeting (along with three other US Bishops) on Friday October 17th with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
I have included only a selected few of Bishop Duncan’s remarks, those that I found of particular importance (and which were reasonably short!). The paragraph numbers refer to the written outline of his remarks that was made available at the meeting and is published elsewhere.
NOTE 1: Bishop Duncan did not read his remarks from a written document. What I have recorded are for the most part direct quotations, and so they bear the marks of ‘ad lib’ speech, although I have occasionally edited the remarks for clarity in their written form.
NOTE 2: This posting is not made on behalf of anyone. In particular, it is not made on behalf of the Bishop or Diocese of Pittsburgh. I have tried to present an accurate picture of some of what he said. However, responsibility for any inadvertent errors or misrepresentation in what I have recorded lies with me.
OUTLINE REPORT TO THE DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH
Sunday, 19 October 2003, Ascension Church, 3 p.m. (following Evensong)
“What I want to do first is speak to you about the Primates’ meeting and what it is I and others believe happened there. Then I’m going to speak briefly about what didn’t happen there, and then I’m going to speak to you about the meeting that four of us bishops had at my request with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Friday morning, and the content of that meeting as well.”
THE PRIMATES MEETING - WHAT HAPPENED?
4. The Communion’s center and its power shifted to the Global South.
“It was the Archbishop of the West Indies who, after the meeting, said “the era of ‘Yes Sir’ is over”. That’s a very significant shift.”
5. The Primates Meeting replaced the Anglican Consultative Council as the Communion’s key decision-making body (between Lambeth Conferences).
“The Secretary General of the Anglican communion was excluded from the meeting, and the enhanced responsibility which Lambeth ‘98 called for the Primates to have in intervention with the Archbishop of Canterbury was actually acted out. They gave an opinion about the Communion and its life; they gave a number of opinions. That’s a very significant shift. Again, that’s my reading of the situation. We’ll see what the time ahead produces, but I think that’s what we’ll find has actually happened.”
7. The “limits of Anglican diversity” were clearly delineated:
b. Provinces may break communion with errant partners
[SOME EDITING FOR CLARITY:] The Primates’ meeting said that, if the American church proceeds with the consecration of Canon Robinson, and if the Canadian church proceeds with same-sex blessings, (which is also possible in the States), if any Province or Diocese does that, then individual Provinces may immediately take action to sever relationships. They didn’t sever relationships at that meeting, but they made it very clear that relationships would be severed if the consecration goes ahead.
8. Time to organize provincial responses to schism provided (10/16-11/2).
“What we have is a two week period in which all of the churches of the Communion can organize the nature of their response if the American church goes ahead in New Hampshire. Rather than having a chaotic and immediate break last Thursday, there is a 16 day warning, an ultimatum, wherein both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the heads of the other provinces around the Communion can get clear what their response is going to be.”
MEETING WITH ARCHBISHOP ROWAN WILLIAMS - WHAT HAPPENED?
(Lambeth Palace, 17 October 2003, with the Bishops of Pittsburgh, Albany, Central Florida, and Fort Worth at the request of the American Anglican Council)
1. The Communion will experience significant realignment
2. In U.S. the “territorial principle” will give way to something more complex, more like Celtic missionary model.
3. The Commission called for will deal with 1 and 2 (above) seeking an “ecclesial path forward,” but not with sexuality.
“The Archbishop wanted us to understand that the commission that was called for in the Primates’ statement is a commission that will deal with the first two matters, that is, the matter of realignment and how that all gets worked out, and also with the legal issues that have to do with that kind of breaking down of the territorial principle. What the Archbishop said is that he will resist sending any questions of sexuality to the commission. The Primates are quite clear that the time, within the Primates’ meeting, of time after time dealing with sexuality and the innovations of the Western church, that that time is over for the Primates. We’re now going to talk about how things re-assemble; that’s what the commission is about.”
4. The “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes” has Archbishop Rowan’s encouragement.
“Some of you heard me talk about a network of confessing Dioceses and Parishes in the remarks that I made at Plano. I can now attribute them: that’s a direct quotation from Archbishop Rowan. It was at Plano I knew that, but now he’s prepared to talk about that network of confessing Dioceses and Parishes. … This has Archbishop Rowan’s encouragement. He said clearly to the four of us Bishops who were there that the details of that would have to be developed Stateside in each Province in which it is developed.”
e. Resistance to “free enterprise” quick fixes and Balkanization
“The last 30 years, in terms of the continuing church movement, has been ‘free enterprise system’, and the time now is not to do everything separately but to begin to do things together, and even to do things in ways where those who stand against the actions of the General Convention are directly in conversation with those who favor the innovations, to figure out how this church can do the best it can do at realigning some relationships. I think there is the hope on everyone’s part, certainly there is the hope on the Archbishop’s part, that legal remedies will not be the remedies we seek.”
The website of the diocese of Pittsburgh in the USA, whose Bishop, Robert Duncan, is a leader of the American Anglican Council, has published this extraordinary account of a meeting of members of the AAC with the Archbishop of Canterbury, following the meeting of the Primates last week. (The document is published as pdf file; we have made an html copy here.)
These skeletal notes, presumably by Bishop Duncan, include the suggestion of the breakup of the American Church, and the formation of a ‘Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes’ — and that this proposal ‘has Archbishop Rowan?s encouragement’.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, urged that no one should leave the Anglican Communion over the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson in an article Anglican discord lamented in the Charleston Post and Courier in South Carolina.
Carey ‘reminded people that the efficacy of the sacraments is not hindered by the unworthiness of the priests, according to Anglican theology. “I strongly resist a realignment of the communion,” Carey said.’
The same article carries quotes from Canon Robinson at a question-and-answer session in New Hampshire yesterday. A fuller report of that can be found in the New Hampshire-based Concord Monitor.
Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, told GMTV’s Sunday Programme ‘One of the strengths of the Church of England is that it’s such a broad church and also one of our strengths is that we can have these kinds of arguments out in the open. We’re an open, transparent church and the fact that we can represent all these different cultures and all these different strands of Christian life is a major strength.’ The interview, with more quotes, is reported by PA and carried in several places, including The Scotsman Bishop Sounds Warning on Gay Clergy Issue
Again, the British national newspapers have quite a lot to say.
Jamie Doward Warning to Williams: backing gays will cause riots and death
Leader Why the Church must not split
David Aaronovitch Way of the cross
Richard Ingrams Bishops confuse liberals
Also a feature with references to the CofE, Have you told your mum yet?
The Sunday Times
Christopher Morgan US church accused of taking aid revenge over gay row
John Humphrys The church that splits may be the church that’s reborn
Elizabeth Day Backward Christian soldiers
AN Wilson I’d be sad to see my Church sundered by so small a thing
There is a veritable flood of writing about this.
Ruth Gledhill Threat of schism over gay bishop is empty, say liberals
Home town split over Robinson
Leader Tolerating intolerance
Andrew Brown So that’s all agreed, then, my fellow bishops. We don’t agree
Mary Ann Sieghart The burden of being a fair-minded Archbishop
Jonathan Petre Williams foresees ‘huge crisis’ on homosexual issue
Leader A Church divided
Williams sounds alarm in gay bishop row
Also a leader, which is not available on the web without payment, but is titled Dr Williams has put politics above morality by failing to stand up to bigotry
See here for the RW Iraq interview story.
The Church Times has this report by Bill Bowder on its website (not in the paper), Primates face up to rift.
Anglicans Online has this report by me, Primates acknowledge reality.
The Church of England Newspaper has no update on its website yet, but does carry several stories about events prior to last night, including a suggestion made by Robert Duncan, that Gene Robinson might withdraw from the New Hampshire bishopric, even before the end of the primates meeting. Well that bit didn’t happen yet.
Bishop Duncan is quoted as saying
“The reason that this meeting has to stand in a defining way and unless the Primates make it clear that homosexual behaviour can never be an aspect of Anglican possibility we will have moved beyond our Reformation mooring.”
“The question is whether the great Churches of the Reformation have a future or not. If Anglicanism cannot turn the tide, Presbyterianism and Methodism will not be able to turn it back either. The Churches which began in the 16th century will meet a sad ending in the 21st.”
Somehow I find the news from the primates of the Anglican Communion a bit more heartening. Listening to the comments of what happened yesterday, to the two bishops on Newsnight and Rowan’s words at the press conference, (the brief ones in the BBC news report), the sense I got was of a church that is beginning to be a great deal more honest with itself. It may have been there, but there was little sign tonight of the pretence that all agreed about what was right or what was Biblical, or who was more hurt. Instead there was an acknowledgement of profound difference between honest believing Christians, Archbishops even. There is even to be a commission reporting in twelve months which is really rather sensible.
What I wonder were their discussions like? It must be hard to accuse a fellow archbishop, leader of millions of Anglicans, of being unchristian or unthinking, particularly in front of all the others there. Perhaps it forced them to behave rather better than if they thought those other archbishops were not watching, or listening and they were playing simply to their own audiences. I wonder, did they pick up Rowan’s subtle remarks or miss them? I rather think that perhaps they heard them.
We may not have seen white smoke coming out of anyone’s ears but the legal fragility of the Anglican Communion is an incontrovertable fact. There is little to secede from, and that is actually quite helpful. They have come to realise that in order to make a statement about this, the most a national church can do is to declare itself out of communion with some other church. It seems unlikely that any at this stage want to be out of communion with England or Canterbury. This may therefore end up working in a similar way to women Bishops. Some do have them, some do not, but they remain Anglican, and the bishops are careful about what they do when visiting countries which do not share the same view. Surely this will be the same, but potentially with a few, probably very few, choosing to be out of communion with say ECUSA. Perhaps we can learn to live with that untidiness, that disunity for the sake of a greater unity in remaining Anglican and connected through Canterbury.
The two bishops on Newsnight even appeared to agree that this was not a first order priority, (was that to give something away?) that other things, like HIV, Aids and the Middle East were more pressing problems. If that is the case, to prove it, what are the chances that we can look forward to another Anglican summit on those issues?
Simon Taylor, a member of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union council, has posted an initial reaction to the Primates’ Statement on their website. In it he outlines what the task seems to be from a liberal perspective, and asks some searching questions about how liberal thinking might make a positive, constructive contribution to the debate within the Communion. However, he wryly points out that “the question must be asked whether any women would yet have been ordained anywhere in the Anglican Communion if the whole Communion had to agree before it happened.”
More comments now from outside the press and media.
The American Anglican Council broadly welcomes the outcome of the Primates meeting and ‘praised the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury’.
On the other hand Forward in Faith in England, referring obliquely to Canon Gene Robinson as ‘a married man’ ‘profoundly regrets the corporate failure’ of the meeting and awaits the action of groups which had ‘threatened substantive action’.
Rowan Williams this morning gave his first “news programme interview” since becoming Archbishop of Canterbury to the BBC Today radio programme. Here is the audio link.
He states that he personally opposes the consecration of Gene Robinson going ahead, because of the difficulties it is causing to other provinces, and that he would not be able to ‘license’ Gene Robinson to function as a bishop in England (all visiting Anglican clergy from overseas have to obtain prior archiepiscopal approval to ‘minister’ in either York or Canterbury provinces).
Update the full transcript of the interview, as broadcast is now on ACNS.
For the bit that wasn’t broadcast, see here.
Earlier this morning, the programme covered the Primates Meeting and related matters in this discussion between John Humphrys and Robert Piggott, listen here (Real Audio required).
At the end of the programme there was a further interview with Njongonlulu Ndungane and with Peter Jensen (who is not a primate). Link to audio of this.
The BBC has published this report of the interview ‘Huge crisis’ over gay bishop with substantial quotes. I hope the full text becomes available later. There is a link on that page to a further video report from Robert Pigott which also includes quotes from the radio interview and a short clip of Paul Handley, editor of the Church Times.
Update (added by Simon Kershaw, Monday 20 October 2003)
Monday’s Guardian carries this letter from Jonathan Jennings, press secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which he simultaneously denies that Lambeth Palace asked for the interview to be edited or parts to be cut, and that ‘representations were made’ to the BBC. He also says that he wants to ‘clarify’ the situation. The story is further reported in the Sunday Telegraph and in today’s Guardian
Here is the statement issued by the Diocese of New Hampshire, yesterday, after the Primates Meeting.
The Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire met today in response to the London meeting of the Primates from the 38 autonomous Provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion for prayer, bible study and discussion….
And here is the one from the Diocese of New Westminster
Bishop Michael Ingham’s response to the statement of the Primates of the Anglican Communion
The Primates’ statement from Lambeth today should be welcomed by members of the Diocese of New Westminster….
The BBC reports Church split over gay bishop election including the news that the Diocese of New Hampshire will proceed with the consecration of Gene Robinson.
TV report (needs Real Player), Robert Pigott, watch here
Alex Kirby, BBC News Online religious affairs correspondent. has filed Is the Church too timid to act? in which he says
The Church of England and the other Anglican churches around the globe are sometimes unfairly caricatured as vague and unworldly.
This time, though, it really is hard to think they share the same planet as most of humanity.
Whichever side of the debate about homosexuality and the church you find yourself on, this meeting has actually solved nothing.
The threat of a split remains as potent as it ever was, and the crisis will come very soon.
The Times says Church heads for schism over gay bishop and All sides claim victory over gay priests . . . for now.
The Independent has Clergy avert schism but say gay bishop will damage church
The Telegraph has Anglican Church at breaking point over gay bishop
The Guardian says Church heads for schism
The Daily Mail, 17 days to save the Anglican Church
Press Association report via the Scotsman, Anglicans ‘Agree to Disagree’ over Gay Clergy
Reuters:Anglican leaders fear split
Update: the Financial Times, Anglican leaders defer action over gay clergy
Washington Post, Top Anglicans Warn Against Plan to Install A Gay Bishop
New York Times, Anglicans Warn of a Split if Gay Man Is Consecrated
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Church split avoided for now
Associated Press via Atlanta Constitution, Anglican Leaders Warn Against Gay Bishop, and U.S. Episcopalians Welcome Summit Outcome
My favourite American religious affairs correspondent, Larry Stammer in the Los Angeles Times, Anglicans Say Split May Occur if Gay Man Ordained as Bishop. He has a quote from the AAC president David Anderson:
Referring to the ordination service in which bishops place their hands on a bishop-elect’s head in an act of consecration, Anderson said, “For many people, the hands that are placed upon his head in consecration become contaminated hands.”
Muriel Porter in the Melbourne Age discusses Why Anglican schism would hurt those who force it
The Primates meeting has now finished and the Archbishop of Canterbury and others have appeared at a press conference.
Their joint statement can be read at the ACNS website.
Note added on 29 October by Simon Sarmiento
It’s come to my attention that the ACNS copy of the press release omits the footnote that was included in the paper original. This footnote is included in the copy on the Lambeth Palace website. This footnote contains the text of the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution IV.13 b which is referred to in the statement.
The press has been quick to react:
the Guardian has Anglican leaders warned that US
Episcopalians will put the group ‘in jeopardy’
the Telegraph has Anglican bishops have warned that the appointment of a homosexual bishop may ‘tear the fabric’ of the Church
the BBC: Anglicans ‘regret’ gay bishop election
The Guardian now has more comment in Anglican Leaders Warn Against Gay Bishop (an AP story).
British press reports:
The Times, Meeting on gay bishops shows no sign of deal
The Telegraph, Anglicans hopeful that summit has prevented split
The Independent, Hardline preaching greets crisis summit on gay clergy
The Guardian, Church leaders struggle to agree
BBC, Hopes high for church summit and Today radio programme excerpt here (needs Real Audio)
Later additions another Times article What Anglican primates can learn from hairy primates
Reuters latest report
Some letters, in the Guardian, including a very interesting one from Andrew Deuchar, former Lambeth Palace staffer.
The world press is present at Lambeth in huge numbers. Some reports from abroad this morning:
New York Times, Anglican Leaders Work to Avoid a Split Over Gay U.S. Bishop
Boston Globe:Amid talk of rift, Anglicans meet includes comments by Judith Maltby, Harriet Harris and others
and to show how widespread interest is, here is Aljazeera
A press conference was held at short notice at Lambeth Palace, this afternoon at 4.00 pm BST. Here is the BBC report of that, Church leaders ‘moving to consensus’.
Reuters latest report here.
Press Association latest report here.
Two reports of the services held this morning:
St Matthew’s Westminster, the Press Association filed Church Exclusion of Gays ‘Like Apartheid’, reporting the sermon given by Walter Makhulu, the former Archbishop of Central Africa. The service was also mentioned in this earlier filing.
Later addition: Here is a longer account via Associated Press, with additional comments, as published in South Africa.
Update (added by Simon Kershaw)
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme broadcast this interview (Real Audio required) with the Archbishop of Cape Town, Giles Fraser, and Andrew Carey.
Later in the morning, the BBC published this news report, and this survey Q&A: Anglican gay summit. And, this head to head with Philip Giddings versus Gareth Williams of St Michael’s College, Llandaff.
The British press this morning is remarkably united in its views on this.
Ruth Gledhill in The Times has Anglicans should love gays as Jesus would, African primate says about what Njongonkulu Ndungane says.
The Times also has an opinion column by Mary Ann Sieghart, Certainty is so unnerving and another one by Magnus Linklater, Thank God for Henry VIII: Anglican doubt is better than Catholic hypocrisy.
The Independent has an analysis by Paul Vallely, Talk of schism is rife as bishops debate homosexuality which states the five point plan as follows:
THE FIVE DEMANDS
The anti-gay faction, thought to constitute a majority, have drawn up a five-stage plan to put to the primates. It will demand the meeting:
1 reaffirms the ban on gay priests made by the Lambeth Conference in 1998
2 rules that the United States church with its gay bishop, and a Canadian disocese with same-sex blessings, have breached this
3 gives a formal warning to these two
4 asks them to repent
5 If they do not, expels them from the Anglican Communion.
The Financial Times has Gay schism threatens Lambeth summit.
The Telegraph deals with what turns out to be a quite different story, Terrorists can have serious moral goals, says Williams.
This press release from ACNS, Anglicans call for inclusive church and a new call to mission, reports that the primates meeting has prompted many lobbying groups and organisations to draft statements in support of an inclusive church.
Some later reports from UK and elsewhere can be found here.
Today, the following British press items:
In The Times Ruth Gledhill reports, in Bishops’ five-point plan to heal Church gay rift, that Philip Giddings has proposed this 5-point plan for the primates to save the communion:
In the Telegraph Jonathan Petre, in Hardline archbishops gather on eve of summit, says of the meeting being held today at All Souls, Langham Place:
“[the archbishop’s] advisers will be further angered by today’s meeting because they argue that it breaches the normal protocol for primates, the world’s leading bishops and archbishops, who do not usually act in so political a way. One said that the Archbishop had called this emergency summit precisely to avoid groups of primates holding their own meetings and deciding the future of the Anglican Communion before consulting all their colleagues.”
The Guardian has a Comment column by Giles Fraser, entitled Battle for the soul of Anglicanism. He says:
“… they are seeking to turn the clock back to an age where uniformity of religious belief was obligatory. Funded by rightwing extremists in the US, some of whom believe that homosexuals should be stoned, and egged on by the Vatican, conservative evangelicals are exploiting the crisis to mount a takeover bid for the soul of the Anglican communion. If the Archbishop of Canterbury gives in to this power politics it will be the most vulnerable members of the church who will pay the price. For this is a debate in which gay Christians are silenced and scared.”
Generally, I post near-daily News updates to my personal blog rather than on here. But really major events (NEAC was a recent example) are reported here on TA.
Clearly the upcoming Primates Meeting is also a really major event. So during this week, I will post about that on here, but any other routine news stories will still be on my personal blog.
The Church Times has a splendid 12 page pull-out section of articles relevant to the forthcoming Primates Meeting next week. Most of these are not on the web, so it is well worth buying or borrowing a copy. Not online are articles by David Edwards, Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia, and a major piece on Homosexuality in Africa by Kevin Ward, plus four other items.
Update for several more of these items online see newer entry here
Major items online are:
Our need for moral honesty by Njongonkulu Ndungane
Voice of the Global South by Canon Vinay Samuel
Documents, papers and statements compiled by Sarah Meyrick and with many links to texts
See also the CT news columns and
A time to Protest column by Giles Fraser
www.inclusivechurch.net Surround them with prayer
Leading anti-apartheid Archbishop to preside at inclusivechurch service.
On 15th October the leaders of global Anglicanism will meet at Lambeth Palace to decide the future of the Communion, following American Church’s (ECUSA) election of an openly gay man, Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
As the Primates meet www.inclusivechurch.net has organised a celebration of the Eucharist, the symbol of Anglican unity, in the three parishes that immediately surround Lambeth Palace.
The former Archbishop of Central Africa, The Most Rev’d Walter Makhulu will be presiding at St Matthew’s Church in Westminster. He was president of the All Africa Conference of Churches from 1981 to 1986 and President of the World Council of Churches from 1983 to 1999. It is widely acknowledged that in the fight against the apartheid system in South Africa, few were braver than Walter Makhulu.
The Dean of Cape Town, The Very Rev’d Rowan Smith, will celebrate at St Peter’s, Vauxhall. The Dean of Divinity at New College, Oxford, The Rev’d Dr Jane Shaw, will celebrate at St John’s, Waterloo. The services will take place simultaneously at 11.00 am on Wednesday 15th October.
Following the forced resignation of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, www.inclusivechurch.net was set up over the summer to combat the increasing tendency towards narrowness and sectarianism within the Church. Over 6,000 church members and over 50 PCC’s have signed up to inclusivechurch’s Declaration of Belief. ‘We are at the heart and soul of Anglicanism’ claims Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, Chair of inclusivechurch. ‘The vast majority of members of the Church of England want their church to be welcoming and generous to all. This is the historic inheritance of Anglicanism. The contemporary church is currently in danger of losing its open and inclusive approach. These are worrying times.’
Press and Photographers welcome at St Matthew’s, Westminster on the 15th. St Matthew’s is on Great Peter Street.
Further details: The Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser: 07811 444011
Lambeth vigil supported by 6000 Anglicans prays for inclusive church
PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, October 7, 2003 For immediate release
The leaders of the Anglican Church will be literally surrounded by prayer as a network of over 6000 Anglicans organizes a vigil in churches around Lambeth Palace on 15th October. At 11 am, grassroots church-goers will assemble at the parish churches of St Matthew’s Westminster, St John’s Waterloo and St Peter’s Lambeth - the three parishes that immediately surround Lambeth Palace - to pray for the future of the church. The vigil has been organised by Inclusivechurch.net.
‘The meeting at Lambeth Palace of Anglican Church leaders from around the world to discuss the future direction of the Anglican Communion will be a pivotal meeting for our Church,’ says Giles Fraser, chair of Inclusivechurch.net. ‘We are praying that justice will prevail and that the historic, tolerant spirit of the Church of England, which is its genius, will grow, not diminish.’
‘People want an inclusive church,’ says Anne Kiem, a laywoman from All Saints Church, Fulham who will be at the vigil. ‘I do not want to belong to an organization that excludes people on the grounds of race, sex, gender or sexual orientation. This is what, I believe, the vast majority of people in the Church of England think too.’
‘Grassroots members of the Church of England are now speaking loud and clear to Anglican leaders,’ says April Alexander, the lay chair of Southwark Diocesan Synod, another supporter. ‘When secondary issues come to dominate over the church’s core beliefs about the loving-kindness of God, something very serious has gone wrong.’
Inclusivechurch.net is a grassroots network of Anglicans with a campaigning edge, open to anyone who shares the vision of an inclusive church. It began as a group of friends from Southwark, London and Oxford who were increasingly worried about the future direction of the Church of England. Others similarly concerned over recent injustices in the church asked if they could join, including individuals from the evangelical wing of the Church. It snowballed very quickly: over 6000 people have now registered their support. A number of organizations including LGCM, Changing Attitudes, Affirming Catholicism, MCU, GRAS and the Open Synod group are involved.
In August 2003 a petition was launched on the website Inclusivechurch.net. It contains a Statement of Belief written by a group of Oxford theologians. The statement expresses the strong conviction that the Church is for all people regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. It calls on the Church to act justly, particularly in the appointment of clergy and bishops regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. Visitors to the website, be they individuals, PCCs (Parochial Church Councils) or other organizations, are invited to register their support.
Press are invited to attend the vigil respecting the fact that it is open to anyone.
St Peter’s Lambeth is 200 yards from Vauxhall BR Train Station on Kennington Lane. St John’s Waterloo is across the road from Waterloo BR Train Station. St Matthew’s Westminster is on Great Peter Street, round the corner from Church House.
Facilities for the press will be available at St Matthew’s Westminster.
Giles Fraser, the chair of inclusivechurch.net, can be contacted on 07811 444011.
April Alexander, Anne Kiem and other members of inclusivechurch.net are available for comment. Please call Mark Vernon on 07966 376564.
In this At your service column in today’s Times Ruth comments on her visit to NEAC, which she says, ’ finally provoked me into “coming out” in my true liberal Catholic colours’. Her piece concludes with these words:
‘The Anglican Church is currently one Church. It is the Church I grew up in. In a few days the 38 primates meet at Lambeth Palace at an extraordinary meeting called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in an attempt to resolve the crisis over gays. If these people, through their unbending fundamentalism, force some new schism, I for one will never forgive them. Because forgiveness, as the Bible makes clear, is not in my gift. But I will pray to God that He might, one day.’
Amen to that!
Stephen Bates has an article in the Guardian this morning, Church’s gay activists beg to be heard reporting on a letter (about which more anon) that LGCM (not named in the article) has sent to all those coming to the Primates Meeting.
But later in the article he also mentions that “in a stern counterblast in the religious journal New Directions, the leading evangelical Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, insisted that the time for listening was over”.
For more from Australia about Jensen’s article, see also News from Melbourne, and Expel US, Canadian Anglicans, says Jensen in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Additional note: Also this, Gay issue a ‘contest for soul of the west’, says Jensen published later from the same paper.
Also, Australia’s ABC radio has transcribed this interview with Jensen.
It’s a pity that Sydney diocese’s normally splendid website Anglican Media Sydney has been unable to update since 24 September. I expect the full text of this article will be available from FiF soon.
Update: it is now available in full, but in PDF format, download from here. FiF press release is here.
Friday 3 October update: AMS website came back to life and here is the full text of the article as a web page.
Oh yes, and another set of advice from Church Society can be found here.